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  • I was called in to do a list of maintenance items for a special client.
    My materials list usually included wax crayons, gold leaf and a bit of shellac.
    This time I was told to bring caulk.

    The home was a re-creation of the gilded era.
    The workmanship and the money that financed the second Renaissance revival were symbolic of American power in the 1980’s.

    “It’s the caulk line around the tub, it needs to be replaced,” I was told at the office.

    Marble slabs surrounded the tub and then patterned tiles took over up to the ceiling.
    Not the generic green or black marble favored by banks and some designers.
    This marble still had the life force of magma.

    I could see the problem right away.
    Someone had placed a thick rope of silicon caulk at the delicate gap where the marble walls met porcelain tub.
    It looked like a rope of snot.

    It took me some time getting the string of goo out of the corners; it had good adhesion.

    Then I mixed a custom color batch of caulk to blend with the stone.
    When I was done the work was neat and visually seamless.

    I took care of a few other items and was ready to leave when Mr.M came out of his library.
    “It is all done, “ I told him, “I am just packing up.”
    “Good,” he said, “Ill come have a look.”

    I followed him to the tub.
    “I matched the color,” I told him.
    He looked at the line and seemed distracted.

    “Do you have a magnifying glass?” he asked me.
    “No, I don’t” I could not complete the sentence before he answered,
    “Well I do.” And in a moment came back with a large magnifying glass on a stem.

    He got into the tub, in his dark blue wool, tailored suit, and began to look over the caulk line with the magnifying glass.

    “You see this?” he asked me, and passed me the glass. “There is a pin hole.”
    He found several more.
    I unpacked my supplies, mixed another custom color batch of caulk and went around the line patching pinholes.

    There are several conclusions, several endings.

    I could make an observation on American connoisseurship as symbolized by a line of silicon-reinforced caulk placed under the scrutiny usually reserved for a masterpiece.

    I could make an observation on the Banker’s attention to detail and fractions of numbers that add up into billions of dollars.

    I could observe that this man was very afraid of the destructive force of water.

    Or, in a generous mood:
    I could see in it a symbol for God.
    Keeping his eye on the sparrow.
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