David Emami needed some extra cash after spending over $1000 on a spoon collection featuring the faces of the entire cast of Dallas. He looked around for part-time work, as his substitute janitor position wasn’t bringing in the income to support his exuberant antique and collectable appetite. After looking through the newspaper, he was intrigued by a position to pick raspberries at a farm in Lake Oswego, Oregon, which claimed to pay by each completed box that was filled. The ad promised that most people could fill boxes in 10 minutes, and with each box raking in $4 each, he could bring home $24 an hour.
When David arrived early on a Saturday morning, he was the only one there over the age of 16. Everyone else was a kid that was simply looking for a way to make some extra money for the summer months. The farmer explained, “Just fill them boxes to the brim and bring ‘em over to me. Don’t be pickin’ green berries. Just pick the red ones.”
“Well duh,” whispered David.
David made his way to the field and felt the heat of the day slam him. David started picking a few berries, and after looking all around to make sure the coast was clear, he popped a few in his mouth. After working for about 20 minutes, he was certain his box was almost full, but when he looked down, his heart sank as he realized he had only barely covered the bottom of the box. At this rate, it would take him all day to finish a box.
The bushes were not very full of berries that year. David took several minutes to even find a few decent berries, and slowly but surely, he at last filled his box. It had only taken him 6 hours. David’s dreams of making some serious cash were squashed as he walked up to the old farmer waiting in his barn.
“Some ugly lookin’ berries in there,” said the farmer, as he picked out some misshapen berries and tossed them aside into the dirt. He then picked the box up and added, “Not quite full enough yet. Maybe another cup or two, then come on back.”
“I will not!” David wiped the sweat from his face and said, “You’ll pay me my hard earned $4 and I’ll be on my way! I won’t subject myself to this slave labor any longer!”
“I won’t pay ya till it’s full!”
David reached for the box and tossed it across the barn, making the berries splatter against a horse stall and tumble into the dirt and manure.
“Why the heck did you do that?!” asked the farmer in shock.
“Go pick them yourself, Farmer John!” David stomped out of the barn and made his way to his car. The berry picking life was NOT for him.
David Emami was typically very proud of his complexion and thought that he was easily the most handsome person in Portland, Oregon. However, when he woke up and noticed a large pimple on his nose, he was devastated and almost called in sick for work. Unfortunately, he had just purchased a $1200 pant suit worn by Bea Arthur on the set of Golden Girls and knew that he needed all the money he could get.
David worked on the pimple, but couldn’t get it to pop, which only made it redder and more obvious on his fair Oregonian skin tone. He kicked his door as he left the bathroom and screamed at his cats, “What the heck are you staring at?” Barbra Streisand stared back at him with her single, oozing eye and Fred licked herself, not even paying attention to the tantrum.
David got into his Toyota Previa minivan, which was nearly full of antiques he had purchased the day prior at an antique show at the Convention Center. He still hadn’t decided how he would fit it all into his tiny apartment, but he knew it had to be done, for his own happiness hinged upon such tasks.
When he arrived at the school, he began his typical duties of cleaning the bathrooms and restocking all of the paper supplies. When he was in the boys room, a small chubby Hispanic boy walked in and immediately looked at David’s bright red nose. “Why do you have a red dot on your nose?” asked the curious little boy.
“Why are you so fat?” asked David rudely.
The little boy looked sad, as if he was about to cry. “My mommy said I’m not fat. I’m just big boned.”
“Well, you’re mommy is a no-good liar. Now go do your business and leave me alone!”
David looked in the mirror and could see that his pimple was bigger and worse than before. Humiliated, he put his supplies back into the janitorial closet and made his way to the front office. He explained to them that he wasn’t feeling well and they gladly let him go without further questioning.
When David returned home, he was finally able to pop his pimple, and after assessing the damage, he decided to call in sick the next day. His face was not ready for public viewing just yet.
David Emami hated the summer. The winters in Portland, Oregon were rainy, dark, cloudy, and dreary; just the way David liked it. Summers were hot, balmy, and miserable in the Northwest. On one such day, David watched as his cats moped around the house, seemingly dead from heat exhaustion, and decided it was time to get cooled off. David gave his cats a bowl of cold water, then got into his Toyota Previa minivan and headed to the Keller fountains in downtown.
The fountains were always crowded on hot days and consisted of various soaking levels that cascaded from the top down to the bottom, allowing visitors to slip in and soak the day away while kids ran around and jumped from pool to pool. David scoped the area and found a relatively quiet spot with no one in it and quickly claimed it to be his own.
All was peaceful until a filthy homeless man with a large grey beard slipped into the same pool as David and immediately began scrubbing himself with a dirty bar of soap, leaving bubbly suds on the surface of the water that slowly floated toward David.
