Thursday, October 21, 2004

Shampoo 2: Get Your Flirt On

So we flirted for a bit, over the signing of the contract--which was done by fax, completely, so neither of us had any idea what the other looked like. This made me a little nervous, but the contract was a nice one, and as our conversations continued she let on that there was a chance for a landscape design as well.

Now, design and install is where it's at, people. Never mind the subtle thrill of billing for something that isn't metaphorically the sweat of your brow, just know that the markup on something other than sweat (by which I mean, the markup on, say, plants) is substantially higher. That is, people will pay a lot more to see a Little Gem magnolia in their yard than they will some sweating lawn I was keen to sell this job.

It's also a lot of fun. You get to play with color, texture and a huge number of other variables on someone else's dime, and in someone else's yard! It's also something that's hard to fuck up; if you've got knowledge of plants, can read a label (or even just know someone at a freakin' nursery), and have a bit of common sense, you can design something that's not ugly. Maybe not spectacular, maybe not something that catches your eye all the time, but something decent.

I'd been helping to do these for quite some time, but had never done one completely alone. I wanted to try, of course, and once my rough and manly voice had carried ol' girl off into whatever Calgon fantasy world her landscape checkbook was in, I got the go-ahead from both her and my boss. The project was mine.

I'm tempted to go into detail about the design, because I think it turned out really well, but I'd probably bore most of you to tears. Perhaps in an epilogue...but for now, let's just say I had the design and a half dozen screen shots of how the property would look after I finished with it (basically photoshopped "before" and "after" images of various parts of the property).

I mailed the stuff to her on, oh, probably a Tuesday or Wednesday. She called me on Thursday, and apparently just wanted to "chat," by which I mean she wanted to hit on me. My biggest concern, of course, was what this woman -looked like-, and I had no idea of how to broach the topic with someone who was fast about to pay me fifteen or twenty thousand dollars. Work and play, then, were horribly, horribly mixed up.

Now, I know better, but back in the day, one of the major reasons for doing this type of work was urban legends about rich women fucking the pool boy. Why I got a job mowing grass, instead of skimming pools, is a perfectly valid question, and one I can't really answer, except it seemed a lot easier at the time. Getting a job, I mean, not the actual work.

So I did six or seven years out in the field, and learned the hard way that shit like this only happens in Penthouse Forum magazines. The only time I ever even got a second look from a woman while I was working was by a rather gnarly, middle aged drunk broad who lived in a condo complex we mowed--and I had to turn her down, because we were behind schedule, and my guys would get mad at me. Plus, it was my week to run the big machine, which was a once a month thing, so it was really a no brainer on my part.

Essentially I had reconciled myself to the fact that various 80's porn mags told stories that just weren't true, just about the time I started getting heavy breathing phone calls from some anonymous PM I'd never met. Yes, ladies and gents, a conflict was brewing in my poor little brain.

So on the day in question, she took the ball gently out of my trembling hands and began to talk about herself. She talked about how she lived in Norman, which is absolutely covered up with beautiful college students (including Gavagirl, incidentally), many of whom are simply husband hunting. This meant that since she was competing in the same market as young co-eds, she had to do her best to LOOK like a nubile young hottie, which eased my mind quite a bit, while I overlooked the obvious issue of her being a husband hunter.

She also gave me her website, which was a brand new concept to me--really, what sort of luxurious life must this woman lead to have her own website! I'll bet she's got a pager, or maybe even a cellphone! Yahootie!

I could barely wait to get home to plug this painstakingly dictated URL into my browser...

I was about to see what my electronic pursuer looked like. I tried not to get my hopes up, folks, but recall that I came from a small town in SW Oklahoma, so I'd never really been exposed to girls who didn't grow hogs or cattle for FFA, never mind ones that wore skirts and heels. Norman was an eye opener for me, and I probably let a lot of the initial glitter of that metropolis slide on over into my mental image of what this young professional woman looked like. After all, she had told me she worked out quite frequently, and went scuba diving, and all the things you'd think a cute yuppie girl would be doing in her late 20's.

Oh yeah, she was a few years older than me. 28 seemed incredibly mature and adult, from my vantage point of barely 25...and I'd never been with a girl who had a car and a job and a place of her own, at least one.

The website popped up, revealing a face so...wrong...that I felt like I must have typed the wrong URL.

I checked the URL. It was solid.

So, dejected, I surfed the site. It was terrible, even by the standards of the day. Plainly, she was lookin' for a man, for whatever purposes she could con him into. And I'd been suckered.

It just occurred to me that one of the things that depressed me the most was that maybe my voice wasn't sexy after all. Maybe...maybe she was just sayin' that to get in my pants! The nerve!

Anyway, I won't go into too much detail about how handicapped she was in the race for rich husbands, because my intentions are not to be mean (or at least, unnecessarily mean) to anyone. Let's just say that from what I could tell from her site, she was crosseyed and had a haircut that probably went out of style when "Dallas" went off the air.

And she wanted to meet me.

For dinner, and drinks, to "look at the proposal," and discuss it.

Remember that I was young and naive enough to think that this sort of thing happens all the time with landscape contractors and property managers. Ours is a business struggling with legitimacy to begin with, attempting to shed the image of an old dude in overalls and a broke down pickup, or worse. So I was backed into a corner, by a number of reasons. Reluctantly, I made a date with her for the following night.


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