He leads me into the kitchen and opens the trash-compacter.
"What's that?" I ask, confused.
"Columbian," he explains. "Fresh roasted. We have a good friend who lives there who owns his own coffee bean farm. He's from the old country. Germany. A doctor during the great war, but now he's retired."
In a rare act of affection, he takes my hand in his. I'm not used to rare acts of affection, so I use the back of his hand to wipe my nose.
"How about a grand tour?"
"I'd love one," I say.
He holds out his right hand, palm up.
I try, but fail, to give him a high-five down-low.
"It's a grand," he says, nodding his head in my direction. "For the tour."
He clarifies his gesture by rubbing his thumb and forefinger briskly together in the international sign for moolah.
"I don't have a grand."
"Well, then, would you like to see my room?"
"Sure," I tell him.
"Well, it's not actually a room. We're so rich we each have our own floors."
"Even your parents?"
"Especially my parents."
"I can't believe your parents sleep on separate floors, Christian."
"If your observation were any more juvenile, Ana, Michael Jackson would have taken a nap with it."
We take the indoor elevator upstairs to the fourth floor. There's a full-length mirror that's covered by an old blanket. I pull the blanket to the side because I want to check my makeup, but I was wrong. Instead of a mirror, it's actually a full-length painting of an old, old man. He looks like Christian, only antiquated. He looks so primordial, I bet his Social Security number is #7.
"What's this?" I ask Christian.
"Uh," Christian says, rushing over, "that's just an oil portrait by Basil Hallward."
"Of who?" I ask.
"Of whom." he answers.
"I don't know, that's why I'm asking you. If you forget about the wrinkles, grey hair, and liver spots, it looks just like you."
"No, it doesn't."
"Yes, it does."
"No, it doesn't."
"Yes, it does."
"No, it doesn't," and with that he quickly covers the painting back up.
"Is it your grandfather?"
"Uh, yeah," he tells me, kind of shaken. "My grandfather."
"He looks pretty old."
"That's because he's my great-grandfather."
"Oh," I say. I look around. "Gee, it looks just like a museum up here."
I meant to say "mausoleum," but got confused. Christian graciously moves me away from the lush, oddly lifelike portrait that seemed to age as I looked at it, while recording every soul-corrupting sin of its painted subject. He hustles me in the opposite direction and shows me his Souvenir Room.
"These are keepsakes I received from various ladies I had the occasion to meet during my stay in London," he tells me.
"Well, actually it's in England."
"You know, England. As in Great Britain."
"Oh! Great Britain! Well, why didn't you say so?"
"So you know where I'm talking about?"
"No, but let's pretend I do."
"Well, during my time in England, London's Whitechapel area to be exact, I came to know various young ladies very--um, shall we say--intimately, and these were souvenirs they were kind enough to part with."
I look closely.
There was a beautiful silk scarf.
A lovely beaded pocketbook.
"It's not what you think," Christian assures me.
"How do you know what I think?" I ask him.
"I don't," he says, "but whatever it is, that's not it. It was a gift."
"Yes, a gift. Surely, you've heard of Vincent Van Gogh."
"Of course I've heard of Vincent Van Gogh. I'm not stupid, you know. I'm college edumacated."
"Well, then, you must know how he once cut off one of his ears to give to the woman he loved as a gift."
"He did? I must have missed that in the song by Don McLean."
"Well, he did. And surely you've seen the movie with Kirk Douglas."
"Of course I've seen the movie with Kirk Douglass. I'm not stupid, you know. And why do you keep calling me Shirley?"
"Well, in the same way that Vincent Van Gogh gave the woman he loved his ear, I received this ovary as a gift. A most personal gift."
"Yeah, you can't get more personal than that."
"I'm glad you understand," he says, and then shows me the rest of his collection, telling me who the various items belonged to. "This scarf belonged to the radiant Mary Ann Nichols. This diamond earring was from the very comely lass, Annie Chapman. The alluring Elizabeth Stride was gracious enough to let me have her bonnet, and the ribbon was from the angelic Catherine Eddows."
"Who gave you the shoe?"
"The shoe belonged to the exquisite Mary Kelly."
"One was all I needed."
"No, I'm asking, she only gave you one shoe?"
"Yes, one shoe was all she gave me."
"Did she have only one foot?"
"No, she had two feet."
"I mean, who only gives one shoe as a gift?"
"Well, that would be Mary 'One Shoe' Kelly, as she was known in the East End. You see, when I left Miss Kelly that night, one shoe was all I had time to receive. In fact, I was in a bit of a rush to escape."
"I mean, abscond."
"I mean, get away."
"I mean, leave."
"Christian," I said, seriously. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
"Like what the word 'abscond' means?"
He quickly ushers me back downstairs and outside, where he shows me the grounds. Of the mansion, this time. I must say, things look especially beautiful in the dark of night when you can't see them.
"This is our quicksand pit with only the finest imported Italian quicksand money can buy," he points out.
"Oooo..." I say.
"And this is our koi pond."
"Can I dip my toes in the water, it looks so refreshing."
"You'd better not. We keep the koi pond stocked with rare Belgian piranha," he tells me, tossing in a chihuahua.
Christian seems to be leading me somewhere, but he's not saying exactly where. Finally, I see a little house in the distance. Could it be a boathouse, perhaps?
"It's a bait shack," he tells me.
"A bait shack? Why are you taking me to a bait shack?"
"Because that, my dear, is where I'll make mad, passionate love to you."
Oh, my goobers!
Fifty Shades of Funny