Chapters 15-20

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Snow has fallen. Most of Laska lies tranquil under its winter blanket of white. And yet, what should be a cheery season is defeated by a great conflict that rages through all of Plasticopia, dividing families, confounding businesses, spurring an avalance of commentaries and letters to the editor: Is it Christmas, or is it the Holidays?

Even the slow economy does not stir the passions of the plastic people as does this controversy. It leaves no corner of the plastic universe untouched.

Mitzi and Sharon have arrived early at the coffee shop to decorate for the season.

Mitzi is feeling the cheer. "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

"Don't say that word! Someone might hear you."

"Well, all right. It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays."

"Don't use that word, either. You'll antagonize the other half of our customer base."

"Well, why are we decorating then?"

"Because that's what we do every December--engage in this meaningless ritual, erecting an elaborate artifice that is time-consuming to put up, time-consuming to take down, and leaves us feeling exhausted and empty."

"I have to believe there is more to it than that."

"Some can still dream."


Everyone who comes into the coffee shop is a bit surly and tips are poor. Customers are drinking their coffee black and eating their humbug pie without cream.

Jobs are hard to come by. The Help Wanted section of the newspaper is consequently well used.

"Anything good?"

"There's a senate seat for sale in Ill-annoy."

"How much?"

"See for yourself."

"Oh, right! Out of my budget."


After work, Mitzi ventures into the flower shop next door, meager savings tucked into her purse, in search of a little seasonal cheer.

A wide-eyed little girl watches Mitzi pass by.

Rita, the flower shop proprietor, is busy at the moment. She is known to Mitzi, for Rita is a frequent visitor to the coffee shop, invariably picking up a skinny latte to go.

Mitzi waits patiently while the woman ahead of her explains her needs. "...It was a really good job. He'll never find another like it. We'll probably have to move out of our fancy home and back in with his parents. I'd like something special to cheer him up."

Rita turns the woman over to her helper, Little Orphan Cammy, who makes the most beautiful flower arrangements.

Mitzi cannot help but notice the woman's smile, despite her dire situation.

Rita interrupts her reverie. "Wonderful to see you, Mitzi. How can I help you?"

"Maybe something of whatever that woman has, so I can take it back to the coffee shop."

"Oh, her? That's called happiness. Quite frankly, she doesn't need the flowers for her husband, she just needs to breath on him and drink from the same cup. Happiness is quite contagious and he's sure to catch it. But happy people like flowers, and vice versa, so who am I to suggest otherwise?"

"Well, I will be happy if you can help me find something cheery for my door."

"We have some wreaths over here. We also can make them custom, tell us what you want, and we can put it together."

"I don't have that much money."

"Tell me about it. Sales are down 423% since last year.

"That's terrible. But you seem to have lots of customers."

"They come, but they do not buy. They're mostly pursephobiacs."

"What's that?"

"They have a terrible fear of opening purse strings. In the retail business, we're more aware of these infirmities. It's a condition that tends to become aggravated in tough economic times, which only adds to the general misery. As my mentor used to say, what a dollar will buy depends upon how often it changes hands."

"So why do they come if they're not buying?"

"They're self-medicating. They crave that rush of nostalgia. See that woman over there. She's getting high on the smell, the color, the touch, remembering how it felt to buy flowers. Flowers are the first to go when money is tight."

"But enough of other people's problems. Will this wreath do?"

"Perfect. Randi will love it."


"My daughter."

"I didn't know you had a daughter. You'll have to bring her by so I can meet her someday."

"I will. Or perhaps you could come by and visit at our home?"

"I'd like that."

Rita rings up the purchase and Mitzi digs into her purse.

to be continued....

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