Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 40 - Sport Philandering

          The Cipro doesn’t seem to be having any effect on my infection. I developed a fever over the weekend that hasn’t been diminished at all by the antibiotic. I’ve been in and out of bed all day, napping, pissing, pushing fluids, taking pills. I don’t know why I have to keep dreaming fitfully of work. It seems unfair, now that I’m out of work, to have to keep suffering the indignities and hassles of being at work in my dreams. Why can’t I dream of idyllic tropical islands, graceful sloops, leaping fish, soaring birds, exotic women? I’ve heard that you can actually program yourself to dream of specific things. I made a mental note to myself to study how to do that once I am drug free enough to focus on a topic for more than 15 seconds at a time. Now that I’ve recorded it here it is no longer a mental note is it? A mental note is like Samuel Goldwyn’s infamous verbal contract—‘not worth the paper it’s written on.’ Meanwhile Henry and his antics occupy more of my time now than they did when I was working for him.
          In addition to being a cheat in business, Henry was a cheat at golf and a cheat in his marriage. He was famous for parking his golf cart between himself and the rest of his party and improving his lie by whatever means came easily to hand, usually his foot. It became known as ‘Henry’s foot wedge’ among his familiars. Another irony—Henry was full of them—is that he was actually a pretty good golfer. He didn’t need to cheat, but he couldn’t resist the temptation. After years in his employ I came to realize that Henry was happiest when he thought he was putting one over on someone. He could often expect to get the exact same outcome in a situation by cheating or not cheating, but when he cheated he felt better about himself and his innate shrewdness.
          He didn’t need to cheat on his wife either, not that I’m suggesting anyone does. It’s just that it’s possible to imagine a marriage so cold and loveless that a man (or woman) would seek solace in the arms of someone other than their wedded spouse. Contrary to this vague imagining, Henry’s wife was a lovely, charming, warm, and loyal woman who worshipped him in spite of his many faults. He could not have done better in any universe familiar to me.
Still he was an incorrigible philandering dog—incapable of any kind of faithfulness. It’s not as if he was faced with difficult temptations. It’s not as if comely and affectionate women were throwing themselves at him willy-nilly, overwhelming him with irresistible enchantment. No, Henry was a runner, a chaser, a hound of heroic proportions. Henry would pursue any woman that crossed his path. It mattered not whether they were attractive, beguiling, refined, friendly, or even available. All that mattered was what Henry thought he could get away with.
It often surprised me how unattractive the targets of Henry’s intentions could be and still hold some fascination for him. He once asked a pair of 200 pound lesbians in dirty jeans and flannel shirts to flash him their breasts. He flirted or propositioned women of every station and situation from scullery help to executive, from jailbird to officer of the court. He hit on waitresses, flight attendants, gate agents, secretaries, hostesses, sales clerks, machinists, loan officers, realtors, maids, nurses, welders, accountants, and machinists. He did not seem to care if he failed in the attempt, which often was the case. Rather he would be emboldened and enlivened by a rebuff. When he did succeed it often cost him more than he bargained for.
Once, when his wife was out of town, he took a group of employees out to dinner and then to his house for an evening of serious drinking. This was the same house that my wife later sold for him. It was an $850,000 waterfront showcase that had been built by an architect designer. It was a stunning piece of work and sure to impress the gaggle of factory workers that he had in tow on this particular evening. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what all ensued or even who ended up with whom or how. What I do know is that soon after this little soiree Henry apparently felt compelled to give one of the young women who’d been in the group a brand new, candy-apple red Ford F-150 pick-up truck, complete with leather seats and a bed liner. The ‘gift’ and the circumstances under which it was given were the subject of a great deal of speculation on the plant floor for months to come.
On another instance Henry found himself drawn to the company receptionist who sat behind a high counter at the front door to the plant. He walked up to the counter, pulled out a wad of currency, and began peeling off twenties one at a time, lining them up along the countertop.
“Let me know when I’ve counted off enough,” he said.
“Enough for what?” asked the receptionist.
“For me and you to run off and have ourselves a nooner,” Henry replied.
This particular affront on propriety, manners, sensibility, sensitivity, and good sense lay dormant for two years, seething and festering in the receptionist’s injured heart until she got herself a boyfriend with whom she wanted to buy a house. Then it manifested in the form of a letter, addressed to the company and delivered to me, from the receptionist’s new attorney. The lawyer felt that $40,000 was a sum sufficient to redress the insult. Henry’s attorney, apprised of the circumstances, thought that was cheap.

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