We have a young man working with us. He's a janitor in one of the large garages, and he takes care of the bays. He mops, runs the floor scrubbers, cleans the garage restrooms, empties trash, etc. Because it's a really HUGE garage, these activities basically take up the entire day. Secretly, I think he hates it very much. But he hates it in the most wonderful manner.
He's a boxer between "contracts." I'm not sure what this means, but I think it means the gym lets him train and fight for a portion of the proceeds. The gym sets up the events, and then the boxers train. They lose weight, the lift weight, they starve or eat, jump rope, run, wear stuff that makes them sweat. Then the photos are taken for the fight posters or online ads. If he's lucky, the boxer is on TV, HBO or some other big network. If he fills his contract (so many fights, so much time) and wins, the gym gets a HUGE cut, and the boxer gets to keep the rest.
So, this janitor is between contracts. He just landed the job to keep busy. He was living the high life - fancy cars, clothes, girls, parties...but lost everything (clothes, car, apartment) when he decided to try and buy out his contract. Whatever. I don't understand it, but it sounds a whole lot like being owned by someone. Funny, though, that the gym is mostly black owned and operated, with promising young black fighters. Probably, this tradition of being owned or under contract goes back a hundred years or more - it's just ironic.
The janitor introduces himself as the Number One Janitor in the Universe. I am just some lame-ass girl cleaning toilets and coffee areas in the office area (which is a virtual ocean of cubicles). I am NOT the Number One Porcelain Queen of the USA or anything. Not like him. He's clearly Number One - and he'll tell you that every time.
It's a lot of work, being Number One, he explains. Tough job! Lots of competition out there, but he's managed to beat them down with his superior skills and downright awesome talents. And, he says, it helps to look as good as he does while killing the competition every day.
At lunch time, this lame-ass white girl who is Number Nothing sits with the other janitors, including Number One. I am eating something stupid, like peanut butter and jelly. They are eating cold pizza with hot sauce, ramen noodles with hot sauce, red-hots with hot sauce, pork steaks with hot sauce - everything with hot sauce. Jokes are made about my sandwich. They ask me why I didn't bring anything smothered in mayonnaise. I said I brought yogurt, which is close enough. We laugh.
Number One tells us he stays number one because he stays clean and pressed all day. No pressure, he says. I keep deodorant, after-shave, cologne and an extra pair of socks and underwear in my bag. Lots of giggles about body spray. Like, he goes into the bathroom and sprays himself down in the mirror like a porn star, or
some googly commercial where the girls go wild in the office area because he smells like a real man. More giggles and laughter. Somebody pantomines the whole affair - lifting his face to the sky like Adonis and striking a pose while spritzing his hairy underarms with body spray....ever hopeful that the women will stay off of him long enough, just long enough (girls, please! Really, I have a job to do!) for him to peel them off like a sweater so he can get the mop buckets from each garage bay and refill them. Just think how lonely Number One would be without his body spritz. He'd be treating those new mop heads like dumb blondes. Hay baby, what are you doing later? Someone else says - washing my hair in this mop bucket! Everybody breaks out laughing- washing my hair like back-in-the-day.
Number One says he carries fresh underwear, in case of an accident. Like, when he was a little boy - eight years old - he broke his leg. They took him to the emergency room. And he was so poor, he wore the same underwear all summer long and never changed it. Nobody noticed until they got him into the emergency room. The nurse had to cut his underwear off with scissors - which was bad enough, Number One says. The face the nurse made while she was cutting off his skiddy-mark drawers that hadn't been washed was so embarassing it ruined him for life. Now he has to have clean underwear.
Everybody laughs. Skiddy McSkidmark drawers. BVD's. Not so whitey-tighties. Kind of gray and brown, smellin like a eight year old boy with a pissy-shitty ass. So poor he should've used Bounty, the Quicker-Picker-Upper, or gone up to the McDonald's and used that cardboard paper towel like a diaper sitting on that baby-changing station. Again, actors take the stage, narrating a colorful tale. We watch as one Janitor stands up like a child, checking his backside. Somebody else pantomimes the look on the nurse's face - boy, them is some shitty-ass drawers - as the invisible scissors cut the air, big eyes looking way down from a face that is trying to keep it's nose away from those nasty summer underwear. You want these back, son?
Number One is serious, though. Everybody laughs, but he's for real. He didn't cry over the broken leg, he says. It was the damned underwear being cut off his body, and him having to lie down naked on the cold paper of the exam table so they could check his leg, put a cast on it, and send him home. I know that's what it was. I'd keep clean underwear around too, after that.
Besides, Number One says. Didn't your momma tell you to keep clean drawers? What if you had an accident? I'm here as a living example, he states, of why you should never have a pair of shitty-ass drawers. He stands up and puts his arm across his chest, fist clenched - like a Spartan giving a salute, banging his fisted arm across his breastplate. He looks up while he does this, with great drama and says - yes, never leave home unprepared. Always keep a spare pair. We all laugh so hard tears are coming down our cheeks.