No, I’m not talking the four-, eight-, or even sixteen-legged kind. I’m talking the three-legged variety, which would be the Terminix man himself, come to rid my house of pests when he’s the worst one of all.
A little while ago I noticed some termite activity in both my bedroom and my office. For those not in the know, as I haven’t been my entire life, termite activity comes in the form of a lump of sawdust somewhere on the floor. I found two little piles below the window in my bedroom. Crap. Literally. The dusty piles are termite poop, dropped from them after they’ve filled their bellies with the eaves of the house. The owner of the house has a termite contract with Terminix so I called to have them come out and take a look around and assess the situation. Arty Party and I were both home the day he came out, but I was designated the one to take him upstairs to view the activity. He wasn’t the usual guy who came for yearly inspections, but they sent who they sent, so I showed him to my bedroom and the piles of sawdust on the floor beneath the windowsill. He confirmed yep, termite activity. Then he asked if I minded if he checked the other rooms of the house. I said sure, then went downstairs to wait for his assessment. AP was wiped out that day, and was lying on one of the couches in the family room under a blanket. I was seated on the other couch when the guy came back downstairs, went through the garage and outside and finally to the family room to deliver his prognosis. He started with a question.
. “Who’s bedroom is the first one on the left?”
. The question at first confused me. There is no first bedroom on the left. Well, there is: mine. Second room, but first bedroom. But in the room I think he’s referring to, there is no bed. It’s my office. So while we play this verbal dance trying to figure out which room he’s talking about, he finally says, “The one with the trunks.” Okay. The one without a bed. The only room upstairs I would definitely not refer to as a bedroom.
. “You mean the office?” I ask. Anyway, who cares whose it is. Just say, “Hey, I also found some termite activity in the first room on the left. The office.” But no. This guy was into playing games. Because not only does he tell me there’s termite activity, but that there’s a dead frog behind the trunks being eaten by a bunch of bugs. Of course I made a face at this and was quite horrified. Arty didn’t say much, but as she was lying down and concealed under a blanket, I could see it on this Terminix man’s face that he was wondering what was going on under there. Was she half-dressed? Then he confirms my suspicions when he asks if we have a big strapping man living with us. Arty–so naive, so unaware, so duh–says, “No. No strapping men around here.” I mean, it is kind of obvious if you’ve just walked around the house that there’s nothing masculine about it. You might guess two fourteen-year-old girls live here, but certainly not a man. Unless he was gay. Or a pedophile. But certainly no one strapping. Then he says because if we did we could ask him to clean up the dead frog. But since we don’t, if I give him a paper towel and some Windex, he’ll clean it up for us. I get him what he wants, he cleans it up and throws it out. Then he starts telling us there are some good guys in Florida if we just open ourselves up to it. I say nothing, but Arty is still engaging him, talking about how we love hockey men and the game we’ll be going to in the coming weeks. I give her a look like, Cut it out. Stop talking. Inappropriate pervert. Then he sits on the room’s other chair, crosses his legs and starts playing on his Terminix handheld. He can’t find the email of our landlord. He asks me to get it for him. I do. He asks how much our rent is. He asks how often we get to swim in our pool. He says he loves pools. He says he likes my dog because he’s the only one in the house who is being nice to him. He asks me to email the landlord on his handheld because he can’t figure it out. I want to scream for him to get off my furniture and get the foog out of my house. He’s not here for tea. He’s here to assess the termite situation and report it back to the homeowner. Not to get his rocks off. I feel so violated, a feeling that intensifies even after he leaves. I even cry later that night to AP, lamenting the position of a woman who goes through life single. Easy target. Creepers can sniff on you that you’re not protected, and they exploit it to the fullest. I thought back over my life, my living arrangements, and how I’ve always had to go it unprotected. The only time I ever lived with a man (save as a baby before my mom left my dad) was the ten-year-period of my adolescence into young adulthood when I lived with my mom and stepfather. And it was absolutely the most protected I’ve ever felt. I made the best man-choices, and I was certainly not fair game for any creepers. Sure, I was hit on, but I didn’t wear a cloak of solitary. I had a man in my house, one that might kick your ass if you got out of line. Who’s going to kick ass for me now?
As a single woman living with a single woman, I’ve been harassed by two male landlords. Several service men. A neighbor or two. It’s tough. I would never have been asked questions about rent, my pool, or my “nice” disposition if there were a few jock straps hanging off the doorknobs.
Hey. I think I just may have found a solution . . . .