I hope that you enjoyed our camping trip with the class and are ready to go shopping with Andy and Paulette!
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 57: Ruby’s New Dress
Andy did like shopping but he’d always found it quite lonely. When Paulette had agreed to go on a shopping trip with him when he was trying to see if she would go out with him, he’d spent two shopping marathons to attempt to find the right outfit to wear.
He was working very hard with his dad to make sure that both Paulette and Little Agnes had all the luxuries they wanted. He’d even asked Mary-Lou if he could do extra work for her to earn some extra income… and afford to buy an engagement ring for Paulette… in case she might want to marry him but he wasn’t good at selling furniture, his ability with plants was very minimal—a light misting every now and again, he could cope with but maintenance required the ability not to fall asleep where he stood.
‘Ruby, you listening?’ Paulette asked as she stroked over his arm.
‘Hmm?’ Andy blinked a few times to focus on their kitchen, the table they were sitting at, and eyed her. ‘Not as well as I would have liked to have been.’
Paulette smiled and leaned onto his shoulder. ‘I don’t want you taking another job.’ She smiled at him and held onto his hand. ‘I like you and I would like to see you other than when you’re in a cute heap on the bed.’
He chewed the inside of his cheek and tried to smile. ‘You won’t like it when we have no heating.’
Paulette rolled her eyes. ‘So binary, Andy.’ She got up and put on her shoes—she knew how to make simple trainers look beautiful.
He frowned. ‘Binary?’
‘Yes,’ Paulette turned and waved at the sink. ‘Next, you’ll be asking me to make sure dinner is on the table for you.’
‘I won’t.’ He rubbed at his chin—needed waxing. ‘Will I?’
‘We have a baby and you forget that you’re Ruby as much as you’re Andy and now you’re spending as much time in work as you can not to see your family.’ Paulette whacked her hand to her thigh like she was wielding a plimsole. ‘I’m sorting you out.’
‘You are?’ Andy groaned to his feet then paused because his dad—no, wait, his grandad groaned like that. ‘I like seeing you.’
‘Do you?’ Paulette folded her arms then wagged her finger then tutted. ‘You aren’t giving us that impression.’
Andy hurried over to her. ‘I can, don’t ditch me… I can show you.’
Paulette narrowed her eyes. ‘Ditch you?’
‘Yes,’ he said then shrugged. She had her Plimsole face on which was always scrumptious.
‘I had a baby with you. We’ve gone through this.’ Paulette whacked him on the thigh which she usually did when she was massaging him. Those plimsoles were fantastic for getting aching muscles relaxing.
‘I know… but you could have just been… well maybe you were being nice.’ He stuck out his thigh in case she wanted to whack him again. His legs were so heavy. ‘You have a baby with me but that doesn’t mean you really like me.’
Paulette rolled her eyes and strode to the front door. ‘Get the keys, Ruby.’
‘Plimsole,’ he mumbled and sprinted after her, grabbing his coat, keys and shutting the front door. ‘Are we going to class?’
‘In the middle of the day?’ Paulette walked to her car and got in.
Andy rubbed his hands to his face. ‘I’m supposed to be in work?’
Paulette wound down the window. ‘No, you have a day off.’
‘I do?’ Andy wheezed out his relief and trudged to the car. ‘I thought you said to get the keys?’
‘The house keys,’ Paulette glanced at the self-locking door then started her car. ‘I’ll get Ricky or Mum to break in.’
Andy climbed into the car and did up his seatbelt as Paulette drove them through the town. He waved at George heading into Diane’s salon with a few trays of chips, then Hedges and Mary-Lou chatting outside Hedges’ shop while Billington pounced someone trying to get into her van.
‘Stop, stop,’ Andy said and waved his hands around. ‘Where’s Agnes?’
Paulette eyed him then kept driving as Tammy and Tracy waved frantically back then snorted to each other.
‘We don’t have Agnes with us,’ Andy said and swivelled to yell at her. ‘Our baby.’
‘I remember she’s our baby and the pain it took delivering her.’ Paulette flashed at someone driving toward them. ‘She’s with my mum and dad.’
