Friday, November 5, 2010

Leased Hyundais and Anger Management

I thought I’d really cracked it this time. I thought this time I’d come up with an idea for a business that would not only make me a handsome living, but get a few of my neighbors off the unemployment rolls, and restore their all-important sense of self-worth, and greatly benefit other neighbors.

The idea was this. I would, on an as-needed basis, hire big or otherwise intimidating persons to whom my actual clients could stand up to impress their dates or even spouses. Say, for instance, that Bob Fishkill had been exchanging emails with Mary Wappinger after they “met” on Facebook, or via a matchmaking Website. Say that Bob hadn’t exactly been the middle linebacker on his high school football team, but that Mary had described herself as in the market for “a guy who won’t allow themselves to be pushed around.” Well, before taking Mary to Olive Garden, say, or Red Lobster, Bob might phone me and ask that I send a big handsome bruiser in the Ben Roethlisberger mode over to hit on Mary while Bob was in the little boys’ room. When he got back, Bob would squint at my ringer Clint Eastwoodishly and growl, “Anything I can help you with, pal?” My ringer would size Bob up, look back and forth between him and Mary, swallow hard, and finally slide off his barstool, saying, “Hey, I don’t want any trouble, sir.”

As he hurried away, glancing nervously back over his shoulder, Bob, glowering, would immediately look a great deal sexier to Mary. She and Bob might wind up having mutually pleasurable sex, and embark on a long relationship that would make them both better people, and the big bruiser would go home with a few bucks in his pocket, and some of the self-respect that was unceremoniously snatched from him when the construction industry went to hell two years ago restored.

It sounded good on paper, at least.

My first client was a divorced ophthamologist with a typically Jewish surname who took his date to dinner at the Culinary Institute up in Hyde Park, expecting to be able to appear to intimidate the parking valet. The problem being that the guy I’d hired, Adolfo, hadn’t seen fit to mention on his application that he was narcoleptic. When the ophthamologist and his dental hygienist date emerged from the restaurant, Adolfo was sound asleep behind the wheel of a leased Hyundai Sonota he’d been in the process of parking, and the ophthamologist got into a shouting match with the real parking attendant, who’d dropped out of a series of court-ordered anger management classes a couple of years before to puruse a career as a welterweight boxer. He broke the ophthamologist’s nose with one punch. That Adolfo and the dental hygienist announced their engagement last week gave me no consolation whatever.

I have to date had only one success story. Rob, who has had a crush on a barista, Celeste, at the westernmore of our two Maine Street coffee houses, asked me to arrange for a pair of belligerent butch lesbians to give Celeste a hard time this past Tuesday afternoon, when passions were running high because of the elections. Rob happened to wander in just as the bigger and meaner of the lesbians was telling Celeste that, if cappuccino-making ability were saliva, Celeste wouldn’t be able to dampen a postage stamp. Celeste appeared on the verge of either bursting into embarrassed, angry tears or hurling a potful of hot American decaf in her tormentor’s face when Rob, “overhearing,” stepped into the fray’s midst and asked the lesbians, “Hey, why don’t the two of you drive up to Massachusetts and get married or something?”

As it happened, the lesbians had been thinking of doing exactly that anyway, and took Rob’s inquiry as an omen that the moment was right. Rob and Celeste were seen holding hands at last weekend’s farmers market down by the river, where they pretended to be interested in overpriced organic produce and exchanged knowing smirks when one of our local folksingers began braying one of the Pete Seeger classics for which the area is, for better or worse, known.

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