The weather is gray today, and the guests are few. Lady B. and I aren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves.
“I know,” I say. “Lady B., why don’t you join me in a mental visualization exercise.”
Lady B. gives me a blank stare. “What?”
“Just close your eyes. We’re going to play a lovely game of wishes.”
Lady B. obliges, but warily.
“Now,” I say, “imagine that you have the delight of owning your very own shop.”
Her eyes fly open. “My very own shop?” she asks, offended. “A delight? I should never be so absurd as to willingly imagine myself in trade. Am I to be lowered to such a demeaning state? What a suggestion, Miss Dare.”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to offend. I’m used to it being a pleasant daydream–the idea of opening one’s very own shop. I’ve always loved to sit and ponder what kind of business I’d create, if I had unlimited time and funds. In fact, Pauline, the heroine of Any Duchess Will Do, shares my long-held dream of opening a little bookshop.”
Lady B. harrumphs. “Dreams of shopkeeping may be all very well for you and your heroine. But you are not a lady, Miss Dare. I am assuming this ‘Pauline’ is not, either?”
“Oh, no. Pauline is no lady. Nor even a gentlewoman. She’s a barmaid.”
“Yes! Oh, and by the way–I’ve invited her to come by the Ballroom next week. You can ask her all about her shopgirl aspirations then.”
Lady B. shakes her head. “I truly don’t think I shall.”
“Come along, my lady. Surely it doesn’t hurt to imagine, does it? Isn’t there a small part of you that loves the idea of a cozy shopfront, just full of shelves stocked with beautifully arrayed goods of your choosing? The empowerment that comes with managing your own establishment? The fun of welcoming customers and friends, tallying their purchases and making change?”
“What does that even mean, ‘making change?’”
“Never mind the details. It’s all just imagining, in good fun. For instance, you could have your own teashop! Or a confectioner’s. Beautiful, smiling people would come in all day long, and you would serve them iced cakes and lemonade, along with morsels of the latest gossip.”
“But I do all those things as a matter of course, during my mornings at home to callers–except here, in a gracious, well-appointed home.”
“You could open a milliner’s shop, or a mantua-maker’s! You could be up-to-the-minute in all the latest fashions.”
“But I am up to the minute in the latest fashions. I set the latest fashions.”
I bite my lip, thoughtful. “Hmm. But there are all sorts of shops in the world. Wine shops, cheese shops, glove shops, shoe shops, flower shops, eel pie shops…”
A loud squawk jogs my thoughts.
“Thank you, Albert. Even bird shops!”
What sort of shop do you think Lady B would be best suited to open?
And if you had the funds and opportunity, what sort of shop would you open?