Feldon Fartz sat nervously in the waiting area of the glossy Fifth Avenue Doll Salon. It smelled like makeup and money and there were a lot of people moving around and phones ringing.
His dress clothes were too tight, and he was squirming like a galactic worm under the sun after a rock was upturned. He ran a finger inside his collar in an effort to loosen it. He felt like he was being strangled by society.
His thin and perfectly manicured fingertips were gently strumming the cover of his portfolio, a portfolio of few accomplishments. He wet his miniature lips with his snake-like tongue, cleared his throat, and pinched at his eyes. He was being impatient. He was tired and restless. His sleep lately had been unsettled.
He had very feminine features for a man. His face was clean-shaven and baby-butt smooth, his nose was thin and slightly pointed, as was his jawline. The color of his skin was peachy, but he had rosy cheeks. His red hair was split in the middle and went down both sides of his slightly elongated head to just the tops of his ears. He resembled a soft-muscled prince from a magical kingdom as he sat there so at odds with the world, but in fact, he was some sort of a regular man, a real man, one who longed to do great things.
Feldon had pale blue eyes, and the rusty lashes were soft and upturned. He fluttered his lids like a butterfly toward the woman sitting across from him and he asked her, “Are you interviewing for the position, too?” His voice was quiet and soft, like a feathery pillow in the dead of night.
The woman looked up at him and smiled slightly. He could tell she was a bit annoyed by his intrusion. “Yes,” she answered him, and then she tried to look away but really couldn’t. He was just so strikingly odd.
A door suddenly opened, and a sharp-dressed black woman stepped out. She was very sparkly. “Feldon?” She looked down at a piece of paper and paused. “Fartz?”
Feldon raised a finger and smiled. “That’s me,” he said, and he stood up and followed her. As he went by the woman who was in the waiting area with him, he gently tapped her on the arm and whispered, “Good luck.”
The interviewer led him down a short hallway and into a small, brightly lit office of glass. She directed him to sit down. He immediately leaned forward and gently tapped his finger on her desk.
“Actually misses, my name is pronounced Fairtz. Like, say, the county fair, but with the letters t and z at the end.”
The interviewer put on her glasses and glanced over his resume, troubled by her mistake. “Oh. I see. My apologies, Mr… Fairtz.”
Feldon leaned back in the chair and playfully waved his hand at her. “Don’t worry about it. Everyone gets it wrong.”
“That must get very annoying at times,” she said with a feigned smile.
“It did annoy me, but now I’m just so used to it I kind of have to just laugh it off.” Feldon chuckled oddly, and then he felt her staring at him strangely. He could sense she knew he was lying. He hated his name, and the ridicule he’s endured forever.
“Have you ever just considered changing the spelling of your name to reflect its pronunciation?”
Feldon stared at her, dumbfounded, lost in space. Pondering the ridiculous question, once again.
“No,” he answered a few moments later. “I shouldn’t be forced to change the spelling of my name just because the rest of the world sucks.”
The woman was uncomfortably silent, cleared her throat and went on with the interview.
“I have to say,” the woman began. “I really wasn’t expecting any male applicants for this type of job. You do understand this is a position for someone to provide beauty salon services to our clients’ dolls, don’t you?”
“Yes mam. And I do hope you understand that you cannot discriminate against me based solely on my gender.”
The woman glared at him from across the desk, then smiled seriously. “Yes. I’m quite aware of fair hiring practices.”
“And I’m not gay, either, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“No, of course not, that has nothing to do with anything, but…”
“I like to plow the feminine fields of love just as much as the next guy — if you know what I mean.” Feldon winked at her.
“Let’s just try to get back on track with the interview, Mr. Fairtz… As I was saying, and I mean this in no way to reflect a preference between male or female applicants, but this position has traditionally been filled by women and I am rather curious why you feel you would be a good fit for us in this type of environment.”
Feldon straightened himself in the chair, cleared his throat softly, and tried to remember what he had practiced in his bathroom mirror the night before.
“Well,” he began. “I enjoy beauty. All kinds of beauty — whether it be a sunset or a flower or even a doll. I feel like there is enough ugliness in the world, too much ugliness in fact, and I just want to be part of a team that adds a little sweet frosting to the beautiful birthday cake of life.”
The woman leaned forward and smiled again. “You do have a very intriguing attitude, Mr. Fairtz, but what about the skills and past work experience you have listed here on your resume? Tell me more about that.”
“You can call me Shirley.”
Feldon smiled and chuckled again. “Surely Shirley. As you obviously have seen, I have worked in a real salon with real people as a shampoo agent. I very much enjoyed that feeling of soapy hair all over my fingers. The clients always raved about my scalp massages, too. It was all very exhilarating.”
“And may I ask why you left there if it was so exhilarating?” Shirley glanced at his resume again and then back at him over the top edges of her thick glasses. “It looks like you weren’t there for very long.”
Feldon shifted uncomfortably. “Well. There was a misunderstanding with a client. Someone claimed that I purposely got shampoo in their eyes… Which is a complete lie. I did no such thing. I believe the real reason they let me go is that the other employees felt threatened by my advanced skills.”
Shirley stared at him like a pondering stone. “Hmm. I see.” She scribbled something down. “And what about your position at Sahara’s Department Store? It says here you were the senior mannequin manager.”
Feldon touched the tip of his long, pointed nose with a finger and then pointed at her with a finger on his other hand. “Bingo,” he said, and he chuckled. “I mean… Yes. That’s correct.”
“And which of these two positions do you feel suited you the best?”
“Oh, definitely being a mannequin manager.”
“Tell me why.”
Feldon chuckled oddly again. “They don’t talk back!”
Shirley feigned another laugh, put her elbows on the desk and leaned forward. “Mr. Fairtz, the details of the job are quite rudimentary, and of course we’ll train you on exactly how we want things done around here. The challenges in this position come from the reality that despite the fact you will be working with dolls, those dolls belong to real people, very serious real people. We do cater to a very upscale clientele, and what may seem frivolous and grossly shallow and unnecessary to most, is very important to the people we serve. I guess the bottom line is, Mr. Fairtz, is that even though the dolls don’t talk back, the moms and daughters, and believe it or not, a few of the fathers and sons, do. I’ll be blunt. People can be very particular and demanding about these things. How do you think you will handle that kind of pressure?”
Feldon looked up to the ceiling and thought hard to himself. Then he smiled and looked back at Shirley. “With the upmost dignity and giggly delight,” he answered.
She beamed at him and scribbled another note. “That’s an excellent answer, Feldon.”
“Thank you. Did I get the job?”
“Um, well. We’re not quite through yet. You seemed to have really enjoyed working as a mannequin manager, so, I’m curious as to why you left that position.”
Feldon fidgeted nervously again. “I guess you could say I had a disagreement with management.”
“Really? Tell me about it.”
“They felt I was spending way too much time prepping the mannequins for the sales floor. I took my job seriously but apparently they thought I was overly consumed with the details.”
“That’s odd,” Shirley said. “Usually, employers are thrilled to have someone who pays attention to details. I know I am.”
“Right. That’s how I felt, but instead they just wanted me to get the mannequins churned out as fast as possible to drive sales. That’s all they cared about. They didn’t care about the time and pride I put into it. Those assholes only cared about profit. I just can’t be rushed like that when I’m really into my work.”
“I appreciate your straightforward honesty.”
“Sure. Did I get the job?”
“Well, I do have some other applicants to interview. And I’ll have to check your references, of course. But I do like you for some strange reason. I really do like you.”
She stood up and extended her hand. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Feldon. We’ll be in touch.”
TO BE CONTINUED