The Sand Salesman
The salesman adjusted his tie slightly, as did he his posture.
“I’m selling vintage sand, ma’am,” he said.
“Vintage… sand…” The barely over forty, but still quite attractive, housewife repeated in confusion.
“That is correct! Vintage. Sand.” He paused, smiling proudly. “You’ve got a nice front yard here, ma’am, and I really admire what you’ve done to accommodate during these last few years of the severe drought we’ve had. I down right admire you for it. And these Zen sand gardens are all the rage. Why, it won’t be too long until ALL of your neighbors have stopped bothering with these pesky green lawns, which require so much upkeep and waste so much water. Why, I can see your neighbor across the street has a brown patch right in the middle of her yard there that she tried to cover up.”
The salesman paused briefly, to look both ways in an exaggerated motion, before bringing his hand to his mouth and saying softly, “But to be honest, it kinda looks like she might have used some green spray paint to cover up a dead spot.” He shook his head. “Down right bad for the environment, if you ask me. Puttin’ those pollutants down the pipes when you water the lawn. And how long does spray paint even STAY on organic grass for? Why, you gotta touch it up every so often, kinda like in those infomercials for the hair spray to cover when you’re balding.”
The salesman laughed a little too loudly and slapped his belly a little too hard.
“But soon, she, and I say that assuming it is a she, ma’am, since statistically speaking many women do choose to stay at home, but as a choice of their own and a full time occupation for which they deserve pay but are unjustly denied it, I am using an arbitrary pronoun of the female gender purely out of chance, as there was a fifty fifty I mighta said ‘he’,” the salesman said with a sly wink.
This impressed the housewife slightly, and she involuntarily opened her front door from an eighty-four degree angle to an eighty-seven degree angle.
This did not go unnoticed.
“But she, or he, is going to be converting to a sand garden soon enough I tell you, soon enough.” He slapped his fist in his hand. “It’s the wave of the future, and they’ll remember YOU were the one who did it first. And quite frankly ma’am,” he said while he took off his fedora to reveal a robust hair of wavy brown locks, “they’re gonna resent you for it. It’s inevitable. They’re gonna resent you. Because you were first. I assume you yourself made the decision to have the sand garden in place of the green lawn, if I may assume that is the case.”
“You may assume,” she said.
“I bet your hubby was downright against it. He said a real man has to have a healthy lawn. A green, beautiful healthy lawn, that he gets to mow on Saturday mornings after a hard week of workin’ in a stuffy office, and pretends to hate doing it, but really loves it deep down. Really loves it. Because he gets that fresh odor of newly mowed grass and he feels like a man. A real man. A man’s man. Why, anything BUT a green grassy lawn on a nice house like this, why, that’s downright un-American. I betcha he said it was un-American didn’t he?”
“He did,” she said.
“Sometimes people confuse dissent with disloyalty, ma’am. I learned that from a smart woman, I did. God help those kinda people, they mean well, but they just don’t understand, the water you’re saving on this lawn, there are all sorts of better ways to use that water – why, it’s probably going right into the mouths of our troops out there in the desert, and he didn’t quite understand that at first, did he?”
“No, he did not,” she said.
“But now he’s on board saying to everyone, ‘Hey, I’m watering the troops instead of my lawn, everybody,’ while he shows off the sand garden to the neighbors. ‘I’m a loyal American, and I’m watering the troops.’ I bet you he said that, didn’t he ma’am? He said that and bragged to the neighbors, to everyone he knew, that he was ‘watering the troops’?”
“He did say he was ‘watering the troops’ to several neighbors and many other people,” she said.
“Some people,” the salesman said shaking his head sadly. “He probably just gone and made the whole thing worse for you. Now they’re REALLY going to resent you for having the first sand garden on the block. Even after they get theirs, they’ll come sneakin’ by when they think you aren’t at home, think you aren’t lookin’, they’ll come sneakin’ by and pick up a hand full of your sand garden, and do you know what they’re going to say to themselves? Do you know what they’ll be muttering to themselves under their voice out of pure jealousy and resentment? Do you have any idea what they will be sayin’?”
“I bet that’s not even real vintage sand,” she said.
