The New York Times home section provides the same service as the Wall Street Journal’s features section — it opens a window onto the unique problems of wealthy people. A recent example: How difficult it is to get specialized service personnel to work at your remote vacation house. As the man says, I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.
Take today, for instance: Return from vacation. If you dare. Yet another piece on how hard it is to find good help these days, in this case housesitters. It turns out that once you turn the keys over to these temporary caretakers, they do all kinds of stuff you don’t want to know about. They drink your wine. They wear your underwear. And they take videos of your 37-pound cat and post them on the internet.
The cat video is disappointing, by the way. You really don’t get a sense of its size.
However, if you wish to mock, I recommend the whole story. There are some amusing anecdotes, the best about a rambunctious terrier named Taffy, a sadly deceased cat and the solution, which shouldn’t surprise anyone: The old switcheroo.
How was your Fourth? Mine was fine. Played a little, worked a little, saw “Ratatouille.” It was stunning; I was near tears over an animated rat and his search for artistic expression. Overheard outside the multiplex: “It’s like I felt emotionally attached to those robots, dude.” (Someone must have seen “Transformers.”) In the evening, we attended some friends’ fireworks show. Overheard after the fireworks, as the neighborhood resounded with mortar fire: “Listen to that. It’s like the people are giving it back to Bush for the Scooter Libby thing.” It featured illegal ones, safely deployed, and set me to thinking about mid-week Fourths, the ones that don’t stretch easily around a neighboring weekend. The work week moves at half-speed, and the Fourth is a feast of idleness. On one of these, years ago, a friend and I blew up a cake. The cake was for sale in a deli where he worked. Spectacularly ugly, decorated in a patriotic theme, it was unsold at closing time, so the owner told my friend to take it home and try to enjoy it. We did. We put a mystery explosive in it, one of those fat round things the size of a tennis ball, set it out in the back yard, lit the fuse and ran.
The explosion was deafening — evidently the firecracker was a version of those really loud things that signal the beginning of a municipal show. It blew a shallow crater in the yard, and needless to say, there wasn’t a scrap of cake to be seen anywhere.
And now it’s back to work, just in time for the weather to clear up and make me feel bad about staying inside. Maybe I’ll take the laptop to the deck.
Back later, perhaps.