Despite the fact that this kid who looks like he's about 11 years old has opened a pipe in my utility room that clearly was not meant to be opened very often if at all (it is 4" in diameter, cast iron, and comes up from the floor only to turn into a wall) and unleashed a torrent of oily black muck that smells like the bottom of a sewer, I thank him.
"Thank you," I say.
"Your welcome, ma'am," he says. His name patch says Pete. Despite this endearing detail, it in no way inspires a sexual fantasy in me. He looks too young. And the image of a hairless chest along with a boyish cherubic face looking down on me and saying, "Jeepers, Mrs. Robinson, that was super duper," through heavy breaths more or less drop kicks my libido directly to zero.
Boyish or not, however, Pete has effectively fixed my backed up kitchen sink and for that, I am overflowing with good intention. "I'll call you next time, Pete," I say, walking him out.
"There is one more piece of advice I like to give people, ma'am." He sets down his huge metal toolbox and jams the balls of his fists into the front pockets of his work jumper. The rough tan uniform does not fit his thin frame well and the sleeves are rolled into thick doughnuts around his forearms.
"Please," I say and we turn to face each other in front of the open door.
"Don't put anything in your toilet," he pauses for emphasis while giving me a purposeful look, "that wasn't in your mouth first."
I consider this for a minute. A laugh is tickling the inside of my lip, but Pete's expression is dead serious.
"I know exactly what you mean," I say.
Pete's face collapses with reassurance. "Good," he says. "Because if you only could see the things I see," he hoists the toolbox with a grunt, then squints out at the sunny day.
"I can only imagine," I say.
Pete raises one eyebrow and gives me an inclusive nod, which I return. We both step onto the front stoop. He climbs into his swimming pool blue van, which has on its side panel a cartoon picture of a gleefully smiling hot water tank with two enormously muscular arms raised victoriously.
Pete drives away. I suck back into my house, silently vowing never to put anything in my toilet that wasn't in my mouth first.