The salesman slapped his fists together. “Yer darn tootin’!” he exclaimed. “That is exactly what they will say. Why, you are a smart lady. It’s too bad you’re taken, a darn shame,” he said with a wink. “They will say, ‘Why, that is not real vintage sand!’ and then they’ll go off and find some vintage sand for THEIR garden, so they can be the first one on the block with a real vintage sand garden. They might not have been the first one on the block with a sand garden, but you bet they’ll be the first ones to claim that THEIR sand garden is the first one with VINTAGE SAND.”
“The first one with vintage sand,” she repeated.
“Yes ma’am,” he said, holding his fedora over his heart. “One hundred and fifty year old vintage sand taken from the remains of an ancient Navajo settlement in Northern Texas. Now of course the sand is older than that. I mean, who knows how old sand really is? Can you tell me how old the sand in your garden really is?” he asked.
“No, I cannot tell you how old the sand in my sand garden really is,” she said.
“Well hot damn, there we go. I can give you the Teddy Lee guarantee that this is some vintage sand taken from the Navajo nation in Northern Texas from one hundred and fifty years ago, sealed in sand bags during a ‘renovation’ after the inhabitants were ever so tragically removed from their land by force.” He shook his head again. “Sad thing to have happen, sad thing. But we can’t change the past, though we can make the best of a terrible tragedy. This sand, it’s been sitting in a warehouse since 1867. Real vintage sand – you might even call it a monument to the unspeakable tragedy that brought it into my hands. Real, vintage sand. I got a bill of ladling and everything.”
“I think you mean bill of lading,” she said.
“Well,” the salesman said laughing, “I do believe you are right ma’am. I misspoke. I do that when I get excited. Anyway, this sa-”
The woman sighed and cut him off.
“Teddy, I know you were against me getting the sand garden in the first place,” she said as she leaned against the front door, leaving it fully open. “But, first of all, the Navajos weren’t in Northern Texas. If you want to go around trying to sell our neighbors ‘vintage sand’ so we’re not the only people on the block with a sand garden to soothe your diminished masculinity, at-”
“Hey!” Teddy, the sand salesman interjected.
“TEDDY!” she scolded.
The sand salesman stayed silent.
“If you want to sell sand to our neighbors to soothe your diminished masculinity at the loss of our ‘precious green lawn’, and cover up the fact that you went around telling our neighbors that you were ‘watering our troops’ by ‘filling their parched mouths’ with ‘your gift to them’ while they were ‘all hot in the desert’, and that you were practically ‘spraying them with your gift’, I am not going to stop you. In fact, I would encourage you to do everything you can to make them forget that you said you were going to go around filling our troops’ mouths with anything at all.”
The sand man shrunk back and lowered his head.
“But for the love of God, at least get the basic facts of your BS backstory right. And drop the whole 1950’s salesman shtick, it just looks stupid. No one wears fedoras anymore, Teddy, no one wears them except hipsters in their twenties trying to look cool. You are a forty three year old accountant who lost his job because he told his boss in front of the entire office that he likes to ‘spray into the mouths of our troops’ before explaining that it had anything to do with water, or a sand garden. You picked up some sand from the desert, put it in burlap bags and are now trying to sell it. And for the further love of God,” she added as she shifted more weight on to the door and her voice hardened into adamancy, “take off the fake nose and moustache. You’re not fooling anybody, especially when you use your real name. You just look like Teddy Lee the troop sprayer in a fake moustache and with a fake nose and for some reason I still don’t understand, a beige shade of lipstick and some eyeliner. In fact, I really don’t want to know, because I don’t even have beige lipstick or that color eyeliner – perhaps you bought it yourself so you will look better when you go ‘spray the troops’ with what you’ve ‘saved up for them’ by ‘holding off on using your hose’.”
She glared at him.
Her glare made her even more attractive.
“Now I have to go clean the kitchen and somehow try and get all the sand you left there out of the tile floor. You know actually accomplish something with my day, because I had a busy week, unlike some of us. So take off the stupid outfit, and go sell some ‘vintage sand’ to people you’ve embarrassed both of us to, or at the very least, make ME look like less of an idiotic ‘troop sprayer’,” she commanded, slamming the front door in his face.
Teddy Lee, the vintage sand salesman sighed.
“God,” he said under his breath, “what died and crawled up her a-”
“I CAN STILL HEAR YOU TEDDY,” came loudly from behind the door
The sand salesman mouthed something silently to himself, then put his fedora back on, brushed off his very wide lapelled suit, smoothed his fake moustache, and prepared to spend his now free Saturday morning going door to door as Freddy Lee, the Vintage Sand Salesman.