Jul 4, 2010

A four-bedroom villa at the end of a cul de sac, around Redwood Shores, in the shadows of Oracle, a boat tied to the dock, Huis Clos literally and figuratively; a two story facade over the mantel; a heartland inside. Good people, the hosts, very good people, kind and straight, hard working, and not vulnerable to nonsense, what can you say. Sometimes, our friends don't reflect who we are.

The sign in the often remodeled kitchen, set above the sink, says, "Happy Fourth." The center of this kitchen is a 25-foot-square island of stone. Nearly a dozen women are holding on for dear life. Drinks in one hand, dipped chips in the other. And on the tip of their tongues: Brazilian wax, unsightly moles, viagra for women, tattoos and Pilates.

"Is that Pontius Pilates you're talking about?" asks one of the outlier husbands moving uneasily through the area, leaning on the back of a high chair, then reaching for the top of the refrigerator, as though he were lurching down the passageway on a sinking ship.

"There's my baby-Jesus," says the man's wife, with a mock Southern accent. "You just let him through there. He'll pass out in a little while."

Much is mock here, or to be mocked. But of course you get anyone alone, pick them out of the pack and they'll tell you about their breast cancer or the mother with dementia, or the real financial situation at home, or some excruciating bed death, or really and truly, they would tell you, even if they can't look you in the eye and hold it that they're just so damn tired of spending and spending.

You'd never imagine it but right in the heartland of the material world, folks are sick and tired of it all.

Even the men are tired of it. Sure, they're tea-party regulars underneath, which is about the right to and the rightness of spending,  but even the head of a local nonprofit that sends recycled medical supplies to the poor black folks in old Africa, and thinks this administration has got to get its checkbook in order — and if millions of people have no jobs as a result, it's a horrible shame, but it has to be, and it would all be fixed over night if the Government would finally just scrap taxing business.... Even he will tell you that materialism has gone too far.

And if you don't think he's serious, why recently he and his wife throttled back from more than 5,000 square feet to less than 3,000 square feet. And they bought a Prius. They're so proud of what they've done. And if they can do that, you see anyone can do that. It's all proportional. It's just common sense.

Meanwhile, the house we're talking about is at 68 degrees. Just the way the wives like it. But the pack-husbands have gone outside, where it's 80 degrees in the shade, two hours from dusk, no breeze, still as still, not even a far away sound of firecrackers, not a single song bird, just the murmur of males on Independence day.

By the way, they're all wearing coordinated shorts and long shirts, high end sandals. Everything is the finest beige: skin, clothes, temperament — except for one gentlemen in his teal best and wicked tongue.

These middle aged men look seven months pregnant is what they look. One man is standing with the palm of his hand on the top of his hip, the way women do when their bone-carriage is about to break. They're all good Catholics by the way.

And they're all mostly salesmen. They work in large corporations or large dealerships. They have long commutes and closely cropped hair. Their children are the pride of Pleasanton, although lately there's been a rash of car crashes, including one in an empty parking lot at the mall.

"Yea," says Alpha-in-teal, "when the police called me, I said, 'hell, it may be the same last name but that meat-head is no relation of mine.' I said, 'maybe you could use some of that overtime you guys are getting down there to look it up in the phone book. There must be ten thousand Corey Mosbeckers on Night Hawk Lane. Why pick me? Whose ever kid that is I wish 'em luck."

One man is crying it's so funny to hear that. Funny and true. Because in middle age it's not only materialism you're fleeing, but teenagerism.

Then everyone tells a story about going to Europe with their kids and how tough it is to see nine countries in eight days and, 'yea, no we had a ball, but you know what? I was glad to get home. Joanne says, 'why don't we stay over a week?' You know, yea, but I'm thinking... I mean I like Europeans and even if they've been done in by Socialism, which I just keep thinking is gonna happen here with this jigaloo in the White House, there is something to be said for that culture. But I just wanted to get back. You know why? Go out to PacBell and just watch Tim Linescum throw. Right? Just watch him throw a ball. I mean to me that's beautiful. That's as beautiful as....."

He checks himself because he doesn't want to sound ignorant, he's never forgotten that he went to Cal Poly not Stanford, and so he dutifully adds, "Well, maybe not the Mona Lisa but who's then who's that guy that does the horses rearing up on their hind legs?"

A senate of nods. Everyone takes another sip and thinks, "aren't we lucky to be sitting right here, right now"

"Did I tell you," asks one of the men, a wannabe-an-alpha-so-badly-but-I-just-can't, "that when I was in Russia I had to have half a dozen body guards. That place is intense."

"Well that's because everybody knows how scary you really are," says the real Mr. AlphaTeal, an especially big man with ferocious lips and a strange little mustache that smells of Grecian formula. You can smell it no matter where you're sitting.

"Speaking of you," he goes on. "I looked you up the other day."

He turns to the others at the table to explain. "Whenever I meet someone I always look up their company. I go right to the web site, find the organizational tree and see where they are, and then I find out if maybe anyone's leaving that division because there might be a spot and now I know somebody who maybe can help me get in."

"But now in your case," he says, and suddenly you realize that the lingual toreador is preparing his first kill of the evening — even as the bull has no idea, he's getting the cream cheese with strawberry jam smeared double thick on his wafer, and he's just opening his mouth.

"I could hardly find you," says Senior Alphanso, sticking the pica in as far as he can. "You are so deep down in that place. I mean it must have taken me an hour to get down that deep. What do you do there anyway?"

The man who was crying before is crying again. "He is so funny, isn't he?" he says to no one in particular.

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