When I opened the door to interview a temporary babysitter, it was a case of Mr. Mom meet Pippi Longstockings. Before me stood a preternaturally thin, redheaded man of indeterminate age. He grinned, revealing a gap-toothed smile, with one brilliant, yellow diamond set into his front tooth. This matched the one in his left earlobe.
His clothing could only be described as early Commedia dell’arte, complete with a tight-fitting green vest, plaid pants and yellow shoes or sneakers.
There was a Dali-style diamond brooch with a pear-shaped teardrop in the corner of the eye pinned to the middle of his vest.
The effect was disconcerting, to say the least.
He said his name was Benny, and the agency sent him over for an interim job until a jewelry-related one became available. He told me he was a diamond setter and jeweler, out of work for the time being.
He loved children, he burbled.
The diamond jewelry on his person winked and shone as I walked him around the house, detailing his responsibilities while I was at work.
Finally, I introduced Benny to the twins and to Bertie, our cockatiel.
And then I had to leave for work.
As I closed the door behind me, I uttered a silent prayer to whoever was in charge that the house would be intact upon my return.
Apparently, for the next three hours a diamond-bedecked Benny and the twins chased Bertie around the house, trying to get Bertie back into his cage. There was a trail of toys and feathers, couch cushions scattered on the floor, over-turned glasses of juice and milk and, in Hansel-and-Gretel fashion, a path of birdseed leading around the den and up to Bertie’s cage.
But when I walked in through after work it was All Quiet on the Western Front.
The twins were sleeping in front of a video, and Benny, with rouge-blackened fingers, was rubbing a red cloth around a diamond-encrusted, bird-shaped pin which he had just fashioned after meeting Bertie, enchanting the twins and demonstrating how diamonds would fit into the tiny, drilled holes.