Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Duration: Nadir and Zenith

 

Thread: your lowest point, and your highest point. 

Nadir: early on. We’d drawn up a new will several months before, but it hadn’t been notarized. I went downtown to the big bank where I did my business, hoping Charlie was still around. 

He was my guy at the bank. A month away from punching his ticket. A few weeks before I’d dropped in for some business, and we’d wandered over the elevators, rode to the 50th floor to the office of an investment firm. The receptionist smiled – hey, Charlie! and gestured to a bowl of chocolates. We spent an enjoyable interval looking down at the city from the summit. As I said, Charlie was going to retire soon, and I got the idea he wasn’t looking forward to it, at all. He liked being useful. He liked having a place downtown. He liked the people he helped. He liked taking them up to the room in the clouds where they had chocolates and a marvelous view. Weren’t we lucky to be here?

By the way, he was out of the office in January for a fortnight: sick. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t stand. 

Worst flu he’d ever had, he’d said.

In January. 

Now it’s the early stages of the Serious Times. It was before the lockdown, but downtown had already emptied. I walked into the great banking hall. It was empty and dark. The offices off to the side where Charlie worked were locked, lights off. There were hastily-composed notices taped to the door telling you which branch downtown would be open. This was odd – the main bank, the proud central location, was closed? It was as if the front line had broken and we were told to regroup at a safer location.

It was a branch in the IDS center. I wasn’t wearing a mask; no one was, it was early March – but the mood was jangly, radioactive. Everyone kept their distance by instinct. The banker said they couldn’t notarize a will. There’d been issues. Charlie had said it’d be okay, and Charlie would have made it happen, but Charlie was gone and I’d probably never see him again. 

The next day I drove to the suburbs to my tax preparer’s office to drop off all my paperwork, and they’d said on the phone they had two notaries who could do it.

“It’s just a precaution,” I said to the woman at the front desk, “but heck, you never know.”

“Well of course!” she said. “Just makes sense. We’ve had two other clients come just for this too.”

 We kept our distance, by instinct. I laid the will out on a table in the conference room, and left. The notaries entered one at a time to sign. They left the room and hit the disinfectant. 

I gathered the papers and left, and felt relieved I’d gotten that done. I didn’t have to worry about my will anymore.

And that was the nadir. 

ZENITH

It was a the week before last. Late Friday night at the supermarket – which, in this case, meant 8:45, since they close early, presumably to hose everything down with bleach. I was picking up a few things for the weekend, and of course was duly masked.

I was in a good mood, I guess, because it seemed that the end of the lockdown was nearer than ever, and a good whiskey awaited me when I got home. The overhead music was set on 70s, and it wasn’t bad, but it reminded me how much I miss Muzak. I don’t mean the anodyne orchestrated versions of pop songs – you really don’t realize how banal the main melody of “Horse With No Name” is until you’ve heard it by the 101 Strings – but the peppy happy-shopping music of the 50s 60s and early 70s. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNMx9F5acXs&list=PLRQKT-Cu2_2TM_k6gHwXw_t89H3OdhUKd

Anyway. When I reached the checkout counter the music was Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (The radio cut, minus the searing guitar solo) and I noted that the woman bagging the groceries was singing along softly. She had to be 30+ years my junior. I started singing, too, and we looked at each other and kept singing and when it came to the big climactic shout “LOOOOOVE’S GOT A HOLD ON ME” we both belted it out at the top of our lungs. In the store! As if all the rules had changed! 

The two of us, utter strangers, rocking out from behind our masks – made me smile all the way home. The zenith isn’t the moment when it’s Over, because it won’t be for a while. It’s the moment when you realize you can be meaninglessly happy in an incident you couldn’t possibly have predicted, and that the world of humans, our random interactions and connections, is still as alive as ever. And perhaps, now and then, more so – because of The Duration. 

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  1. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My favorite Muzak moment came in the mid-80’s. I walked into a Jerry’s sub in Greenbelt and, in a perfect moment, they were playing Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing”. All wispy strings and stripped of any potency. Devoid of any hint of self-consciousness. So I got my spiceless Italian sub and took it back to eat at my desk in silence.

    • #1
    • May 17, 2020, at 9:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Arahant Member

    Nadir

    Hard to say, but there was a day about a week ago where I was pretty well unhappy about the disruptions in my routine caused by my wife’s working at home. We live in a fairly small apartment. I work from home. We have a “two-bedroom” apartment that we set up as a one-bedroom apartment with an office with our desks side by side. If I want to get up to do anything, I have to pass her desk. Now that’s no problem when she isn’t there. It really isn’t a problem when she is, either. I can go behind her. There is enough room. But she is ultra-polite, and so every time I try to pass by, she pushes in her keyboard drawer and moves in towards the desk as if I were much fatter than I am. (“Thanks, lady!”) That makes it a big deal for me to go get more tea or to get rid of the tea I have already processed. I don’t like the drama. It’s bad enough on the weekends and evenings, but when I’m trying to work? (A lot of tea goes into my work.)

