Chapter 2 – Introducing Karma Knowles
You may be slightly curious about Karma’s name. Acquaintances might acknowledge Karma’s parents as eccentric and flighty. On the other hand, according to friends and family, Mr. and Mrs. Knowles were good-hearted people who strongly believed in the idea of karma and “what goes around comes around,” a concept both reassuring and justifying. When news arrived that they would have a daughter, their very own precious little girl to cherish, they alleged it to be a blessing from karma. Their angel to come was a gift for the honorable manner in which they lived their lives.
Of course, Karma doesn’t agree that the name is fitting … especially for her. As a child she was teased more often than not for her unusual name which caused her to put up a defensive front. As an adult she is interrogated about its origin. In order to avoid the inevitable tedious discussions she gives false names when the opportunity arises. A fine example is when we frequent Starbucks in the early mornings before work to get our skinny latte fix. Karma gives the baristas a different name every time. Whatever name tickles her fancy on that day is the one that is bestowed. Mind you ninety-eight percent of the time the same crew is working on weekday mornings so they do recognize her from previous visits … by a variety of names. As silly as it is there’s no stopping her. I’m merely an accessory to this blasphemous crime. The amusing part is that no one ever calls her out on it (aside from me). Karma does what she wants, when she wants, and without fear of reprisal. Perhaps that’s her way of getting back at her name.
I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of my dear friend on my way to Sunny News on a warm and humid Monday morning, shoulders back and determined to establish a real career. It was about time. I worked my butt off in college to get here.
Sunny News is a budding newspaper with a medium size employee base and three and a half out of five-star rating. The paper’s main focus is local news in the Ft. Lauderdale area of sunny South Florida. Sunny News is still family oriented but striving for growth. This is exactly the type of paper I’d love to begin my career with; it’s not too small, where you’d get stuck quick, and not too large, in which it would be difficult to excel gradually due to excessive competition.
Once I approach the Sunny News building, however, my determination dwindles and anxiety inevitably takes over. I stumble into the building, tripping from my own nerves, spilling hot coffee all over my blazer just before Karma saunters into the building. Fresh out of college I’m armed with my journalism and marketing degrees, sweaty armpits, melting makeup, and clammy hands. In short, I am a walking hot mess. And I was about to be late to my first interview.
“Hey. What’s your name?” Karma asks gently stepping into my path, seeing my distress.
“Hi. Lucy Post.”
“Are you here for an interview?”
“Yes.” I glance at my professional Rado watch and panic. “In five minutes! Look at me. I’m an absolute wreck.” My eyes are teary out of frustration.
She smiles sympathetically. “Wait right here.” She walks to the receptionist to whisper a few words and then yanks me into a nearby bathroom. “My name is Karma. Nice to meet you. Let’s fix you up. You can’t interview here looking like that.”
While we’re in the bathroom she asks me about myself while molding me into a proper candidate for Sunny News. She takes my sweaty tarnished suit jacket and tosses it in the garbage can adding a semi-unappreciated “ick.” Admittedly it is an old blazer but it is the best I have in my wardrobe. I was yet to have time to study the fashion world and style icons. Without the blazer I feel vulnerable in my black knee-length pencil skirt and modest black camisole. Where is she going with this? Should I fetch my jacket back? I mean I can’t see any reason not to trust her. And at this point I am desperate for help.
Karma evaluates me for a few moments, her finger steadily tapping her chin. All of a sudden she sighs.
“Here, put this on. I have a sweater at my desk I can wear.” She pulls off her gorgeous cherry red blazer with two black and white buttons. (Spoiler alert: It turns out the blazer actually fits me better than Karma so she lets me keep it as a ‘congrats’ once I am a confirmed new hire.) Karma takes my hair out of its less than exotic ponytail, pulls a few bobby pins from her tote bag, and re-pins my hair into a neat side chignon.
“Do you have red lip gloss?” She asks quickly.
“Uh, yes. I think so.” I dig it out of my bag and hand it to her.
“Smashbox? Good choice. My favorite brand.” My savior whispers and brushes my lips with the cherry red gloss.
“It was a gift.” I mutter.
