Point of View: Devilish Details

It’s a wonder we stay afloat

    If truth be told, and I’ll not tell it slant, I am quite unorganized.

   Our photo files, which, I tell everyone, are a Black Hole, are a case in point. I dare you, for instance, to find 1982. It’s utterly disappeared. I never did like to file those contacts and negatives anyway, which is why it’s such a mess in The Star’s attic. And I’m no better at home, a failing that has become all the more glaring given the fact that Mary is now an archivist.
    Still, while slovenly when it comes to record-keeping, I have a rather tidy memory, and so it was that I vowed I would come up with some important financial papers the other night and went in search for them. Soon after, having rummaged through several file boxes in my closet, I returned in triumph to the kitchen with some of the contents — three pairs of underpants, a bottle of Neutrogena conditioner, and two moldy leather glasses cases.
    It’s a wonder we stay afloat. I hate tending to the details, which a teacher friend of mine once said was absolutely necessary to do if one were to get on in the world, if one were to live a responsible life. Thank goodness I have a responsible wife, for I hate dealing with personnel of any kind (living and breathing human beings are a different matter), I loathe paperwork, and abhor wrangling with the faceless inquisitors of corporate America. Such a waste of time.
    Time that I could more fruitfully be spending in trying to figure out how to beat Mary in backgammon. It’s been difficult, for I’ve had to turn the instructional book I’m reading upside down to make sense of it given the way she sets up the board. But that’s okay. Nurtured in the hot-type years, I can read upside down and backward.
    She has this foreboding that I’ll begin to trounce her once I catch on, but the truth is I’ll never catch on. My brain, nimble in some ways, is dense in others, especially when it comes to numbers, though as I write this I am mindful (and somewhat bemused) that our publisher, in a 1990 memo to new staff members, said that I never made a mistake and understood budgets.
    If a bat and a ball cost $1.10 and the bat cost $1.00 more than the ball, how much did the ball cost? I stared at that question for minutes on end last night, uncomprehendingly.
    Ten cents? Ten cents . . . right?
    No, no, no, a thousand times no! Now I know the answer is 5 cents, but only after I beat it into my head. And that rote approach, I’m afraid, is the only way I’m ever going to beat Mary.
    But wait! Why try to beat her? It will only piss her off. If I can just get to the point where I can give her a good game, that would be good. A good game . . . that’s what we all want.