There were two plumbers here today to lay some pipe. Long, sturdy pipe. It’s okay if you’re queuing the music. I know the tune because it’s in my head too. Baw Chicka Baw Baw. It’s extra loud given that these gents, unlike my previous encounter with Plumber Jim, are quite attractive and not douche nozzles. One is even age appropriate without pushing me into early onset Cougardom. I have three other pieces I started writing, and I had fully planned on finishing one of them (finally) today while my inner sanctum was being invaded, but now all I can do is think What Ifs about the Master Plumber invading all kinds of sanctums. If Apprentice Boy Wonder wants to assist… well….. that’s a whole other story to write, eh? We’ll keep that one for the DVD extras ‘Unrated’ version.
I first met the Master Plumber a few weeks ago when he came to do my annual “free” check with my service membership. You know, that service membership I pay for on account of the shitty pipes coursing through the Huh House. I never know what to expect when a serviceman rings the bell. Will it be one that I might want to engage for some off the clock services too? Usually I get someone like Plumber Jim or Charles-Charlie-Call-Me-Paul, thus killing any and all of my Penthouse Forum fantasies. This time I answered the door to a tall drink of water with an easy smile and the crinkly laugh lines around his bright hazel eyes to match. Oh. Hello. He had a few tasteful, scattered tattoos I wanted to reach out and touch, trace over. His manner was as easy as his smile and infectious. Plus, he’s originally from Philly and the way he says water makes me giggle. He said it a lot as we talked about replacing my shitty wooter lines. Giggle.
I threw in the towel that day and finally agreed to finance the rest of my life away to replace the shitty class action lawsuit pipes and do all the other plumbing work to keep the Huh House happy and healthy. He stayed that day to get a jump start before coming back for the main pipes. Did I buckle down because it’s past time to get the work done? Yes. Did I buckle because those crinkly laugh lines were staring me in the face, telling me they would personally be back to do all the work? Maybe…….
It’s all about seeing where the maybes in life lead, right? The What If. The problem for an introvert, even a bold, no bullshit, one such as myself is pulling the trigger on the what if sometimes, especially in person. My tongue likes to tie itself. It can be quite the rigger.
Thirty seven years in and I’m still trying to find the balance in my contradictions. Bold introvert. Anal-retentive, organized free spirit. Raging feminist that likes dick and occasionally getting tied up. Sometimes I can’t teeter the totter and end up slamming my ass on the ground.
Tall Drink of Wooter Master Plumber and his Apprentice Boy Wonder arrived this morning when I was barely three sips into the coffee, his pearly whites shining through my morning haze. I thought I had felt a twinge of chemistry that first encounter but I had convinced myself it was just his general affable nature. I’m sure he offers to buy all his customers’ lunch when he goes out for a quick break when he unexpectedly ends up staying for hard manual labor when it was just supposed to be a sweat free hour visit, right? Good public relations for the company. Right? Right. I wasn’t sure how the pheromones might mingle today.
Master Plumber and Apprentice Boy got to work all professional like right away, asking me if I wanted to draw any more wooter before he shut it off. Giggle. Anal-retentive me already had a fresh, full coffee pot, a full Brita, a fresh cat dish of water and a giant pot of extra water ready to go. I mean, pot of wooter. Giggle. I busied myself at the computer, trying to stay out of the way, trying to practice magic by making the money in my checking account disappear. I’ve mastered that trick pretty well by now. Tall Drink of Wooter passed through with supplies and stopped behind me.
“I just wanted to tell you I love the smell of your shampoo. I could smell it last time and I smell it everywhere now. It’s fantastic.”
Small pause on my account for an inner monologue moment.
–It didn’t feel it puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again creepy….. more like a sincere compliment.
–Um. It’s Suave and Dove. From the Dollar General.
“Thanks, man. Ummmmm. I just washed it before you got here….”
Smooth, Annie. Smooth. Apparently my shampoo is more suave than me. Yes. I made a pun involving hair products. I promise to stop now. Tall Drink of Wooter smiled that damn easy smile and went back to work while I turned to the computer and rolled my eyes at myself. I shall never be Don Juanita, at least not face to face.