    She takes her Zoom-meetings at the dining room table. Small apartment still. The dining room is right outside the kitchen. If she’s on Zoom, I’m not supposed to do anything loud in the kitchen. When I feed the cats, I use the garbage disposal. The cats get fed at 11:00 AM. But there she is on Zoom, so I can’t properly take care of things and wind up leaving dirty things in the sink. Getting my lunch is often a little noisy. Or at least she shushes me so she can hear her meetings. If she’s on Zoom, I get to starve. Twice last week, I just grabbed a pint of ice cream for lunch. It’s quieter than the healthy things I usually eat. And forget about putting the kettle on if I run out of tea.

    Also, she has not figured out how to get her headphones working on her laptop. I get to hear the Zoom meetings, too. Because I am in a different room, they are usually a low-level conversation at the limits of comprehensibility. I would close the door to the office, but the cats will be at the door demanding to go in and out, just because the door is closed.

    (Part one of Cod-only knows how many)

    • #2
    • May 18, 2020, at 12:34 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    Nadir, Part Two

    My wife is deemed an essential employee. She can go into her workplace. But she is also an extrovert. She needs people around. Everyone else where she works is “working” from home. She has gone in a few times, but doesn’t want to be there without people. At home, she has me and the cats. Okay, we’re not quite people, but better than being in a big empty room where the ghosts can’t be counted on to show up and talk to her. Those ghosts ought to be more predictable. Ya just can’t trust ’em to get the job done. Anyway, after every Zoom meeting, the wife has to give me the report on what happened, who talked too much, etc. My work is writing. I do not multi-task. If someone is talking at me, I am not writing. I have been getting up at 2:00 AM when she goes to bed so I can work in peace. I take a nap in the late morning or afternoon when she’s at her chattiest and in the way the most. Now, she is making comments about my naps. It’s not like she doesn’t take them, but I do it during working hours. Except that I have already put in eight to ten hours before I nap. Or at least I try to, when I’m not being talked at.

    I thought it was pretty bad having to put up with the cats when I’m trying to work.

    This also makes the lavatory schedule unpredictable. When she has to go in every day and have a building open, she has to be up at a specific time. That means she is using our one lavatory at a specific time. Now? She’ll work until 2:00 or 3:00 AM, so she feels she can get up later, so long as she can check her phone and e-mail by a certain time of the morning to show she was working. That makes the lavatory schedule no schedule at all.

    This morning, we have a doctor’s appointment, so I know her alarms will start at 7:00 AM, and she’ll probably be up at 7:30. I’ll go shower in a few minutes at 4:00 AM. I know there won’t be a conflict, since she just got to bed at 2:00 AM.

    Usually, this doctor’s appointment would be in the evening, but the good doctor is working reduced hours for “emergencies” only, since his work is deemed non-(or semi-)essential. May I say that Dear Leader Gretchen Whitmer and her shelter in place orders can [Expletive] [Expletive] [Expletive]!

    Zenith

    The zenith will be the day that my wife starts going back to her workplace every day, and I can get back to my routine.

    • #3
    • May 18, 2020, at 12:53 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Zenith, Episode Two

    Also, I should say that it is great that I don’t have to make excuses for social disengagement. “Well, the whole CoViD thing, you know? Can’t get together with you for now…”

    • #4
    • May 18, 2020, at 2:13 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Jules PA Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Twice last week, I just grabbed a pint of ice cream for lunch.

    That sounds like zenith to me!

    • #5
    • May 18, 2020, at 4:30 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    nyway, after every Zoom meeting, the wife has to give me the report on what happened, who talked too much, etc. My work is writing. I do not multi-task. If someone is talking at me, I am not writing. I have been getting up at 2:00 AM when she goes to bed so I can work in peace. I take a nap in the late morning or afternoon when she’s at her chattiest and in the way the most. Now, she is making comments about my naps. It’s not like she doesn’t take them, but I do it during working hours. Except that I have already put in eight to ten hours before I nap. Or at least I try to, when I’m not being talked at.

    I thought it was pretty bad having to put up with the cats when I’m trying to work.

    One of my wife’s (male) best friends at work is kind of a young guy and she describes him as somewhat “innocent” (for lack of a better word). He got married a few years ago. A month or two after the wedding she asked him at lunch one day how married life was compared to what he’d expected. He kind of paused for a moment, then said “She talks a lot!

    • #6
    • May 18, 2020, at 5:24 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Arahant Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    He kind of paused for a moment, then said “She talks a lot!

    Yes, indeed.

    • #7
    • May 18, 2020, at 5:32 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Richard Fulmer Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The zenith will be the day that my wife starts going back to her workplace every day, and I can get back to my routine.

