Betsy opens with, “When I’d been dead for about three months, I decided it was time to get a job.” Probably past time, but y’know…über-rich best friend. If you had one, and she was willing to pay all your bills and support you ever-after, there’s every chance you’d be tempted, too, so whatever. I feel less judgmental of that then it probably sounds like.
She states that she couldn’t go back to her old one, not only because she was fired, but also because these are apparently the only people she knows who continue to believe her dead. Well that and a daylight office job was no longer practical, her ability to be in sunlight notwithstanding (she passes out immediately at sunrise, if you’ve forgotten).
She does acknowledges that she’s neither starving or homeless, but for the sake of Jessica (the home part makes sense–she’s not starving because she drinks the blood of the hopefully-guilty, but again…semantics, whatever). She says that Jess will not let her pay rent, and has her team of super-accountants cover her other bills despite (her) objections. Plus, my car was paid off, so my monthly expenses were actually pretty low. Even so, I couldn’t live off Jessica’s charity forever.
Betsy says this every now and again, I believe mostly (if not solely) in this book. It’s a nice thought, but she also repeatedly says Jessica does not mind to the point of actively demanding to do so, and that also Jessica is actually rich enough that she could pay top-dollar throughout Betsy’s entire thousand-plus lifetime and still have enough left over for the rest of the country if she so desired.
Regardless, Betsy finds herself on the steps of the Minneapolis Re-Employment Center. A running so-called “joke” throughout this chapter is the hi-larious way that all of the mindless bureaucrats refuse to acknowledge “unemployment” benefits or an “unemployment hotline,” it’s re-, re-, RE-employment they specialize in, dammit! Unemployment polls bad with focus groups!! So yeah, every time Betsy says unemployment (which is quite a lot), someone replies with varying levels of panic that no, no, it’s re-employment!!! AHH!!! Insert your bales of hilarious laughter here. #socialcommentary, amirite?!
Oh, another thing that she first brings up here, but goddamn it mentions all the time from hereafter is that Betsy is always cold. Not just if you touch her she would feel cold, her internal temperature is also freezing and thus she has a lot of issues when it’s cold out, or if a place has too much air-conditioning, or whatever. She solves most of her problems by wearing leggings year-round (there’s even a really fucking stupid thought coming up, where Betsy suddenly claims that she thinks she brought leggings back to their national popularity, rather than…Lindsay Lohan? I don’t know if LL did, but Betsy is neither nationally nor internationally famous, so either way…no, no you did not).
Also, I wear leggings a hell of a lot, too. It’s much easier to find thin ones which provide little to no warmth than it is to find any thick or otherwise warm ones outside of occasionally during wintertime, but again…I live in Oregon, she lives in Minnesota. I have year-round Dairy Queens, an actual Midwestern beauty told me that they do, in fact, have seasonal hours instead of year-long, so maybe all you weather-havers are just swimming in warm leggings, I don’t know, I’m just speaking from my own experience here.
Tangent tangent, Betsy immediately opens with:
“I’m here at the unemployment center to–”
“I’m sorry, miss, that’s RE-Employment. Unemployment centers are an anachronism. We’re a responsive, twenty-first century re-employment one stop center.”
“Right. Um, anyway, I’m here to see one of the counselors.”
For my audacity, I spent the next twenty minutes doing paperwork. FOR HER AUDACITY? Does she really think she’s being “punished” by paperwork? Does she not realize that EVERYONE walking in for the first time is going to definitely have paperwork–or that TWENTY MINUTES is actually a really good turnaround? Whatever, my point is essentially that she’s a spoiled bitch.
Anyway, after twenty whole torture-filled minutes, she sees a male counselor and comments that she’s wearing sunglasses inside at night, both because fluorescent lights are extra bad on undead eyes, and so that some of her undead charisma may hold itself in check, as it mainly comes from eye contact. She also notices the man is wearing a wedding ring and hopes it’s a happy marriage, as that too may save him from becoming overwhelmed by her.
