The Chimney Sweep with the Rolex Explorer
The wood landed with a thud, rattling the poker resting against the fireplace.
“Nope, no way,” said my wife sitting on the couch.
I caught my breath and removed my lumberjack gloves. They’re not really lumberjack gloves, but they compliment my flannel shirt.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Did you call a chimney sweep?”
“Then you’re not making a fire.”
All day I had dreamt of a cozy fire, a leather-bound book, a bottle of red, and Miles Davis serenading in the background. “It’s not going to catch fire.”
“Is it dirty?”
“Did I ask you to get it cleaned last year?”
“Pam, one more fire isn’t going to burn down the –”
“Nope. No more fires.”
“But, I’ll –”
Eating a bowl full of razor blades would have been more enjoyable than this conversation. It took me two minutes to request a service appointment online before I asked, “Now can I build the fire?”
The book was read and the wine drunk, not to the sounds of Miles Davis and a crackling fire, but to the cold silence of defeat.
Two days later, the chimney sweep arrived. Thin wisps of long white hair drifted across his balding head. He was cleaner than I thought he should be, but all I know about chimney sweeps I learned from Mary Poppins. I refrained from a cliché “Chim Chim Cher-ee” joke and introduced myself. That’s when I noticed his Rolex Explorer.
The chimney sweep went right to work. After he finished, I asked how he came to be chimney sweep. He said, “I didn’t want to be a jeweler like my father.”
He told me how his father, Don Imagarten, owned Hess & Culbertson in the 60s & 70s on ninth street downtown St. Louis. I name dropped Roy Williams and Justice Jewelers. The chimney sweep laughed, pointed to his Rolex, and said, “When I was younger, I worked for Hamilton and delivered Rolex watches to Woody.”
As I paid the chimney sweep and walked him to his van, he said, “I have a story for you to tell Roy.”
I was all ears.
“This woman walks into my father’s jewelry store and announces her soon to be ex-husband, the doctor, will be arriving shortly to help her with a purchase. My father could only smile and nod.
“About ten minutes later, the door bursts open and in walks the doctor carrying a black briefcase. He stands next to the woman but doesn’t look at her. The woman, in a voice loud enough for everyone in and outside the store to hear, exclaims that her dirty scoundrel, soon to be ex-husband, the doctor, has been having an affair. She turns to the doctor, still talking quite loudly, and says, ’And I want to know how long he’s been sleeping with that whore of a nurse!’
“My father is quite nervous at this point and looks to the man. The doctor says, ‘Fourteen years.’ The woman turns to my father and says, ‘I want a 14 karat pear shaped diamond.’
“The doctor lays the briefcase on the counter and says, ‘Here’s a million cash. I’ll finance the rest.’
“And then, the doctor walked out.”
I stood there in complete disbelief. The chimney sweep continued telling me how his father searched the country and found three stones the size of his thumb. The woman picked one and wore it around her neck with a cheap gold chain.
“Every time she saw my father she would jiggle it in the air as they passed. He said it was so obnoxiously big that no one would ever believe it was real.”
After the chimney sweep with the Rolex Explorer left, I built a fire, poured a glass of wine, and pondered how best to tell Roy this story.