“Good heavens!” said David. “Do you have to do that in a public fountain?!”
“Where else would I do it? I smell and I needed a bath! This place is as good as any place to do it!”
Some of the dirty bubbles popped on David’s chest hair, and David jumped out as if he had just potentially contracted the plague. “That is foul! What makes you think I would want to soak in your stink?!”
“Your loss man. Nice day to soak. Kids pee in this water all the time, dude. My stink is the least of your worries.”
David felt sick. The homeless man was right. The pool was probably filthy and more than likely contained brain eating amoebas that were entering his bloodstream at that very instant. He quickly ran to his car, sped home as fast as he could, and when he entered his apartment, he quickly disrobed and took a cold shower. He felt like that’s what he should have done all along and avoided the fountains entirely.
David Emami was craving Applebee's. He enjoyed their happy hour menu late at night not because he enjoyed drinking, but simply because he was quite fond of their artichoke dip and was always happy to purchase it at half price. He put on his finest black rubber boots, some baggy work jeans, and a Hall and Oates World Tour 1983 shirt he had purchased when he saw them live in Portland, Oregon. He was ready for artichoke dip.
To his surprise, the usually quiet restaurant was busy and loud. To his dismay, there were no tables left, so they asked if he would like to be seated at the bar. David rarely drank, but he didn’t want to wait, so he found himself a bar stool and waited for someone to take his order.
“All alone?” asked a hefty woman with a faint mustache and tightly coiled brown perm. She looked to be in her 40 and wore tight black yoga pants and sparkly t-shirt that said, “DIVA” on it.
Repulsed, David replied, “Yes, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
She leaned in and was immediately obvious she had just eaten the tuna on rye. “I love Hall and Oates.”
“Yes, they’re quite splendid.”
“This must be destiny,” she said as she put her beefy hand on his thigh, “Two star-crossed lovers meeting randomly at a bar who both just happen to love Hall and Oates. Care to know my name?”
“No, I’d rather not,” he replied as he pulled away and reclaimed his leg.
“And my name is Please Leave Me Alone.” He turned away from her and hoped she’d go away.
“I love me a cold shoulder,” she said as she began to massage his feeble, bony shoulders.
David pulled away. “Don’t you touch me! This shirt is priceless! Who knows what kinds of processed oils are on your fingers!”
“I was just trying to get to know you!” she said sadly.
“I just wanted some artichoke dip! You’ve ruined that for me!” David threw his menu down on the floor and started for the door.
“Can I at least get your number?” she pleaded.
“I wouldn’t even give you a cold, let alone my number!” He left the restaurant without his artichoke dip and decided to go home and eat a Hungry Man frozen dinner with his cats instead. Fred and Barbra Streisand were always good company.
David Emami sat in his big, cozy, green, antique easy chair with his feet on the ottoman. While his two cats, Fred and Barbra Streisand, licked themselves clean, David stared at his 59 year old feet and felt a little sickened. They were crooked, hairy, and scary looking. David was repulsed and knew that he had to do something about them or we would just have to wear socks for the rest of his life to save himself from seeing those offensive things again.
David pulled out his yellow pages (and he was quite possibly the one person in his entire apartment complex that hadn’t immediately recycled theirs the moment they were delivered the week prior). David found a spa that did pedicures, and though he was a little bashful, he made the appointment and was soon on his way to get his talons tidied up.
David sat down on the large chair and a Vietnamese woman quickly tended to him.
“Oh, we have much work to do!” she shouted. She then said something in Vietnamese to the other worker next to her and they both laughed hysterically.
“Are you talking about me in Chinese?” asked David.
“No. No Chinese! Vietnamese!”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry!” he replied.
She began clipping, scraping, and massaging David’s calloused feet until they began to resemble something that belonged to a human and not a lizard. David laughed a little, but tried his best to hide the fact that he was childishly ticklish.
“Wow, this is lovely,” said David.
“You feet so bad!” said the woman, still working over an hour later. “Take too long! You pay more!”
David looked at the clock. He had been so relaxed that he hadn’t noticed how long it was taking. “I’m not paying you a cent more! You quoted me $25 and that’s all I’m paying!”
She threw his feet down forcefully and said, “You pay now! I do no more! Done! I done!”
David stood up, angry and confused. “Fine then!” He grabbed his money, still standing there in his bare feet. “Take your dirty money!” He handed it to her.
“Okay, $10 more and I finish!”
“We are finished here!” he said as he marched toward the door.
“You forgot you shoe!”
“Keep them!” he said angrily as he walked to his car barefoot. He had more pairs of boots at home and he wasn’t about to humiliate himself anymore by walking back in. That was the first and last time David Emami ever got a pedicure.
