Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Friday evening I arrived at Mr. Hedge Fund’s loft with an overnight bag showed that in some dealings he wasn’t capable of a poker face. Better to take the test drive before the negotiations begin.

His plan for the evening was a fancy restaurant followed by one of those velvet rope nightclubs in Chelsea. Shortly after meeting him last winter, Mr. HF showed up in Paris and took me to dinner; on that occasion he chose a three star restaurant. I remember at the time thinking that this felt like I was out with a client. If he was doing this to impress me…well he wasn’t and if these are his idea of a typical night out, he’ll need to find a different girl. I countered and suggested a place I like a few blocks from his place and later a club in Brooklyn that my friend Karen told me about. He agreed and off we went.

As I hoped, Karen showed up at the club. I wanted her to meet Mr. HF and give me her unvarnished opinion. K was always pretty good at sniffing out the frauds that found their way into my love life and I was interested what she would say. When I arrived home I found a long satiric email from her that had me giggling, but to sum it up she said he seemed nice for a rich guy.

The test drive provided a decent but not outstanding performance. Sigh; is financial security and earth moving sex mutually exclusive? Saturday morning we breakfasted at his favorite café where I under went my own review by a couple of his friends. While talking he told me his plan for the day was to drive to the suburbs and look at a few houses with a real estate agent and he asked if I wanted to join him. I accepted realizing that this would be a great opportunity to learn more about him.

As we left the café, he called the concierge of his building and asked that his car be brought around. The car was in front by the time we walked back, a BMW coupé. It had crossed my mind that he might drive something gauche for a thirty year old, like a big Mercedes or a Ferrari. Those and similar cars should require the prerequisite of crows feet and a touch of gray in the drivers hair.

Just after we got started my phone rang, it was Grace, who started “You’re not home so it must be going pretty well.” I ignore her and respond with an overly friendly “Hello Grace.” This elicits a smile from Mr. HF, as he’s aware of Grace and my sniping. “Ask him if he is available for dinner with Robert and me. I relayed the message adding that I wasn’t sure I would be invited. By this time I had put Grace on the speakerphone so he heard her comment about that.

We met the real estate agent at her office, she was a blonde about fifty and given the stiffness of her features my guess she had a botox treatment last week. My presence seemed to throw her off for a bit, I wondered why. I’d resolved to simply shut up (difficult for me) and watch Mr. HF as he toured the houses and not to offer any opinions unless asked. We wandered through the first two, both too large pretentious piles suffering from full Martha decorating. Mr. HF’s expression indicated he didn’t care for them either.

A smile broke out on his face when we pulled into the driveway of the third house and it grew broader as we went in the front door. The real estate agent noticed the change also and she began babbling about the features of the property. It was obvious to me that she had saved this one for last. I walked around thinking that this is big as my high school and tried imagining what it would be like to live there when I heard the agent talking about the apartment above the carriage house. That got me thinking that we could live in the carriage house and turn this into a bed and breakfast.

Before starting back we stopped for coffee. We made small talk for a bit and then he asked what I thought of the last house. I gave him my opinion, which didn’t please him, but he stuffed the emerging grump and tried selling me on the benefits of the house. When he got to the part about future children being able to have not only a bedroom but also their own study, I stopped him and told him that my children would have no such thing and then began mining the fond memories of my childhood to make my point.

He listened, but we let the subject drop. As we left the town we passed through a tidy neighborhood, on a corner there was an open house sign, he turned up the street. The house was a fifties contemporary, sort of California-ish. It wasn’t, by any stretch a small house, but compared to what we had looked at earlier it was almost petite. When we walked in, it was my turn to smile. I liked the house; it needed updating, as it seemed pretty original but very well kept. The spaces were nice and the light was wonderful. Mr. HF followed me around; his hands shoved in his pockets and grunted an acknowledgement when I excitedly pointed something out to him.

On the ride back we didn’t speak about houses but we found other things to talk about and he dropped me at Grace’s who was waiting for a complete report.

Following dinner we stopped for a nightcap, very, very trendy place with lots on the make people. Returning from the ladies, just prior to leaving, I ran smack into Ted, who leered at me, but didn’t recognized me as he was obviously way over the line. He looked awful; I guess all the drinking and drugs are catching up with him. Outside the bar I bid Mr. HF a goodnight, he was disappointed but had been forewarned.

Sunday, Robert went to the Giant’s game with friend so Grace and I hung out and entertained Robby while talking and then it was time to come home.



Anonymous VJ said...

