Someone had left their doll behind on a self-check machine. It was a very realistic little girl with curly blonde hair and big eyelashes.
"Oooh, look at the dolly!" Karen said. "Is it yours?"
Karen waggled the doll in my face.
"No. I'll be on Maury Povich before I admit any such thing..."
Karen lifted up the skirt. "Let's see if she wet herself! Oooh, lookit her little panties!"
Karen whooped and laughed. "Did she wet 'ums? DID SHE?!?!?" She lifted the skirt again. "Oh! What a bad little girl! Bad bad BAD!"
I pointed my eyes away from the little girl's possibly-peed panties.
"Oh, I'm being so inappropriate. I'm sorry, Greg." Karen set the doll down and patted its head. "Can you come back to the office for a minute?"
"And I'll bring our little fwiend!"
In the office Karen sat the doll in her lap, and then started crying. She had had a bad visit with the doctor. Her MS was progressing. I was flummoxed, considering how she'd just been laughing and whooping seconds earlier. But that was just it--she wasn't going to let the disease beat her. She wasn't going to admit defeat. She stroked the little girl and told me how she wasn't getting any sleep and if she could just get some sleep she knew she'd feel a whole lot better.
"Sleep is important," I said, trying not to meet the girl's stare.
"Yes," Karen said. "So, so important."
In order to give Karen a modicum of distraction, I brought up the glory of Jorel's finances.
"She got a two-thousand dollar tax refund," I said. "And she's very excited since that's the most money she's seen since the Ford administration. But because the state requires a twelve dollar fee for her to claim the refund, she can't get it."
"That's right. She told me she doesn't have twelve dollars in her bank account."
"Oh, my God. It's like working with a bag lady!" Karen yelled.
"Actually, since she's so poor, maybe she should become an artist. According to my dad that's the only way to become a true artist. Be broke-ass."
"Why is your dad so strange?"
"Never mind that. Here's a quote from his latest essay on his theory, scattered albeit, on Art....
Pseudo art is entertainment, a superficial scramble for overt differentiation often making frivolous use of resources. An artist needing money for art is less for it, therefore art suffers the moment people start paying for it. Once art is done to advantage or for social utility, it is no longer art......
I looked over at Karen. She was fast asleep with the little girl nestled in her arms. Finally, a good use for my dad's writing!