David Emami’s cats, Fred and Barbra Streisand, were both very moody and were getting on David’s nerves. “I guess I’ll just have to leave then. Is that what you want?” he screamed as Barbra Streisand looked at him through her single, gooey, oozing eye. “Fine then. Consider it done.” He got on his boots and headed out, slamming the door behind him. David needed some fun, and he knew just the spot.
David walked down the street several blocks to the local roller skating rink, and to his surprise, there was a large birthday group there consisting mostly of 11 and 12 year old boys and girls. David was easily the only person on the rink that was over the age of 13, and he was okay with that. David loved to roller skate as long as no one got in his way or threw off his groove. To his dismay, the DJ seemed set on playing nothing but modern trashy music that David despised. In order to truly enjoy his time skating, he had to have music he enjoyed.
“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t play The Carpenters.”
“Well, why not? They’re phenomenal!”
“Yeah, um, there’s a bunch of like 12 year olds out there that have no idea who they are and they’d flip out if I played them.”
“That’s just unacceptable. How about Barry Manilow?”
“Not gonna happen.”
“No, but I could do Justin Bieber.”
David made a disgusted face. “Please kill me instead! How about Cyndi Lauper?”
“Dude, for the last time, I’m not playing that old stuff. Come around on Tuesdays at 10 am. We have a senior skate and play that crap for 2 hours.”
“Crap?! How dare you insult those legends!” screamed David as he roller skated away. “I’ll have you know that I won’t support this establishment anymore! Good riddance!” David yanked his skates off though he had only been there for 5 minutes, marched them to the return desk, and without even asking for a refund, he tossed them across the counter, got his shoes back on, and walked out. His skating days were over.
David Emami was delighted when his new neon pink shoelaces arrived in the mail. He had seen a flashy pair of green Converse shoes on television, and after picking up a pair of his own, knew that the laces would make his already beautiful shoes even better. He pulled off his typical black rain boots and slipped on his new shoes and laced on his new laces. For the first time in nearly 40 years, he went out wearing something other than his signature boots.
David was feeling rather showy, and decided that the best place to show off his new kicks and laces was probably the Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, OR. David took the MAX train, which stops just outside the mall, and was a little annoyed when a drunk man wearing nothing but his underwear took all the attention during the trip. Still undaunted, David entered the mall and hoped someone would take a gander at his new shoes because he was dying for validation over his new purchase.
While going up a rather long escalator, David smiled proudly and prominently displayed his shoes for all to see (though most people just looked at him like he was a total freak). As the escalator topped off, David started walking forward toward the food court, when suddenly he felt a tug at his shoes. To his dismay, the shoelace was caught in the escalator and was pulling tightly against his shoe. Several people bumped into David as he frantically yanked at his shoe, but it only made the problem worse.
“Help me!” he screamed. “I’m at the brink of death!” People looked at him with grins of their faces, which greatly irritated him. “Oh, you calloused fools! Can’t you see I’m in need of assistance?!”
Finally, a large man with a full beard said, “Here, let me help you with that,” and with a tug of his shoe, the pink lace broke off and David was free.
“Look what you’ve done to my beautiful laces, you big oaf!” screamed David as he knelt down and assessed the damage.
“You’re welcome, jerk,” said the man in an annoyed tone.
When David came home that evening, he put his foot up and iced it. He decided that tomorrow would be a perfect day to call in sick, and he vowed to only wear his trusty black rain boots until the day he died.
David Emami had chores to do, but when Superman, starring the great Christopher Reeves, began playing on television, he stopped what he was doing and watched it with the wide eyes of a child. During the commercial breaks, he dusted and folded laundry, but whenever it started back up, he was quick to come back.
When the movie was over, David felt strangely patriotic and felt that he should do more good in his community. Though he wanted to wear a red cape, he knew that he could be a superhero without wearing a costume at all. He put on his clothes and went outside, certain he would find some injustice that he could correct through his own strength and intellect.
David began walking around Portland, looking for some wrong to right, but nothing seemed amiss. No one was being mugged. No one was injured. Everything seemed just fine. Still, David knew that there was someone out there that needed help, and he wasn’t going to go back to his apartment until he had found that person and helped them.
Suddenly, after walking around aimlessly for over 4 hours, David heard a woman yell. He looked at the end of the road near an intersection and noticed a lady frantically grabbing tiny papers that had fallen out of her purse. David jumped into action and ran as fast as he could. He snatched up the papers before they were completely overtaken by the wind and proudly brought them back to her.
“Here you go, ma’am,” said David.
“Oh, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Just some coupons, but thanks anyways.” She grabbed them and stuffed them back into her purse. “I just didn’t want to litter everywhere.”
