I know it’s been just three weeks since we met in your office and dealt with the guardianship paperwork. I felt good about taking on this new responsibility, and was glad my inheritance could be put to some good use instead of sitting in a bank account.
But I have to tell you: This Greek chorus thing is not working out. I realize they’ve been in our family forever, passed down from generation to generation, and I hate to bail out so fast.
But in the short time I’ve had them in my care they’ve managed to ruin just about every facet of my daily life. They’re tactless, needy, and—as you know—more than a tad judgmental. Let me give you just a few details from the short time they’ve been with me:
Expenses: So far, about threefold what I was expecting. Their consumption of olives and grapes alone has driven my food bill through the roof, and they’ve developed an addiction to smoked salmon. (I foolishly fed them some the first night.) The 12 of them go through 25 to 30 bottles of red wine a day, a great deal of which they spill on their tunics. I tried loading the washer every night, but I couldn’t keep up, so I’m constantly ordering replacements.
Leisure Time: At my weekly poker game with three friends, I was doing a convincing job at bluffing everyone with just a pair of eights. I could tell the other three guys were buying it and about to throw in the towel. All of a sudden I hear from behind me: Fly, Ares, to Jim’s aid! / Lest his ruse be revealed / and his enemies’ hands no longer stayed / by delusion of his shield. Needless to say, nobody folded after hearing that. Harold raked in the pot and at the end of the night tipped everyone in the chorus $20.
Dining Out: I can no longer order a meal without having the long-term implications analyzed to death. I’m perfectly aware of the link between cholesterol and salt and the risk of heart attack, but that doesn’t mean I’ve struck the death knell, to resound on the day that awaits. Never thought it’d be so portentous to order nachos.
Commuting: I used to like driving to work, but now it’s a nightmare. It’s bad enough I had to trade in my BMW for a van to fit all 13 of us. But now I have to listen to the worst kind of backseat driving. This path be not the swiftest. / Workers’ hands have slowed the route. / To be as Mercury, Jim must heed / the astute oracles of dawn. I think they meant the AM traffic report. I get enough second-guessing at work; I don’t need it in the car.
The Office: My co-workers have been great. They seem to understand that this chorus has nowhere else to go and won’t venture outside my office during working hours. But the drumbeat of criticism from these guys makes it impossible to concentrate. First, I don’t consider it “hubris” to have my diploma on the wall. Everyone does it. And they amplify and chew over every mistake I make, no matter how trivial. When I forgot about a meeting one day and showed up 10 minutes late, they droned on in their singsong for 30 minutes after I got back. I tried to tune them out, but I heard references to Narcissus, meaning, I guess, that I forgot the meeting because I’m so self-absorbed? Whatever.
Social Life: I had found an open-minded woman who was understanding of my situation and didn’t mind the presence of 12 strangers in tunics. So it’s the critical third date, and things are touch and go. We’re having a comfortable quiet moment, and suddenly they start chanting: Eros is deaf to his yearning. / The Trojan vessel will not pass the gate. (Their metaphors aren’t bad, actually.) What made me mad is that I know they just wanted to end the date so they could be home in time to watch a PBS show on Crete.
Anyway, I don’t know how my ancestors stood it. I’m sure it was out of noblesse oblige that they kept these guys on so long, but I just can’t answer the bell. Do you think we can put them in an institution? Or do you think the government could take them on as kind of a permanent jury? They pay attention to everything, their sense of justice is exquisite, and they speak with one voice. Just think of the moment the verdict is read: Even the guilty would have to be impressed.