My friend Grant wonders why I refuse to ask the handyman across the street to supply me with pirated cable like he has for everyone else on our block. “How can you turn down free cable?” Grant keeps insisting.
“I’m a rich business owner now,” I remind him.
“Like hell you are,” he counters, taking another sip from his iced Americano coffee made from beans probably plucked from leopard poo off the floor of the rainforest. “If you were rich you’d drive a fancier car and have better furniture, not to mention your house,” he continues. “Don’t even get me started about your house.”
“Okay, you want the truth?” I challenge. “The truth is I hate having to be charming to get things for free. I have the money now, I just want to pay.”
That’s right. I used to have an impractical artist’s loft full of impractical furniture, and I used to have the impractical car, but those things need a lot of upkeep, and it used to fall to the men in my life to provide it. In short, it got exhausting constantly having to muster all that feminine magnetism in order to get guys to fix things for me.
And what makes it grueling still is that, while those things are gone now, not gone are my guy friends who helped me with the maintenance over the years. They still harangue me about the odd good deed here and there which they’d granted me over the long course of our friendships, and what’s worse is they feel entitled to harass gratitude out of me to this day. Grant himself has practically indentured me for life simply because he babysat my cats one night years ago. (Of course I forgot to tell him that the excitable one likes to sleep on your head at night, so whatever you do #don’t make any sudden movements,# but Grant has insurance and it’s not like he was blinded permanently or anything.)
“I don’t have the energy anymore, and probably not even the appeal,” I admit to Grant, “to finagle men into fixing the things in my life.”
Instead I keep these things simple so I can fix them myself or, if need be, can afford to pay someone to do it for me, which brings us to the real reason I was there watching Grant gingerly slurp at his artisan coffee: to see if he wanted to come with me to rent some men, which is something I figured he’d enjoy.
Here’s my deal; I have a new tenant moving into my rental property any day now and the place still looks worse than an Iranian spider hole. It needs paint, putty, plaster, calk and a total Haz-Mat hose down. I’ve been working on it so hard this past week that my hands look like I clawed my way out of a coffin, and my guy friends are not a helpful option in this regard. Grant, for example, himself came by once to visit, and while he was there I asked him to help me position something. It was just a rusty burglar bar but you’d have thought I had asked him to build me a bomb shelter. He spent the entire rest of the visit brushing off his Bermuda shorts like an obsessive compulsive coming off of medication.
I can’t deal with that anymore. I’d rather just rent men and I hear it’s a fairly easy process. You just go to local goliath hardware store and they’re supposed to be hanging out there in the early morning, hoping to be chosen. The only problem, I thought, was that there should be a man with me to do the brokering. Enter Grant.
But again I underestimated myself, because when it came time to rent the men I had to go alone on account of how Grant, due to his penchant for debauchery, could not be awakened that morning even if I had chosen to detonate his bed with grenades. So at the Men-Rental Depot, my selection process entailed picking the man with the kindest face and then asking him to choose his own workmate. I then took them to the duplex, told them what to do and they set about doing it. Four hours later it was done. I didn’t have to beg, wheedle, bawl, promise marathon sex or anything. All I did was pay the men when the work was done and they went away.
“The best part,” I confide to Grant, “is that years from now I won’t have to hear them nag me about how they once loosened a lug nut for me, as though I were nothing but a burdensome, ovary-bearing albatross in their lives.”
“No, the best part,” Grant says, “is that you have me to thank for that.”