Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Permanent File

Bruce, my commercial realtor, calls as I am putting dinner on the table. I tell the family that I'm not hungry and go outside and sit on the step. Everyone is sick of hearing me talk about real estate. I am sick of hearing me talk about real estate. I'm really not hungry. My head is spinning when I sign off and we've just made a tiny dent in the talking points. Bruce sighs and says that it has officially become the most complicated transaction he has ever negotiated. The meal is eaten and the dishes are almost done when I go back in the house.

It is hard for me to think about anything but this. I have done some cursory clearing of my office but until I know where it's going to be I don't have much gumption. Joe College and his friend are helping out sniffing films and disposing of prints that have succumbed to the vinegar syndrome. Spuds is suffering from terminal senioritus and attends school sporadically. He is chosen valedictorian and the loosey goosey school is holding the graduation at a private home. Per usual, there is no formal communication regarding the event but Spuds says he has the address and that the ceremony is at 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

Early Wednesday afternoon finish a protracted conversation with an environmental inspector. Spuds calls and says, “You know, graduation is tonight at six, not tomorrow.” He's misread the e-mail. His valedictory speech is unwritten. Himself is scheduled to teach a class at 6:30. I seldom weep at the office but the confluence of real estate woes and the probability of Himself missing Spuds' graduation puts me over the edge.

I try to reach Himself by phone, email and text to no avail. I return home to help Spuds with his speech and finally Himself, fresh out of his afternoon class, calls me at 4 p.m. In eighteen years of teaching he has never canceled a class. I am corrected by him on this in front of one of Spud's teachers. “I have canceled classes when I've attended conferences.” So to be precise, Himself, for the first time in eighteen years, canceled a class for personal reasons. We are all thankful.

The printer is on the fritz so Spuds is condemned to read his speech on his Iphone. Himself gives it a cursory tweak and we help him polish the conclusion about two minutes before the ceremony begins. Fortunately, the school principal sets a precedent by reading his own speech from his phone. Spud's speech is smart and free of cliches. He suggests how the school's philosophy of encouraging independent thinking and leadership might serve the graduates well in the years to come. Joe College is acknowledged as an alum along with one of his former classmate's who's arrived with a baby in tow.

After the ceremony we dine at a place in Altadena that's so new there is no sign out front. I visit a liquor store a few doors down and pick up a good beer for Himself and a bottle of champagne for the rest of us. The server opens the bottles and happily serves Spuds although we'd announced he's just graduated high school. I do keep his dosage to a thimble-full. The food is excellent and the restaurant is a happy place, the server is genuinely delighted that we like our food. As a control freak it is challenging for me not to know where my office will be when I return from taking Spuds to Bard. I also accept that there will be more long phone chats and e-mails with Bruce the realtor and environmental folks plus a shitload of stuff to pack up and haul off to wherever we're going. Whenever that is.

One of the offices has been designated the paper room. All of the steel files and bankers boxes have been assembled. There is one file marked “important” and a big carton relegated to the shredding service. The canceled class, the hastily written speech and the happy family at dinner always be in the “permanent” file and before I know it the whole real estate nightmare will be consigned to the shredder.


FionnchĂș said...

Top of his class! The dinner was quite good but I must append that your Copper River Salmon is like comparing the restaurant's version as if Spam competed against venison. The desserts were delicious, and the bread we all wanted more of. P.S. Now that you mention it, I cannot think of a time when a conference meant I cancelled class. So, that may vindicate Niall's justified pride. That can go in his permanent file. As with a safe deposit box: how much will fit to save and endure?

FionnchĂș said...

I am so proud of all of you in this photo. Duly noted: I am not sure I ever cancelled even for a conference come to think of it. P.S. I posted here last night near midnight after having to read Freud. Whom Heidegger and Derrida will make look as easy as "Heaven is For Real" and "Proof of Heaven" if not "How We Die" all on the list I cannot read in time as I only heard about these today. xxx me