Friday, September 01, 2006

A Novel, a Day, and Us

Thank goodness Snarky Boy came home to some messages of interest in the novel I’m working on. I was about to give up on all hope for humanity. But then – oh the glorious “then” of it all – one of those calls showed up on my little snarky machine: “We like the first chapter, please send more.”

And it’s Friday to boot. Hey gang, drinks are on me tonight. Well, let’s get reasonable here. Make that: first drink for the first three who say “Congrats, Snarky,” get a free drink. I have, as you know, been on a goddamn ladder all day.

My work for the state is about to end and I’ve been hustling around at lunchtime and the early evening to bid on more paint jobs for the privileged. Like the bizarre fixation on people mowing their lawns shorter and shorter until the brink of lawn death, people are painting their fucking houses way more than they should. And, in case you didn’t notice, Snarky’s got a thing or two with offering opinions.

I went to a house today, for example, in one of those all-too-popular streets in Montpelier to look at a possible job. If I wasn’t super sure about the address, I would have never believed that this house needed anything – not least of which a new paint job. But, sure as shit, these folks came bounding out of the house like I was Santa Claus or something, offering refreshments and giddy as all hell about throwing money my way.

“Thank you so much for coming,” declared the little lady. “We’re so excited about getting on your list.”

What the fuck? List?

I guess this is what it comes to in moneyed suburbia – even in Vermont. Somewhere and somehow the sense of accomplishment amongst the middle classes got totally perverted. Instead of being proud about something you’re doing that actually matters, you hire people to do things that matter. Yep, you hire a guy to trim a tree, a different guy to mow the lawn, an even different guy to paint the house, and then another clueless fucking stranger to – what? – wash the windows. And then they act like they’re “getting things done” by crossing off some list they’ve simply called to do the shit they should be doing in the first place. Oh, poor bastard, you need a vacation!

The relationship between the hired guy and the guy who’s hiring (and, please, get over the sexist nature of this, I’m only talking about the guy-on-guy hiring here) is as odd as it gets when it comes to the things like painting, mowing and the like. These are, after all, the kinds of things their fathers tried to teach them to do for themselves. But now they're slackers. They’d rather pull the blinds so you don’t see them watching television while you’re scraping the goddamn lead paint off their windows than ponder what their fathers taught them.

But, let’s be honest here, it’s a dick thing, you know. To hire a man to come to your house and do the so-called manly chores is to a wonder if your dick is smaller than it should be. You’re obviously giving up a bit of your manliness and – quite honestly – the first thing most men do in such a situation is check the bulge in their pants. Trust me, I’ve been working for these fellas for years. It’s agonizing for most men. It’s worse than asking for directions, you know, because not only are they asking for something they’re also paying for it!

The best part for those of us on the other end of the dick dilemma is that these guys seem to get it in their heads (their big heads, that is) that the more they pay us the less the chance that they could have done the job themselves. That’s a bit of pathology that they’ve brought from their “day jobs,” and the more us worker-fellas understand that, the more beers we get to buy our friends on Friday night.

Okay, let me make that even simpler: The less you charge the man of the house, the smaller you’re saying his penis is. It’s totally fucked up, but it’s true. These people rely on experts all day long and when they call you up to do something like paint a fucking wall, you’ve got to act like the expert and – even more importantly – charge like the expert. It’s that kind of bullshit that they respect. And so be it.

But the good news is that I think I landed two big house jobs for the month. It’s good news for Snarky’s wallet but bad news for my writing projects and my interest in harassing – er, make that, covering – the political campaigns and issues of the day.

And then there’s that novel. I think you’ll like it. It’s about a painter-guy who is obsessed with politics, social change and the need to get people to be real and unafraid of pleasure. Worse, he lives in Vermont, a place where the thick coat of denial can run deep, where the hype of all-things-perfect can lead to most-things-being-false. I think you’ll like it. And I hope to finish it soon.

Sorry to ramble. It’s the excitement. Shit’s happening. And we’re all in this together. See you in town, my friends.