Thursday, November 10, 2005


Warning: The following post has some adult content. So if you are easily offended, my mother or anyone else who should not be reading this, I warned you!

Setting: A bank; where I work as a mortgage broker, no less. My life is Glengarry Glen Ross, without the irony. For some reason I am playing the straight man to someone else’s jokester. Somewhere in Chicago is a guy playing Costello to my Abbot. He’s the Hardy to my Laurel, the Madison to my Unger… You get the point.

As a Loan Officer (or LO in the vernacular of the Mortgage biz) I must be on top of just about every deal everyday while going out and generating new business. It’s kind of like riding a unicycle and spinning plates on a stick at the same time. Everything needs my full attention all the time. It’s a delicate balance.

So when I come into work and I get a message on my email from my manager that says I’m not taking care of a particular problem on a particular loan and the email says something to the effect of “A little urgency is needed here!” I tend to get a little frustrated to say the least. By frustrated I mean like when I was a kid and I played Dungeons and Dragons.

I walk into his office and unsheathe my double-handed broad sword and split his head right in half. Inside the cavity is a thousand squirming little worms and rotten piece of meat. Just as I suspected! He’s one of the undead. Probably a zombie brought to the world of the living by my arch nemesis, a dark and shadowy figure hell-bent on my utter mediocrity.

I blame my nemesis for everything that goes wrong. Case in point:

When I was twenty this is where I thought I’d be at this point in my life:

  1. Million dollars in the bank

  2. Apartment in Manhattan overlooking Central Park.

  3. Career in the arts, probably famous painter or something like that.

Here’s what I got:

  1. A million dollars of debt looming between the mortgage and the potential on my kids’ college education.

  2. McMansion on Long Island

  3. Career in banking, loan officer. (Waht, Wahhhh –to the sound of a very low trumpet signaling gloom.)

I blame it on the evil figure looming just out of sight, around the corner, wringing his hands, laughing maniacally. “Why, oh why does he torture me so. What crime must I have committed in a former life that he tracks me across multiple planes of existence to ensure my utter defeat.” Not that I don’t have a great wife and kids, I do.

Since my family (and by my family I mean my wife) decided to move from our current home to upgrade our school district and square footage we’ve been in a packing frenzy. We are Biggie Sizing the McMansion and I got a call from my wife at the office.

“Hi honey, what’s in this box labeled perfect pecker?”

Hello, what’s this?

A friend of mine works as the manager of an adult shop. By the way, the manager of an Adult Shop makes more than a Loan Officer, just so you know. Oh and as a Post Script to that, neither job requires a college education. When said friend heard we were moving, he was more than happy to provide boxes to help us pack. When you hear about porn coming to your house it usually comes with the image of a discreet, sort of generic looking, brown paper wrapped package. We were assaulted with boxes with labels screaming such lovely and appropriate phrases like Dildos, Perfect Pecker and Flesh Colored Butt Plugs. (Whatever those are they sound painful.)

“What about Translucent Butterfly or Hollow Bees? Do those sound dirty?”
It was getting downright esoteric.

“I’m not sure honey,” I said trying not to sound amused.

“Well you know these terms better than I do.”

“You know that if there’s any security on this line I’m already fired.”

She sounded surprised that her very casual conversation about sexual products not fit for man nor beast would make me uncomfortable or get me canned.

“You’re right,” she said. “Sorry. I’ll just cross them all out.”

“Better yet, cover them with duct tape.”

“Thanks. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

It was a combination of words that I never thought I’d hear from my recently converted to Judaism, former Irish Catholic wife.

I once heard that the worst type of Jewish Wife was a Shiksa. When I heard that, I laughed. I’m not laughing anymore. She blends the best and worst from both. My existence ping-pongs between her guilt and my guilt. Why, oh Lord, is guilt so entwined with both of the major religions on the planet earth. Couldn’t they be more like Zen Buddhism? I never heard about a guilty Buddha.

As an American Jew brought up in a very liberal and religiously lax household, I attended Hebrew School but we also celebrated Christmas. It never occurred to me that this was odd. I once asked my Mother why we were Jewish but celebrated both Chanukah and Christmas. She said we celebrated Christmas as an “American” Holiday. It made sense to me. Through the years I’ve met Catholics and Christians who couldn’t fathom it. I think my wife was the only one who didn’t find this odd. So I married her. Even before she converted people pegged her for a Jew so I guess she made it official. We joined a Reform Temple, attend Friday services, have weekly Shabbat dinners, celebrate the holidays, we know the Hebrew names for our children and my kids go to Hebrew School.

The other day I was driving home from picking up my son from Hebrew school when he announced that the candy we were eating was made in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Also, he added. “Coke is made in Atlanta, Hostess was made in Iowa by the Mississippi River. It’s my new thing to know where food is produced.”

I wondered about the serendipity of that information. Was it trivial? Was it educational? It’s been just amusing enough for me to deem it educational and I encouraged his quest to uncover this knowledge. I added a few products to the list for his research project.
The juxtaposition of my wife’s phone call earlier that day and this conversation with my son put me on another track. Why was my wife worried so much what the moving men would think seeing the dirty writing on the boxes and not my son’s reaction? I decided that I’d ask her about it when I got home.

Much like so many other things that enter my mind that flew out into the universe as soon as I stepped in the front door. It’s the mind-numbing ray that the shadowy figure has permanently fixed on my head.


WSM said...

I love your Jewhish/Irish wife and I can't wait to see the boxes!!!

Mom said...

Dear Lon,

It's your annoying MOTHER again. I cannot seem to escape appearing in you Blogs on a regular basis. I am thinking of changing my name. If I would have known that you would be quoting my offhanded remarks in you column, I would have given them more thought. Sorry about the dark shodowy figure that controls your life, I suppose that must be my fault. It was probably taking you to all those Star Wars movies. Darth Vadar and all that.

Love MOM

ObilonKenobi said...

My Mother and my Step-Mother commented on the same blog post. I must have struck a chord here!!

wsm said...

I think your mother's answer that Christmas is an American holiday was just perfect!

And....I know as a mother we just naturally take the blame, but your mom did a wonderful job and your dark shadowy figure could be from the "other side"....

ObilonKenobi said...

The dark side?

Kyle Stemen said...

You really work as a Mortage broker? All this physics stuff is just a hobby?

On the other hand, used to know someone who actually graduated with a physics degree and worked at Kinkos.

ObilonKenobi said...

I really work as a Manager for a Mortgage Sales office. Yep. Physics and writing are just hobbies but I hope not forever. I hope to write fiction and articles for magazines one day.

Anonymous said...

Lon, I'm so glad that your response to WSM was "the dark side" rather than "my father?"