Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hot Mexican Blood

In the watch business you encounter a lot of interesting characters. One of the guys my boss does business with is a Mexican real-estate tycoon who calls on the telephone persistently, every 30 minutes or so, if he knows we've sold one of his watches. He always seems in a rush to speak, and his thick accent makes it difficult to understand him sometimes, but I've grown so accustomed to his blustery "Hi, this is George!" and, invariably, "How are you, fine? Everything is good?" spoken almost as one long word. He comes to New York every now and then, and is actually kind of handsome, in a hair-slicked-back hot shot way. But guys like that make me nervous. He seems too slick, and too young to have so much money. So my coworkers and I secretly refer to him as the Mexican Drug Lord.

George visited once with his friend Eduardo, a plump and sunny guy, who carried a Mexican newspaper under his arm, proudly explaining to everyone that it was his uncle's newspaper company. Apparently the newspaper business is a big deal in Mexico. Since then, Eduardo often comes to New York without George, bringing a watch or two for his friend. My desk is hidden from the front of the store, but I can always tell when Eduardo walks into the place, because he is a very fragrant man. I've never met a man who wears so much perfume. I'll get a whiff of it wafting through the air, and come out to find Eduardo greeting me with a huge smile and a cheek kiss. Today was no exception, except he also brought us packets of Emergen-C to ward off the nasty bug that's been going around. My theory is that he wears the perfume because he is self-conscious of the fact that he sweats a lot. One not very hot day Eduardo came in bringing us a watch, and his shirt was drenched in sweat. My friend Joe, the watch dealer who brings me cookies every week, was standing there drily observing Eduardo mopping himself with a handkerchief. "Look at you and your hot Mexican blood," said Joe, with cool half-lidded eyes. Joe's urbane chic is never ruffled.

Imagine my surprise one day when I answered the phone and it was George, but instead of asking to speak with my boss, he declared he was going to take me to dinner next time he was in New York. I brushed it off, thinking it was just another instance of hot Mexican blood, but sure enough a few months later, there was George and Eduardo standing in the shop, asking if I was free after work. I declined, not very keen on having dinner with a possible Mexican drug lord and his sidekick, and I have not regretted my decision. I prefer to keep things professional. Anyway, I don't know if I could sit through dinner with Eduardo's perfume. Today when he arrived I could, as usual, smell him from a mile away. And so could another nose. In her office, my other boss began sneezing uncontrollably. She emerged, seeking the source of the offending perfume, and demanded to know, "Who is that man and when is he leaving?! I'm allergic to him!" I suppressed my evil laughter, and went out to be greeted by Eduardo's effusive smiles and cheek kisses. He was mopping a sweaty brow, on a 36 degree day.

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