Paranoia (081 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Four: 40 (Cont'd)

We moved from tennis to the Tennis and Racquet Club, but I quickly steered us away from those dangerous shoals, which would raise the question of how and why I was there that day, and then to golf, and then to summer vacations. She used "summer" as a verb. She figured out pretty quickly that we came from different sides of the tracks, but that was okay. She wasn't going to marry me or introduce me to her father, and I didn't want to have to fake my family background too, which would be a lot of work. And besides, it didn't seem necessary—she seemed to be into me anyway. I told her some stories about working at the tennis club, and doing the night shift at the gas station. Actually, she must have felt a little uncomfortable about her privileged upbringing, because she told a little white lie about how her parents forced her to spend part of her summers doing scutwork "at the company where my dad works," neglecting to mention that her dad was the CEO. Also, I happened to know she had never worked at her father's company. Her summers were spent on a dude ranch in Wyoming, on safari in Tanzania, living with a couple of other women in an apartment paid for by Daddy in the Sixth in Paris, interning at the Peggy Guggenheim on the Grand Canal in Venice. She wasn't pumping gas.

When she mentioned the company where her father "worked," I braced myself for the inevitable subject of what-do-you-do, where-do-you-work. But it never happened, until much later. I was surprised when she brought it up in a strange way, kind of making a game of it. She sighed. "Well, I suppose now we have to talk about our jobs, right?"

"Well ..."

"So we can talk endlessly about what we do during the day, right? I'm in high-tech, okay? And you—wait, I know, don't tell me."

My stomach tightened.

"You're a chicken farmer."

I laughed. "How'd you guess?"

"Yep. A chicken farmer who drives a Porsche and wears Fendi."

"Zegna, actually."

"Whatever. I'm sorry, you're a guy, so work is probably all you want to talk about."

"Actually, no." I modulated my voice into a tone of bashful sincerity. "I really prefer to live in the present moment, to be as mindful as I can. You know, there's this Vietnamese Buddhist monk who lives in France, named Thich Nhat Nanh, and he says—"

"Oh, my God," she said, "this is so uncanny! I can't believe you know Thich Nhat Nanh!"

I hadn't actually read anything this monk had written, but after I saw how many books of his she'd ordered from Amazon I did look him up on a couple of Buddhist Web sites.

"Sure," I said as if everyone had read the complete works of Thich Nhat Nanh. " 'The miracle is not to walk on water, the miracle is to walk on the green earth.' " I was pretty sure I had that right, but just then my cell phone vibrated in my jacket pocket. "Excuse me," I said, taking it out and glancing at the caller ID.

"One quick second," I apologized, and answered the phone.

"Adam," came Antwoine's deep voice. "You better get over here. It's your dad."

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