Thanks for the update on Mr. HF Kim, it all sounds interesting. And this? "Sigh; is financial security and earth moving sex mutually exclusive?" Is relatively easy to answer. For most of humanity the answer is unfortunately Yes. They are 2 very separate areas of competency. They rarely come together. And when they do, it's not unusual to be carefully hidden too! (Go figure). But most couples learn to live with such disability. And learning to accommodate each other can work wonders if they're willing to be trained in pleasing each other better. Not exactly producing miracles typically, but still acceptable to many. We're glad you had some fun though.

Still "selling me on the benefits of the house" & other planning is a bit advanced.

But don't get me started on the quality of recent house construction. From what I've seen it' short of horrific. Much of it is done so shoddily, we've got several multi-million dollar mansions in the 'best subdivisions' in the South in & around Atlanta that had to be bulldozed due to hazardous and systemic construction errors. These commonly affect not only the usual 'fit & finish' of the interiors, but missing vital structural elements. A lot of this is due to the 'low cost' immigrant crews the contractors now use exclusively. It's not that they don't know how to do the job well, it just most are so 'green' & 'new' (hence cheap) they've never had the time to be trained properly.

So I live in a 20 YO home. I've seen newer construction from the inside out, and I'd dare not buy or live in a home of more recent vintage. My bet is that most of them are just problems waiting to happen, so I'd heartily agree with you on that 50's style Californian. It was without a doubt better & more strongly built than anything built recently. It's as simple as that. Ask any honest contractor or builder, they'll tell you that too . The floor plans flow better. They are more 'human sized' and things usually seem to fit better too. They actually thought a bit about where the kids would go, (although this was more common in the 1970's & 80's).

The last millionaire I knew who bought one of those new 10K+ sq ft wonders actually had to have a carpenter on staff to 'clean up' all the mistakes that kept up cropping up constantly, still after years of living in the place. The contractors by then were long gone and building other wonders in a different county.

Yeah, who knows what garners the most comment here, right? Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

11:38 PM  
Anonymous VJ said...

Oh yeah, you'll never know just how far the 'Full Martha Treatment' goes:


Cheers, 'VJ'

11:48 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

VJ: "Selling the benefits" should be interpreted as defending his preference.

The mention of children was in a purely theoretical sense, rather than specifically us. Though it is nice to learn that he is accounting for children in his future. But we're far from having those types of discussions.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous VJ said...

Thanks for the clarification Kim, I had thought it must be something like that.

Don't get caught with one of those McMansions though! I was at a builders expo today. I asked the owners of the new development up the street how they certify their builders. Why the Atlanta Builders Council (or some such) does it for them. Nothing more, nothing less. They don't 'choose' them, the contractors chose them. Based on the bottom line. For houses that scrape by from 350 on up to 1.5 mill. (Middling stuff, actually). I've seen more shockingly shoddy construction out there then I've seen in all my life. It would be funny if it were not so tragic. Homes perched on top of cliffs so if you open your back door the kid & the dog fall off the mountain. There's not one aspect of the homes that seem well thought out or well built. How do you tell that to some one who's now hustling 'discounted homes'? True to form, I told him his homes are going to be more heavily discounted. And they are. Luckily though, most people will not have seen them like I did when they were 'roughed out', that's when you can see all their mistakes bare & present. Now most of them are carefully hidden. Behind 'false walls' sometimes, that make basements 'look queer'. The wife & I had a good laugh over a bunch of them actually. I'll freely admit I'm a crank. But I know when it's well built. And I've not seen many in the last 20 years. Artists you can get to come in and do custom wonders for you. It's the basic structure you'll have to worry about unless you're on on site directing the crew nearly 24/7. Or it was built properly way back when. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

4:42 AM  
Anonymous VJ said...

Addenda: Cleaning up the debris and the swag from the Biz Expo, I find a '$45,000 off coupon' for that new development I spoke of attached to a box of chocolate truffles. This is doubly funny as our first home was about 3mi away, and cost us about 60K when we first bought it. Tidy little thing @1200 sq ft that never gave us a day of trouble. Of course I viewed it when it was roughed out and checked it out throughly. We met with the builder a few times. I had his guys correct the mistakes I saw in it. The fit and finish was fine, if basic, and we lived there happily for about 10 years. I could literally drop a mortar on the old house from the removed mountain top they cleared for this new wonder subdivision. And I think it might take twice that to fix even some of the more simple glaring idiocies I've seen in their new ones though! Cheers, 'VJ'

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. HF sounds terrible uninspiring and unoriginal, but it seems you like the chase so you may get a few nice trinkets out of him. You are too good (in all respects) for him.

5:33 PM  

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