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Due to our hectic schedules, Peri and I decide to meet in her office on Sunday morning. She rents a small space on the first floor of the Founders Plaza. It's sparsely furnished and decorated, but the back wall is a floor-to-ceiling window, overlooking the atrium. Peri stands up from behind her desk to greet me. She's about half a foot taller than me, with cornsilk blonde hair, and she's wearing khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt over a blue tank top that matches her eyes. She offers her hand to shake and I put a cup of coffee in it.
Peri: (laughing) How did you know?
GC: It's seven in the morning. Who doesn't need coffee?
We sit down, take deep sips of caffeine, and begin.
GC: Why don't you tell me a little about yourself?
Peri: Well, I was born in Spreckles, California, which is next door to Salinas. My parents moved to California from Minnesota when they got married.
Peri: My folks were kind of beatniks, I guess. Early hippies. They had this idea of moving to a farm community to "get back to the land." So we lived in this rented farm house on about ten acres where my dad was always trying to raise things.
GC: What did he raise?
Peri: My mom's blood pressure, mostly. You know that joke about the new farmer who can't raise chickens? "Either I'm burying 'em too deep or watering 'em too much." That was Dad. Good thing he figured out he couldn't do it for a living – he got a job as a banker so he could play farmer on the weekends.
GC: And your mom?
Peri: She was probably the true beatnik. Dyed her own cloth, made clothes and sold them at the farmer's market.
GC: Tell us how you got into housecleaning as a career?
Peri: Well, it all started because my parents wanted me to go to UC Berkley and I wanted to go to UCLA, which meant I went to UCLA on my own dime. I had some scholarships, but I earned the rest of the way working for a housecleaning company. Once I got my Bachelors in English Lit, I worked for a couple of years writing ad copy, then went back to cleaning.
GC: I heard there was a pretty interesting story about your transition back to housecleaning.
Peri: (laughing) Oh, that. I was working for a pig of a boss for this ad agency, and I really hated it. The ad men thought that grammatical errors and misspelled words are really great gimmicks for selling a product, so I had to write the accompanying copy for some really stupid slogans. One day, Pig Boss came to my desk and threw my latest write-up at me, yelling because I had tried to write something meaningful about some snack food with the slogan, "It Tastes Gooder."
He screams at me, "I don't want your damned two-dollar words. Write it like a five-year old with learning disabilities."
I stood up – I was much taller than him – and kinda leaned over him a little. "You want a five-year old?" I took my cup of orange juice, poured it on his head and told him, "I quit, ya big butthead." Then I stuck my tongue out at him and left.
At that point, I decided to open my own housecleaning business. I still had my list of clients, and they were really happy to see me return, so it all worked out.
Tune in tomorrow for a discussion of Peri's marital mishaps, and what got her into private investigating.