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Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 27. My Ikea Dream

Von | 14.02.2014, 9:01 | Kein Kommentar

Using somebody else´s credit card can be tempting. I could cut my hair short and buy secretary glasses and Ikea furniture. I could vanish completely.

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal. He paid for my words.

Here they are.


Frankfurt, Hotel Hessischer Hof, Winter. 

R. looked up, but not at me. „So you will get my wife a nice present then, tomorrow? Maybe a necklace, she doesn’t like earrings too much. I think she has great ears, maybe that´s why earrings are only worn by women who want to hide them.“
I repeated that I did not think it appropriate to buy gifts for any of his family members and that I did not know his wife´s tastes or dislikes. R. got up from his bed and took his wallet out of his coat. I thought that he was going to take a photograph of his wife out. Or that it would be a picture of him, her and their children. He did not. It was his credit card. „Here, you use it, spend as much as you think is right.“
„But I don´t know what your wife would find beautiful, I know nothing about her. „
„Don´t worry, its not about pretty, it has to spell dollars in at least five figures and she is happy.“
 I felt utterly uncomfortable. „Can´t you buy her something at the airport?“
„Do you have plans here?“
„No, not really.“
„Well, then, go and shop. Buy yourself something nice as well. I have this merger to settle all day, we can have dinner in the evening, if you like, say 8 o clock?“
Walking around Frankfurt with R.´s credit-card in my bag made me feel awkward. I had never allowed myself the luxury of a credit-card and very much doubted that, with my unsteady income, the bank would have granted me one. Here I was, walking with a credit-card that did not belong to me, buying a gift for someone I would never know. I was frightened I might lose it, or that it would get stolen. I tried to act as natural as I could, so that I would not look as if I had something with me that was worth the theft.
Now that I was an active customer, the city changed. It felt like one huge airport terminal, shops everywhere and nothing much else to do but purchasing goods to avoid boredom. I went into a newsagent and got myself a Dutch newspaper, it made me feel more at home to be able to read in Dutch. The news itself did not interest me, I just wanted to have familiar words to surround me, to give me some comfort. Using the card on such a small amount felt silly, so I bought an expensive fountain-pen I thought R. might like for himself. I paid with the card. All went well. The woman behind the cash register wished me a nice day. I blushed. She did not see my discomfort. I felt like a con-artist, as it was not my money I was spending here.
I lingered some more in the shop, looked at the magazines, stationary, the lights in the ceiling. All of a sudden I thought I could go and disappear.  Just step out of my life. Walk out of that store, precisely like I would do if I were continuing my regular life, but then, instead of going to the right, suddenly turn in another direction, and never return to myself.  I could do that. Keep the card, get cash out of an ATM and then go somewhere. Take on a new identity in some completely common city in Germany where I knew no one. Alter my name, then invent a new personality for myself. Become a secretary, or a salesgirl in a shop, like the one I had just met. She did not seem unhappy. I could lead a conventional nine to five life, in which I would function perfectly and never make a true connection to anybody. I would be alone with my secret, my past. I figured that maybe I would buy some Ikea furniture to decorate my home. Buying stuff exactly the way it was photographed in their catalogues. The couch that would fit the carpet. The table light on the matching side table. And then put an Ikea catalogue on that side table.
I could change my appearance. Cut my hair very short. Start wearing glasses, which I needed anyway, but I always lost them or sat on them or broke one of the glasses in my handbag. Yes, I could wear glasses, and unremarkable clothing. Watch television at night when I got home. Maybe allow myself the extravagance of an orchid on one of the coffee-tables. Transform into a complete stranger. Even to myself. For this instance, I saw that life passing. I wondered how long it would take for people to miss me. To realise that I was gone forever. If they would think of that. I would no longer pick up the telephone, nor answer any of my e-mails. I would simply cease to exist. I would have died, but could still go on living. The temptation of this thought struggled to emerge in full bloom, I imagined an entirely new past for myself just as much as that dreary future that seemed to hold a promise of complete quietness. Guilt made me drift away from it again. My parents would probably miss me the longest, their worries could be unbearable. I figured this is what biology does, make your next of kin the ones who are anxious to a degree where all rationality evaporates and possibly destroys them. I just did not have the stomach for that.
I went out of the shop and turned right, back into my own existence.

To be Continued. Next Friday. Every Friday. From 09.00h.

Link to German Translation: click  Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 27. Mein Ikeatraum

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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