I ran across Mr. Thomas today, an older man who lives with his wife in my apartment building. He’s one of the most likable men I’ve ever met. Always cheerful, never a bad word about anyone, willing to stop and chat any time he sees you. And although he’s originally from another country, his English is letter-perfect.
Problem is, he’s never quite mastered our idioms.
“Hey, Frank!” he called. “How’d you like the golden shower the other day?”
See what I mean?
“Uh…golden shower?” I asked.
I do that a lot with Mr. Thomas, answering his statements in the form of a question — like a round of Double-entendre Jeopardy.
“Yeah, day before yesterday,” he answered. “Shortly before sunset it was raining, but the sun was still shining and it turned everything a rich, gold colour.”
“Ah,” I said.
“It was beautiful,” he continued. “I looked out the window and said to my wife, ‘Hey, honey, do you want to join me in a golden shower outside?’ but she had one of her attacks and had to lie down for a while.”
His wife is native English. She gets these “attacks” a lot.
“But I went out anyway,” he said. “I even turned my face up to the sky and kind of drank it in.”
“So you drank in the golden shower?” (I‘ll take Sexual Perversions for $100, Alex.)
“I sure did. It was warm, too.”
“Of course,” I said. “So what else have you been up to?” I asked, hoping to change the subject to something less…suggestive.
“Well, my wife has a new rack.”
I should have known better.
“A new rack?”
“Yes, sir. We dropped into Marvin’s Antiques in the Village.”
Marvin calls his stuff antiques, but really most of it is little more than trash. Still, on occasion you can find some good quality items. I’d bought a coffee table there myself, not long ago.
“I see,” I said, a glimmer of understanding beginning to form.
“Anyway, my wife sees this coat rack, solid oak, and she just has to have it.”
“Ah,” I said.
“She didn’t see it right away, of course. She was too busy checking out Marvin’s junk.”
“She took an interest in his junk, did she?”
“She sure did, and he was more than happy to show it to her.”
“Some men are like that,” I said.
“Yes they are,” he said happily. “Guys like him are real proud of their junk.”
“Whether they deserve to be or not,” I agreed.
“True enough. And Marvin just kept shoving his junk in her face. Finally, though, some other customers came in looking for hoes.”
“They go to Marvin for hoes, do they?”
“Sure. He’s got a large selection of really cheap hoes.”
“Variety and thrift are important.”
“I guess so,” he said. “Anyway, once he’d got off with my wife, she starts lookin’ around, and that’s when she found her rack.”
“She’s lucky,” I said. “Some women her age lose theirs for good.”
“Is that a fact?” he said absently. “Any way, she got it at a really good price, too, because when Marvin came back he found her polishing his knob.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t notice right away.”
“Well, he was busy with the hoes.”
“Ah.” I nodded. “That would be distracting.”
“Yeah. She’d leaned against the railing of the stair going up to his living quarters and the knob on the post was all dusty. She brushed the dust off her jacket and then, because she’s kind of obsessive about housekeeping, she took out a couple of Kleenex and started polishing the knob.”
“Keeping her hand in, so to speak,” I commented.
“Yes. Then Marvin came.”
“He came while she was polishing his knob?”
“Well, that can happen.”
“Sure it can. And when he saw she’d got all dusty he felt really bad and let her have the rack at half price.”
“That was nice of him.”
“It sure was. He even threw in some costume jewellery.”
“Yep, just tossed a pearl necklace right on her rack.”
“Yes, I believe that’s the traditional place,” I muttered.
Mr. Thomas laughed and slapped me on the shoulder.
“I do enjoy talkin’ to you, Frank, but I swear, sometimes you say the most puzzling things.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.”
“Anyhow, gotta go. See you around, Frank.”
“You too,” I said, “I’ll talk to you again, Mr. Thomas.”
“Please,” he said in mock severity, “Call me John.”
Feature image is “Girl in Pearl Necklace” by Jessiechrist at DivantArt.