Sunday, January 31, 2016

#164: Shopping with Aunt Andromeda

"This is quite acceptable," Andromeda declared approvingly as she stood in front of Zoe's Boutique.

Ophelia considered this an auspicious start to their shopping expedition.  "Shall we go in, Auntie?"

"Rafael, those are the customers I would like your help with," Zoe said firmly.  "The girl's style is absolute perfection, and I want her seen around town in clothes from THIS store.  So, I'll chat her up, and YOUR job is to enchant her aunt, who the niece says is interested in buying LOTS of clothes.  So please make that happen, if possible."

Rafael knew that Zoe was annoyed with him (for some reason that he did not understand), so he decided to make it his mission to pamper the old lady.  "I assure you, Corazon, I will give this task my entire attention!" he said very seriously.

Not surprisingly, Andromeda had headed for the first outfit she saw that included a cardigan sweater.

"Hello, elegant lady!" Rafael addressed her.  "Please let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to assist you--anything at all!"

'Yummm,' Andromeda thought to herself, 'hubba hubba!'  "And your name would be?" she inquired.


"Hello again," Zoe greeted Ophelia, while casting a nervous eye at Rafael.  "How did your nephew's birthday party go?"

"He's my second cousin, actually," Ophelia replied, while casting a nervous eye at Andromeda.  "And everyone thought my dress was divine, so thanks again for your help."


Contrary to what one might expect, Rafael was always DELIGHTED to meet a woman who had no idea who he was.  He considered winning over such a woman to be a challenge worthy of his many gifts.

"I am Rafael Santos, at your complete service!"

"My name is Andromeda Musico," she responded coyly.

"I see by your wedding ring that you are married -- surely he is a VERY lucky man!" Rafael cooed.  "But may I have your kind permission to call you 'Miss Andromeda'?"

"Of course you may!" Andromeda answered, as other women started to flock to Rafael.

Rafael ushered her away from the crowd.

"Please consider this dress -- I think it would look exquisite on you," he urged.

Andromeda tried on the dress.  "Does it come in any other colors?" she asked.  "I'm not sure that this yellow particularly flatters my delicate skin tone."

"Let me check for you, Miss Andromeda," Rafael told her, taking her hands in his, then heading into the storeroom.


"So, here's my idea," Zoe said to Ophelia.  "I can give you a serious discount on anything you want to buy here, and I can also let you borrow clothes for any time you're going out for the evening, or otherwise being out in public.  All you have to do in return is to tell people -- and only if they ask -- that you got the clothes here."


Rafael returned to Andromeda.  "The dress also comes in blue-violet, red-violet, orangey-pink, aqua, and periwinkle," he informed her.  "I have taken the liberty of dressing this mannequin in the periwinkle, as I think it would best compliment your lovely coloring."

"Oh, I like this one MUCH better," Andromeda agreed.

 Rafael managed to convince Andromeda to buy several outfits.

"This will be quite nice for taking a walk around my new neighborhood!" Andromeda observed.

"But I have bought so many things that I worry they will not all fit in the Uber car with my niece and me!"

"Do not worry, dear lady," Rafael assured her.  "I will send both you and your niece -- and all of your purchases -- to your home with my limo and driver."


While Rafael restocked Andromeda's purchases,

and called Cristobal and readied Andromeda's packages, the older woman informed Ophelia that she was nearly ready to go.

"Did your shopping go well, Auntie?" Ophelia asked.  "Did you get all the things you wanted?"

"Oh, all that and more!" Andromeda exulted.

"I fear your uncle will be SO mad at me for all the money I spent!"

Ophelia knew that wasn't at ALL true.

Zoe, having finished ringing out her umpteenth customer of the day, came over to say hello to Andromeda.

"Miss Andromeda!" she greeted the elderly woman.  "I certainly hope you had a pleasant day of shopping."

"What an interesting outfit you're wearing," Andromeda mused.  "You look like a little Indian slave girl."

'Jeebus,' thought Ophelia.

"Umm, I'm actually Greek," Zoe responded.

"Greek?  Really?" Andromeda perked up.  "Do you know my son, 'Dude' Musico?  He lives on Willow Lane with his wife, Alice, and their son, Daedelus III.  Who was named for my husband, of course."

Ophelia suddenly realized that she had overlooked something major.

When Alice had sent Ophelia to Zoe's Boutique to find a dress for D3's birthday party, Alice had given Ophelia a head's up.  "FYI, Dude and Zoe used to date," Alice said.  "And she was NOT happy that he ended up with me.  Maybe don't mention your last name."

