FRESH YARN presents:

Please Form Line Here
By Meredith Hoffa

In this day and age, who actually goes inside the bank?

As far as I'm concerned, the interior of the bank is kind of a non-space space reserved for a specific crowd, basically people who are either a) fundamentally flustered by ATMs, like my mom, b) applying for a loan, or c) doing something else bank-y that isn't a loan, but falls into that same category of things involving percent signs that are all too complicated for me to understand.

But on those rare occasions when I do have inside-of-bank-business to tend to -- i.e. getting quarters for laundry -- I have to say: I kind of love it. It's a quaint, old-fashioned-y type errand, and the running of it makes me feel sort of wholesome, much the way people feel, I bet, when they go to Western Union to send a telegram, say, or to get their shoes cobbled. All I know is that whenever I stride up to that faux-velvet rope and step into line amongst my fellow West Hollywood peeps, a bolt of contentedness hits me and I find myself thinking: I am a citizen of this neighborhood. And of the WORLD!

I should mention that my gusto for banking is helped along by the fact that at my local Bank of America branch, the employees -- 100% of whom are Armenian-American and/or Persian-American, by the way -- are the friendliest people on earth. At the very least they're the friendliest people in West Hollywood. Plus they're so amazingly efficient; whenever I transact with them I feel like I'm truly and thoroughly Taking Care of Business, a feeling that I just so happen to treasure more than any feeling in all of life.

So last Saturday I headed over to my B of A to do the quarters thing. I'd complete a life-affirming bank errand and then head to a yoga class taught by my favorite teacher Fusako, who's not only incredibly bendy but also adorable. (At the end of every class she goes around and gives everyone a head rub. Who knows why she does it but it makes me so excited I can barely breathe.)

When I arrived at the bank there were just a handful of customers there, and, thankfully, no line. I stationed myself behind the little island -- the one that houses all those forms and pens-on-a-rope -- and awaited my ding.

Seconds later, another customer came in and stood behind me. This person, I noticed, was phenomenally petite. Not in a midget way, just in a tiny man way. And his entire look was fabulous. He was somewhere between 40 and 70 years old, and sported a platinum-blond Phil Spector-esque bowl-cut replete with bangs that flopped "boyishly" into his eyes. Meanwhile, a vast thicket of white chest-fur lunged from his half-unbuttoned shirt and the charms from his necklaces nestled cozily into this hair -- as if it was a down quilt, or a very comfortable patch of grass. But what I actually found most beguiling about Tiny Man was his vaguely curious figure, a silhouette I will call Narrow Yet Deep. Meaning, if you measured from his bellybutton straight on through to his back, it would be possibly an insane amount of inches.

Tiny Man's overall look was utterly compelling to me. And actually, I thought, his whole presentation just so perfectly epitomized Hollywood. On the one hand he easily could have been some celebrity I was supposed to recognize; just as easily he could have been homeless and living out of a Ralph's Supermarket shopping cart on Sunset. L.A. is special.

As we waited in our little two-person line, I noticed that Tiny Man kept sighing in an irritable and dramatic fashion. It reminded me of what I used to do between the ages of ten and seventeen whenever I had to pose for a family photo. I was about to lean over to assure him that the line moves quickly and not to worry, but then suddenly, inexplicably, he let out an extra-loud sigh and then erupted. At me.


He stormed past me -- his bejeweled little body a cacophony of jingle-jangling -- and stationed himself at the very end of the velvet rope. Hands on his hips, his eyes bore into me, challenging. As if to say, "I cut you. So?"

Now, true, I hadn't been standing at the exact official spot. I'd been maybe a foot back. But the bank was empty. And who cares anyway? Sorry I'm not an overly aggressive line-stander.

"I am actually in line," I responded calmly as I strode past him to reclaim my position. And then -- because I had to stick up for myself -- in a perfectly friendly tone I added, "You don't have to be an asshole."

It was like I'd tasered him. His body vibrated. His eyes bugged out. The craziest thing, though, was his tongue, which started wagging frantically inside his little "o" of a mouth -- like there were hundreds of words in there all sparring over which should come out first.


Everyone up at the teller windows looked over, and so did the bun-headed Greeter-lady standing by the door. But I just fixed my gaze straight ahead and willed a serene, unruffled expression onto my face, an expression I hoped said, "What? There's no angry gnome screaming at me." I actually visualized being inside a soundproof box, thinking how I'd later tell my shrink Patricia that I did that, and she'd be pleased with me for coming up with such an innovative, mentally-healthy idea.

