Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Dark Chocolate Brusque

Richard and Alex with their children, Jon and Rachel

BENNINGTON -- 5 wine stoppers. 3 colorful glass and metal wall decorations. 2 recycled metal fish decorations. One repurposed Grateful Dead 45 vinyl desk clock. One stoneware cracker dish. One two-bowl stoneware condiment dish. One John DeAmicis framed litho.

And ...

... dark chocolate brusque.


Richard and Alex live in Hartford, Connecticut, and own a second home in Wilmington, Vermont, about 20 miles between Bennington and Brattleboro. He is a hotshot real estate lawyer. She leads the general counsel of a real estate firm in charge of $10 billion in properties across the country. They are the definition of power.

You look at Alex and think she's soft vis-a-vis Richard's personality yet you'd be wrong to think that, bubba. Finished first in her law class and worked her way up to the top of the firm's general counsel. She told AGD a story about the day her counsel held a must-attend meeting on a very rare day off, which she planned to spend at the spa. She enjoyed her spa day but did attend the back end of the meeting out of duty's sake more than anything. She shows up with pedicure cotton between her toes yet her boss tells everyone in the meeting that Alex is the last lawyer to fuck with because she'll cut your heart out. Hearing those words meant the world to her.

Richard, who paid off Alex's law school loans, lets Alex buy as much art from Fiddlehead at Four Corners as she wants. For an observer it's a fun little game to watch. His brusque flairs up and he pretends to be outraged that she wants to buy this pottery from North Carolina, and that glass piece from Jersey and those soap rocks from Oneonta. She, of course, lets Richard's brusqueness bounce off of her and fall to the floor. 

She gets her way.

This was AGD's first encounter with Richard:

"You're a salesman? Come sell me some art," is what Richard demanded of Art Gallery Dude one day last July when AGD was raw, only weeks removed a 23-year newspaper career. He was in no mood for anyone to tell him what to do let alone Mr. Arrogance from Hartford.

Come sell me some art?

Are you kidding me, dude?

I'll sell you something, buddy, and it won't be art was the first thought that crossed AGD's mind as he formed a smile and walked from behind the counter and stood next to Richard in front of two glass ciambella vases, one blue the other orange.

Richard looked orange vase, then held the blue vase ...

... and noticed a small air bubble atop the blue piece near the opening. AGD assured him that little imperfections are part of handmade art, especially pottery and glass.

"I like the orange one," AGD said.

"OK, wrap the orange one up."

Again with the marching orders.

Richard and Alex returned to Fiddlehead during the winter. Again he brusqued about the old marble bank turned art gallery when she wanted to buy two framed Judaica paper cuts by Anna Kronick, a sale in the $400 range. He wanted to know why she needed two pieces. Well, she sassed back, one was going in this room, and the other piece would go in that room. He rolled his eyes and said nothing then pulled out the plastic. It's not that he even objected to the pieces. He's Jewish. Had a bar mitzvah. He even liked the Judaica she chose to decorate their home in Hartford.

Thing is, his brusque was hungry to be heard. This amused AGD.

So yeah, that's Richard and Alex.


AGD thought about Richard the other day. Wonder when he'll roll back in here.

This morning, with Alex and the tots.

Big difference this time: Richard's personality had more cheer to it, less brusque.

They plan to retire in a year or two and want to start filling the Wilmington home with pretty things. And a sauna room. That's why Richard let Alex go nuts today. 5 winestoppers (even though he reminded her of the drawerful of winestoppers she has; but none of them are like these, she fired back), 3 colorful rectangular glass on metal wall decorations (for the sauna room), 2 recycled metal fish (for the sauna room), one repurposed Grateful Dead 45 vinyl desk clock, one green and white stoneware cracker dish (that AGD thinks should be a mashed potato dish), one green and white two-bowl condiment dish, one John DeAmicis framed litho with inspirational message.

And ...

... it became the biggest sale AGD registered as "manager" of Fiddlehead at Four Corners. 

Richard wondered what kind of deal AGD could provide considering the heft of the bill. AGD gave them a hearty discount. 

"We just like playing the game," Richard said. 

AGD wasn't going to quibble because they're among Fiddlehead's elite customers.

Instead of waiting 15 minutes for the wrap job, Richard walked the family down Main Street to the chocolate shop, but before leaving he asked AGD if he wanted something.

"Sure, dark chocolate with no nuts. Thanks!"

The family returned 15 minutes later and Richard handed AGD a white bag ...

Even brusque can be layered in sugar and cocoa. AGD should know. 

Because when he describes Richard as the kind of fella with a dark chocolate brusque personality, he's really describing himself, too.


AGD set his one-sale record today as well as his three-day record.

Before the big sale, mom and daughter bought THESE.

After the big sale, this family from Valley Forge bought THESE.

At 4:40, Patricia came back to buy THESE.

It's 4:47. AGD just took a bite of Richard's dark chocolate. Sweet and Brusquey!