The breakthrough came as a result of our last meeting. It began as a normal meeting. We started by talking about this and that. But on this day, I had a guest come to the house. The guest was a reasonably attractive lady who had come looking for a job as a (yet another) house cleaner. Now, what was interesting about this situation was that I had put the ad in for a housekeeper perhaps 10 months ago. At that time, I got something 200 responses, and without too much deliberation, picked someone I liked about 9 months and 29 days ago. I hadn’t actually asked anyone else to do this work since but for some reason, at least in terms of her story – and no, I am not extremely believing in this either – she said when she called that she was simply looking for a job and had seen my ad in the paper. I asked her why she would think an ad in a 10 month old newspaper might be fruitful and she answered that she also thought this was a silly thing to do. But she had seen my ad and decided to call and had apparently decided that the actual likelihood of such a position not having been filled during the course of a calendar year, was not too much of an obstacle, I suppose.
Ok. You either want to believe this story or you don’t. If we are not criminals from having broken the laws of attraction we can see that this was an obvious come on, at least in an economic sense. And having met her, I say give credit where credit is due for an interesting approach. And really, it is not like I am a millionaire or any kind of James Bond, male model type out here. And I am 9 years already away from American money, so I would not say that I am the catch of the day. And I did turn her down when she first called. But then there was a mix up with the girl who has been with me, she ironically enough, disrespectfully missing work and not calling to tell me at just this particular moment when the new girl called. Again, hard to believe in anything here, but if indeed there was a connection, you have got to love a worker who finds her own replacement. Again, if that’s what is going on.
But in any case, my homework allergic student and my “try looking for a job in the newspaper under the bird cage” housework aspirant were both here at the same time. And, to me without even a smidgen of irony, both of them started in with the criticism. The house cleaner criticizing my old house cleaner –
“Oh, maybe it is me and maybe I am too clean a person, but I would never allow for this situation in any place that I lived. My g-d, look at the cobwebs there on the ceiling. What must the size of such a critter be? Who could sleep here for fear that such an animal would suck your blood away and leave you diseased? Did you actually have someone here? You did? What was she doing during this time?” she stood on a chair and tore the webs from the trim with a broom, hissing curses like a snake the whole time.
“She’s pretty.” I explained quietly.
“The cleaning girl.” More hisses.
-and my student of course, criticizing the housekeeper, pointing out how she was wearing tight jeans, a very low cut cotton muscle shirt over a well bought, black “bountiful harvest” brassier. And, she added, had several times found reason to lean forward in front of me.
“What do you think that means?” I asked.
“Maybe she wants you to like her?” She answered and I agreed that her… harvest was in fact a very effective attention holding devise for a woman who likes to talk a lot.
This last dialogue is from an idea I had at that moment. Sensing an interesting moment, I turned on the dictaphone and asked my so called student to explain her meaning here. I let the recorder run for a few minutes, getting the main gist of her complaint and then turned the keyboard over to her to do some KGB transcribing. This, with some badgering, got done relatively quickly and then we started in on the grammar lessons surrounding the translation of our conversation into English.
“I think that you were right because you helped a woman and gave her a job.” She went on. “She got money and now she is going to buy her children something or candy. I am not looking at you with sarcasm. Maybe she also likes you because you liked her top. Maybe she wanted you to like her”
About this time, the housecleaner finished and called me to be astonished at her kitchen work. There was a notable warmth about her, probably pride of accomplishment, and I could feel this as I was leaning over her shoulder to get a look at the kitchen. I actually had to lean over her because she is a little shorter than me and was standing right in the doorway and blocking my entrance so leaning over her shoulder was the only way to actually see the kitchen. Yes, the kitchen was clean and yes, she had made a good choice at the lingerie department. In any case, I paid her wage, added a small tip, made an appointment for a haircut with her on Friday, this, her actual career training, and she was gone.
Back in the office, my student was staring down at the desk. She added a few more sentences which we transcribed but we couldn’t finish all the translating before she herself had to go. But what was amazing was, within an hour of her departure, I got a skype message. Lo and behold: Homework. To me, it was like witnessing Lazarus rising from the dead. Despite threats and promises, pointing out the ramifications of failure from disinterest and a lack of attention and how this would reflect on her future, here, finally, allegorically leaning forward right there in front of me, was the translation of that last part of our conversation:
“Do you have a problem?”
“Was there something wrong with this lady?”
“Why? She got what she wanted. I see that she liked you. Everything is good, excellent.”
“Then why are you smiling at me like that?”
“I am smiling because you are smiling. Maybe you are crazy and you are seeing pink elephants. The pink elephants (глюки) are hallucinations. This is when you see things that do not exist. These are called pink elephants. You know your alcoholics near the porch? They have the pink elephants too. When they are drunk, they also have the white horses (белочка). White horses and pink elephants are the same.”
My girl had finally found an interest in learning English grammar and all it took was an $8 black pushup brassier. What happened? Was it that she herself hadn't been particularly blessed in that part of her anatomy? No! She liked doing this work. It was funny to her to hack on the cleaning lady. Dishing dirt was fun for her. And it was also fun to poke fun at me. So why not? We finally got some work done. There was some thought about how to make English sentences. Where is this terrible?
In the end, we all have our attitudes and understandings. I am not critical of the fairer sex, Anya’s mother notwithstanding, and I am not sitting here crowing over my skills with women or, better, that I have actually acquired enough wisdom about women to actually get a clean house and some homework sentences. But, where force, logic, begging, complimenting or stern looks don’t work, there is nothing like a little jealously to get the creative juices flowing in the morning. And so maybe this is a bit of wisdom worth keeping in mind. And again, I don’t really, really, really believe in this, but we did get to go subject verb a few times and we did get to talk a little bit about those adverbial phrases and why the word order really is so important.