Luigi had just moved into what some would call a seedy part of Castle City. The crime rate there was a little high and the residents of the area weren’t exactly the classiest of people. Luigi assumed that if he wasn’t seeing them hanging out on the street, they were most likely hanging out at the Walmart across town.
Until recently, he’d been living in New York City and had spent almost his entire life working for his family’s dry cleaning business. He had a falling out with them over something ridiculous and he decided his best move was to leave the area and go somewhere far away and start his own dry cleaning business. Not that Castle City, Delaware was that far away, but it was far enough.
He found a spot in a shopping center that also contained a hair braiding place, a Chinese take-out place, a liquor store, a pawn shop, and a New York Fried Chicken franchise. Luigi had noticed that there seemed to be a New York Fried Chicken every mile or so in Delaware. He knew there had to be more of them there than he’d ever seen in New York.
Luigi was about to open up his business but he still wasn’t sure what to call it. His last name was Donatello, but he figured that LUIGI DONATELLO’S DRY CLEANING was a little too wordy. Plus, since sign-makers usually charged by the letter and he was on a tight budget, he opted to shorten it and go with LUIGI’S DRY CLEANING.
To save even more money, he decided to get a local artist to make the sign for him. He hired an artsy, hippie-type named Zippy, who agreed to do the work cheap and quickly.
On the day before his business was set to open, he went to pick up the sign from Zippy. When he got there, another man answered the door. Luigi was surprised the man was there and not at a Grateful Dead convention. He looked even more like a hippy than Zippy did.
“Hey, what’s up? Can I help you, dude?”
“I’m Luigi Donatello. Zippy was making a sign for my new business. Is he here?”
“No, man. He had to go away for awhile.” The man hesitated a little bit. “He got arrested last week.”
Luigi began to panic. He was set to open up the next day. “This is no good. I need my sign now. Right now.”
“Don’t sweat it, man. I’m Zippy’s partner, Zeppo. I finished all the work he was hired for. What’s your name again?”
“Luigi Donatello. I’ve got a dry cleaning business. Luigi’s Dry Cleaning.”
Zeppo gave Luigi a blank stare. “No, that can’t be right.”
“Huh? What do you mean it can’t be right?”
“Uh, hold on. Let me go and get your sign from the back. I think we might have a little problem.” He quickly walked away through a nearby door.
Luigi wondered what the little problem could possibly be. All the sign was supposed to say was LUIGI’S DRY CLEANING. Then there was the little drawing of Luigi holding a shirt. Zippy had even taken a photo of Luigi so that he could paint a very realistic likeness of him.
Zeppo came out of the back carrying the sign but Luigi could only see it from the back.
“Uh, uh…” Zeppo said not so intelligently.
“Let’s see it.”
Zeppo turned the sign around and Luigi looked at it. He closed his eyes in hopes that what he had seen was caused by a problem with his vision. He reopened his eyes and the sign looked the same.
The little drawing of him wasn’t him at all. In fact, the color of the man’s skin in the drawing was yellow and the man appeared to be Chinese.
But that wasn’t the worst part. The wording on the sign was entirely wrong. Instead of reading as LUIGI’S DRY CLEANING, it said LUI GI’S DRY CLEANING.
“What the hell?” Luigi yelled. “Who the hell is Louie Gee?”
“No, man. I think it’s pronounced Loo Guy.”
“I’m not Loo Guy! I’m Luigi. It’s one damned word. What the hell happened?”
“I just followed the instructions I was given.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Luigi. “Here. See?”
Luigi looked at it and in big letters it said the name of his business but there was a little space in between Lui and gi.
“You idiot. Yeah, there’s a space there, but that’s a little ‘g,’ not a big ‘G.’ That should have told you that it wasn’t two different words.”
“Hey, man. You don’t have to be mean. Zippy’s never been good with capital letters, so I thought he made a mistake and I fixed it.”
“You didn’t fix anything!” Luigi was sweating and felt like his head was going to explode. “Plus, how did you screw up the drawing of me? You made me Chinese.”
“Well, with a name like Lui Gi, I figured you had to be Chinese. It’s a good little Chinese guy there, don’t you think?”
“No. It’s not even a good little Chinese guy. It’s too stereotypical. Look how slanted you made his eyes. Plus, he’s completely yellow. He looks like a Chinese cousin of The Simpsons!”
“Dude, that’s amazing. I was thinking of The Simpsons when I drew him. You totally get my art.”
“No, no, no. You’re missing my point. You totally messed up my sign,” Luigi said.
Zeppo looked sad. “I’m sorry, Lui Gi -”
“Luigi, I’m sorry you hate it. I’ll fix it and have it for you next week.”
“I can’t wait until next week. My business opens tomorrow. I need it now.”
“But I need more time than that. It will take me awhile to make it right,” Zeppo said.
“Just give me the sign. It’ll have to do.” Luigi grabbed it and walked toward the door.
“Right on, man. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow. When life gives you lemonade, you’ve got to make lemons.”
Luigi stopped and yelled at Zeppo, “You didn’t even get that right!” He then stormed out and slammed the door.
The next morning, Luigi got up at dawn and angrily hung the sign on his front door. He took a deep breath and told himself he was going to do some things to make the best of the situation.
Luigi combed his jet black hair straight down into his face and grabbed a pair of scissors and a bowl. He put the bowl on his head and then cut off all of his hair that stuck out from the bowl. Then he grabbed some scotch tape and put pieces next to each of his eyes and stretched back his skin as far as he could so that his eyes looked very slanted. Next, he put on a pair of glasses so that the tape didn’t show. Luigi did it all with minutes to spare before his shop officially opened at 10AM.
When his first customer walked in, Luigi ran from behind his counter and smiled and put out his hand.
“Huh-ro! Welcome to Lui Gi’s Dry Creening. I’m Lui Gi. How can I help you today?”
He wasn’t at all a prejudiced person and felt bad about what he was doing, but hey, if life was going to hand him lemons, he was going to try his best to make lemon suey.