She claims they’re on because she was at the doctor’s earlier and “they put those drop-things in,” which he accepts. He then immediately says her name, “Elizabeth Taylor–just like the movie star!” with way too much enthusiasm, which she sardonically thinks he obviously has no idea she’s been hearing that her whole life. Which, y’know, maybe he does maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he’s grasping at something, anything to establish rapport with a client, you vain shit.
“Betsy, then.” Oh look, he doesn’t insist upon calling you by a name you don’t like (unlike Sinclair…and occasionally Jessica) and your internal petulance was for naught!
He goes through her paperwork and is starting to say everything looks correct, when she yet again immediately throws out how she would like “unemployment insurance” while looking for work, and he says they don’t do that there.
“We’re a re-employment office. That’s what we do.”
“Sure, okay, I get it (do you?), but don’t you…?”
“If you want unemployment benefits, you have to call the hotline, or use the Internet. I’m sorry but we can’t answer your question here.”
“Let me get this straight. This is the place I go to when I’m unemployed…”
“And you have unemployment benefit applications here…”
“But you don’t have any staff here who can help me get unemployment benefits.”
She then asks if she can use their phone to call the hotline…? He says, “Ah, jeez, you know, we used to let people do that, but some folks abused the phones, and so–”
“So you’re telling me I can’t call an Unemployment Hotline using a telephone in the Unemployment Office?”
“Well, technically, remember, we’re not an Unemployment Office anymore, (she has some dumb thoughts to interrupt here, which makes this next part read a little awkwardly without the interruption) and that’s why we can’t let you do that. Sorry.”
I whipped off my sunglasses (so much for that not wanting to use your powers for minor, ridiculous benefits and not mindrape some poor dude to get your way!) and leaned forward, spearing him with my sinister undead gaze. It was a rotten thing to do, but I was desperate. (Desperate not to just go home and use her own telephone, I gather–she DOES have one) “I need. To use. Your phone.”
“No!” He hunched over and clutched the phone protectively to his chest. “It’s against policy!”
Amazing. I was sure my vampire mojo would leave him putty in my hands, but apparently his bureaucratic training was stronger than ancient evil.
She eventually storms out, outraged because she’s “not just some undead tart, (she) was the queen of the vampires!” Her yells after her not to forget to fill a customer satisfaction survey. God, kill me now. Again, I mean. And there goes Chapter One!
I just wanted to comment, like…I get the idea here. She’s trying to be funny, both with how “ludicrous” it is that she cannot use their phone due to others abusing it (which is a policy many places have if one too many assholes try to be clever and use their phone to avoid their own long-distance charges…back when that was a thing. Is it still a thing? Anyway…) MJD even puts a note at the end of the book that she wrote out this scene because something similar happened to her–not able to call the unemployment hotline from a “re-employment” center due to prior customer abuse, and like…she wanted to call them out, I guess? She hoped it would gain enough outrage or incredulousness that everyone would call Minneapolis and yell at them for it?
Well, maybe-probably she just thought the whole situation was funnier than it was. And I used the term “mindrape” not JUST because, well…that is what it IS, but also because the books themselves very much acknowledge it…more than one human learns they had their life and memories altered by vampiric influence, and they are PISSED. Shocked. TERRIFIED. And THEY call it “rape.”
Har, har, bureaucratic training beats ancient evil, hurrr. Look. If that really is a hard policy with no room for wiggle room, she was asking him to either risk or potentially sacrifice his job, his means to feed his family (of which we know he has at least a wife!) because she was too lazy to just USE HER OWN PHONE. She claims she is “desperate” when taking off her sunglasses, but we already know that she has a house (paid for), vehicle (paid for), a fucking phone that is paid for, and also has no damn bills to speak of. She actually does not need anything from unemployment. I don’t know if “unemployment insurance” is just a different way to say “unemployment benefits,” but even as separate entities she does not need either. She will have to make an emergency hospital visit–even non-emergency–and Jessica pays for everything she could possibly desire, infuckingcluding her goddamned shoes. So Betsy is being a real cunt here. She’s willing to attempt to violate a policy that is so ingrained it even overcomes “mojo,” and doesn’t give a single shit what that could have meant for that dude.
