My phone rang while I was adjusting one of my easels, a lightweight thing which collapses at odd moments for no particular reason. Despite almost tripping over my model's feet (in other words my own feet, since I was painting a self-portrait), I managed to run to my living space and grab the phone before it kicked into voicemail. "Hello?"
"May I speak with Nancy?" The voice on the line was male, the kind of baritone which usually emanates from leading men in chick flicks
"This is Nancy," I said, fluttering my eyelashes at myself in the mirror above the phone.
It turned out that the caller was a telemarketer. He'd telephoned to try to sell me something I had no intention of purchasing. I listened to his entire sales pitch, though; I didn't want him to stop sending that delicious voice in my direction. When he finished his spiel I said, "Sorry, I can't afford it. But thanks anyway."
His tone turned sympathetic. "Hey, are you getting blasted by the weather?"
I looked out the window. Snow was swirling in all directions, buffeted by the cruel, icy wind, but the last thing I wanted was for a dreamboat telemarketer to feel sorry for me. "No."
"I thought the entire Midwest was getting pummeled."
"Not us. Minnesota isn't really the Midwest." I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my head. "Why do you ask? Are you getting blasted by the weather?"
"I'm in L.A.," he said. His voice was smug.
"Oh, I used to live there," I said in a breezy contralto. "L.A. gets blasted by other stuff, like earthquakes and smog and traffic jams."
His tone grew serious. "I know. I can see Hollywood Boulevard from my window, and it's gridlock because of some big film premiere."
"Traffic is never a problem here," I said. "Minnesotans are very efficient." I leaned forward for a better view of 4th Street, where cars were snarled in the snowstorm, spinning their wheels as they tried to inch forward.
"I still can't believe you didn't get hit by that storm. The news said Minnesota has blizzard conditions."
"Maybe somewhere in Minnesota, but not where I live. Today is sunny, and the sky is blue as a picture postcard."
"I thought California owned the sun," the telemarketer said.
"We have a different sun here," I said. "It's because we're so isolated."
"But sunny or not, Minnesota is so cold. How can you stand it?""
"I live in St. Paul. It's warmer here because of the river." I stood up."Well, I should go. There are lots of parties going on tonight, and I'm invited to all of them."
After I hung up the phone, I sat for awhile gazing out my window at the bleak winter cityscape, trying to remember why I moved back to Minnesota from Los Angeles. Yeah, L.A. was expensive and polluted, and the earthquake threat was scary...but the weather was perfect almost every day.
Suddenly I remembered the problem with Los Angeles: everybody was always trying so hard to impress everyone else, I could never tell whether people were lying or telling the truth.
I hate it when that happens.