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The room that served as both my office and my boardroom was perfect in every way. White walls. White floor. A polished black teak desk against the wall, and a matching table in the middle. The fixtures were all black and silver, as were the chairs.
Streamlined. Practical. Functional. Just the way I liked it.
The only thing out of place was the artist I was paying to destroy it.
This is all Abbyâ€™s fault.
An uncharitable thought, but it was foremost in my mind as I showed him into the room. He was in his early thirties, younger than I by a good ten years. His ragged jeans and threadbare T-shirt were stained with paint, as were the brown plastic-rimmed glasses he wore. He needed a haircut. I made a mental note to be more specific next time I asked for an artist. No hippies. No freaks.
Too late now.
â€œThis is the wall?â€ He pushed his hair out of his eyes and stepped back to survey the pristine expanse of eggshell white.
â€œIs it sufficient?â€
â€œYou bet.â€ He turned in a slow circle to glance slowly around the room. â€œWow. This isâ€¦â€ He waved his hand in circles as he searched for a word.
â€œI was going to say boring, but yeah. Clean, too.â€
Definitely Abbyâ€™s fault. Abby was ex-wife number three. â€œYouâ€™re uptight, Chandler, and youâ€™re boring!â€ sheâ€™d said when she left meâ€”and my substantial bank accountâ€”for an electrician. â€œYouâ€™ll never learn to relax.â€
â€œI can relax,â€ Iâ€™d countered. â€œI have a pool. I have a Jacuzzi. I have a sauna. I have my own private masseuse! What else do I need?â€
Sheâ€™d laughed at me. â€œYou need to learn to appreciate life. To look for beauty.â€ Sheâ€™d turned to gesture at the white walls of my office. â€œLook at this! This is exactly what Iâ€™m talking about.â€Then sheâ€™d left, and Iâ€™d sat there, staring at the untainted white walls of my office, trying to sort through it.