One day Jeff and I drove by the Vespa store on Marquette and Seventh – neither of us even knew there was such a place – and inside the boutique we could see the gal with the long brown hair and the tight gray dress and "the curves just like the scooters" as Jeff put it. We talked about her for blocks. About how she sells scooters just by being her. How geek dudes slap down plastic – likely too chicken to walk onto a car lot and negotiate a deal with some used-car salesman sleaze sporting a short-sleeved dress shirt and moustache – and buy a cherry-red scooter from her. They buy accessories and specialty items too, of course. That's where these places make good money.
That afternoon driving home down Lyndale I got stuck in traffic behind two gals in a Jeep. They were wearing halters and played with their hair the whole half-mile that I trailed them. I emailed Jeff when I got home: It's gonna be a great summer.
Today, Jeff said he was going to the FedEx store on Ninth and Marquette. I said you stopping by the Vespa store? He said maybe, then chuckled. Then he said: You wanna come with? We could go to the Vespa store! I said sure, grabbed my shades, and we bolted for the door.
We hit the Vespa store, we look for the Girl With The Curves. Instead, we see a cute, mini-skirt-sporting waif with a bob haircut sitting on a stool at the counter. We wander up to a scooter. The waif says hi, asks us if we have any questions. Jeff fires the Big One right off the bat and asks: How much? She is immediately bored with us, I can tell. She says two grand for one model, three grand for the better one. Jeff asks: How many gears does this model have? She flashes him an oh-so-quick dirty look, then mumbles something about how the scooters have automatic drive, so you don't need to worry about the number of gears. I know little about vehicles and less about the selling of them, but I don't think this is the right answer.
Jeff and I are dressed like lieutenants of leisure: sneakers, khaki shorts, teeshirts that have some sort of dumb logo on them. Sure, it's probably obvious that neither of us are going to be buying scooters, but the brush-off is remarkable. Especially considering that we are the only ones in the store. The waif never makes any effort to get up and make a pitch. I notice she has a touch of acne on her cheekbones, I think she's not a day over twenty. I'm guessing whoever runs this store is a male in his forties or fifties who hires Retail Babes straight outta the Gap. And five years from now, when I'm telling this story, the waif will be filing her nails as she talks to us.
I consider asking: So exactly how is this scooter different from a moped? Or maybe I could declare: I had a minibike when I was like twelve and it kicked ass! Do these things run good on gravel? What I don't consider is joining some boyish subculture where I buy a scooter, get a dork haircut and an army jacket, and then ride around town pretending I'm in Quadrophenia.
Speaking of which, I see a display with a 1965 Pete Townshend photo, he's windmilling his guitar. I wander over to take a look. The display is selling Quadrophenia DVDs and is also advertising The Who's Ultimate Collection. With the display are Who pins and Who pamphlets. The waif says everything is free except the DVDs. I take this as a nudge: Grab your free stuff then get out my store and make room for some cute guys with money. I grab some Who pins, then go look at the Vespa helmets, Vespa shaving kits, Vespa coffee mugs, Vespa books, Vespa polo shirts, Vespa teeshirts, Vespa hoodies, and Vespa backpacks.
Too cute. Fuck, just give me four wheels and a roof over my head.