About an hour later I hear a thump and a loud “Fuuuuuuucccccck!” From a room away I hear Apprentice Boy’s inquiry “Dude, you all right?” I had to stifle the twitter at the very calm, matter of fact, “Dude, no. No, I am not all right” that followed. It’s all about the delivery in comedy. I was about to round the corner to see if someone needed a tourniquet when Tall Drink of Wooter strode through the hall flexing his hand. Upon seeing me he immediately apologized for his language. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll be right here when you’re finished. Yes, I appreciate the irony in it, considering my grandmother used to tell me I had a mouth like a sailor. Hey! Tall Drink was in the Navy. He IS a sailor. Maybe I can put my mouth ON a sailor!
“This is a judgment free household, man. You can say whatever you need to, especially when you hurt yourself.” Better, Annie. Better. Use your coherent sentences, like you know a few words. “Are you ok?”
“I just banged my knuckles in a tight spot. I still shouldn’t have cursed.”
“No worries. I’ve said worse.” Every five minutes of my life since I was 12…… and stop smirking at all the innuendo running through your mind about tight places, Annie. The man is injured in your service. The inner monologue was my cue to exit stage left, lest I overheat the air with pheromones and NSFW thoughts. Be respectful and all…..
Around 10, Tall Drink of Wooter sends Apprentice Boy away for parts and we made some idle chit chat about Tom Petty while he lay on my bathroom floor yielding a wrench. Manly-like. I hear that music again, softly echoing baw chicka baw baw……Time to wander away. He wandered out not long after, asking about places close by to take a quick lunch break when Apprentice Boy returned. I rattled off some places, standing on one side of my dining table, trying to look relaxed as he turned that smile on me from the other side of the table.
“Do you want anything? I’m happy to bring you something back. On me.” he offered.
“No. That’s very kind of you, but no thank you.” I’m trying so hard to separate the professional here from the maybe he’s flirting vibe. What really pops into my head is maybe if you want to offer to buy me dinner later, I’ll say yes. But alas. Tongue in. Lips not forming those words.
“That’s twice you turned me down now. You’re playing hardball.”
Now I can’t stop myself, “You offer to buy all your customers’ lunch?”
“No. Never, actually.”
Oh. Um. Now what do I say? Well. Fuck. To agree to him bringing back food from his lunch break feels like having a servant fetch me my slippers since he’s actively involved in working on my house. I know that may seem silly but there’s the teeter offsetting the damn totter. So I said, “No thank you. I’m good.”
Slam. Splinters in my ass.
Apprentice Boy picked that exact moment to drive up, saving any further awkward declinations. Saving me because I’m the idiot who did not Carpe the Damn Diem and see where it went. Maybe after lunch. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
They work quickly in the next few hours. We chat briefly as he lies under my kitchen sink and I sit at the table writing the beginning of this when I meant to be writing about some Ginger Snaps formerly in my life. We talk about hair, which leads to the Navy, in that way only spontaneous, real conversations can amble. Then he asks, “Are you working from home today?”
What? “No, it’s my day off. I work this weekend. Healthcare and all. Sick people don’t take weekends off.”
“Oh, then what are you writing?”
Ummmmmmm. Redness. Hotness. All in the cheeks. I had just written Master Plumber (and his name), tall drink of water, etc. Once again, my shampoo is more suave than me. Maybe smarter too.
“I write as a hobby. Mostly about my life.” Good recovery.
“Like a journal?”
“Not exactly. More like essays and stories. I used to write short stories when I was younger but that doesn’t pay the mortgage, eh?” Annnnnndddd, let’s flip the page before he fully stands up and sees his name, shall we?
