Occasionally, one is surprised to find, in the midst of the corporate jungle, individuals who have managed quietly, and without public fuss, to build a large and thriving corporate body. One such is the 38 year old "Jake," who, more by luck than anything probably, managed to be in the right place and the right time for five years in a row and build a $800 million business from essentially nothing. Unsurprisingly, Armin is somehow connected to Jake and got the first call when Jake tired of his business some months ago and decided he should buy a small airport in the islands, as it would be much more fun playing in his personal control tower (no, I am not joking) than firing admins who then sue him (probably rightfully) for sexual harassment (again, I am not joking).
As should also be unsurprising to Going Private readers familiar with such entrepreneurs, I would be substantially understating the matter to describe Jake as "eccentric." Equally unsurprising should be the fact that he has also managed to attract a great deal of legal attention in the form of any number of lawsuits, generally involving one (but occasionally both) of two classes of plaintiff. First, various minority partners which, despite the near certainty of litigation (or perhaps because of the near impossibility of Jake prevailing in any forum presided over by an elected official or a panel of his "peers"), he seems to have no difficulty attracting. Second, former personal assistants (universally in their 20s, blond, formerly involved in competitive college sports and female). In fact, so frequent are these actions that one, small and local legal office has developed a practice highly specialized in "Jakeigation" and lucratively represented 4 such plaintiffs in separate suits over the last 3 years.
According to legal counsel familiar with the matter, Jake has not only carefully salvaged defeat in every action he has become embroiled in, but he has failed to prevail, ever, on a single motion or counterclaim he has presented. It was, at first, unclear to me if this perfect record is a function of Jake's total unsuitability as a witness for himself because of his eccentric (indeed borderline bizarre) behavior both on and off the stand (transcripts of his testimony read like the videotape "confessional" in a bad reality show wherein 7 totally incompatible 20somethings are thrown together in tight quarters and the producers sit back and record the fun) or his seemingly tenuous relationship with reality. Then I met Jake and it all became as clear as sapphire crystal.
For reasons that should be obvious given my description, Jake and investment bankers simply do not get along. And so it was that I was given care of Sub Rosa's new intern, "Craig," and dispatched to Greenwich to cater to the Howard Hughes understudy.
Jake has seven Blue Persian cats. Actually, it might be more accurate to say
that seven Blue Persian cats have Jake, their manservant and trustee. They essentially have the run of the
property (which is a not insubstantial plot in Greenwich) and are
treated with a deference formerly reserved for tempestious dieties prone to anger quickly, raze villages and turn vast swaths of the population into pillars of salt if not lavished with constant supplicant mewings, offerings and, indeed, human sacrifice. Indeed, many a servant running only casually afoul of one of the cats, found their lucrative tenure at the Estate du Jake to be a fickle fount. I heard a rumor which, after reflection, has gained substantial credibility in my mind, namely that Jake's entire estate will pass in trust to his cats and the two children he fathered out of wedlock with one or another personal assistant will be left with next to nothing.
I should pause at this point to say that I am fairly neutral to positive when it comes to pets. Frankly, any pet not able to sustain itself without direct human intervention for at least a month and unfortunate enough to be put in my care would surely expire given my work schedule. Despite this, I mostly enjoy pets. Or, I should say, I enjoy the freedom from responsibility afforded me by other people's pets. I even have a mild affection, if you could call it that, for most cats. Cats are generally unoffensive and benign. They are usually low maintenance. They are mostly self-sufficient. I get along with cats.
I fucking despise Jake's cats.
Here's the thing. One Blue Persian could, properly managed and seen but not heard, be a subtle statement of evil world domination intentions. Two might hint at some instability beneath the evil genius layer. Three... well.... But seven? Loony bin.
Jake's Blue Persians look like a hairy ball of the dryer lint you remove from that filter thing (after 65 loads of blue jeans were dried) with a hairy pug face in the middle of which someone has stuck two big, yellow, (and beyond creepy) plastic teddy-bear eyes. The problem is that this dryer lint ball walks, and talks. I should say, talks incessantly. The damn things never shut up. I think they sleep vocally. Often they form impromptu a capella groups, generally wherever Jake's guests have congregated, all struggling at the same time to be heard over the whinings of the others, volume progressively rising, pitch progressively raised, as they seek to drown out the others. I can also attest with some confidence also that they are all completely tone deaf. This process is accelerated if they fail to attract the affection of guests. And, of course, once even the slightest bit of affection is shown them, the other six flock to the issuer. I know this because I carefully watched it happen to Craig, who, to my absolute horror, was foolish enough to intone "Here, kitty kitty kitty." As you might imagine, this caused my opinion of our intern to slip rather dramatically.
It is a very good thing Jake can afford substantial hoards of household help to deploy an armored battalion of Oreck vacuum cleaners twice daily, or the sum of the living areas would be upholstered in "Blue Persian Wool." Even as I write this, nearly a week on and a dry cleaning session later, I have recovered half a dozen cat hairs, which I suspect are actually viruses given their propensity to replication, from my suit.
We are invited to sit in the living room, a massively vertical space that, as there are no carpets or rugs for some reason, acts as an echo chamber, reflecting back down from the domed ceiling the voices of those below, delayed and slightly out of phase. The effect is to double the number of cat voices audible at any moment. To quote an Austrian Emperor: "The ear simply cannot follow so many notes." I think at first that this effect must be intentional. It would be trivial to dampen the sound in the room with some proper attention to fabric, after all.
Amazingly, Jake spoke in almost monotone, and without raised voice, though the entire session. I grew so tired of straining to hear him that I finally just gave up.
I couldn't relate much of the meeting. I spent most of it watching in horror as Craig collected five tuna smelling lint balls in his lap in the course of 20 minutes.
We walked out of the place with the beginnings of a deal framework but on the way to the waiting town-car Craig suddenly stopped and began to closely examine his laptop bag and then, to my amazement, to sniff it.
"FUCK!" he finally intoned. "One of the fucking cats pissed on my new laptop bag." The lack of rugs or carpeting fell suddenly and with an almost audible click into the grand order of things.
I made him sit in the front for the ride home.