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Rated: ASR · Monologue · Food/Cooking · #570653
Combining Sanford Weill, Jack Grubman & Smoke
         I'm looking at Friday's Wall Street Journal and realizing that it is time to sell Citicorp. It's not numbers or words that give me this insight, but the small drawing of Sanford Weill, CEO of the gigantic financial holding company, that adorns the text. The editors of the Journal have a neat way of sending messages without getting the Mighty angry. Rather than call on the wordsmiths, they send in the guy with the pen and ink.

         In the past, the artist featured a smiling, confident Weill, a Master of the Universe, to use that twenty-year old term that has never been bettered. Not any more! This Sanford Weill is not smiling and confident. He looks off into space, his eyes not engaging the reader. I believe in the past the left side of his face was highlighted; now it is the right. He has the look of a man waiting for redemption. Bye, bye, Sandy, it's all downhill now.

         Weill has joined his former employee, Jack Grubman, in purgatory. The former analyst, whose opinions made or broke telecommunications stocks, was depicted as a bright young man with a cheery smile for such a long time, even as he stuck by Worldcom this winter and early spring. I remember seeing a television crew poking a camera in his face as he ran down the street during the Worldcom debacle. "That can't be Grubman; it doesn't look like the drawing," or so I thought. Then from on high word came down. Out went the wavy hair and smile; in came the recession: Hair today, gone tomorrow, as we used to joke. The thought went through my head, "Buy telephone stock from this man?" I could imagine his horror, picking up the newspaper and seeing himself consigned to the ranks of the ugly.

         Am I on to something here? Could it be an investment guru will hire me as sort of a Kremlinologist, able to predict trends? If only I was so prescient in my own life. Here is a man approaching his seventh decade, and who on Saturday morning assumed that the Indian summer we had on Friday was going to continue for a few weeks. As the white stuff began to accumulate, I remembered that my lawnmower was blocking the snow blower's exit from the garage.

         Maneuvering the machines was not that difficult, but then I realized that I really should give the blower a start. It hadn't run since February or March. The garage door was open, but there was about an inch on the grass, so I decided to rev it up out of the weather. The machine is not an electric starting one. I turned the key, put the throttle and levers in the right positions, checked the oil, opened the valve to the gas lines, pushed the pneumatic choke, and then grabbed the cord and began to tug it in that time honored way that men always have.

         Yank one, yank two, and yank three. On the seventh or eighth try I felt the motor begin to turn over and on the next, heard the mighty roar of the engine. I fiddled with a few levers and soon the baby was purring sweetly. I let it run for two or three minutes and then turned it off and went upstairs. Let it snow; I was ready.

         I could smell the odor of burnt bacon when I reached the top of the cellar steps. This smell had supplanted the whiff of smoke that had filled the house earlier when a chimney downdraft sent the effluvia from my first attempt at lighting the wood stove into the cellar. I had singed the bacon because I'd become fascinated reading Raymond Chandler's "The Simple Art of Murder" and forgotten the pan on the stove. At least I could not envision all the water boiling away in the large pot of yams that was bubbling on a burner.

         The dog now alerted me that the mail had come. The two of us braved the blizzard and walked the ninety feet to the road. My brainy dog opted to stay out and sit in the winter wonderland. I hooked her to her chain and went back into the warmth of what now smelled like a motor pool. The exhaust of the John Deere had been lighter than the cold air outside and had seeped upstairs into the house.

         Now this was bad, but like a Boy Scout, I am always prepared. I threw open the sliding door to the deck and turned on the "Wind Machine" that sits in front of it for this eventuality. I was probably the only person in the state to be able to produce his own weather. At the spot near the cellar way, where the hot air from the wood stove met the 27 degree air from the outside, I thought I saw thunder clouds forming. The cat, on her way to the bath, gave me a funny look. I decided she was right; it was getting a tad cold in the house, so I pulled the door closed. I could live with the smell of Eau de Goodwrench. I knew that if the dog stayed out in the falling snow, the fragrance would be replaced by that of wet canine.

         The dog let me down; she came in minutes after the door closed. Thankfully dogs don’t mark territory when they get a whiff of strange exhaust. She retired to the couch and let me work. I mashed the yams and opened the spice cabinet. The trade winds wafted oregano, thyme, curry and cinnamon into the atmosphere. The latter was a needed ingredient in my mix, along with the yams and oranges, which lent their blossom to the air. I folded all into a pie shell and put it in the refrigerator to await baking.

         Waking from my nap at four, I noticed an absence of smell. I was pleased. I fed and walked the dog in the gathering dusk as light snow fell. My driveway was clear. I turned on the lights in the Porte Cochere and, returning to the kitchen, put the pie, now covered with grated cheese and wheat germ, into the oven. I changed for dinner; my guests would be here shortly. As I was giving an end table a spot of Pledge, I heard a car in the driveway. The dog barked when they reached the door, but let them inside.

         After cocktails, we sat down to eat. The candles threw a lovely light on the table. We took up our glasses and toasted each other. “This wine is remarkable. It has a hint of wood smoke and carbon monoxide to it.” I was impressed. “What an analyst you are, Jack. It’s great to see you smile, again.” My other guest nodded, chewed and swallowed a piece of the dinner pie and, pointing his fork at me, asked for the recipe. Despite the twinkle in his eye, I was reluctant until he sweetened his request by adding shares of Tincan Telephone to the offer. “It’s a deal, Sandy. Now, first you steal two pounds of yams.”

Valatie November 18, 2002

© Copyright 2002 David J IS Death & Taxes (dlsheepdog at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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