Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved. Direct inquiries to CIS I.D

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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 Persona Store. 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..." "Explains what?" She held up her hand. "Don't take offense. I just mean it =looks= like something someone would do for himself. =Espe=cially a =male= someone." 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= that." "I do?" "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. "'Yup'?" "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." "Finest personalities?" "=Ab=solute best." She began to tick off points on her fingers. "Not just fashion. Hair. Walk. Speech. Likes and dislikes. Eyewear. Food--" 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 most." "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--" "Goofy?" "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." "Isn't it?" "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 twins!" I frowned. "Hey!," she said. "How about Yachtsman? You'd look =dash=ing as a Yachtsman." # # #

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