Wednesday, April 16, 1986
The Class System
Mrs. E speaks with a British accent and carries herself with a royal air. Her lavishly landscaped yard has a swimming pool fed by a waterfall that splashes from stacked rocks and ferns. She has a view of the entire Silicon Valley.
I’m repairing a leak under her sink. Her husband had worked on it. Why oh why is this billionaire doing his own plumbing?
Mrs. E asks, "Did my husband totally botch it?"
"Um, it's just, I think it would be better to replace the entire drain assembly."
"You're very tactful." She laughs. "Where do you live?"
“La Honda," I say, which is like saying I live on the poor side of the mountain.
“I like La Honda," she says kindly. "It has such pretty views.”
“You’re not doing too bad, either,” I say. It sounds wrong and immediately there's a chill, like I’m envying her obvious financial success. "Your views," I say too late. "You have pretty views, too."
"Yes," says Mrs. E. And that's the end of chatting.
Her husband can't do plumbing, and I can't make small talk with a billionairess. We both have limits to our expertise. But I like it that he tries. I'll keep trying, too.
The waterfall, I decide, is too tidy. Too obviously placed there. Lacking nature’s artlessness. But then, I'm no expert.