This morning, I had “floor duty” at the real estate office.
Floor duty sort of sounds like I should be kitted up in a Vanna White outfit offering people vowels.
Really, it just means I’m the one in the office should random real estate seekers straggle in.
Few people come in, but, all day long, folks pause to gaze at the plate glass windows of the office, longingly staring at the real estate photos that hang there.
Big houses, little houses, lush estates with rolling meadows.
Under each picture, there is a bit of come-hither copy about the property in question. I often hear people commenting on the properties, the photos or, sometimes, the copy.
Unless these window gazing people really peer in past the plate glass, they can’t see me at my desk there, watching them, listening to them, and, if they’re sounding snotty, planning unfortunate events for their fictional likenesses in novels.
I was on floor duty recently when I noticed a pretty blond woman peering at the photos in the window.
She was all bundled up, pushing a baby stroller. There was an elegant older man with her and also a nice looking man her own age. She started loudly and mockingly reading the copy under the photos. She was particularly contemptuous of a listing with the caption Paradise Found.
She read the copy aloud to her two gentleman friends then made a chortling sound and looked just about ready to spit on the ground. As she did this, I realized she was Claire Danes.
Claire Danes is the only person on the face of the earth whose attractiveness Laura the Hot Farmer and I agree on. Laura and I have vehemently disagreed on the hotness of literally hundreds of people of both sexes but Claire Danes is our common ground. And there she was, outside the window of the real estate office, chortling over real estate copy. I got up from my desk and was about to throw open the window to say “I didn’t write that!” but then the phone rang and I had to answer it and Claire Danes walked on by.
This morning, instead of Claire Danes, I had The Hah Man.
I had just unlocked the office and was putting the sign out on the sidewalk when a tall man lurched toward me, saying “Hah, hah” and gesticulating. I blinked up at him, trying to figure out what he wanted and why he was saying HAH. I had no idea on either count and he seemed really agitated, like he might strangle me. So I hurried back into the office. The Hah Man lurched after me, pointing at the back of the real estate office, saying: Hah hah.
His cheeks were sunken, he had no teeth, and I didn’t know what he wanted. So – as politely as possible – I closed the door in his face. He stood there gesticulating and saying Hah a few more times before storming off.
Back in the day (my friend Richard Boch HATES the expression “back in the day” so I’m using it just for him) when I was in a band with Pat Place and Stevie D and Julia Murphy, we would say Gah a lot, especially on tour.
Like, “We’re in the middle of Alabama and our motel is infested with large shiny bugs. Gah.”
Or, “I broke a guitar string, Gah.”
Sometimes, “Tour food is making me hideous and stupid, GAH.”
So, after this apparition of the Hah Man, I thought about Gah and remembered that there was a Gah Man and texted Julia to to be reminded of the story of the Gah Man.
Way back in the day, before our band, Julia and her then boyfriend tied their dog up to a parking meter while they went inside a shop. This was the 1980’s when everyone was more relaxed with dogs. Julia emerged from the shop and found a Chinese man pointing at her dog shouting “Gah, gah, gah.” She quickly untied the dog and walked away and never knew if the guy was yelling at the dog or if perhaps gah might be the word for dog in some Chinese dialect.
So, when the guy this morning was yelling HAH HAH HAH, I thought about Gah Man. A little later, Richard Boch, came to visit me at the office. I told him about the Hah Man.
“Oh that guy,” Richard said making a dismissive gesture with one hand, “That guy has no tongue.”
Then, Richard went on his way and I continued on with floor duty. The Hah Man was presumably gesticulating elsewhere.
Gah means yummy in Chinese.