I’m just saying, I’ve worked places which have silly-seeming rules like that. I had to absolutely follow those rules, regardless of my opinion of it and regardless of what kind of temper tantrum or even desperate plea the customer threw at me. My manager could override it, but I sure as hell couldn’t unless I wanted to be thrown out and lose my income. People always attack the lowest members of a company for what the highest members demand, and then those same high members also often end up chewing them out for following the rules they demanded if a customer calls them and shrieks enough. You cannot win, and even that whole “everyone should work retail at least once in their lives” thing doesn’t even always help, as I’ve had former coworkers who suffered through customer rage come back to that very store and scream at the newer employees later on. Some people just think a-ha! Well if someone did it to me, I should be able to do it to them! It’s my RIGHT to be a complete and utter asshole, dammit!
Rant rant rant, fuck people who think that way.
I hope my meandering off into something kinda irrelevant is entertaining, at least, and not harming the purpose of what I’m doing here–reviewing some stupid vampire books!
Chapter 2 begins with Betsy being pulled over by police lights, except it wasn’t even a police car doing the pulling. It was a Chrysler, for god’s sake. Actually, keep note of that one, if you’re taking notes! It will eventually become yet another massive continuity error in time.
One of the many people dedicated to ruining my day got out of the car and started toward me. He didn’t have that slow, arrogant strut that staties have. In fact, he was jogging. I recognized him at once and groaned.
Nick Berry. Detective Nick Berry, to be exact, and absolutely the last person I wanted to see. We had an embarrassing episode last spring, and I lived in fear that, one of these days, he’d remember I was dead. Or at least, remember he was at my funeral. This is an especially stupid statement as this very conversation, not exactly a lengthy one at that, ends after Nick remarks how, “That was a funny thing that happened to you last spring. I mean, not everybody has a mix-up like you do.”
“I still think it was my stepmother playing a joke. It’s not like she wouldn’t want to see me dead.”
“Yeah but to go to the extent of a fake funeral–or was there a funeral? I dreamed about it but mostly I…I…”
But I’m getting ahead of their discussion. Point is, he obviously fucking remembers and Betsy should obviously fucking know that, especially since every now and again Detective Nick mentions how mad the DA inexplicably is about the whole thing. I say inexplicably because I really don’t think it’s the DA’s business if the living model of a “dumb blonde” decides to fake her funeral, unless he was charging the Aztek driver, who again is never mentioned after the crash (although his apparently hysterically dumb car is).
Anyway, she complains at him that he’s abusing his authority by pulling her over, as she was “barely speeding,” and it’s not like they have a complicated acquaintanceship or anything, one where she would want him to remain on her side! He’s pulled her over to ask where she was “the other night.” Which night? Saturday, of course! For it was a Saturday in which down-homey cab driver Robert Harris witnessed a six-foot blonde with red highlights and stupidly expensive 90s shoes pick up a taxi with two fingers, immediately after slamming a cross on that one dude’s head.
She claims that she was at home. He asks her whether anyone can back that up (like she really needs to), and she says Marc was at the hospital and Jessica was likely at her own home, as she never saw her that night. She describes that the passenger side floor of her car is covered in garbage, swimming in garbage, and thinks that he doesn’t know how lucky he was, as it was worse when she was eating solid food. She’s such a class act. He asks her how many damn milkshakes she drinks per day; “None of your business. Now go away and catch bad guys.”
He keeps on complaining (as if he hadn’t just barged in his own self), claiming he will need a tetanus shot upon leaving. I’ve never heard of tetanus passing along by your legs rubbing against plastic and cardboard milkshake cups, but what do I know?
