Posted in The Writer's Life

Down & Out in San Antonio (Part IV)

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THE WINKING MR. TARSDALE

 

“Barry recommends you highly, Mr. Squires.” The graying, short-cropped head and appraising face leaned to the side in his chair and scanned me. “You’ve got the shoulders of a swimmer.” He winked.

“Well, I … ” I shrugged, probably blushed. It was true I had worked out regularly before Barry and I moved to San Antonio, and I suppose I was considered well-built. Since the move, and the shortness of money, I’d resorted to push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and sundry other movements.

“Well, Mr. Squires, let’s get right down to it. Barry warned me not to let the grass grow under my feet, so I guess if you want the job, you’ve got it.”

“Thank you, Mr.Tarsdale.”

“You’ll mostly be here as a presence, Jay. May I call you Jay?”

“Sure.” I expected him to follow with, “Call me Jacob, or Jake,” but I would have felt uncomfortable doing that anyway, so it was just as well he didn’t.

“Ask Jim—he’s the one you’ll be replacing since he’s moving out of state. He’ll tell you you’d better like reading. You like to read, Jay?”

“I do. Yes, I do like to read.”

“You just have to walk around in your bathing suit and be seen. You know, so the paying guests know there’s someone in charge. Not much else to do. Oh, and Jim’ll show you how to maintain the chemical levels in the pool. One free meal a day in our café. Let’s see, did I forget anything?” He scrunched up one eye and let out a sigh. “Oh, yes …” and he winked at me again. “Your pay.”

I smiled. “Oh, okay!”

“Two-fifty a month, paid bi-weekly. That’s the salary Jim had to work up to, and he’s been with us for two years, so don’t tell him. Deal?”

“Well, yeah …”

“Oh, and your certificate.”

I froze. Later, when I had a chance to think about it, I wondered if I actually sagged in my chair at hearing the words. I know I did inside.

“No hurry there,” he added.  We probably should keep a copy of it in your file. Ah, but no hurry, okay?” Another wink. “Start tomorrow morning. You’ll do the paperwork then. Jim’ll show you the ropes. He’ll want to make sure you have a handle on the equipment room. You know.”

I waited for him to wink, but instead he stood, stuck his arm across the desk and we shook.

#

“All I can tell you,” Barry said to me that night, “is that he’s never winked at me.”

“Maybe you don’t have the shoulders of a swimmer.”

His eyes grew big. “He didn’t!”

I nodded. “Yep. Of a swimmer.” I waited until Barry’s laughter ended. “You think he’s queer?”

“Well, he’s never winked at me. And my shoulders are broader than yours.”

“But you’re taller by three or four inches.”

“Still … You gotta admit, he did wink at you. More than once?”

“Two, three times.”

“He might be a queer, then.”

We were at a conversational impasse.

Finally, I said, “I need to buy a bathing suit.”

“They call ‘em trunks, Jay.”

“He called it a bathing suit.”

Barry smiled. “You might ask that Jim guy if he calls them bathing suits. See if he winks at you. But, hey, two-fifty a month, plus a meal a day. That’s good.” He gave my shoulder a squeeze, and then squealed like a teenybopper. “Eeeeeeeeeeee!”

 

Author:

My Twitter account identifies me as “a writer, a salesman, an optimist, a dreamer,” and adds: “may the four always cohabit and produce wondrous progeny.” Each of the first two identifies a blood-and-bone human being, living in the real world who works very hard at being honest and caring—but, who is still evolving in these areas. The last two (“optimist” and “dreamer”) are foundational qualities in my life. They keep a fire crackling under me that hopefully fuels the writer … and also the salesman, whose hat each of us is hard-wired to wear. Sandwiched somewhere between writing and selling, I attended college and even tried my hand at selling high school kids on why they should love learning and reading and writing. That was a brief stint. Whether teaching failed me or I it, I don’t know. You’d have to ask the kids—though many might be doddering by now, and some dead. Still, experientially, it is a part of me. I am married, living with my dog, Sirius, in Bakersfield, California, and separately from my wife.

7 thoughts on “Down & Out in San Antonio (Part IV)

  1. Hey Jay,
    Checking out your blog!
    I look forward to reading it whenI have extra time.

    FanStory friend,
    Karen Shofner (boxergirl)

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