So, Zoe had paid cash for the dress instead of using a card.

"I met them at their friends' Kelly and Derek's wedding -- I was the the pianist for that ceremony," Zoe said, having quickly decided on a classy -- and business-friendly -- approach.


Note from the author: Andromeda assumes that every Greek in the U.S. knows every other Greek in the U.S.

Friday, January 29, 2016

#163: Zoe's Boutique -- the "Elderwear Collection"

Rafael was back in Willow Creek on a break from filming his telenovela in Miami.  Normally, Zoe would have been delighted, because she really needed help running their boutique.

She had gotten the bright idea--after talking to a edgily fashionable young woman who had an elderly aunt coming to town--to have a mid-week collection of more "modest" eveningwear and daywear that older ladies might like.

But if Zoe thought Rafael was going to be any help to her selling clothes, she was dead wrong.

He had finally finished writing his autobiography (although actually his publicist had written it): "The Naked Rafael," and he had advertised a book-signing at Zoe's Boutique that day.  (Without, of course, having mentioned it to Zoe in advance.)

 And then there was the matter of ... umm ... Rafael's "promo picture":

"Rafael?" Zoe called through the bathroom door.  "Are you ready yet?  Because we're just about to open."

Rafael was busy primping in front of the mirror.  "Just a minute, Princesita--I am getting ready to face my adoring public!"

Zoe sighed and opened the store.

"You know this photo isn't centered, right?" Zoe asked Rafael when he had at last emerged from the bathroom.

"But that is the point, mi amor!" he insisted.  "It is as if I am about to leave the frame--it makes me 'elusive.'  The viewer will want to plead with me to stay."

Zoe had absolutely no response to that.

She had been so busy that she hadn't even had time to unbox--much less read--any of the hundreds of copies of "The Naked Rafael" that had been shipped to the store.

"Umm, about this 'Naked Rafael' business--you're not actually naked in the book, right?" she asked.  "Because I don't think we should be selling porn in our clothing store."

"Mostly no, my dear," he assured her.  "But there must be a few--shall we say--'suggestive' visual images, to keep my many ardent fans happy."

It was a good thing that Zoe was distracted by the day's first customer just then....


The two "little black dresses" sold well even to younger customers, as Zoe had predicted they would.

Upon spying Cassandra Goth, Rafael made a beeline for the teenager.  (Rafael either knew, or knew of, everyone in town who had money.)

Ringing up a customer, Zoe worried that he was trying to sell a copy of "The Naked Rafael" to Cassandra, and about what legal action Mortimer Goth would undoubtedly take if he got wind of some seemingly attempted corruption of his teenage daughter.

 Zoe managed to complete her sale, anyway.

Several young men showed up to purchase Rafael's book as Valentine's Day gifts for their mothers,

and they all seemed to want Rafael to fill the title pages with extravagant professions of undying love such as, "To my greatest passion, Edna -- my heart will beat for only you until the end of time!"

Apparently, Rafael had quite a fanbase among the local elderly women....

Cassandra Goth ended up buying the oyster quilted leather jacket that -- despite the extravagance of the formal dresses -- was actually the most expensive item in the store.

Zoe was surprised, upon looking up from restocking Rafael's books, to find Cristobal.  "Didn't Rafael tell you that we don't need to be picked up till 10 p.m. tonight?" she asked him, confused.

"Yes, he told me, Senorita Zoe," the chauffeur explained, "but I am here in the hope of finding a suitable Valentine's Day present for Detective Lana."

Zoe was delighted to hear that her best girlfriend would be receiving a gift from the handsome man on whom she had a mad crush.

"I have some beautiful dresses over on the other side," she told him.  "Lana would look great in either of the little black ones."

"Oh, I had in mind something less ... suggestive," he said.  "I do not want to seem pushy," he hastened to add.  "I would like something she could wear all the time -- perhaps a very nice sweater, or a coat, or something like that?"

So Zoe sold him the exquisite quilted leather jacket, below cost.  She knew Lana would love it, and would wear it every day.

Occupied with Cristobal, Zoe did not notice that Rafael seemed to be selling a copy of "The Naked Rafael" to a small girl.

 The formal dresses started flying off the mannequins,

but Zoe was still amazed at how fast Rafael's book was selling.

'I sure wish the markup on these damned books was as high as the markup on the clothes!' she grumbled to herself.