She asks him what he wants yet again, and he kinda wishy-washy is like noooo, it’s stuuuupid, nooooo, before obviously telling her what’s up. But rather than listening, she immediately starts checking him out, his blonde hair, his swimmer’s build, his chiseled features, and how her lust for him was how they got into trouble before, until Sinclair sorted it out. But she wonders if maybe Sinclair’s mojo didn’t take as much as they’d have liked, or was wearing off somehow. If he has developed memories of that night, which is why he keeps popping up in her life.
“…and this nutty old cab driver described you. I mean, it’s not that there aren’t about a zillion blondes in Minneapolis, but still. The description fit you pretty well. It was the shoe thing, actually, that caught my–”
“Well, obviously it wasn’t me,” I lied. “Doy.”
He mocks her use of “doy,” and slowly tries to convince himself that the driver was probably just a lonely old man embellishing, if not making up completely, a story. Do the police not check hospitals anymore? He starts rubbing his temples and begins to tell her he’s been having dreams, so many weird dreams, and they seem so real…when she insists that happens to everyone and wonders if she should try to zap him with her own “mojo.” Would that interfere with whatever Sinclair had done, or would it make things better? She settles on just telling him, “Maybe you need a vacation.”
That is when he says that was a funny thing last spring, and she thinks he’s trying to change the subject, but of course he isn’t, not really. She becomes very impatient after the last line I already previously quoted, “Nick, for crying out loud! I’ve got stuff to do. So are you going to get out of here or what?” Which is a pretty bitchy way to go about things, especially someone you definitely want on your side.
His hands fell to his lap at once, and he seemed to shake off the trance-like state he’d fallen in. “So sorry, Betsy,” he said sarcastically. “What, is there a shoe sale somewhere?”
“As a matter of fact, there is. Look, I hope you catch the bad guy–”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re on pins and needles. Never mind. Saw your car and couldn’t resist. But, I gotta get back to it.”
They exchange parting pleasantries and go their separate ways. I don’t know about any of you, but if I were in Betsy’s shoes and I almost destroyed this man’s mind, this man who was nothing but friendly and helpful and had tried to help me, I would be a whole hell of a lot nicer to him than she is. I wouldn’t be an impatient, clearly irritated with him bitch about it. Like…the description utterly matched her. It would be very smart to know what the Minneapolis PD knew or suspected about any of her activities. But instead of treating him like a friend, or even friendly, she accuses him of abuse of authority and snaps at him a slightly politer way of saying “omg could you just gtfo of my car already?!”
She finds herself shaking like a leaf after this conversation, as she realizes how close Nick is to figuring her, and her friends and subjects, out. But says to herself that she had confided in him once before and wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
You do realize that the real mistake in your actions was feeding on him without giving him a release of his own? Which is exactly what Tina and Sinclair told her what was wrong? So it’s not like she couldn’t try to have an honest (or semi-honest) conversation with him and see what happens because of it…if he freaks out, they can just mojo his memories away again (as blasé as they are about doing that shit, anyway), and if he is able to handle it, well, now they have a police friend and potential insider.
Whatever, she is immediately distracted after arriving at, the finest, most glorious place on the planet: The Mall of America. Or, if you’re a shopper, Heaven on Earth.
I decided to trudge through the first level of Macy’s to cheer myself up, and then drown my sorrows in two or ten daiquiris on the fourth floor. Again, I’ve never been, but does this mall really sell daiquiris? That seems so strange to me. Also, haha, the next line shows I probably offended Betsy somehow somewhere:
Like any great idea, the Mall (never “the mall”) is something familiar, made bigger. A lot bigger. Everyone has parked in a lot and walked into a store. Here you had to walk a long, long time to get to the store, is all. It helped to memorize the state you were parked in (NO FUCKING SHIT does she think we’ve never seen a fucking parking lot before, even without seeing her precious “heaven”?) You know how most parking lots can name their sections after two or three animals? (Not in my experience, unless I’m at a zoo–and still more than 2-3 even in Podunk, OR dumbass) “Oh honey, don’t forget we parked in the marmoset lot.” The Mall was so big, they couldn’t use animals (Sure. “Couldn’t.”) Animals are puny. They used states. And not little states like Rhode Island, but big honking states like California or Texas.
