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I usually rise and shine about 6:30 every morning, but today I was awake and in motion a little earlier because a sprinkler repair guy was coming over at 7 a.m. to fix the bubbling and boiling going on in my backyard. The decorative gravel and Arizona clay underneath had tried to come to life a couple months ago—pulsating moistly in one particular spot, the earth moving under my feet--and back then I thought I’d struck oil. But it was just a broken PVC pipe.
This time I thought, I bet that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to tunnel out of California into my yard.
In any case, the repair guy arrived right on time and I met him outside, prepared for battle in my pajamas and slippers, wielding my coffee cup. I hadn’t put a bra on yet and was wearing my glasses with transition lenses, which make me look like Sammy the Bull at any given time. My hair was greasy and I had banana in my teeth.
“Hey,” I called out to this average-looking man whose butt cleavage I would soon be staring into.
“Howdy!” he said, bending over. “Let me see here...I don’t see a leak. I can’t detect a leak. Doesn’t look like a leak to me.”
“You’re not standing in the right spot,” I said. “There’s a sinkhole by the olive tree.” There might also be a tunnel underneath leading to California, I wanted to add.
“Oh yeah yeah yeah, can you turn the irrigation system on? Oh yeah! I see it! Turn it off. Hmmmm. Can you turn it on again? Turn it off. Okay, turn it on again.”
Was I going to get paid ten bucks an hour as an assistant? I sipped my coffee as I stood by the control box, turning it on and off, on and off, wishing it was this easy with all men in life.
“As you can see,” I called out, “there is an entire area of earth right there that is rising and falling with every burst of water.” The only thing missing here is the Pacific Ocean and seashells, man. Figure it out.
“Oh my God!” my muddy repairman finally yelled. “There are two leaks in the system! Turn it off!” I flipped the switch again.
As my short-shirted, naked-bunned repair guy got to work, I tried to excuse myself back inside, but no. This man had a story to tell: “I can’t believe all this weed fabric all over your yard. This shit doesn’t even work; it just makes my job harder.” Cut cut rip rip with a hunting knife. “Hey, do you know the story about Noah’s Ark?
No, I have never heard that story, who do you think I am, you dummy.
“Well, it transported animals, which is DNA. That’s what the earth is: a whole bunch of DNA, and I tend the earth. I am Keeper of the Earth’s Ark! I listened to the Great Spirit and he told me this is what I’m supposed to do, so I do it, and I love it. I don’t rip off customers; I couldn’t live with myself if I did. I can’t lie…it’s not in my DNA.
“The Great Spirit who runs this whole show, he’ll talk to you if you’re not doing something right. It’s your problem if you don’t listen to him; you’ll just get into more trouble. God was telling Osama bin Laden to leave the U.S. alone, but bin Laden didn’t listen, so he blew up the Twin Towers. Look what happened to him –dead. His son, dead. It’s because he was listening to hate, not God.
“Same thing with Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Custer should’ve left the Indians alone, but he didn’t…he was not listening to God. Indian women pierced his ear drums after he died so he could hear God in the afterlife. Did you know that? Little known fact.
“You’re probably on sacred Indian burial grounds here. Everyone is, you know. The entire United States belongs to the Indians and they are buried everywhere.” He grinned up at me. “You’re probably cursed, living here.”
I smiled and nodded, backing up towards the house. Obviously he hadn’t heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger's difficulties. “I’m going inside to write you a check,” I said. “That’s seventy-five, right?”
“Is that your baby crying?” he said through the splash of mud on his face. “You got a baby in there?”
“No,” I quickly answered. “That’s my cat. She sounds like a baby sometimes, but she’s not.” I ran in and put Sara in a basket, pushing her gently through the reeds and down the canal that circles back to my front door.
I wrote the man a check before any more current events or cruel history could ruin what was left of my morning.
“You’re a beautiful woman!” called out Landscape Service Man as he backed away from me and my house and my baby, check in hand. “You really are! And you know I can’t lie!”
I wanted to go to lunch and have a thousand splendid drinks with someone who knew me. But instead, I watched Landscape Service Man drive away, and turned back to life as usual.