It is 10:40 a.m., and it is already a sweltering 85 degrees. The humidity is so high it feels much hotter; the air so thick with moisture, it feels like a sauna upstairs.
Yes, upstairs. In my home.
Late yesterday afternoon, the 11-year-old upstairs air-conditioning system gave up the ghost. This is not surprising, given that it’s been tripping the circuit breaker the past three or four summers. Usually we’ve just had to replace the breaker thingie, and that’s cheap. I’ve had multiple people out to look at the unit over the years, swear there’s nothing wrong with it, then spend the rest of the summer flipping the breaker switch several times a day to keep it going, especially at night. Last year, one of the "regulars" said the problem was with the compressor, and he could find one for $800, but added he'd like to work things out with me.
Which brings us to sex.
Trust me when I tell you there’s no mistaking how he wanted to work things out, which is why this morning I called a large, local company. Mike with Weather Master just left, saying it will cost about $3,000. If I want to repair the heating system downstairs at the same time, it will be upwards of $5,000.
Mike, a “home comfort consultant,” was the consummate professional. Still, I don’t have $3,000 to drop on a new system. Even he agreed the problem is the compressor, though the system is three years past its prime. Meantime, I’ve called an electrician – also named Mike, who’s also been here several times in the past – to see if a new breaker switch won’t bring this thing back to life.
I know a total of four electricians, three of whom are reasonably attractive, African-American men. But Mike No. 2, who’s coming over on his lunch hour, is an older white guy who talks way too much.
And that’s why I called him.
All three of the brothers have tried to “get over” on me in one way or another, each using sexual innuendo to do so. It isn't a black-guy thing; it just so happens they were the only electricians I knew, nothing more. One guy, the youngest, is actually quite nice. Let me state right now that I don’t think I’m attractive. Barely average, at best. Still, I do believe that just about anyone can be very attracted to the opposite sex, almost through forces beyond our control. It’s those pheromones at work, and I believe that somehow I have more than my fair share, if that’s possible, based on my active sexual past – and that’s all the detail you’re going to get from me on that subject. Just remember 1) promiscuity is also a manifestation of past sexual abuse and 2) it wasn’t that much fun.
So okay, maybe the attraction has been genuine in a few cases, but I’m also keenly aware that some people think overweight women are starved for attention and will do anything for male companionship. Like all stereotypes, this has some basis in fact. There’s even a term for seeking lonely fat girls in bars and nightclubs to sleep with: going hogging. If you do it online, it’s e-hogging. No, I just wish I were making this up.
Knowing this, and knowing my need to always be in control of such situations, aggressive flirters actually make me quite angry. And disappointed. Angry, because I like to believe I’m a fairly intelligent person, and disappointed because I’ve come across as an easy mark.
What, if anything, does this have to do with race? I only reference it because most of the aggression I experience comes from black men. I’m going to guess that if you’re white, you get it mostly from white guys.
So when Mike came to the door, I was relieved. Despite the shocking price tags, all convo was pleasant and professional. And I’m looking forward to the scrawny, wizened Mike No. 2’s diagnosis of the circuit breaker. He should be here any minute now . . .
Yell at me all you want, just don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen some really big, incredibly unattractive women who are either pregnant (I know; sometimes it’s hard to tell) or have several children, and you’ve asked yourself, How did that happen?
Some of it happens due to lack of self-esteem, loneliness, a need to feel wanted or desired, no matter if they know, deep down, they’re just a booty call.
These are not my issues, which is why I turn all cold and uppity when the brothers “go there” with me. I do have a self-esteem issue in that I tend to believe the attraction is my fault; that my warm and friendly nature sends all the wrong signals. I’m working on that.
Meanwhile, Mike No. 2 says it’s not the breaker, but the compressor, and probably the capacitator, whateverinhell that is. Because I’m so nice, and in a bad place, he gave me half off, so I only had to pay $40 – and there was no flirtation involved.
Crap. That means I have to finagle a compressor. I could use that $800 deal, but not the sexual pressure, because I have an alternative vocabulary that has all the subtlety of a flamethrower, and I would hate to use it.
I’m working on that, too.
It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, and they couldn’t hear the barbarians coming. ~ Garrison Keillor
ALSO: If you’re in the D.C. area, tune in to WHUR-FM from 7:10-7:30 p.m. tonight. I’ll be taking calls, live, on The Daily Drum.
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.