2007: The Summer of Ultimate Khakis (a pointless blog)
In 2007, I was an Outside Claim Representative for the insurance company I still work for. I was 24, in better shape, was living in Colorado again, and had a job that let me climb on roofs and meet all kinds of people. It also let me (read: was forced to) travel across the country. I saw a ton of the Southwest.
I saw a lot of Utah in all of it's weird and beautiful splendor, some of the flat parts of Wyoming, too much of Albucrappy, some of Texas, LOVED Arizona, and spent half my life in Las Vegas. You don't know sad until you have to stay by yourself in a hotel on The Strip.
Vegas is actually a pretty populated area, and the homes and businesses there almost act like the Vegas we know doesn't exist. It's like any city with a major attraction, I guess. Real life just goes on.
During the summer of 2007 I was sent to Vegas to assess claims and pay for damages, and all that boring crap that happens in insurance. All kinds of amazing things happened in those first few trips...amazing things, yes, and strange, eyebrow-raising things.
One of the first claims I got was for a large home in a neighborhood right outside of The Strip. I called the woman to set an appointment, and as we were hanging up, she said, "Oh, I almost forgot. Don't wear the color red, and when you come in, tell the ghosts that you're just here for insurance."
<No it's ok, you read that right.>
The house was a dead ringer for The Munster's mansion, which probably went without saying, and I called my manager and told her by blood type just in case a forensic analysis was needed. Wearing my white polo and my Ultimate Target Khaki's, I passed the decorative (one hopes) cow skulls used as landscaping ornaments and rang the doorbell. I was met by a lovely woman sporting a bouffant, bedazzled crocks, and a t-shirt with an air-brushed Elvis with angels wings on the front. I told the ghosts that I was only there for insurance, obviously, and entered the foyer that had floor to very-tall-ceiling mirrors. She had an amazing mosaic tiled floor.
Turns out she had a leaky roof. I think. Actually, I have no idea what she had, because I was distracted by taking an entire memory card's worth of pictures of the water damaged mannequins (you heard me). Like, a lot of them. It was a very big Munster mansion.
There were mannequins in the formal sitting room. There was a mannequin laying seductively on a piano. There were mannequins on large shelves halfway up the 20-foot walls, mannequins in hallways in compromising poses, and mannequins in an upstairs room that was a fully working theater/"rehearsal" area, equipped with full stage lighting, disco ball, and wood dance floor.
All of the mannequins were impressively anatomically correct, and all were dressed in (what can best be called) "Show" outfits: a lot of Cher-esque headdresses, and very little else to cover the...well...other things a good Catholic girl learns to cover. But what was covered, was sequined. Or feathered.
My camera actually ran out of batteries. It's amazing what you can take pictures of in people's homes when they're looking the other way.
As I was walking to my car for more double-As, I stopped at the threshold and told the ghosts that I would be right back and to stay in the house. Clearly.
The last stop in the house, right past the indoor coy pond and the large wall of signed photos of scantily clad men, was a dark hallway with all of its doors closed. Mrs. Munster told me with sudden urgency that there was no damage in that direction, those were not the droids I was looking for, and that hall was where "all the men were sleeping."
That was the last time I was in a brothel.
The rest of my time in Vegas was relatively uneventful, except for the time my car got stuck in the desert and had to be towed out by a guy in a tighty-whiteys and firefighter boots. Or almost running over a little-person (whom I am convinced was a pimp) in a wide-collared velour suit. Or when a homeowner only wanted a man to climb on his roof, so I told him not to worry because I used to be one. Or when my car was broken into for my $700 GPS. Or when I had the claim with the lady who was convinced that her neighbors had shot bullets at her bricks because they weren't smooth anymore.
The one memory that defines my time in Vegas, though, is the day on the church roof.
I'm not sure what the actual temperature of the sun is, but at 3pm in August in Vegas on a tarred roof, I saw my ancestors.
The one of the church's air conditioners was victim to a copper theft rash, and since all air conditioners are on roofs when it's a million degrees, that's where I headed. I climbed the ladder which was bolted to the building. You know the kind that goes straight up the side a building and have those rungs at the top so you don't fall backward? That. I took my pictures and measured and did all the things I would do when I didn't know what I was doing. Which was always, because I thought I was going to be a lawyer the year before.
As I was climbing back down, my messenger's bag got stuck on one of the rungs behind me. I was just so hot and tired and had lost all liquid in my body to the unmerciful garish sun and the principles of evaporation, so I pulled as hard as I could, dislodged the bag, and kept on heading down.
I walked into the building, and as I was talking with the pastor in his office, I apologized for how almost worryingly sweaty I was. But boy howdy, did that cooler air feel great. It was a little disconcerting to feel such relief behind the bag that was over my backside. Girls get sweaty butt cracks too. What can I say?
I got ready to leave, already fantasizing about the icy cold shower I was going to take a nap in. I loved seeing all of the young kids filing in for their Friday service looking at me with a sense of...dare I say...wonder. I mean, when do they get to see a real-life insurance adjuster in their church? Ultimate Khakis from Target are something to behold. I just knew I was inspiring a little girl to be just like me when she turned 24. Maybe she would pray for that in the service.
I turned away to head to my car, then thought of a funny one-liner (as I do) to say to the pastor as a farewell, but when I turned around and saw his shocked face, I thought better of it. Some pastors just don't have a sense of humor I guess.
Feeling uplifted by inspiring so many young people to ditch the church and join the corporate world, I dumped my crap in the leather-seated car, and got in.
There's nothing hotter than leather that has been curing like pottery in the Vegas sun.
Nothing hotter, that is, than said leather on a bare buttock.
Which it was, having apparently ripped my pants from belt loop straight to the south pole of my caboose when I pulled my bag climbing down the ladder. An entire winter-white cutlet was hanging free.
So listen, there's no point to this story. No moral or inspiring message. No reference to DeFazio's. It's not even that funny. You think you just wasted a few minutes of your Friday, I know. I just thought you should know one thing this holiday season, when you're buying things for your loved ones:
Ultimate Khakis my ass.