I spent most of last week doing a job on a rich Greek lady. For a rich Greek lady. A painting job. It was a solo job. Just me doing her trim. (Get your minds out of the gutter.)
It turns out she isn’t Greek, but actually Portugeuse. I’m not good with foreign accents, but she was rich and exotic, and her leathery skin had a sheen that looked like she moisturized with olive oil. So, she was Greek to me. Sautee her in some garlic and you’d have Mediterranean jerky…or a really smelly handbag.
I only kid about her, though. She was actually a cool old broad. And even old isn’t fair. She was probably in her fifties. She said she had children (two sons and a daughter) around my age. I also found out that she had been married and divorced twice, and countless long term relationships that she “did not want to ruin with a license.”
You see, Adelina liked to talk. She had not moved into her crazy huge 5700 square-foot lake house yet. But she would come around from time to time to work on setting up her studio in another part of the house. She is an artist of some sort. When I asked the details, she just threw her bony arms in the air like she was waving away imaginary butterflies (or maybe it was the garlic) and said, “Just art. I capture beauty any way I can. Whatever comes to me.”
On the outside, I just nodded politely, but inside I couldn’t help wondering if beauty struck her at the right moment (or wrong, depending on how you look at it), would her collection include works interpreted in things like popsicle sticks, Snickers bars, or Kool-Aid dyed cocaine powder. None of which would have surprised me.
I don’t know if it was because she was bored in that enormous house by herself, or if she was just waiting for beauty to jump out from some corner with a box of elbow macaroni, but she would hang out quite a bit talking to me. And it was definitely her talking to me. Not the other way around. I wasn’t being rude, but I’m more of a listener than a talker, and she had a steady stream going. Not always cohesive, but steady.
The best came on Friday, my last day there. I really wanted to get the job done by the end of the day so that I would not have to work on Saturday (and risk not being able to drive down for the game.)and by mid afternoon, I was close. Adelina had kept to herself most of the day and I wasn’t even sure if she was in the house. The place was so big, a marching band could have been in the house and I might not have known.
But, you know how you sense that somebody is watching you? My Spidey sense went off and then I hear from behind me, “You have a very nice frame, you know.” She said it in the way people say, “You have mustard on your shirt.” Sort of detached and without emotion.Even so, I got mometarily creeped.
“Thank you…” I responded, without turning around. I was afraid she might be behind me baring her matching alligator bags. Maybe she really was excpecting me to do her trim. Is that you Mrs. Robinson? Mrs. Robinopolis? (Okay, I know she’s not Greek. But even though I now know otherwise, my first impression was Greek. So, she’ll probably always be Greek to me).
She continued her assessment. “It looks elegant and powerful at the same time. Like a race horse.” Race horse. I know she’s unaware of my self-consciousness about my long nose and overbite, but did she have to pick a race horse of all things? Why not a gazelle? Oh, wait. They have long noses, too. How about panther? That would have been cool. Rowr!
Maybe it was because I wouldn’t look at her, but she said. “I’ve embarressed you.” Again, very matter of fact. Very mustard on your shirt.
“No, I’m cool.” I really wasn’t embarressed. Just a little caught off guard I guess. I realized there was nothing sexual in her compliment. At least, I think it was a compliment despite how clinical it all was.
“I forget how uncomfortable American men are about their bodies,” she continued. “Except homosexual men. European men and homosexual men are not afraid their bodies. That’s why there are wars, you know.”
She explained her theory: if straight men were not so afraid of their bodies, they would be more relaxed and would not settle problems with so much aggression. And on she went for about a half an hour steady. From telling me that European wars are started by men who are not afriad of their bodies, but see them as sexual weapons (“Like the Germans,” she said), to telling me that her son, Paulo, who designs menswear would love to dress me because he has become frustrated with overly-muscled models.
“You don’t have all those muscles. Very classic.”
Race horse and no muscles. She was 0 for 2. But she was also a little drunk, and continued to down glasses of wine for the rest of the afternoon. She offered me some, but I passed, of course. But I loved spending my time wrapping up the job listening to a stream of consciousness that flowed as freely as the wine.
As I was leaving, she gave me a tip in an envelope…an embarressingly large tip, I realized once I got home and openeed it… and thanked me for the job and for the company. She even told me that she had hoped I would have been around another day because her sons were flying in and thought we would all get along well.
Although she meant only as friends, my mind, of course, went much further about Paulo and his brother (can’t remember his name). Probably have olive skin, long dark lashes, and a sexy accent. I wonder how “Greek” they could be.