"Do I look like a Wellesley housewife to you?" he said with mild irritation.
Well, I thought, no. He looked like an overworked handy-man. He was wearing jeans, a ratty sweater, an unlaced pair of L.L. Bean boots and a cap advertising Miller High Life, a lowbrow swill.
But here we were standing in front of a stately mansion in that swanky town. I was firing questions at him about the high-quality furniture he was consigning, including a Baker Colonial Williamsburg dining room set, a Councill Craftsman server, a secretary by EJ Victor. And he was getting exasperated. "I don't know anything about furniture," he said.
Some customers are a "riddle wrapped in a mystery," to quote from Winston Churchill. There had to be a story here. There was.
After a wildly successful decade on Wall Street in the 1980s, he retired at the age of 36. The suburban life with wife and kids had no appeal for him. His stock options gave him the opportunity to exercise what he called "the coconut option."
He made a life for himself alone in the Florida Keys, sailing, fishing and toasting the sunset with a beer from his front porch. For company, he had a dog.
"I get them from the pound when they only have a year or two left of life in them," he said. "Then, I spoil the hell out of them." He tossed a tennis ball across the lawn. The old mutt leaped up joyfully and took off like an Olympic sprinter.
I had to ask. "How does a single guy who couldn't care less about furniture end up with a big house filled with the best of it?"
Turns out, his dad worked for the phone company. His mom was a housewife. With six kids, they had enough for the essentials - but no luxuries. When he made his fortune, he bought them a big house, then took his mom furniture shopping. "That was fun," he said.
Now, twenty-five years later, his parents are moving into an assisted-living facility. The house has to go. Ditto the furniture. He wasn't taking so much as a lamp back to the Keys. He likes the simple life. "You gotta know what makes you happy, man," he said.
Come to FCG in Chestnut Hill and check out his furniture. You might find just the piece to make your mom happy. Or your wife. Or your sister. Or maybe even yourself.