The Persona Store
Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved.
Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341.
The Persona Store
'Be the person you admire most', said the sign in the window.
'As low as $399!'.
I like browsing the boutiques on Madison Avenue. It cures me
of any good opinions I might have of my fellow men. Case in point: The
It's a small shop in the fifties. I waddled into it recently
expecting to find the usual share-the-wealth East Side clothing store:
high prices, low quality, and snooty sales people.
Instead, I met Mindi, the thoroughly modern woman. Almost good
looking, though she did her best to hide it. A dress like the one my
grandmother uses for dusting, jogging shoes, gaudy jewelry, and a
farmer's handkerchief tied conspicuously around one knee.
She virtually leapt upon me. "Boy!," she said. "You got here
just in time!"
"Just in time for what?"
"No, I mean that we can really do a =lot= for you..." She
sized me up from head to toe, frowning. "Who did you anyway...? I hope
you got your money back."
"Who 'did' me?"
"The look. The look. =Who=--or should I say what--is
responsible for that?"
I said: "If you mean who dresses me, I do."
"Well, that explains it..."
She held up her hand. "Don't take offense. I just mean it
=looks= like something someone would do for himself. =Espe=cially a
I was wearing charcoal grey slacks, a white shirt and a black
leather baseball jacket. Comfortable black loafers and my very best
smile. No fashion plate, I'm the first to admit, but clean and decent
and respectable. And I am =not= accustomed to being looked at like one
of the 'homeless'.
"It just =won't= do," she said. "But, of course, you =know=
"For sure. Why else would you come here?"
"In order to become the person I most admire?," I asked.
"Ex=act=ly! So what would you like... Yup? You'd make a good
Yup. Got the right build for it..." She took a tape rule from the
pocket of her dress and began to measure my shoulders.
"Yuppie," she said. "You know. Young, urban, professional. The
perfect persona for the un=fath=omably unfashionable. Almost no
effort, but it looks like you went to =all= that trouble, if you know
what I mean." She grinned.
"I'm not sure I do... You sell personas here? Personalities?"
"That's right. Finest in the city."
"=Ab=solute best." She began to tick off points on her
fingers. "Not just fashion. Hair. Walk. Speech. Likes and dislikes.
I cut her off: "You =sell= likes and dislikes?"
"No, no! We =teach= you what to like and dislike. We have
classes in behavior modification, how to become the person you admire
"Who is not yourself..."
"=Ob=viously. Take Yups for instance. Most people think Yup is
just a look. Wear a baggy suit, running shoes, carry a sloppy
briefcase and you're a Yup, right?" I shrugged. "Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Yup isn't just a look, it's an =at=titude. Non-plussed, the walking
dead. Head always turned to forty-five degrees."
"But then you can't see where you're headed."
"Ex=act=ly! When you're Yup, you don't =need= to see where
you're going. Other things: the Goofy jaw droop--"
"You =know=! The Disney character. No matter how baggy your
suit it, you can't be a Yuppie until you learn to look like Goofy."
"Enough," I said. "It's not for me."
"Well, what about the Mandonna look?"
"'The Mandonna look'...?"
"The =lat=est thing. It's the Madonna look for males. We have
all the basic items, plus accessories. And we offer two classes,
Ragpicker I and II, to help you maintain the look. In just two weeks,
you'll be indistinguishable from any slob."
"Why would anyone =pay= to look like a slob?"
"It's a =ver=y hot persona..."
"...I don't think so."
"Well, how about Banker's Grey. That's =al=ways in style.
Comes with free horned-rim glasses."
"But I don't need glasses."
"Every banker needs glasses. It's part of the persona."
"But I don't even work for a bank... Besides, I don't like the
way bankers look."
"Well," she said, "you've =got= to be =some=body."
"I =am= somebody."
She gave me a dubious look, then erased it. "Look. You think I
want to sell you something..." I nodded. "Well... I do, but it's not
what you think."
"No. I like my job. I'd do it even with=out= the commission.
You see, I like helping people =find= themselves."
"What if I already know where my self is?"
"That's not what I mean. I mean, helping people become more
recog=niz=able, more in tune with others. It's fine for you to say
=you= know who you are, but who =else= does?" Her eyes lit up. "Do you
see what I'm saying? Your persona should comm=un=icate. It should say:
Hey, there! You know me! After all, I'm you! =To=tally. Right down to
the last bicuspid and stomach rumble. You can trust me, because we
both think and do and talk about the same things. We're do-it-yourself
"Hey!," she said. "How about Yachtsman? You'd look =dash=ing
as a Yachtsman."
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