From his gelled hair and down to a line of faint stubble along his jaw and trim mustache, Ron Zhao oozes GQ metrosexuality. Sha Li imagines he’s the perfect lover, considerate, attentive, loyal and affectionate, breaking away from typical Asian stereotypes. In the story, his maleness is further reconstructed with blue-collar duds he picks up at the Jenner hardware store to please his client and lover, Mai Martin.
“I’ve been studying men and their motivators, mainly ego, money and sex! They’re so predictable, ha ha! Intimate details of my research are incorporated into the amorous scenes,” says Sha Li mischievously.
This morning, Lars drives between native rock pillars announcing the Hyatt craftsman hacienda style entrance and around the drive to beside Ronald Zhao, standing at the curb in baggy Dickies and a plaid shirt.
The way to the site passes by many wineries with acres and acres of grapevines heavy with fruit surrounding immense new barns and ostentatious villa-style tasting rooms.
“They’re monitoring the sugar content of their grapes,” says Lars in passing. “Are you interested in agriculture?”
“My family has been in the security business for generations,” says Ron.
“I love to grow things,” says Lars. “Now, the most important thing is keeping the crop on the vine as long as possible and getting it harvested before the weather changes. That’s true for the pot farmers, too.”
“Are you a pot farmer?” asks Ron.
“I have some free time before the harvest. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to give you five minutes.”
Ron unrolls one of the plot maps and studies it, orienting himself to various features to which Lars points.
“From here you can see the entire layout,” Lars says, braking and stopping where the road crests a low hill. The property comprises a bowl surrounded by low hills facing the west.
“What about water and electricity?” queries Ron.
“There’s a well, and I have a reverse osmosis filter for my house. The Committee undergrounded the utilities years ago.”