Thursday, August 30, 2012

The extended family parking lot a/k/a the Curmudgeon home

Regular readers already know that Younger Daughter and her husband Olaf are residing with us for the foreseeable future. Their child -- our granddaughter -- is scheduled to join them in early October. Long Suffering Spouse, who knows a little about these things, doesn't think she'll hold out that long. Long Suffering Spouse is hoping that Younger Daughter will make it through most of September, but she's not accepting any bets.

Meanwhile, Oldest Son and his wife Abby came by yesterday, stopping off on their way to Dublin, Ireland and the Notre Dame - Navy game Saturday. It was not purely a social call. They wanted us to drive them to the airport and they needed to leave their car with us. The Curmudgeon residence is located conveniently near to O'Hare International Airport (the one Da Late Mare Daley used to refer to as "O'Hara").

They'd already left their dog. Oldest Son brought Rodent over to the house yesterday morning, on his way to work. He lives in Lincoln Park, near the Lake and Chicago's Loop, but he works as a consultant and his current project has him toiling in Vernon Hills, a Lake County suburb created to host a shopping mall. (No, really. But that's a different story.) He didn't plan to go all the way home yesterday. He had the luggage in his car; his wife, Abby, was bringing whatever she could remember that they'd forgotten and joining him at our house after she was through for the day at her Loop office. (She took the El, like I do.)

After the Notre Dame game, Oldest Son and Abby are going to wander around Ireland and England for a week or so. (Oldest Son is hoping he won't encounter too many language difficulties. Yes, he is a smart-aleck. I'm curious as to what the kids are going to do over there -- Oldest Son has never been one to get excited about touring castles and churches and museums. I'm sure there are a few breweries and distilleries on their itinerary, but for a week? Neither one of them plays golf seriously.)

Middle Son is not going to Dublin -- for one thing, he's not a Domer -- but he is going to California on Friday to visit a high school friend. His friend just moved to Los Angeles but he's self-conscious about taking in the tourist sites without actual tourists in tow. Middle Son and a couple other compadres have volunteered for this duty.

We're not sure when he's dropping his car off.

Long Suffering Spouse put a happy spin on things when we dropped Abby and Oldest Son off at O'Hare. "Have a good time for us, too!" she said.

We've never been to Ireland. I've never been east of Manhattan. Unless Newark is. (I flew into Newark once, for a deposition.) I went to California once, also for a deposition. I never left the vicinity of the airport on that latter occasion. It is a scurrilous falsehood that I wore a life jacket everywhere -- but I was concerned that a capricious fate might have picked my visit as the time for California to fall off into the ocean. I did go for a walk on the afternoon of my arrival and was followed by a police car for awhile. Apparently walking is a very suspicious activity in Southern California.

But we are genuinely pleased that the kids are able to travel.

In fact, something else has sort of dawned on me and it also pleases me. In America, it is an article of faith that each generation should expect to do better than the one that came before it.

This, of course, is impossible: Much as we'd like to think otherwise, not all of us will become the ancestor of a future Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. There has to be some backsliding somewhere.

Here is where I find a renewed sense of self-worth: I'm the backslider. At a comparable age, my father was increasingly prosperous and respected. I'm in steep decline. I'm waiting for my wife's paycheck so I can pay the phone and cable bills. I've billed so little this year that I'll be lucky to clear as much as my wife makes as a Catholic school teacher.

So I've taken the pressure off the kids. The three older ones, the ones already getting established in their careers, have already exceeded me. And I keep lowering the bar for the younger ones, too. In other words, as a failure, I'm a success.

(Don't dwell on that one too long. Let me have my moment, confused as it may be.)

The vicinity of our house is going to look like a used car lot for a week or so while the kids go gallivanting around the world on their vacations.

Meanwhile, on Saturday at some point, we'll be picking up Carl from the airport. Carl, for those of you who don't have total recall, is the husband of my wife's old college roommate, Penny. You met Penny here when Long Suffering Spouse and I had a surprise 25th anniversary party. (Well, at least it was a surprise to me.)Penny and Carl are the proud parents of four adopted kids, one of whom is in college, the next in high school, and then the Korean twins (adopted as critically ill preemies), Tim and Tom. They're 6 now; Penny and Carl decided they'd stay home with Penny this weekend while Carl comes here for a 25th anniversary party for our friends Steve and Charlotte.

With the exception of Charlotte, all of us went to college together, but Steve and Carl were also high school classmates; that's why he's traveling and Penny is staying behind this time. (If you need to know more about Penny and Carl check the stories about Younger Daughter's wedding in the June 2012 archives.)

Carl will be staying over Saturday.

Why not? Everyone else does. Carl will probably feel bad that he doesn't have an extra car to park with us.


Anonymous said...

Well when you use that line of thinking I guess I'm a huge success too..:)My grandson who just graduated this last spring from Ohio State is already making more money than I ever made in my life. I think about what he is making and I shake my head wondering at it. During his second year of college he was hired by a company as a computer tech. In the summer between junior and senior year he was promoted to an assistant engineer. As soon as he graduated and had his degree he was again promoted to an engineer making lots of money at 22 years of age. He just got engaged and put a down payment on a brand new house. He is also making more money than what his dad has ever made and he has worked so hard all his life and can never seem to get ahead. So now I have to go tell my son what a great success he is and he will be thrilled to know all this...:)

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

there ought to be some sort of game y'all can play with car keys and a hat. or something.

smiles, bee