Aug 23 2005


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Uncle Bob put his hand on Greg’s shoulder in a way that was clearly intended to build companionship. “Greg,” he said. “Greg, Greg, Greg. Greg.”

“Uncle Bob,” Greg replied. “Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob.”

“When your parents came to me and asked me to be your godfather, it meant the world to me,” said Uncle Bob. “I would have done anything for them, you know, anything. Truly. And I like to think they’d have done the same for me.”

“I’m sure you would!”

“And it was your mother’s dream that someday I would get in to a really good university, and make something of myself. Now, it’s taken me a long time to get around to it, I know, but I am finally ready to make her dreams a reality. But I need your help, son! Are you going to stand between me and the culmination of your late mother’s fondest wish?”

“It’s not like that at all,” Greg said. “Really, I’d love to help you, but what am I supposed to do? Scholarship boards and admissions people generally want undergrads to be fresh-faced up-and-comers … particularly undergrads who have in their heads to study law. They don’t want them to be pudgy old reprobates who got a straight ‘D’ average before dropping out of school to take up a not-so-lucrative-as-they-thought career in supplying narcotics to flower children.”

“I’m not a reprobate!” said Uncle Bob. “And who supplied narcotics? I was a drummer, I’ve told you a hundred times.”

“That’s not what mother said.”

“Your mother was teasing you, boy. Anyway, it’s perfectly obvious what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Write to them, and plead my case! They’re intellectuals, and you’re a writer! You’ll make an impression on them.”

“Make an impression on them? Who do you think I am, John Berendt? Florence King, perhaps? Maybe I look like Rebecca Wells or Salman Rushdie to you. I have one little book, Retrograde Maneuvers, and a moderately-successful light comedy is hardly going to impress them, Uncle Bob.”

“Well, you must being doing all right, you’re making ends meet, aren’t you?”

“I’m living off the trust fund, Uncle Bob, you know that. Certainly I have high hopes that once I get a few more books out there that I’ll be making a living wage from them, but at the moment I make just enough on my writing to pay for my morning latté and cheese danish.”

“Hmm,” said Uncle Bob. “The trust fund. That was your father’s doing.”

“And hooray for pop,” Greg said. “I don’t have much of a head for numbers, but even I can do the relatively simple math it takes to sit on a pile of money and make sure that it remains a pile of money. Once you’ve got it squirreled away into the right places, the only trick is not to spend any of it, and I learned that skill in college.”

“So I’ve gathered,” grumbled Uncle Bob. “You’re certainly good at saying ‘no,’ that’s for sure.”

Greg frowned. “If you’re referring to the two dozen get-rich-at-home cons I wouldn’t give you money from the trust fund to buy into, well, we both have our own ways of honoring mom. Yours way may be this quixotic fever-dream of getting into one of the most exclusive colleges in the land, and I applaud it. But my way is by making sure that the life’s savings that she and dad had worked so hard to build precisely against the sort of tragedy that struck them, don’t get absconded with to Aculpulco. Call me crazy, but I just feel like it would be a pretty shabby way to show my gratitude.”

Uncle Bob peered up at Greg through one narrowed eye. “You don’t look it,” he said, “and you don’t sound it. But you’re a hard man, my boy.”

“Well, the credit for that one goes to my roommate. Being in close association with Brigid for as long as I have, you either develop a thick skin, or go mad. So far I’ve survived by dipping into both techniques as the moment required.”

-The Gneech

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