There were a few consecutive years, when I was between seven and ten, where we had nothing but construction going on in our home. I got to know the foreman of the projects very well, Janusz (pronounced Yah-noosh.) Sometimes I felt as though I saw him more than I saw my parents, which may or may not be a stretch of the truth. He was a tall, fairly gangly, but plain looking Polish man. He had a wife, and children of his own, and you could tell he enjoyed a few beers after a long hard day of construction: he had a beer belly, which told me so. He was friendly though, always showed up to work almost on time, and did an honest job. As I’ve grown older, and heard other’s horror stories, I now understand how fortunate we were with him.
Janusz, for all of his strengths, had unfortunately also fallen victim of a typical and tragic construction worker stereotype: The top of his butt crack became visible almost any time he bent over. He was aware of this, and had attempted to thwart it by using a length of rope threaded through his belt loops, as a makeshift belt… but alas, to no avail. At first, when we were first getting to know him, it was amusing… the longer it went on, the more amusing it got.
My Father, the kindhearted, warm, and good person he was (and still is to this day, mind you) decided that enough was enough. He went into his own closet one Friday afternoon, and found a belt that he still had from the late 70s-early 80s that he would never in his right mind ever wear again (not only because it was too small, but it was also absolutely unmistakably from the late 70s-early 80s) and gave it to Janusz. Janusz was flattered, and almost wouldn’t accept it. Finally, my Father talked him into it. Janusz threaded it through his belt loops, and buckled it up nicely. All the other workers gathered around to have a look, and spoke to him in Polish about this new belt. I like to think that they were compliments about his new accessory, or jeering that his butt crack would no longer be an eye sore, or something along those lines, but who actually knew what was said about the belt but them, right? Needless to say, it was back to work as usual, after that; Sans Janusz’s butt crack.
The weekend went by, and promptly (or not so promptly) at 8 (or so) on Monday morning here was Janusz and all of his workers reporting for duty… Only something was amiss. Janusz had that damn length of rope around his waist again. Where was the belt that my Father had given him just three days prior? My father asked him, in a half joking, half serious manner. To which Janusz replied, “Oh no, Mr. Paul! That belt is way too nice for work!”
Janusz’s butt crack was present for the remainder of those few years, but I’m sure he looked positively snazzy on the weekends!