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Monday, August 20, 2007


To Bloomington over the weekend, to help EGA set up housekeeping. She has always prided herself on her independence, and a component of her independence has always been a strong sense of thrift. All summer she had diligently worked garage sales, Buffalo Freenet, and other, similar resources to accumulate kitchen supplies and whatnot, and in the end she had enough worldly goods to fill a Chevy Express van and the back of the Volvo. We caravaned across the Midwest(there seems to be more Ohio than is absolutely necessary)and arrived late Friday. Saturday morning, after an appalling breakfast (the place was called the Golden Coral-- I'm thinking that a good rule of thumb is probably that it is never a good idea to eat or buy clothing anywhere that is named for an animal storage facility) we went bed shopping, then met the realtor at the apartment. The rest of the day was spent unloading, unpacking, assembling flatpack bookshelves and bureaus, and making forays over to Target as various needs became apparent. Target was a trip, full of parents with their kids, sweeping the shelves into their carts. Many, if not most of the parents were togged out in IU garb-- baseball caps, golf shirts, flip-flops, you name it-- and it was clear that they were themselves Indiana alum, thrilled to have their offspring attending the Athens of the Hoosier State. (I was disguised as one of them, having had the foresight to purchase a baseball cap on our earlier visit.)

We got her squared away with remarkable efficiency, working steadily through the day, and although living room seating is an unfilled need as yet the place seems well-appointed and comfortable. All summer EGA had stressed over the notion her accumulation of worldly goods might make her appear frivolous, a very typical EGA thing to worry about. Her thrift means that she is not inclined to accumulate things anyway, and what little she knew of the roommate suggested that she is a Serious Person who probably scorns materiality. Her field is Medieval Philosophy, and while EGA was at IKEA, the roommate was studying Greek. They met when the two of them were visiting the department over the Spring, and the roommate proposed that they find a place if they both decided to attend. That sort of take-charge approach impressed EGA, who capably handled the actual finding an apartment phase that followed, but would have felt awkward taking charge of the inter-personal interaction. "I suppose we should talk about what qualities we're looking for in a roommate," EGA said at the time. "What would be a dealbreaker?"*

[* Guarantee: Dialogue= hearsay. No accuracy is implied.]

"Someone who I couldn't take seriously as a scholar," she replied. I don't think this is something that EGA might have come up with --she was looking for something more along the lines of, "Someone who leaves dishes in the sink," but she reckoned that her scholarship would probably withstand scrutiny. In any event, it turns out that the roommate exceeds even EGA in the spartan lifestyle contest: she arrived late that night with her mother and two sisters, a KitchenAid mixer, and a pallet to sleep on, like Benton Fraser. The family, who all seemed very high-energy, and quite pleasant, got up early the next morning and immediately set about rearranging the kitchen, I guess to set the mixer off to its best advantage. They were every bit as busy and diligent about their work as we had been the preceding day, and I have to figure that two such similar people, from such similar families, will get along pretty well, once EGA overcomes the shame of sleeping on a mattress, like some kind of princess or something. CLA departs at the end of this week.

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