He frowned. ‘But we take her everywhere.’
‘We’re having a parent outing.’ Paulette zipped them onto the main road. ‘Together, alone, you and I, Ruby.’
He smiled. It sounded so much like fun. Then he paused. ‘Why?’
Paulette zoomed them down little lanes and main roads without even looking at him but her lips were pursed enough she could make duck impressions with them.
‘Have I forgotten an occasion?’ He rubbed his chin—he had stubble, sharp, mean stubble. His dad would be happy. ‘It’s not your birthday or mine…’
‘Does it need to be a special occasion for us to go somewhere together?’ Paulette zipped the car off the junction and pulled up outside a cute little town called Mountbatten. It was one of those really cute places with cobbled streets and sweet looking shops and pubs.
‘I wanted to visit here since I was little,’ he said as they got out. ‘I was sick when we had a school trip here.’
‘Your mum said.’ Paulette took his hand and headed into the first shop. ‘We need to get you new work trousers.’
Andy wandered around the shop, not happy with the prices but he’d buy something because hopefully that would make Paulette not stare at him like she was. He wasn’t sure if she was angry but then it was hard to tell with Paulette. He reluctantly bought over-priced work trousers and tried to get something for her but she strode out before he could.
He hurried after her then stopped and waved as he spotted Stan in his old uniform. ‘You look very handsome, Stanetta.’
Stan stopped, looked over and grinned. ‘Thanks, didn’t fit into it for a while but the dancing helps.’ He thumbed to the services’ centre. ‘We had a parade.’
‘Ooh, I would have enjoyed that. Why don’t we get to see you parade?’ Andy glanced around for Paulette then saw her up ahead. ‘Why don’t we get to see you dance in uniform.’
Stan puffed out his chest. ‘Gaynor quite likes it too.’ He winked then thumbed to the centre. ‘Should get back. We did it to celebrate a mate.’
Andy saluted then winked and hurried after Paulette. ‘They had a parade.’
‘They do sometimes,’ Paulette mumbled and dragged him into another shop. ‘You need new shirts for our shows.’
Andy pursed his lips. They were very expensive and very nice but more so expensive. ‘Can I just use stain remover on my own shirts?’
Paulette held his eyes.
‘No then,’ he said and sighed and tried on the shirts then smiled at himself in the mirror. They were fabulous.
Paulette looked over from the clothes rail and smiled. ‘You’re buying that one in several colours.’
He tried not to show how thrilled he was. ‘They are costly.’
Paulette held his eyes.
‘Fine, don’t blame me if you can’t get fish and chips.’ Andy bought the shirts then Paulette dragged him to another shop—for trousers—and another—for shoes—and another for clothes for class—and another—for new trainers.
She stopped outside a very expensive looking dressmaker’s. ‘You need a new dress.’
‘I have dresses, Plimsole,’ he whispered then checked no one was listening in. This was a place wear Glynnis-a-likes and Mary-Lou-a-likes lived. He was sure they didn’t do non-binary.
Paulette held his eyes.
‘Glare all you like,’ he mumbled as two ladies walked by. They were wearing three years worth of salary in their ears alone. ‘I can’t afford it.’
Paulette strode in.
He sighed and hurried in after her. There was a dress, a slinky, stylish, glamourous affair with the perfect cut and sweeping neckline and the Ruby inside buckled at the sight.
‘Try it on,’ Paulette said and dragged him over.
He glanced at the man and woman on the counter. ‘I’m from Bumblethorpe. They’ll arrest me for looking at it.’
‘They won’t.’ She shoved him toward the dress. ‘Put it on.’
‘I can’t afford it.’ Andy flapped his hand about.
‘Then window shop.’ She plucked the dress from the stand and shoved him into the dressing room.
He sighed and tried it on then something caught and he yelped as it grazed against his back. He turned the dress and frowned at the very dazzling zip. ‘The fastener is worth more than my dad’s business.’
‘It’s an accessory,’ a gentleman’s voice said. ‘You should put it on.’
Andy removed it from the fastener. It was a very shiny ring. Bit expensive for dress item but then humble Bumble-boys didn’t go in posh shops.