Last, but not least, Karma pulls a bottle of Evian refreshing spray from her bag of tricks. “Close your eyes.” She does a quick wave over my face with the light spray.
“Alright. Take a look.” She turns me around to face the floor to ceiling mirror and grins in satisfaction. I look refreshed and brand new in all of ten minutes time. My appearance imitates the concept of flaming success. I’ve been revived!
Karma walks me to the receptionist desk and gives Tina a thumbs-up. Turning to me she grabs my arms and says encouragingly, “Call me and let me know how it goes. Here’s my card. Good luck!”
I instantly know Karma and I will become close friends.
I also have a feeling that I’ll ace the interview.
And ace it I did. I’m offered the job before I even leave the building. Thanks to Karma. I don’t care what some people say but your appearance does make a difference to a certain extent.
A couple of weeks following my successful interview at SN (it’s been a whole two weeks – of course I’m already abbreviating the company name) Karma and I are reminiscing over the whole fiasco. She still, to this day, refuses to admit she is jealous that the cherry red blazer looks better on me. I’m treating Karma to lunch at a Japanese buffet and begging her to show me how to use chopsticks for the umpteenth time.
“Seriously, Lucy?” She nearly doubles over laughing. “I cannot believe you don’t know how to use chopsticks.”
“Oh ha-ha! But be warned – I was raised on normal utensils. You know, forks, knives, and spoons. Now show me again.”
While Karma shows me how to hold the uncooperative chopsticks, with her endless supply of patience, I inquire, “Karma, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“What’s up?” She concentrates on adding just the right amount of ginger to her sashimi. Karma is all about the raw sushi whereas I am a beginner and stick to anything and everything cooked and packed into beautiful combination rolls. Oh and if it’s tempura then it’s a real bonus.
“Why did you help me on my interview day?”
“Why not?” She knits her eyebrows at the question but then claps wildly when I finally get a piece of my super roll wholly into my mouth.
“Thank you. I feel so accomplished now. I’ll have to update my Facebook status and quite possibly my resume too. Chopstick connoisseur! It is a skill. Should I send out a tweet?”
“I’m thinking no.”
“Anyway, you just said ‘why not.’ You know a lot of people wouldn’t have done what you did. You helped a floundering stranger. And thankfully you introduced me to the exciting world of fashion. So why’d you come to my rescue that morning? I’m just curious.”
Karma shrugs her shoulders. “Because.”
“Because you believe in your namesake?”
“Come on. Shyness is completely foreign to you. Give it up. I’d like to know why you did what you did.”
“Oh alright. Look, if you must know it’s quite simple. Someone did the same for me a long time ago and I only felt it was appropriate to pay it forward.”
From that moment on we were truly inseparable. Karma showed me the ropes at SN and introduced me to everyone so it was easy to fit in fast. Everyone loves Karma despite her sarcasm and cynicism – for some reason it is just so difficult to hate her. In fact, it’s impossible to dislike her persona. Something about her vibe attracts people. That and she always has donut holes at her desk. You cannot possibly loathe someone who shares donuts. Seriously.
Together we currently dominate the Marketing department at Sunny News. How cool is it that I can work directly next to my best friend?
Another reason we get along so wonderfully? We are both single gals in our prime. Karma is 31 years young and I am the prime age of 27. As far as appearances go we are fairly dissimilar. Karma’s wavy hair is deep raven black, her eyes glittering onyx, and her complexion olive toned. In contrast, my skin is a medium tone, my fine hair a delicious shade of chestnut and my eyes a similar brown. We decided that, together, our chances of meeting Mr. Right will increase; we’re a dynamic duo stealthily conquering the singles zone.
No success yet though.
We’re still working on that.
Saturday, November 26th, 2011
It’s a rainy weekend so Karma and I are having a slumber party with a twist. No matter your age, girls, you’re never too old for a slumber party. The agenda may change the older you get but the idea remains the same. The ‘twist’ consists of greyhounds (vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice), Chinese take-out, and two chick flicks that remind us, yet again, that we’re single, solely relying on each other for company – temporarily of course. Sometimes there’s dessert.
“What’s first?” I ask after sucking down my first drink greedily.
