Trouble with the Curve

cash exchange
The exchange.

I really don’t want to take all my signs with me to North Carolina, but I don’t know what else to do with them. I tell Leo at the going-away party that I want him to have my Whiskey sign. He seems excited (as excited as Leo seems about anything) but Emma intervenes. She wants it, and she’ll give me money for it. She Venmos me on the spot, and that’s that. So I sold the Whiskey sign. Yay!!

I would love to give the other signs away as gifts, at this point, but I don’t know if anyone actually wants one. It’s like, oh, I want you to have this enormous rope light sign that I made, and the person is like, um, thank you?

That’s how I feel right now, like I can’t even give these things away. I’m definitely taking “hogwarts” “Lumos” and “Jolly.” OBVIOUSLY. What about “EATS” and “venice”? Steve is wonderful and convinces me to ship EATS (I’m so happy, too, because now it’s hanging in our kitchen and looks great!), but I am absolutely not taking the venice sign.

It was one of my first signs and I’m just not as happy with it as I am with the others. The letters piss me off every time I look at it.

On Saturday, while Kelly is still with us, we plan to go walk the Venice Canals before heading to Santa Monica for the day. Kelly makes a suggestion. “Why don’t you bring the Venice sign and try to sell it?”

I shrug. OK, yea, sure. It’s not until we’re in the Uber with my sign across our laps that Kelly tells me she was kidding and didn’t think I’d actually say yes.

So here’s the plan: we walk the canals, grab a drink, then post up on the Venice boardwalk for five or ten minutes to try and sell the sign. Steve says we’ll say it’s $200, but we’re taking $40.

This is after Kelly tells us a story from when she was a kid and wanted to sell her bike. Her Dad said to ask for 20 but take 10, so Kelly made a huge poster that said “Asking for $20 but will take $10.”

She did not sell her bike.

I have a feeling we’re going to have a similar experience today. Which is totally fine. If we can’t sell it, we’ll lean it up somewhere on the boardwalk for someone to find. I’ll write a message on the back to take a picture of it in its new home and #magicalmerrysigns.

Sounds like a good plan to me. First stop, the canals. They really are beautiful. It’s funny to be walking along the Venice Canals with Steve carrying a big sign that says Venice on it. We stop to take a picture with it and somebody walking by asks what it says. Venice. “Cool!”

Right?! It IS cool!

After a nice stroll in the sun, we walk over to James Beach. I wanted to go to Canal Club because they have excellent margaritas, but they don’t open until 5pm. James Beach, I recall, has subpar, over-priced drinks, but it’s a cool atmosphere and a scene from “I Love You, Man” was shot here.

Which, apparently, is all Kelly needs to hear. “This is the best day of my life.” The manager is sweet and lets us store our sign behind the front door. We sit at the bar – there are three seats on the end. So perfect!

I hear Kelly say, “Here comesss…” Steve and I look at her. Huh? She laughs at herself. I turn to see what she’s looking at. A woman just walked by. She has on ripped jeans and a white T-shirt with a black baseball hat on (very punk-rock-chic). Across the front of the hat in big white letters says, “TROUBLE.”

We all decide on the same margarita from the cocktail list. It takes forever for the bartender to take our order, forever for him to make our drinks, and on top of that, they’re absolutely disgusting. We can barely drink them. I want to return them but Kelly and Steve don’t want to bother. I’m typically like that, too, but these are REALLY bad. And not cheap. The bartender never even asks us how they are, nor does he notice that we’ve barely drank any. Finally, Steve has to wave him down to ask him to put a splash of OJ in each one. He does, still not asking if they’re OK, and we can at least manage to suck them down now. At least they’re strong.

We’ve finished our drinks and are ready to walk to the boardwalk to try and sell this thing. But we’re only giving it ten minutes. Then we’re out of there. As we stand, Kelly says it again. “Here comes….” The woman walks past us, back outside. I start laughing. The woman replies as she passes. “I heard that.” We all laugh – even the woman. We gather our things – and the sign – and walk out the front door. Trouble is sitting out front, smoking a cigarette. Now that we’re friends, I guess Steve feels comfortable enough to try and make a sale. (Or maybe it’s the tequila.)