The Master Plumber and his Apprentice Boy Wonder wrap up and clean up. They assemble for a final inspection of the handiwork and we end up in the bowels of Huh House, admiring my shiny, new, not prone to pinhole leaks like my old shitty ones, wooter lines. Giggle. On the previous visit he had put in a depressurizer and softener. Apparently my pressure was a Mt. Kilimanjaro above where it should have been and at 16 grains hard, the water contents could have made concrete. I remarked how I missed the deep tissue massage for those first few showers after the depressurizer was turned on, which somehow led to a conversation about a recent call to a house with no pressure. The house of a lovely old German couple who owned a house with six bathrooms. When I exclaimed, “Who needs six bathrooms?!” Tall Drink of Wooter didn’t hesitate with more details.
“I think they like to entertain. Actually, I think they were swingers. There were a lot of pineapple decorations around and I heard that’s a thing with swingers. Plus, the hot tub. The sauna.”
Yes. That conversation was happening. The three of us were in my basement, nestled between the Chuck Norris Total Gym and the sewer ejector pump, discussing elderly German swingers and their décor. In my head I’m saying I know some people I could ask about the pineapples but since we were also standing next to the simple, homemade rack a former lover built to tie me to, I thought it best to maybe keep my two cents to a minimum in the group dynamic, lest I be the topic of off-handed conversation at their next work site. Relax; it looks just like another piece of exercise equipment. Kink is the best secret when it’s an open secret. Psst, that eye-hook holding the potted plant from your neighbors’ ceiling that looks like sturdy overkill for a ficus? Yeah, they hang a sex swing from it. Think about it next time you’re in someone else’s house. You’re welcome for the entertainment in advance.
We head up the stairs and I hope Master Plumber dismisses his help rather than a group good-bye. I need some more time to assess. I’m having trouble with the leap. What if he wasn’t actually flirting and he’s on call when I crack a toilet bowl and feces is spewing everywhere for him to handle? How awkward would that be? Yes. I know. Too much in my head.
To the delight of my inner child that jumps up and down with wild abandon when things go her way, which she can do because her bladder doesn’t leak yet (thanks aging!), he tells Apprentice Boy to take a hike and he’ll finish up the paperwork. Apprentice Boy tells him good luck with call tonight on his way out the door.
“Oh, you’re on call? I guess I can’t offer you a beer now that your work for me is officially done.”
“I’d love a beer, but I think there’s already a few calls waiting back at the office. I used to brew my own as a hobby.”
Be still my heart. Don’t jump up and point out the six (count ‘em, six) Brewfest tasting glasses on the shelf behind him or go waving the Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass around. Swallow. Calm down.
“Oh, really?” Good girl.
The conversation looped pleasantly from there. He’s a plumber that likes to travel, who might up and move to Colorado. He was married at least once, 15 years ago. It was a bit like a first date conversation without being on a first date as we waited for his I-Pad to load whatever forms I needed to fake finger sign. Thanks technology! I really wanted to reach out and trace the Celtic rune inked on his forearm but I restrained myself. Still not leaping. Still not reckless enough. Still not finished our professional transaction.
Then he gave me his phone number. Uhhhh. “In case something happens.” Ok. “Or you can go through the office, but this way you have it.” My cheeks flushed again. I could feel the warmth spreading as I tapped in the numbers. And fucked it up so he had to repeat it. Now would be the perfect time to say something Mae West-ish like “When you’re off the clock, buy me a drink. You know where I live.” Wink, wink.
In the I followed my impulse and wasn’t a chicken-shit alternate timeline, that’s exactly what happened. Here, in the timeline where Holy Fuck, Trump is president? and I reside inside my head too much sometimes, I walked him to the door and shook his hand. In this timeline, I watched him walk away. I didn’t heed this advice:
I mean, this sign sits next to my wine rack. I see it every goddamn day.
Alas! All hope is not yet lost. The introverts have new advantages to aide in boldness. Texting offers a stutter free flirting and clarification zone and he gave me his phone number for “whatever happens”. Presumably for me to Lady Up and pull the damn trigger already. So, I just sent this:
Maybe there’s another story to come. It could be a short story or an epic. Perhaps it’s merely a haiku where it turns out he’s just great at customer service. It’s a bit hard to put that in haiku form though. A sestina? The What Ifs are endless and that’s the thrilling part. The maybe, maybe, maybe.