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The Real Thing (A Retail Fantasy)

from A Thing So Real by Sandy Cash

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I remember when it happened, I was feeling pretty down
I thought I’d lift my spirits with some shopping in the town
The lights the noise the musak and the crush of humankind
Would all unite to drive the day’s disasters from my mind

To get the full effect I chose a huge department store
The kind with festive banners and a glass revolving door
An outstretched hand, a clockwise push that’s all it took for me
To join the teeming masses for some retail therapy.

I searched through all the clothing, the jewelry and the rest
But every purchase option seemed to get me more depressed
No matter where I turned and looked the offerings seemed to be
Designed for someone younger, thinner, wealthier than me

So I gave up, admitted to myself that I’d been beat
But the soda machine called to me as I turned toward the street
A jolt of caffeine, saccharine, and caramel coloring
And hey, the sign assured me that it was the Real Thing

My coins clinked to the bottom, the drink shot down to the hole
But the can slipped through my grasp and on the floor began to roll
I reached out — suddenly I felt I’d slipped into a dream
Because that can of Coke — I swear — chugged off on its own steam

It zipped through ladies’ lingerie and down the housewares aisle
It hopped the escalator with me following all the while
Although I feared I’d lost my mind I held tight to the trail
As it rolled down a darkened hall beyond a years’ end sale

I took a look around just to make sure the coast was clear
Then followed down the corridor my heart pounding with fear
Down at the end a mirrored wall gleamed dimly in the light
I stared and saw the can roll through that mirror, out of sight

I walked up to the mirror and I reached out with my hand
My fingers slipped right through like Alice’s in Wonderland
I gulped, then squeezed my whole self through to see what I would find
I found a store, but nothing like the one I’d left behind

The shelves were lined with presents, all in shining paper wrapped
But as I reached for one, I felt my shoulder being tapped
"This one’s for you" the salesman said, "We’re really glad you came"
He handed me a box and on the card was my own name
"I’m not quite sure I get it," I said, a little lost
What exactly is this gift and how much does it cost?"
"It’s not for sale," the man replied, it’s meant for you alone.
Besides, it makes no sense to buy what you already own."

"But what’s inside?" I asked the man. He said, "It’s hard to tell.
You could be a stranger to this gift or know it very well.
But if you want to use the gift there’s really just one way
Don’t take it home – but leave it here to always give away."

He pointed out an empty space upon a nearby shelf
I hesitated, hoping I could keep it for myself
"But surely you have something I can take home from the store?
Without something in hand I’ll never know what this was for."

The salesman smiled and said to me, "Now here’s the tricky part.
You don’t need things in hand when you can hold them in your heart.
And if you feel you’re missing something, well, that may in fact be true.
But that empty space feels fuller when you give the gift of you."

I smiled and thanked the man and left my box there in the store
And suddenly I found myself in the real world once more
I pushed through that revolving door and strode off through the night
But not before I stopped by that machine and bought a Sprite.


from A Thing So Real, released January 11, 2003
by Sandy Cash © 2003 Bud-Man Music (BMI)


all rights reserved



Sandy Cash Israel

From the Midwest to the Middle East, American-born singer-songwriter Sandy Cash is a musical storyteller whose thoughtful – and theatrical – performance style is rooted in the songs on which she grew up back in her native Detroit.

Sandy draws on history and present-day politics, while exploring themes such as the sustaining love of family, a commitment to community, and a healthy sense of humor.
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