He was plain and preppy, a brunette with flippy short hair and sunglasses that hung around his neck by a salmon-pink floater strap. The man gave me a hesitant look, eyes weary, box of Marc Jacobs' LOLA in hand. He was trying to make a decision. Two other boxes of various size were stacked on the countertop.
"Is there something I can help you with while you're waiting?" The woman asked.
"I'd just like to know what's the smallest size this comes in," I said, touching the TEST bottle of Calvin Kline's Euphoria.
"We had some little bottles." She opened a drawer below the glass display. "Give me just a minute," she said, rifling through packages in another drawer. She turned to where the man was standing--"Did he just leave?" She asked, an edge of panic in her voice.
"I don't know."
He'd vanished, along with the third box of LOLA.
"Did he just take that perfume?"
"I don't know," I said, thinking, But if he's gone and the perfume is gone I don't suppose it's any coincidence.
I glanced again at the bottle of Euphoria. Can we get on with this?
She stuttered and asked what se was helping me with. I reminded her, politely.
Instead of looking for the miniature Euphoria she stood there, in a daze. "I can't believe he would do that," she said. She snapped her attention back to me, eyes narrowed, brow furrowed. It was a nasty look.
She thinks me a decoy--She thinks I'm part of this, I realized, standing there helplessly, uncomfortably warm in my sweater-scarf-peacoat combo. He didn't look like the sort who would steal a box of perfume in a middle class department store south of DeRenne--He in his Sparies and his pleat from khakis, Ralph Lauren sweater-- But who knew? With the way she glowered at me, I felt myself suspect--Me! Some woman sporting fake-straight hair, luminous Mikimotos and a peacoat-- She couldn't be sure. And anyway, how suspicious of me to inquire after a travel size sampling of Kline's intoxicating scent where clearly, there, in the glass box display, all of the bottles were too big to take on an airplane.
She should contact security. I waited to see if she would. She didn't. Maybe he'll pay for it at another counter--No, don't say that.
"Oh," she said, infuriated, turning away.
I was only trying to abide by TSA regulations (+ smell like seduction)--Did this really mean forgoing my favorite fragrance? "So-oo... ?"
From the opposite side of the rounded counter she watched me, arms crossed.
She didn't smile.
I got the hell out of there.