Armin spends a lot of time entertaining on the Estate. I suppose I would too if I owned such a place. I don't know exactly what it cost but getting curious one night and looking at similar acreage and nearby zip codes on some online high-end realtors websites, well, let's just say he better be focused on getting a return when that much capital is in play. Not to mention that getting a return on an asset like that is about more than what you expect to sell it for later in life, or what rent you are collecting from tenants (and so far as I could tell the only Tenant Armin had was me).
At first I was a little creeped out. I had a whole room to myself. Well, almost a wing really. I didn't even see the Manhattan office for three weeks. Eventually, however, I woke up and realized that I was actually lamenting the fact that I wasn't sitting in an office 90 hours a week. That wasn't normal.
As this had all gone before, I was quite happy to be present for the various dinners Armin hosted.
This particular evening we were hosting the CEO and majority owner of a middle market company, a fast-talking mid-40something guy you just knew worked his way up from nearly a lifetime in sales. The CTO of the firm, who was so thin and frail looking that I was afraid the breeze in the outer hall might blow him gingerly away and out into the cold night. I think he said 20 words in the entire evening. His 15 year old daughter, a black-eyeliner, black dyed, bob haircut goth, who somehow had been talked into bringing her violin to play for everyone. The CTO's wife, a nervous looking fret of a mother who constantly worried after her daughter's every move and tried to engage anyone who would listen into a barely contained, frantic sounding conversation about child development. With her for a mother, I'd be a goth too. And their lawyer, a corpulent, bearded pig who spent the majority of the evening name dropping names I didn't recognize (neither did Armin). I never discovered if he was their personal lawyer or the general counsel. I doubt he was particularly effective in either role.
After dinner we retired to the front room and sat around the fireplace to listen to the goth girl play violin. I sank into one of the deep armchairs in the far corner. She began to play- she was quite good, and coaxed out some very difficult classical pieces. I closed my eyes, tilted my head gingerly back as the three glasses of red wine were beginning to take deeper effect.
In the middle of what must have been a Mozart piece I opened my eyes for some reason and saw the CEO, CTO and the lawyer all sitting against the far wall and suddenly realized they were all wearing slightly different colors of the same knit Mr. Rogers sweater. I immediately began to sink into a spasm of uncontrollable laughter which I had to suppress by imitating sneezing. It was entirely unrealistic sneezing, so I tried to play it off as if I had aspirated wine, converting my crude snarfing into coughing. This wine thing was hard to substantiate, as my wine glass was sitting, empty, in the other room on the dining room table. Everyone looked at me, including the goth girl, who, to her credit, kept playing.
I shook my head as if to indicate I was alright and finally stifled the laughter. I could barely contain myself. I was in the middle of a gothic violin recital for a fucking Mr. Rogers convention.
We didn't buy the company.