19 August 2009

Testify

The spouse is a kind man, and during the school year, he brings me coffee in bed if I don't manage to drag myself out early. Since we aren't quite back to school yet, I was a little surprised to be wakened with a cup of coffee this morning. The spouse was trying to dress for court, and he was a wreck. He does not enjoy being called to testify. Despite knowing his stuff, despite his confidence in his work, presenting one's findings in this sort of setting is better suited to a particular type of personality, and neither of us have it. So I empathized with his discomfort because when reports I have helped to prepare are submitted as part of a legal proceeding, I feel a sort of faintness. There is usage I've insisted upon, structure I've suggested, words I've lobbied for or against. Part of me goes with that item, and I feel the weight of it, the seriousness. It is not that we take ourselves seriously, but that we are respectful of our part of a larger process, mindful of our responsibility.

Hiding my head under the pillow did not quiet the din he made, and I gave up trying to pretend to sleep once he turned on every light in the room and started throwing dark socks on the bed.

"The son has taken my black socks," he said, sounding aggrieved.

"These are black," I told him, waving a sock like a flag.

"They're blue," he told me.

"This is blue," I replied, performing additional semaphore with his sports shorts.

"Oh," he said, taking the black socks from me.

"What tie do you have on?" I asked, squinting.

He obligingly held it out for my inspection. Blue. From about 1990. With a black, grey and white striped shirt.

"Erm," I murmured, "you can't wear that tie with that shirt."

"I can't?" he looked shocked.

"Well," I considered. "You do look like a geologist."

He glowered at me, and I retreated to get his charcoal tie.

"Here," I told him.

"Now I look like an engineer," he snorted.

It took three tries, but he finally got the charcoal one tied. Which is better than I can do, and the son might well be better at it than either of us.

The spouse sighed mightily.

In the kitchen, he took one of the nut bars I keep for the kids' snacks. I silently got out a paper bag and put a bottle of water, aspirin, and Pepcid into it, and handed it to him.

"Oh," he said looking into it.

"Just in case," I told him.

He loaded it into the back of the car.

"Do you have your laptop?"

He nodded.

"Paperwork?"

He nodded.

"Change of clothes?"

He nodded.

I patted the side of the car and waved him away.

I learned--the hard way--to send extra clothing with him. There have been circumstances beyond anyone's control: exploding plumbing, and court proceedings that ran far longer than anyone anticipated. So I learned.

I know the eye-aching insanity of preparing someone to give a deposition; I know the hysteria that goes into finding that file prior to sending someone off to testify. I know what it's like to eat pizza 4 meals in a row, not ever having left one's desk, catnapping in situ. And people wonder why I feel no need to watch reality TV.

There is much I wouldn't change, but much I have changed. And like the Holy Trinity, much change yet to come.

Go listen to some music: "Testify" from the album The Battle of Los Angeles by Rage Against the Machine. Sometimes the words win.

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