“That’s why I’m here, ma’am. I keep these streets clean from garbage and thugs,” said David in a deeper-than-usual voice.
“Well, that’s cool I guess,” she replied as she walked away.
David returned to his apartment with a sense of pride and purpose. It was as if he had been reborn. No longer would he be a passive observer: he would be Super David.
When David Emami was younger, he had been invited to a birthday party at Portland, Oregon’s only amusement park, Oaks Park. He loved his time riding the rides and eating his weight in cotton candy, and so, after seeing a commercial on television for a discount day at the park, decided that his 50 year absence was too long. He felt it was at last time to return.
When David arrived, he was annoyed to see that the main parking lot was completely full on that beautiful June day, so David was forced to drive down the street several blocks until he at last found a spot. He hiked back to the park in the heat and was unhappy before he even entered. He paid his admission and was soon surrounded by screaming kids and long lines everywhere. It was nothing like he remembered.
“Good heavens,” he exclaimed, “is there anything without a line?!” David walked around and couldn’t find anything that was worth more than a five minute wait. Then he saw it: the big pink slide that every good amusement park has, complete with burlap sacks to ride on. David’s heart raced with the thrills of childhood, and he immediately jumped at the chance to ride.
“One burlap sack, please,” he said proudly to the 16 year old acne ridden boy in charge of the slide.
“They’re just over there. You grab your own,” he replied.
“Oh,” said David, who was rather unimpressed with the boy’s lack of enthusiasm. He was, after all, in charge of the world’s best amusement park attraction.
David grabbed his sack and headed up the stairs. He was the only person over 12 years old to climb those stairs in the park’s history. Once on top, David placed his sack down and said to the nervous 5 year old chubby boy sitting next to him, “Here goes nothing! Hope we don’t die!” And away he went until he reached the bottom. His smile never left his face.
“Mind if I go again?” he asked the attendant.
“Whatever dude,” he replied
David spent the rest of the afternoon riding the slide over and over again. In total, he rode it 67 times. Needless to say, his legs were quite tired when he was done. On his way out, he purchased 3 bags of cotton candy: 1 for him, 1 for his cat, Fred, and the other for his one-eyed feline, Barbra Streisand. It had turned out to be a perfect day.
David Emami considered himself to be a connoisseur of fine art. His apartment was decorated from top to bottom with priceless antiques and memorabilia and he figured that he knew more than most people about good taste. When he heard that his childhood friend, Benny Lelong, had recently opened his own art gallery, David was eager to drop by and see what wonders his friend had created.
David drove to West Linn, a city close to Portland, Oregon, and arrived on opening day. The gallery was well-attended and David had to park across the street in an Olive Garden parking lot. He had expected to see beautiful paintings of roses, bouquets, fields of tulips, and landscapes, but what he saw instead was something he wasn’t quite prepared for.
The walls were lined with crudely drawn nude bodies of all shapes and sizes in all sorts of contorted poses. David nearly left, but suddenly, a hand slapped him on the shoulder. “David Emami? Is that you?”
David turned around and saw Benny Lelong standing behind him. “Yes, yes it is. Nice to see you, Benny. I heard you opened a gallery and wanted to check it out.”
“It’s great isn’t it? I did all of them myself. Let me show you around!” Benny ushered David around the gallery as he explained the details behind his paintings. David felt as if he was listening to explicit R-rated movie and felt very uncomfortable at the casual mentions of private parts as Benny pointed out the features on each painting. “And the best part is, I painted all of them with my feet.”
David looked down at Benny’s crippled, twisted hands. “What happened to your hands?”
“Severe arthritis. I wanted to keep painting, so I started using my feet.”
David didn’t know what to say. “Wow, well, they’re lovely.”
Benny smiled and announced, “You know what? You came out to support me, so I’m going to send you home with one for free.”
“Oh, you don’t have to,” said David.
“I insist.” Benny grabbed a painting of a male and female prancing naked through a valley of wildflowers. “This one is for you.”
David turned red. “Oh, thanks.”
“I have to get going. I’m doing a presentation for a group in 5 minutes. Thanks for coming by. Display that piece with pride. It’s very special to me.”
David thanked Benny and ran to his car, trying his best to cover his obscene painting. When David arrived at his apartment complex, he threw the painting in the dumpster to save himself and others from having to see such atrocities.
David Emami is Alone in Portland is a collection of stories that peer into the life of a middle-aged curmudgeon with a fondness for cats and antiques.
Playfully illustrated with Bitmoji characters, his story comes to life as each day brings a new adventure.
He was obsessive compulsive and mad about antiques. The apartment was covered, top to bottom, in decor that would be more aligned with that of an old woman that peaked in the 1960s. david-emami-takes-on-portland.html
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