I’m gonna interrupt her sucking off MoA’s dick and repeat, with more clarity, what a dumb statement that is. I know she’s trying to glamorize a dying industry, and also showcase just how large it apparently is: yeah, even Rhode Island is too small of an area! Grey whales?? Fuck you, shortstuff! Only the top 10+ states will do for our mighty, throbbing mall!
She keeps going on about “the beauty of the building” and how it reminds her of a damn church—the star they used instead of the apostrophe in Macy’s seemed so heavenly. This is so pathetic, even for a fashionista.
She describes the various scents of the building, and AGAIN tells us about how she doesn’t have a job, as if we would have forgotten information we thoroughly covered one fucking chapter ago. I zoomed in on the shoe department like a blonde homing pigeon. This will not be the last time she does “something” like a blonde “something,” and thinks that’s a decent and thought-out metaphor. One that sticks out with me for some reason is at some point, being a vampire, I remember her referring to herself as, “like a blonde lamprey with legs.” Just…add “blonde” to something, and suddenly you’re golden!
She over-describes everything about the atmosphere, the “time warp” feeling of it being less than a week away from the 4th of July, yet the autumn shoes were on display. She mentions having twenty-two pairs of sandals, so she doesn’t mind looking at boots or whatever. Thank goodness! I know we were all awaiting her approval with bated breath.
She pulls down a vibrant pair of red leather Kenneth Cole boots she thinks would go great with her black leather duster, which actually sounds pretty stupid. Yeah, whatever, “black goes with everything,” but black and red is so, so obvious. Also, why does a former secretary need what is essentially a fancy, useless-in-winter trenchcoat? Okay, maybe it’s been weatherproofed, but…I kinda doubt it, and I suspect her dumb coat will get messed up in any kind of inclement weather. It’s not like this is Merry Gentry, desperately clinging to the idea she’s a “private detective.”
It’s fully possible I am out of the fashion loop and black leather dusters are/were (in 2004) all the rage for adult women, but I suspect that’s more of MJD showing off her sweet 90s style.
Here you go, three minorly different styles of googling “Kenneth Cole red leather boots,” none of which seem especially dreamy to me, although I acquiesce I am not a vampire queen. I’m betting on #1, though she does often describe her love of kitten heels…
Then she reminds herself that she already has a pair of red leather books, but should THAT make a DIFFERENCE?!?
Unless they’re especially different from the ones you already own…yes, yes it should.
She also looks at a brand called Burned Footwear, claiming they’re supposedly all handmade. My brief attempt at Googling just showed me a hell of a lot of burned-or-actively-burning Nikes, which I forgot people were doing and is kind of hilarious. I’ll show you, Nike!! I’ll pay for your overpriced shoes and once you’ve got my money thus exhausted your investment in what I do with them, I will set them (and whatever money I paid for them) aflame!!! Nike is based out of my state, actually. I really don’t think anyone broke any hearts with that one. Portland has more important shit to worry about then how you waste your money.
She eventually asks an employee, “Excuse me, can I see the new Etienne Aigners?”
“I’m sorry miss, we don’t have any.”
“Oh sure you do. I understand if you haven’t had time to go through them and put them on display, but I’d just like to see them.”
“We really don’t have any–”
“Who do you think you’re talking to?” I asked impatiently. “The Aigners have been out for six days. You probably got them four days ago. I just want to see if he put out a lavender pump like he was supposed to.”