Kelly and I walk past, but stop when we hear Steve talking to her. He holds up the sign, presents it to her, and asks Trouble if she’s interested. She amuses him. “That’s really nice.” Steve gestures towards me. “She made it!” Trouble looks over. “You made that?” Yea. “That’s cool.” Steve continues to try and sell her the sign. I’m getting embarrassed. She clearly just wants to smoke her cigarette in peace. Then comes the offer… “We’re asking for 200…” She stops him. “Oh, no, I don’t even live in Venice. I live in Marina del Rey. I don’t have anywhere to put that, my husband will kill me if I bring that home.” Steve continues, as if she hasn’t spoken. “But for you… we’ll give it to you for 40.”

“40 dollars? Wow, that’s a good deal…. I’m sure someone will buy that from you off the boardwalk.” OK, time to go. Steve, let’s go. Can we please go? But Steve isn’t budging. He’s still standing there, holding the sign, proudly displaying it, seeming completely comfortable in this uncomfortable situation (for me). And somehow, something happens.

Trouble says it again. “40 dollars?” She starts rummaging through her purse. “I might have 40 dollars.” She pulls out two 20’s. “OK, I’m only buying this on one condition.”

I can’t believe this is happening. I stand at attention, ready to do anything she asks. Meanwhile, Kelly takes picture of the exchange. “It’s not for me, it’s for my friend. She’s inside. She’s getting married. I know she would love this. But you have to go in there and present it to her.”

DONE.

I take the cash, smiling ear-to-ear. The three of us thank her and rush inside. We can’t stop giggling. I can’t believe this is happening!

We walk past the bar to a private room. There’s a sign out front that says, “Private Event.” We stride right past it, but a man working there stops us. “Are you with the party?” He looks at us skeptically.

Yup!

And I continue past him. Kelly and Steve follow closely behind. I open the door to a scene out of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Woah. It’s a lady’s brunch. A group of about 15 women, dressed to the nines, hair and makeup perfectly in place, sit at a long table. No wonder Trouble went outside for a cigarette break.

“Where’s Ashley?” I don’t have to scan the table too far to figure out that Ashley is sitting at the head of the table in a white dress – this is her bridal shower. All the women stop talking and look around, unsure of what to make of us. Definitely not pleased with the interruption. Ashley answers, uncertainly, like she’s not sure that she wants us to know that she’s Ashley.

“I am?”

Your friend Trouble got you a present.

I look over to a long table against the wall. It’s filled with presents, but somehow, the whole left side is completely open. And there’s an outlet right underneath.

Steve and I prop the sign up on the table and I plug it in.

Screams. Delighted screams of surprise and joy. Ashley is standing now as she walks over to the sign. “Oh my God! This is for me?!”

There’s a lot of commotion now. We explain to her that her friend bought it from us. I tell her that I made it.

“You made this?! Oh my God!” Ashley comes over to me, crying (seriously, she’s crying), and reaches out for a hug.

(Kelly tells me later that she was holding her breath during this hug because I was mid-signing the back of the sign with a Sharpie and didn’t hesitate for a second before wrapping my arms around Ashley, open black Sharpie in hand against her beautiful white dress.)

karen
Ashley and her new sign.

This is amazing. Ashley stands next to the sign and all the women (and Kelly) take pictures of her. She can’t wait to put it right above her bed.

It feels like we’re out of there as soon as we entered. What a whirlwind! That was insane!! Once out to the street, Steve, Kelly and I can’t stop laughing. I can’t believe that just happened. That was so amazing!

Steve gives me a hard time: “And you didn’t think I was a good salesman!”

Steve is so adorable and so right. I can’t believe he approached her, I can’t believe how persistent he was, and I can’t believe he just sold one of my signs. The three of us are on such a high right now.

I lived in this neighborhood for two years. Today is my last day in Venice, and is, hands down, my absolute best, most favorite day in Venice, ever.

2 thoughts on “Trouble with the Curve

  1. Wow! By far my favorite story so far … well, I really like the one about Kit from A League Of Their Own too!!!

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