January 10, 2010
This is my first post here. I’m not sure whether I should make it really awesome to keep you coming back for more and run the risk that I’ll never be able to surpass the initial genius of my early blogging career, or make it kind of mediocre so that there’s room for personal growth. I’ll have to sleep on that.
In the meantime, I have a public service announcement regarding porn that requires a little context.
When my husband and I bought our fabulous standard-issue conveyor-belt condominium two years ago, it came with a bathroom straight out of That Seventies Show. Brown tiling, pipes running along the wall, a wall-mounted sink and a light switch on a rope. We, notoriously poor and cheap, decided that it wasn’t important to have a nice bathroom since we only spent about half an hour there every day anyway. Unfortunately, the Bathroom Gods grew irate and after about a year the floortiles started to make suspiciously creaky noises when we walked around. Loose tiles on the upper floor are bad news if the floor below also belongs to you, because shit might LEAK. So the bathroom needed to be torn down and reconstructed. And we, notoriously poor and cheap, hired a Polish dude to do it.
In the Netherlands a lot of people hire Polish dudes to do construction work because we are clumsy and stingy and they are not and work for half the going rate of an actual, licensed construction company. What’s not to like? So we found one through acquaintances and hired him to spend about 6 weeks reconstructing the bathroom and do various other, smaller projects.
His name was Wicek (roughly pronounced: Wee-check). He was about 50 years old, or at least seemed to be. Days spent tearing down walls, mixing concrete, glueing shit together and sawing off fingertips with various powertools will quickly age a man. He was a heavy drinker, as evidenced by the perpetual stale, alcoholic funk that hung around him and stunk up everything within a five yard radius. His smoking habit had done frightening things to his teeth, some of which were missing and some of which resembled rum raisins. He was also tiny. As in, Louis Vuitton sells bags that I could have carried him around in -tiny. This made it all the funnier that he would not let me carry any heavy stuff from the truck to the house after every trip to Home Depot. I was like a giant to his Thumbelina frame, but somehow he seemed to find it inappropriate that a girl should lift anything other than her purse. Being a rabid feminist this irritated me somewhat, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt thinking it was probably just a cultural thing.
He would come in every morning around 8 o’clock and leave at 6. He stayed in a mobile home that he rented at a camping site just outside the city limits, which we felt at first was kind of sad until we realized he was just too cheap to spring for a decent hotel. Although it was taxing to have a stranger in the house day in, day out, I tried to be as nice to him as I could. Made him coffee, chatted about his family (wife and two adult daughters), gave him compliments about his work. Sometimes I would catch him staring at me a little too attentively and he would joke about my smile and the fact that I have dimples. A little creepy, but I didn’t want to be paranoid.
Fast-forward six weeks and he is done. My husband and I give him a basket of Dutch candies to take home to his family as a thank-you for a job well done, he leaves, and that is that. Except it isn’t. The next day I leave work around five o’clock. It’s freezing out and I’m struggling to unlock my bike, when suddenly someone taps my shoulder. I turn around and find… Weecheck. Code red, code red.
I quickly remember that he’s told me he would be spending one day buying presents for his family before returning to Poland to spend the Christmas Holiday with his family. So I’m thinking perhaps he’s here by coincidence, having just bought his wife some pillow covers or whatever. It doesn’t seem likely but the alternative is an extremely unpleasant one. “You here? What a coincidence!” I blurt out, and smile awkwardly. He shakes his head. “Not a coincidence.” Hooooo boy.
“I have a gift for you,” he says, and still I’m telling myself he’s just being nice; that my husband and I were such lovely people to work for that he wants to thank us back. I walk with him to his truck, sit down in the passenger seat and he gives me his gift and… a bunch of red roses. Sweet mother of Jesus, red roses from a 50-year old 5 foot 2 Pole suffering the worst case of halitosis this side of the equator. Every girl’s dream. And the gift… is a ten dollar eau de toilette by Naomi Campbell. Not only is he short, ugly, old and smelly, but he is cheap and has horrible taste. Great.
“The flowers are nice, thank you,” I say, desperately thinking of an excuse to get out NOW. But no, he insists on loading my bike into the truck and driving me home. I’m too much of a pansy to tell him to piss off, so I sink desperately into the seat and let him. The ride home takes twenty minutes, but time becomes dilated this close to the black hole of sad that sits in the driver’s seat. He stammers something about not telling my husband about the gifts because he might be jealous. About how I smile so much. About how I am so beautiful. So beautiful that what, the grammar nazi in me thinks. That it makes you fantasize about a world where 50-year old 5 foot 2 Poles with teeth that make babies cry are Hot Shit? Where married women can be seduced by stalking them at work and buying them perfume from the discount bin at Seven-Eleven?
Every traffic light we pass tauntingly jumps to red as we approach. I’m screaming on the inside and I’m fidgeting with my purse, racking my brain for topics of conversation that do not somehow lead to him suggesting we elope together or some equally torrid scenario. I ask about Christmas and the weather in Poland, but he doesn’t want to engage me. I know he’s looking for the words to adequately convey his “feelings”. I’m looking for the strength to tell him he’s a pathetic, horny old geezer with a dimple fetish. Finally, finally we get home.
I jump out of the car, grab my purse and wait impatiently while he struggles to unload my bike. It’s one of those tank-like city cruisers and it weighs as much as he does, so naturally this takes forever. When he’s done, I grab the handlebars and make sure I position the bike between my body and his. “Well thanks for driving me home,” I stutter, “and have a safe trip home, have a good Christmas. Bye b…” He grabs my shoulders and I realize he wants to kiss my cheeks. And figure, if that’s what it takes for him to leave, fine. Peck one… peck two… And then the worst thing happens. After peck two he should be letting go, but he’s not. Instead, I see his tobacco-stained mouth with the rum rainsin dentals coming at me, aiming straight for my lips.
“Oh God! Don’t do that,” I blurt out. He backs off. I immediately want to lobotomize the part of my brain that holds this visual memory before it has a chance to replay itself in my mind. “I’m sorry,” he mutters. “That’s okay, I’m going to go now. Thanks.” I want to start walking but he still doesn’t get it. “Can I have your number?” he asks. Holy shit, he’s got the persistence of a bull-terrier. A ridiculously short, delusional bull-terrier, but still. “Um… no I’d… my husband has yours.” If only I weren’t so goddamned passive aggressive. I want to tell him I hope his balls rot off, but in my pathological need to be nice to everyone all I can manage is another flimsy excuse. “I’ll text you mine later, okay?” Whatever it takes. And it seems he’s getting the message. I can tell from his sad puppy-dog expression that he knows I would sooner gnaw off my foot than give him my number.
“Bye,” I say, and run into the back yard. I dump my bike on the ground, launch into the house and lock the door behind me. I sit down on the couch and call my husband. I cry about it. Then, as the initial shock wears off, we laugh about it. What the hell was he thinking? Why did he assume that someone half his age (which, oh, must be about the same age as his DAUGHTERS) and happily married might be open to this ghastly attempt at romance? And then I realize that it must be porn. The only reality in which this is remotely possible is the reality of 1970s lonely hausfrau versus horny plumber-porn. Poor Weecheck. Spending all those weeks cooped up in his mobile home, he must have killed his spare time watching bootleg porntapes on his B-brand VCR. And in his loneliness must have begun to believe that what a saggy-assed plumber with a moustache and a fake German accent can accomplish during a fifteen-minute housecall, he could certainly do in six weeks.
So the lesson here, boys and girls, is that porn is a really bad teacher and that if you ever have construction workers in your house making them coffee will convince them that you are pining away for their devoted love.
At least the bathroom turned out great: