My friend Charley's marriage is on the rocks, and it's all MLGW's fault. Let me explain.
Charley's wife, Cecilia, has always been a bit of a high-maintenence type, but she tolerated Charley's golf habit and he tolerated her insistence on trying to appear in RSVP every month, and they'd managed to live fairly contentedly for years. But recent events at our public utility have pushed this once-happy union to the breaking point.
Last week, Charley was sitting at the breakfast table, savoring his second cup of fresh-ground Guatemalan treetops blend and reading the CA sports section. Cecilia nursed her skin-rejuvenating Chai tea and perused the local news.
"Man, the Grizzlies suck," Charley said. "And poor Stromile Swift -- he's got those darn 'flu-like' symptoms again. That's the 27th game in a row ... "
When Cecilia didn't respond, Charley looked up from his paper to see his wife's steely eyes burning into him in a way that foretold dark clouds on the marriage Doppler.
"Why are you such a loser, Charley?" Cecilia said, flatly.
"What, wha ... ?" Charley was flummoxed. He'd built his family's patio-furniture business into a tidy fortune. He and Cecilia were members of all the best clubs. They lived in Southwind in a 6,000-square-foot replica of Buckingham Palace and drove shiny new BMWs. How dare she call him a loser? He wasn't going to take it, dammit!
"Um, whatever do you mean, sweetcakes?"
"You're not on the list."
"The MLGW list of bigshots. The list that says you're important. The list that says you don't have to pay your utility bill if you don't feel like it. The list that says you are somebody. We're nobodies, Charley, face it."
"But that's a list of deadbeats."
"No," Cecilia sighed, "it's a list of people who are important enough to be allowed to be deadbeats, and you're not on it. How are we going to show our faces at the Black Tie/Bermuda Shorts ball this weekend?"
"Well, uh, maybe we could say we have flu-like symptoms."
"Not funny, Charley. Not funny at all."
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."