“Ummm. We have ‘Made of Honor’ for the modern chick flick and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for a dose of really old school love. Both have happily-ever-after endings.” Karma makes a gag sound.
“’Made of Honor’ first.” I pop in the DVD and right when Sara Bareilles’s “Love Song” introduces the movie with its chipper melody a knock sounds on the door. I pay the delivery boy and we set up our Chinese buffet on the floor in front of the TV.
“New York. Always. Why is New York City always featured in movies? Do movie producers have something against South Florida?” I grumble while filling my plate with sweet and sour chicken, vegetable fried rice, egg foo young, an eggroll, and crab rangoon. Scrumptious.
“I know one that was shot in SoFlo.” Karma refills our glasses.
“Oh? What movie?”
“The chick flick with Sigourney Weaver, no? And Jennifer Love-Hewitt. What was it called?” She taps her burgundy fingernails on the counter until the name comes to her. “Ah! ‘Heartbreakers,’ I think.”
“Heartbreakers?” I raise an eyebrow. “How on Earth did I miss that one?”
“Oh yeah for a part but not the whole thing. They feature the Breakers hotel.” She joins me on the floor. “Be happy with what you can get, my friend.”
“Wah Wah Wah.” I imitate the Peanuts characters. “Karma, do you realize that next week is December?”
“It sure is. Thank goodness for calendars.”
“Well what are your plans for the holidays?”
She sighs and pauses the movie. “You know I’m not really crazy about the holidays. Havent thought about it much.”
“I know. I’ve got you covered though. I have a plan.”
“What’d you come up with?”
“My parents are coming down from West Palm Beach to visit for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Why don’t you join us? It’s fun. You’ll have such a good time.”
“I know you always invite me but I really don’t want to intrude on your family time.”
“It’s not considered an intrusion if you’re invited.”
Karma hesitates, turning her eggroll over and over while contemplating her answer.
“You have to go. We’re playing pin the bulb on the Christmas wreath.” I laugh. What a silly family tradition. A wreath piñata. Who’d have thought it? And yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds.
“Okay.” She smiled.
Sadly, Karma’s parents passed away in a car accident some time ago. She has a step-brother that barely keeps in touch no matter how hard she tries to establish continual communication. Her step-brother, Evan, is a few years older than her. Evan was product of their father’s first marriage. His mother left them when Evan was only a toddler. How unfortunate and damaging for a small child. As far as we know he never did seek her out.
Evan was always the type that kept to himself but was extremely successful in school and anything he put his mind to. As soon as Evan was able to escape the household he did. He had to be out on his own. Free. There was minimal communication from Evan but he sent a letter every now and then letting the family know his whereabouts.
Mr. and Mrs. Knowles were sad that they couldn’t see Evan very often but they knew it was his nature. He had to do what he had to do. Every person is capable of making their own choices. They hoped every day that he was happy and healthy and when he came home every six months or so there was a huge celebration in honor of his arrival. His father and step-mother spared no expense. Karma was willing to help with what she could for she was always looking forward to seeing her brother.
When Mr. and Mrs. Knowles passed on Evan came for the funeral, spent the day with Karma, gave her a check for funeral expenses, and left the next morning.
“Hear anything from Evan lately?” I ask quietly. I know his infrequent communication bothers her. I hope every day, for her sake, that he’ll come around.
“You know I rarely do. I sent him an email asking if he wants to join me for Christmas. Or I could join him on the west coast. But … he declined.”
“Yeah. But you know that’s just how he is. How he’s always been.”
“Yeah. I know.” I play the movie.
We eat and drink our fill while watching ‘Made of Honor,’ adding in our bitter comments and occasionally a sigh or two filled with longing.
The movie concludes with a predictable happy ending and the credits start rolling. We pop open our laptops to work on our new blogs. Karma has her layout done and is ready for her first post: “Donut Halos.” Me? I’m struggling with the blog layout on WordPress. They charge a fee for the really nice blog themes that fit my ideas impeccably and I’m finding it difficult to choose from the free selection. The theme has to be just right, oozing perfection and class like Eryn Carlo.
While we continue our blog work we watch ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
There’s nothing like the handsome reserved Mr. Darcy for a little inspiration.