I didn’t put in whatever was going on around their conversation, but one key point was that after the first denial of the saleswoman who’d obviously woken up that morning with a need to be unhelpful, Betsy sees a balding man with glasses and a nametag–obviously the boss–watching them, and then makes kind of a scene. What. A. Bitch.
The saleswoman, named Brigid apparently, is called over by her boss. He wants to see her in his office, and sends another woman named Renee over to take Betsy into the back to see the new Aigners. Betsy laughs. Renee comes over and giggles, “Holy cow! You really told Brigid. She’s toast. She was supposed to have that display up the day before yesterday.”
“Don’t ever get between me and a new line of shoes. Others have found that to their sorrow. I guess I should follow that up with an evil laugh, because it sort of sounds ominous.” Yes. Yes, it does. This Brigid woman may not have realized she could take a customer to the back, and perhaps thought that is what her boss would want her to say. Or maybe she’s a lazy, unhelpful bitch? Who knows! Who cares! Betsy found her a nuisance, and now she’s fired and never seen again.
They get into the back where Betsy cries out, “Oh the humanity!” because her precious shoes are scattered and mixed in with Nine West’s crap from last year. She immediately demands Renee help her sort out the mess, and while Renee is all, you don’t have to, you don’t even work here, they’re just shoes, Betsy drama-bombs even more and sways on her feet, incapable of speech, because some fucking shoes aren’t perfectly lined up in the back of a store. She’s about to faint because of a shoe display. Dramatic much?
Within ten minutes, we had all the Aigners lined up like dead soldiers, close to the door. What grim imagery…lined up like DEAD SOLDIERS?! What the FUCK?!
Anyway, she obsessively lines up the shoes, Renee mentions Betsy knows a lot about shoes, as she hadn’t noticed some kind called “the Jude pumps” were mixed in with the others despite working there “for months,” and Betsy “shudders at her ignorance.”
The boss, Mr. Mason, comes in to find out if Betsy found what she wanted. Alas, no, perhaps next season. After her obsessive need to clean up a mess she wasn’t paid for, he asks if by any chance she was looking for work. She becomes overly excited of course, marveling how he even knew that until he points out her Re-Employment Center paperwork sticking out of her bag.
She says she can only work nights, which is exactly what he was looking for, and he says no commissions, at least to start with. So now Betsy has a job Wednesday-Saturday evenings, and has to physically stop herself from kissing him in gratitude.
She wonders if her Social Security number still works, and it does! Thank you government backlog! Three fuckin’ months and they still haven’t listed her as dead, I suppose.
The paperwork finished, Mr. Mason handed me my name tag and bid me good night.
Betsy Taylor, it said.
Macy’s, it said.
BetsyTaylorMacy’s. Oh, just…wow. Really totally wow.
Outside the store, I did a little skip of joy…and nearly sailed over a car by mistake. I probably could have pulled that off even if I hadn’t been dead.
Wow! Me, working for Macy’s! That was like a fox working for a chicken farm. It just didn’t get any better.
And so Chapter 2 ends, with one of the saddest super-excitement moments I can imagine. Macy’s. Betsy is freaking the f out overjoyed gleeful giddiness…about working at Macy’s.
It is not that difficult to get a job at Macy’s. Her whole life–especially with her apparently insane shoe knowledge–she could have applied at and likely worked for Macy’s. I’ve worked next to Macy’s, at another clothing store, and employees at either would occasionally switch to us or to them or vice or versa…it really doesn’t strike me as this amazing, magical place to be.
And yeah, I get it–this is for comedy, and I don’t know shit about shoe designers so of course I find it anticlimactic. But, seriously…come ON.
Also, she never said what exact Etienne Aigner pumps they were, but I used my Google-fu on them, both purple and who cares colors. They’re seriously boring, boxy, often quite ugly, and all over that fuckin’ picture I posted of MJD yet again. These. These are the shoes Betsy just had a near-heart attack over. Enjoy!: