good morning, have we talked about what eliot spends his money on? because so far all I can think of are (a) a fucking absurd and totally pitch-perfect car, (b) probably knives, and (c) carnivorous mail-order plants. dude probably wasn't hurting before they made $3.5M each—is it just in a bank somewhere? i mean, some of it's probably really really well hidden in distributed locations and some is buried in a box in the woods in montana, but he must have spent SOME, he isn't parker
omg, okay, this is possibly my favorite question anyone has ever asked me, because it has led me to the glowing, glorious realization of the answer. but before i get to said answer, we must, first, discuss the cars. because you see: john rogers’ blog, which i continue to read sometimes even though i disagree with a good 75% of what he says, states that eliot COLLECTS CARS, which i choose to believe because i am so absurdly delighted by it. i am so absurdly delighted by the idea that eliot spencer is not only a car buff but a car COLLECTOR and, of all the cars in his collection, chooses most often to see and be seen in his bright orange dodge charger with the blue stripes down the middle. like. l i k e. what must the rest of the collection look like? is the orange one his favorite because it’s the ugliest or does he actively collect ugly cars the way that he collects ugly clothes? is there somewhere a warehouse full of like. pt cruisers with flames on the side??? those cars that look like toasters? or are they all muscle cars in the most eye-searing paint jobs possible? is he in it for horsepower or speed or SHEER UNATTRACTIVENESS or like, the middle of the venn diagram of all three? eliot spencer u beautiful weirdo you are so fucking weird, you act like hardison and parker are weird but honest to god you are yourself the king of weird island. HE COLLECTS CARS AND HE CHOOSES TO DRIVE THE ORANGE AND BLUE CHARGER. i just. i can’t. at all.
okay. having said all that, my beautiful realization is this: aside from the cars, in many ways eliot spencer’s spending habits are all but indistinguishable from those of your average middle-aged, upper-middle class mom.
ONE: WILLIAMS SONOMA.
the thing about it is that eliot hates williams sonoma. he really does. on principle, he hates them. he hates what they’ve done to average american home cook and he hates how they’ve put smaller local shops out of business (eliot believes very deeply, as we know from the canon, in shopping local). he hates that they create tools that ABSOLUTELY NO PERSON NEEDS, like this fucking avacado cuber, and then charge $17.95 for the pleasure of pointlessly owning one. he hates the whole aesthetic of the place, which suggests that if people just buy one of their products they’ll suddenly be deposited into ina garten’s life in the hamptons, instead of the low lighting of their own apartment, probably feeling like a shithead for spending a hundred dollars on goddamn colanders. he hates that everything they sell that’s actually useful and necessary for a kitchen can be found cheaper and better at restaurant supply stores, or better yet, made by actual craftsmen. he hates them. he hates them! he hates them.
and yet, somehow – like highway blindness; like those times sophie used to brainwash him – invariably, a few times a year, eliot blinks and finds himself standing at the checkout counter of a williams sonoma with his arms full of items. it’s like they have some kind of hold over his very soul. it’s like he made some sort of bargain with the devil that he doesn’t remember, and its consequence was his damn addiction to damn williams damn sonoma.
“what is this?” parker says, jerking eliot out of his reverie in one of their dallas locations. they’re hanging around for a few days after wrapping up a job, just in case the client ends up needing any further assistance; parker and hardison wanted to go to some video game store and there it was, across the street: his nemesis, williams sonoma. eliot doesn’t even remember coming in here, much less hardison and parker following him in – he likes to think that he still retains at least enough of his sense of self-preservation that he would have stopped them, kept them from witnessing this particular source of shame. and yet: here he is. here they are. there’s a basket of monogrammed kitchen towels in his hands and he doesn’t know how it got there.
“it’s a fucking stupid useless insane thing nobody needs, why the fuck would anyone buy a mortar and pestle made out of salt,” eliot thinks, but what eliot says, god help him, is, “it’s ours now, that’s what.”
a truly, truly absurd amount of money is the amount of money eliot spends on hair care products. more money than any person should spend on hair care products. more money than any five people should spend on hair care products, especially since (as febricant and i joke about all the time; this thought, like, tbh, most of my leverage thoughts, is as much, OR MORE, febricant’s as it is mine) eliot is otherwise the type of guy who like, washes his entire body up to and including his face with the same bar of dial yellow soap. (“you wash your FACE with the same soap as your BUTT??” demanded hardison, aghast, the first time he witnessed eliot screwing his eyes shut and scrubbing the yellow bar across his forehead and cheeks. “oh my god, eliot. were you raised by WOLVES?”)
but hair care; forget it. that boy takes his hair care SERIOUSLY. he replaces his blow drier with the newest and best models at every new innovation; he owns three different flat irons at any given time, the use of which he rotates based on a complicated equation of how much heat he’s put on his hair this week, the weather forecast, and the types of products he’s used that day. he has rinse-out conditioners and leave-in conditioners and he uses a different shampoo every time he washes his hair – in theory these too are in rotation but in practice he has so many different kinds of shampoo that a rotation, in the traditional sense, would be impossible. he has argan oil and macadamia nut spray-in volumizer and every kind of brush imaginable. he cuts his own hair (evidence: the rundown job, DEAR GOD), mostly because he would never ever let another person that near his neck with a pair of scissors, and so he has that crap too – hair-cutting scissors, yeah, but also the assorted clips and smocks and shit that come with it. he has highlighting kits, because you better believe those aren’t natural. he has more than one of those fancy fabric shower caps, as well as a whole drawer of the plastic ones he always makes sure to take from hotels.
and the thing is that it’s not about looking ~stylish, or, come to that, even good – hell, half the time his hair is unwashed and greasy as fuck, or curled up all to hell from moisture, and he just throws it under a hat and could give a shit. truth is, when he started growing it out it was just to cultivate a new look, confuse anyone who might be after him, but maintaining it, keeping it soft and flat – or at least as flat as possible in wet/humid climates – it got to be kind of…. well, shit. he got to liking it, that’s all. taking an hour or so of his time, every few days, and devoting it to nothing but taking care of part of himself. that’s the long and short of it. it’s not something he likes to look at too hard.
in any case, it takes him a long time after he makes it official with parker and hardison to let parker see the whole ritual of it, and even longer before he lets hardison. even though hardison is the one, of the three of them, who spends the most time and effort on his physical appearance – even though parker’s hair is the way that it is naturally, and she only bothers to tease it into anything approaching a style if it’s for an alias, part of a con – eliot himself had to shake off enough of the hard-coded masculinity shit that he’s a little afraid hardison might… not judge him, exactly, because hardison wouldn’t, but say something. make a joke. eliot’s weirdly bothered by the idea; it feels like something he could lose, the pleasure he takes in it, to something as small as a quip that cuts a little deeper than hardison meant it to. eliot’s not sure it’s worth the risk.
when eliot finally gets over himself, though – the first time hardison comes in to the living room to find eliot on the couch, parker with her feet in his lap for a foot massage, eliot’s hair twisted up onto the top of his head and pinned with a clip, something wet and white (a conditioning treatment) streaked through it – he feels pretty stupid about worrying. hardison raises his eyebrows for a second, but then he flops down next to eliot on the couch and throws an arm around his shoulder, dips his head down to nose at the side of eliot’s neck and breathe deep. “mmm,” hardison says, “whatever this shit is, it smells awesome. why don’t you smell like this all the time, man? hey, can i borrow it and put it in lucille? lucille needs this, okay, she needs it to live.”
“steal my conditioner and die,” eliot says, and presses his thumb a little harder than he means to into parker’s foot for emphasis. she moans, which is pretty distracting, and eliot ends up leaving the conditioner in too long and looking like he walked through an oil-slick the next day, but it’s worth it (especially when hardison starts finding increasingly flimsy excuses to pull him close, breathe deep).
THREE: GARDENING SUPPLIES
in one of the early episodes, eliot says he grows all his own food and makes the time to do so by only sleeping 90 minutes a day; i think both of those things are scurrilous lies, but, like most scurrilous lies, have within them a grain of truth. the sleep thing, of course, speaks to persistent insomnia issues which have no bearing on this particular post, but as for the food thing, while i think the idea that eliot grows all of his own food is ridiculous crap, i do absolutely believe that he has a plot in a community garden under an assumed name, and probably like, one of those window box herb gardens in every one of his windows. i bet when they move to portland he is privately THRILLED to discover the intensity of the local farming movement; in boston he had to content himself to a teeny tiny little fenced-off plot set in concrete next to a bunch of other teeny tiny little fenced-off plots, mostly populated by little old ladies growing flowers; it was barely enough to be worth the time he took to maintain it, and the alias that went with it. but in portland he gets a whole section of open field, and most of the other people who plant there are decent, salt-of-the-earth types – yeah, a few of them are awful hipsters, but they easily identify themselves with their plaid and their fixed-gear bikes, so it’s easy enough for eliot to avoid them.
hardison has absolutely no interest in the gardening thing when he finds out about it – “call me when it’s food,” he says, “actually, no, wait, call me when it’s that chocolate chip zucchini bread you made last year, that shit was DELICIOUS” – but parker asks a bunch of questions about whether his plants do things, and what the garden is like, and doesn’t he ever get bored just… digging or whatever? and it takes eliot a round or two of these questions before he realizes that she’s doing that thing she almost never does, where she’s a little shy about wanting to ask for something and so talks around and around it. when he does work it out, he sighs and says a not-actually-all-that-sorry mental goodbye to his solo gardening time, and asks parker if she wants to come with him to the garden store.
and look, eliot spends so much money at the garden store that EVERYONE THERE KNOWS ELIOT BY NAME, even though, okay, it’s the name of his alias, which is joshua. still, they know him and keep things aside for him that they think he’ll like, and all the people who work there (mostly women, a few men) think of him as a terrible flirt, because joshua-eliot’s-garderner-alias has always been a terrible flirt, because hey, eliot enjoys that even though he’s very embarrassing at it every single time. parker thinks the gardening supply store is going to be boring at first, but it’s pretty fun to watch eliot be somebody else, especially somebody else that he decided to be for no reason other than that it pleased him to do so; then she finds the section with the hand-held cultivators and starts running around with a few of them in each hand, yelling “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” and terrifying passing shoppers (but deeply entertaining their children, who follow her like a tiny army). eliot would make excuses for her, but joshua-eliot’s-garderner-alias is a very low-key kind of guy, so he just rolls his eyes and is kind of like, “family, what can you do?” he buys her two of the cultivators (“two, parker”) and some pumpkin seeds because she’s really into the idea of growing her own halloween, and a gardening tool belt because – not that he intends on sharing this with her – she looks so fucking cute in it, and takes her out to his garden.
and it’s weird, because even though she pokes at all the plants and demands explanations for them, and sprays him with the hose a lot (usually right in his face), and at one point gathers up a bunch of dirt in a bucket and then dumps it over his head, cackling, before she scurries away; even though she steals a veggie or a flower from every plant in everyone else’s garden and hides them on or about his person; even though he has to explain to her like five times that no, parker, weeds can’t be allowed to flourish, and no, parker, i don’t care that you like how they’re spiky – even though she’s so very parker about it all, after the first time it’s hard to imagine how or why he ever did it without her. she likes digging and turning over the soil and can’t be trusted not to go overboard with the pruning shears, which is an oddly good incentive to make eliot use them, something he used to hate; they work silently sometimes and laughing about nothing other times, and either way it’s more fun, a lot more fun, than he used to have alone. at least once (and usually more than once) in a given visit parker will find a bug that’s not good for the plants – a katydid or a praying mantis or a spider who’s built its web somewhere inconvenient – and pick it up between her cupped palms, carry it off to the treeline where she can release it safely, cooing to it about how it’s a menace and she’s making it homeless as a punishment. eliot kind of wants to follow her when she does that, pull her into the trees and kiss her a minute or two, for being so odd, for showing her softness in such strange places, for being so unapologetically herself. he does it sometimes, too, even though more than once she drops the bug down his shirt for his trouble (though only, he’s noticed, the ones she knows won’t bite).
he could swear the food he grows with her tastes better, too, than the stuff he grew by himself. he knows it’s crazy, but there you go.
In Morocco, there is a natural phenomena that occurs regularly across the country - goats climbing trees. The trees bear argan fruit and the goats are very fond of it; farmers follow them around as they climb trees, not just to look at them in amazement as they climb but because the goats are unable to digest the nuts in the argan fruit - when the nuts are excreted by the goats the farmers collect them and produce argan oil from them, which is high in vitamin E and can be used as a skin treatment.