‘Do you like it?’ Paulette asked.
He pulled back the curtain and strolled over to her. ‘Of course I like it, it’s very expensive, incredibly classy and fits me perfectly.’ He flopped his ring at her. ‘I especially adore this item.’
Paulette wrinkled her eyebrows up.
‘I’m not buying this, I’m not even looking at the price tag.’ He sighed then shrugged. ‘I don’t have the money.’
‘Go in the dressing room, look at the price tag and try again.’ Paulette met the man’s eyes then rolled hers. ‘She used to like shopping.’
‘I do like shopping.’ Andy paused then eyed the man and woman who were smiling not glaring at him. ‘I… I’m in a dress.’
‘You’re not pulling faces.’ He frowned at them.
They shook they heads.
‘We love the show,’ the man said and wrapped an arm around the woman’s shoulders. ‘We’ve seen it in several towns.’
‘What show?’ Andy asked.
‘Your show,’ the man said then smiled. ‘You wear a dress far better than the guy who falls over all the time.’
Andy chuckled. ‘Georgetta has his own charm.’ He wagged his finger at Paulette. ‘And even with discount, I can’t afford this.’
She held his gaze.
He flapped his hand at her and strode into the changing room and grabbed the tag. ‘It says sold.’
‘The other side,’ Paulette snapped.
He flipped it over and it said, ‘I’m marrying you and I expect you to wear this to our engagement party.’ He blinked at it. ‘This has a message for someone else on it.’
Paulette ripped the curtain back. ‘Do you need me to yell at you?’
Andy frowned. ‘I can’t buy a dress that’s sold and is clearly proposing to someone else.’
Paulette looked at the counter. ‘I swore he was intelligent when I met him and I know Ruby is.’
Andy pursed his lips. ‘That is very demeaning, Plimsole.’
‘It’s easier than hitting you with my plimsole when I’ve gone through all this stress to get you the dress and you don’t get it.’ Paulette pointed with both hands to the shopping bags. ‘Did you look at any of the price tags?’
‘Yes, well, not really. I just glanced at the stand they were on.’ He shrugged, still not sure why she was angry. ‘I wanted to buy you clothes.’
Paulette held his eyes. ‘Look at the receipts.’
He pulled out his wallet from his jeans and filed through them then frowned. ‘I paid nothing for any of these clothes.’
The man and woman shook their heads.
‘As you didn’t read the tags, I’ll tell you what they said.’ Paulette folded her arms. ‘I love you and I don’t know why you haven’t proposed.’ She ticked off the first receipt. ‘But as I like you on a roof,’ she said and pointed to the work trousers. ‘I like you in and out of a shirt.’ She pointed to the shirts. ‘I like you when you’re smart and when you’re in dance clothes.’ She pointed to the dress. ‘I loved this dress and want you to wear it.’ She pulled the price tag for the engagement ring off the hanger. ‘But I would love it much more, and Agnes agrees, if you’d marry me.’ She pointed to herself.
He blinked. ‘But I’m saving up to propose to you.’
She rolled her eyes. ‘So binary, Ruby.’
‘It is.’ He hugged himself.
‘So?’ She waved her hand at him.
‘You need me to answer?’ He grinned and danced around then squealed then threw himself into her arms. ‘YES!’
Paulette nodded to the window where the class peeked in through and Tammy shook her head.
‘And I thought Paulette wasn’t switched on when she bought a car from Ricky,’ Tracy said flashing her gold tooth.
Andy didn’t care, he kissed Paulette then hurried to the door as Gaynor and Paulette’s Mum wheeled in Little Agnes who beamed up at him and held up some flowers.
‘Oooohby,’ Agnes said in her cute voice. ‘Muuuuuummmm.’ She nodded then giggled.
‘That’s my favourite poem,’ Andy said and took the flowers and kissed her.
Paulette leaned down and picked Agnes up. ‘She’s been working on it.’
He kissed both his ladies then dabbed at his eyes with a tissue Lanie handed over. ‘This is so non-binary.’ He smiled and cuddled into Paulette then smiled at the tag in his hand which said, ‘Ruby’s new dress.’