Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ma! Get My Shotgun!

Today I took the day off from work so I could be home to let the meter reader from the gas company into the house. The reading is long overdue; the reader comes around every two months, usually on a day when no one is home to receive him. Like in August, when the family was away on vacation. We have had warnings in the past that if the meter is not read within a certain period of time, our gas will be shut off. This may not be such a bad thing considering the sudden rise in heating costs this coming winter. Still, I like my house to be tolerably warm inside when there is frostbite weather outside, so I didn't want to let this day go by without an official notation of my household's natural gas usage.

Generally, I figure that the meter reading is trying to get things done in a hurry. He has a lot of ground to cover in the course of a day. He comes inside, gets the numbers, and goes.

One summer when I was a teenager, I let a meter reader into the house. She was not what I had expected. She was medium-short in height, nicely built, absolutely adorable, and kind of exotic compared to the women I was used to seeing in my area. When she arrived, I had just finished a two hour long workout with free weights in the garage, so I was already feeling pretty pumped up. To this day, I do not understand how I was able to accompany her down to the basement and back up to the front door without hitting on her. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was about 16 and she was obviously a professional woman in her twenties. Whatever it was, I spent the rest of the day trying to think of ways that I could have convinced her to take a couple of hours out of her busy schedule and spend it with me. One doesn't get many meter readers that cause that kind of reaction.

Indeed, in the ensuing two decades, the few female meter readers that I encountered might as well have been men, they were so butch. Today's meter reader was just the opposite. I don't doubt his masculinity, but he had the longest danged ponytail I've seen since the Rat Tail walked the mean streets of Heidelberg. But whereas Rat Tail's hair was tied together near the ends, the meter reader's hair was tied at the back of his head. My six year old son described exactly what I was thinking: "He looks like a lady but he's a man." He also threw in "I hate strangers". I actually like strangers if they are doing something positive, like reading my gas meter for a utility company, but in a way I was glad that the kid was weirded out by this guy.

I have never had a ponytail. When my hair gets longer, it tends to curl naturally. In my younger days I sometimes wore it in a white boy 'fro, prompting people to ask if I had gotten a perm. Nope, I just washed it, rubbed the heck out of it with a towel until it was dry, and shook it. WHAM! Instant "perm". But I have never, ever, even for one moment, considered wearing my hair in a ponytail. That look is a little too hippie for me. And my son agrees.

Now I just need to figure out some way to explain to him the ponytails of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Can't have the kid growing up to think this country was founded by hippies, now, can I?

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