If you haven't read parts 1 and 2, you should read them below here. They won't show up below unless you are on the front page.
“What do you have to drink?” Dr. Albright asked.
“All we have is milk or water,” my wife said.
“What about juice?” he asked.
“Just milk or water,” she repeated.
“Did you buy that milk at the store?” he wondered.
“Uh… yes,” she said.
“No thanks, then,” he said. “That stuff will kill you. The government knows that homogenizing milk is really bad for you but they do it anyway.”
“I’ve never heard that before,” I said simply, unconvinced.
“It’s true,” he said matter-of-factly then turned to my wife. “Are you breastfeeding your baby?”
Jammie froze and stared at him.
“I hope so,” he told her. “Because it’s the best thing for your baby. That formula that you buy at the store is just as bad as homogenized milk.”
“Our baby is adopted,” I informed him. “We don’t have much of a choice, but I’m pretty confident in the quality of formula they make these days. Besides, the doctor says he’s nice and healthy.”
“Yeah, well, just be careful,” Dr. Albright said.
I ate quickly. Indigestion was secondary to the necessity of finishing this gold crown as fast as I could so that this guy would get out of my house. I was almost there. The gold tooth I was making was close to being finished. The problem was that the longer I took, the more restless Dr. Albright seemed to get. And the more restless he got, the less he seemed to understand social norms.
Pretty soon he went back to his truck to get his next toy to show off... his camera. I’m not a photographer. I don’t really know anything about cameras, except for what my wife has told me. She is a photographer, though, and he knew it. So he had to show off to her. That meant that I needed to work even faster. It’s one thing to endure his presence, but once I realized he was starting to suck my wife into his conversational black hole, I knew I needed to kick it up into yet another gear.
“He kept following me and the baby around, taking pictures of us,” my wife told me once he was gone. “Can you believe that? That made me even more uncomfortable than when he stuck his fingers into my mouth. I finally went and put the baby in the back room so he would stop taking pictures of him.”
He did finally leave. I was far from proud of the gold tooth that I made for Dr. Albright that day, but I am proud of breaking the record for how long it took me to make a gold tooth. It was ugly, but it was fast.
Crisis plus time equals humor. That’s what a friend used to tell me. Before enough time had passed for our uncomfortable evening to be a humorous memory, though, we realized that adding Dr. Albright as a client was going to be much more work than it was worth.
“You charged me extra for that gold crown you made me,” he said once he got his bill.
“I know I did. I told you I was going to,” I said.
“You’re biting the hand that feeds you, ya know,” he said. “I’m helping you guys out by sending you more business.”
“And I’m probably the only one in the whole valley that would have let you come to my home or done a crown for you on a Friday night,” I told him.
I did him a favor hoping that he’d send me more business, but I don’t know that he could have paid me enough to want to continue that relationship. We worked with him for a few more months after that, but finally told him not to send us any more work. That Friday night was only an indication of what the next few months continued to be like. And as a nice concluding chapter to our relationship with him, he paid us the $4,500 bill he had accrued, but it took us six months and a threat to take him to small claims to get it. True story.