January 1999
s m u g
Jessica McInroy

Note: We are currently seeking solicitations for Mysterydates: Field reports from places most people don't go - like CONS, boat shows, livestock auctions, large public niche events. If you have something in your area you'd like to write about, please write the editor leslie@smug.com

Less Than Zero

Unlike a trip to any store that sells pantyhose or pocketbooks, shopping for furniture rarely makes me feel like running far, far away, real, real fast. I kind of like the idea of walking into a room filled with bed frames and plastic covered mattresses. And who wouldn't want to sink into thirty or forty leather sofas and imagine the possibilities! Of course, when I do go to a furniture store, rarely am I greeted by a three piece band and a pair of strapping lads handing out shiny plastic necklaces...

It was Saturday night. My roommate, (whom we all call Lolita), and I were out cruising the Boston burbs in her dad's '88 Chrysler Town Car, scanning radio stations for any sign of Rupert Holmes, looking for some action. Suddenly Lolita swerves across two lanes of traffic, squeals into a packed parking lot, and says, "We're going to Jordan's!"

Oh, how I wish Jordan were that hot guy we met at Big Burrito. No. Jordan's Furniture is the Crystal Palace of furniture stores. The Natick branch glows neon pink, like a mirage just off Route 9. It was tantalizing. I didn't even bother to wonder why two fine young fillies such as ourselves were shopping for furniture on a Saturday night. I just hopped out of the Town Car and followed Lolita.

To get into Jordan's, we had to go through a giant revolving door. A magic door, I think. Two of the four sections were closed off, and in them were little mannequin children, dressed in festive garb, posed, trapped, spinning, round and round and round... We spun around with them half a turn and walked into the French Quarter of New Orleans. The two strapping lads presented us with gold and purple Mardi Gras beads. A three piece band played light jazz on a little stage to our left. Hot damn, we were on Bourbon Street! Complete with three-story facades and mannequin ladies la Blanche DuBois reclining on wrought iron balconies. (Noticeable absent: cheap beer and the accompanying cheap drunks, little boys tap dancing for spare change, puddles of urine, and the nudie bar where the sexy mannequin legs swing in and out above the entryway, inviting you in for a peek -- see photo from Jessica and Friends' Spring Break Roadtrip '96).

To our right (Toulouse Street?) was a room filled with leather sofas and glass end tables. To our left was the Bed Room, where Jordan's white-lab-coat-wearing Sleep Technicians could answer any questions you might have about mattresses. Any questions. Lolita and I wandered past "A Streetcar Named Dessert," skipped the ice cream, and sampled the vibrating recliners (with optional heat massage) in the back along with two old guys who seemed far too comfortable to be shopping. Wow, I thought. (Memories of New Orleans always strips my vocabulary down to the basics).

But as Lolita and I sat vibrating, back in the French Quarter, something was amiss. People began to gather 'round. On a giant television screen above us, the WBZ Channel 5 news team appeared with a NEWS FLASH! Briefly, I feared the worst - nuclear disaster, pop star assassination, coup d'tat by a band of long-haired hackers?! Very serious and very coifed, the reporters told us that something monumental had just occurred. For the first time in its history, the Mardi Gras parade had stopped. Someone was blocking the parade route! It was Barry and Eliot, aka the two Jordan's Furniture guys, aka the owners of Jordan's and the stars of their many fine television commercials, reclining on sleek leather sofas in the middle of the road. The parading crowd was enraged. A chase scene ensued. Back in Natick we saw it all, live, local, and late-breaking! Barry and Eliot hopped in a car like Bo and Luke Duke and zoomed through the streets of New Orleans! Yeeeeehaw!!! There was a swerve, a screech, a crash! The car burst through the doors of The House of Blues and landed in the showroom of Jordan's Furniture in Natick! But somehow during this miraculous leap, it changed from a real car with real people into a model car with automaton robot dudes that looked like Barry and Eliot but moved like epileptic disco dancers. I told you this place was magical.

Then the music started. Jazz, naturally. On one of the balconies, a pair of French doors opened, and The Supremes, or rather, three robot chicks in red satin dresses, slid out and started "singing" "When the Saints Go Marching In." Another door opened - it was The King, Elvis Presley, swinging those hips like a lecherous robot drunk. Louis Armstrong showed up on the next balcony and began to tilt rigidly over us, as though he were on a lever (which he was). The assembled moms and dads and kiddies screamed like little girls when the Beatles appeared. Everyone was clapping and singing and dancing! The music began to climax! The room filled with bubbles! A giant multicolored jester's head came shooting out of the wall in surreal slow motion! It was laughing at us - HA HA HA! I panicked. Lolita wet her pants. Everywhere we turned there were robots and bubbles! The jester's head was closing in! HA HA HA! HA HA HA!!

Then the music stopped. The robots went dead and slid back behind the balcony doors. The jester's head retracted into the wall. The bubbles drifted to the floor and popped. The moms and dads went off to buy sofas. Presumably. Um, why else would you go to Jordan's on a Saturday night?

I really did want to run away, but Lolita and I left silently, speechless. I knew what we were both thinking: Remember when there was no such thing as a mall with a roller coaster inside it? When Tiffany had never sung for a throng of shopping teens? When there was no place in this whole wide world where you could shop for furniture in an ersatz French Quarter while a cavalcade of robots sang New Orleans jazz? I don't.

Jessica McInroy reads the weather weeknights on WGBH radio. She is also writing an opera, sewing a quilt, and creating a line of all-occasion greeting cards made entirely out of clippings from UFO Abduction Magazine.


in the junk drawer

and such
and such

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