But then Tiny Man stomped right up close to me, completely disregarding the walls of my box.


I tried to just focus on maintaining my tranquil, blissed-out look, but what happened next took the crazy to a whole new level: Tiny Man started circling me. Yes, circling. Prowling, like a cheetah or a wolf or a very attentive tailor. And as he orbited me, creepily sizing me up, I grew increasingly nervous. It seemed he was preparing to strike. And by strike I don't mean physically, I mean verbally. His tongue was doing that jab-jab thing again which told me something was in the works.


He was practically upon me. Honestly, I've never been so excruciatingly adjacent to someone I wasn't hugging. All I could think about was that he was surely judging my vaguely oily T-zone. And then suddenly I realized: He was going to insult my appearance. Definitely. And the anticipation of this made me crazy-tense. What if he busted out with, "Your forehead is huger than Helen Hunt's!" or, "Your teeth are enormous, jackrabbit!"? Even though I'd already intellectually accepted these things as true, I still would've been slightly devastated if he'd said them, the same way you feel bad when kids make uncensored observations about you; it stings simply because it's the cold, hard truth being uttered aloud.

As Tiny Man continued circling and gawking, all I could do was brace myself. Ohmigod, I prayed silently. Call me ugly on the inside but please don't call me ugly on the outside. It didn't matter that I had already deemed him possibly nuts on all levels. I still cared.


A customer shot me a vaguely sympathetic look as he left the teller and then my ding finally came. Thank GOD. I practically sprinted to the window and throughout my transaction with the kind, efficient Armenian or Persian teller, I used my sweetest voice, saying please and thank you no less than thirty times. Loudly. I wanted all five people in that bank to know that I was a delightful person. But frankly it was hard to concentrate on my pleases and thank yous because a mere ten feet away, Tiny Man was ranting to the Greeter.


I got my quarters and, after thanking the teller in a freakishly loud voice, headed out. As I passed the Greeter I rolled my eyes, fully expecting some sign of solidarity in return -- the Smirk of Understanding, maybe, or just any small gesture that'd say whoa, some people. But her expression was completely devoid of any bonding quality and suddenly I felt a bolt of anxiety. A surge of un-tetheredness. Were we not bound by our common allegiance against Team Tiny Man? Or… wait. She didn't think I was the freak in the bank, did she? She didn't think I was some creep who just went around bringing "asshole" into harmonious banks, did she? Maybe she thought I'd soiled her bank with my lowbrow ways. Say asshole at Bristol Farms if you want -- but not at Bank of America. She was probably thinking that. Maybe everyone was thinking that. Ohmigod.

I walked out with a pit in my gut, that something's-awry pit that just kind of hovers and gnaws and makes everything feel gross and unsettled. One thing was for sure, though: A trip to the bank to procure quarters is nothing like a trip to the neighborhood cobbler. As it turns out, the bank is just a regular pain in the ass errand. Like the DMV or the goddamn Rite Aid Pharmacy.

As I drove to yoga I checked my rearview mirror at least a half a dozen times. I don't quite know what I actually expected to see -- I guess I thought Tiny Man might be trailing me or something. Like on foot, maybe? Or coasting on his Ralphs shopping cart? Or perhaps driving a Bentley? In the moment, all these options seemed horrifyingly plausible, and the last thing I wanted was to be caught unawares. But I made it to class, and, of course, Tiny Man was nowhere to be seen. Alas, he and I were done with each other. It was over.

But as Fusako’s soothing voice piped through the sound-system signaling the start of class, what I discovered was that it wasn’t over at all. Because as I stood in Tadasana pose in front of the mirror, I found myself scrutinizing the figure reflected back at me.

I don’t look like a lady, I ruminated, taking in my sweat-suited torso and disheveled hair sprigging out wildly from my neon Forever 21 headband. I should work on being more of a lady. Whatever that means. But more importantly, am I really “disgusting”? Disgusting? I guess bringing asshole talk into lovely Bank of America IS the kind of thing a disgusting person would do… so… this makes me a little disgusting! Good god. How would I even go about fixing that?...

Unfortunately I barely registered Fusako’s end-of-class head rub. My mind was still whirring. So, in the name of progress and self-improvement, I made a commitment -- right then and there. It was time to Take Care of Business. First task on my list: I must finally do something about my oily t-zone.

Even if it means a trip to the goddamn Rite Aid Pharmacy.


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