    Time to get a bigger house with separate offices and a big tax write-off.

    • #8
    • May 18, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The zenith will be the day that my wife starts going back to her workplace every day, and I can get back to my routine.

    Time to get a bigger house with separate offices and a big tax write-off.

    Just my opinion, but unless you’re really “running a business” like the veterinarian my family used, who’s clinic/lab etc was literally attached to his house, the value of the federal tax home office deduction for space where you’re just keeping desks to do “office work” isn’t worth it.

    The record keeping is onerous, there’s a clawback issue when you eventually sell the place, and it’s a huge audit-bait signal every year on your tax return.

    When I was self-employed I did use “company money” to build and furnish a very nice office space in the basement, which I still use for working from home for my current employer. But that’s different.

     

     

    • #9
    • May 18, 2020, at 8:03 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Years ago I did some work at A&P corporate. It was in the Eight O’Clock coffee department. That’s a fascinating thing in itself…the whole coffee process long before coffee became chichi. Anyway, they had the actual Muzak product hard wired into the building. The little dial to turn it up or down was located by the room where the coffee tasters did their thing. So tempting….

    • #10
    • May 18, 2020, at 9:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):
    Years ago I did some work at A&P corporate. It was in the Eight O’Clock coffee department. That’s a fascinating thing in itself

    It is indeed. I remember noticing when the can removed the World Trade Center from its Manhattan silhouette.

    • #11
    • May 18, 2020, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Kephalithos Member

    Nadir: Every three or four days.

    Zenith: N/A.

    • #12
    • May 18, 2020, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    James Lileks: I started singing, too, and we looked at each other and kept singing and when it came to the big climactic shout “LOOOOOVE’S GOT A HOLD ON ME” we both belted it out at the top of our lungs. In the store! As if all the rules had changed! 

    That’s what day drinking does for ya . . .

    • #13
    • May 18, 2020, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. danys Thatcher
    danys Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nadir

     Three weeks ago I discovered that my daughter was failing all of her classes. I, meanwhile, was teaching & monitoring my students to make sure they were emotionally healthy & keeping up with their assignments. Worst Mother Ever.

    Zenith

    Today my daughter is turning in her school with minimal prompting and appears happier (fingers crossed) and the grocery store has toilet paper and yeast.

    • #14
    • May 18, 2020, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    My favorite Muzak moment came in the mid-80’s. I walked into a Jerry’s sub in Greenbelt and, in a perfect moment, they were playing Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing”. All wispy strings and stripped of any potency. Devoid of any hint of self-consciousness. So I got my spiceless Italian sub and took it back to eat at my desk in silence.

    My strangest Muzak moment was hearing Blue Cheer’s cover of Summertime Blues in the supermarket. I didn’t mind personally, but it was hardly stereotypical as music to buy groceries by. Maybe they mistook it for the original by Eddie Cochran.

    • #15
    • May 18, 2020, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. Dotorimuk Coolidge

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    My favorite Muzak moment came in the mid-80’s. I walked into a Jerry’s sub in Greenbelt and, in a perfect moment, they were playing Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing”. All wispy strings and stripped of any potency. Devoid of any hint of self-consciousness. So I got my spiceless Italian sub and took it back to eat at my desk in silence.

    If they’ve Muzak-ed “The Basement Tapes” then they will stop at NOTHING. Egads!

    • #16
    • May 18, 2020, at 5:07 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    My strangest Muzak moment was hearing Blue Cheer’s cover of Summertime Blues in the supermarket. I didn’t mind personally, but it was hardly stereotypical as music to buy groceries by. Maybe they mistook it for the original by Eddie Cochran.

    I prefer the version by The Who . . .

    • #17
    • May 19, 2020, at 5:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Stad Thatcher

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):
    My strangest Muzak moment was hearing Blue Cheer’s cover of Summertime Blues in the supermarket. I didn’t mind personally, but it was hardly stereotypical as music to buy groceries by. Maybe they mistook it for the original by Eddie Cochran.

    When I go to the store and hear a Muzak version of a Rolling Stones song, I feel as is my youth is being robbed . . .

    • #18
    • May 19, 2020, at 5:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Arahant Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    I prefer the version by The Who . . .

    He’s on first.

    • #19
    • May 19, 2020, at 5:49 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    James Lileks: The two of us, utter strangers, rocking out from behind our masks – made me smile all the way home. The zenith isn’t the moment when it’s Over, because it won’t be for a while. It’s the moment when you realize you can be meaninglessly happy in an incident you couldn’t possibly have predicted, and that the world of humans, our random interactions and connections, is still as alive as ever. And perhaps, now and then, more so – because of The Duration. 

    Thank you for this big smile on my face, something it’s getting harder and harder to do these days, especially from behind a mask.

    • #20
    • May 19, 2020, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 3 likes