Today was mostly a dark day at chez Delaunay. As a matter of fact, all of Boston was dark today: cold rain, charcoal sky, a sharp wind. But our darkness was twofold.
First Darkness: When Lars and I woke at six, it was dark as midnight, outside and in. Lars turned on our bedroom light, and just then we lost power.
"How am I going to get dressed for work?" I demanded, groping around in my underwear drawer and coming up with a pair of socks of indeterminate color.
"Oh," said Lars, "Do like I do. Just put on any old thing."**
** Editorial note: Lars is a habitual wearer of frayed, shabby, and slightly-less-than-clean clothes. I take his advice with a grain of salt.
Then the lights came on and I did a little happy dance and found some clothes. Then the power went out again and we were plunged back into darkness. Lars went downstairs to attempt making coffee and I woke Saskia, who groaned and told me to come back in an hour.
The lights came on, the sun rose, Saskia went to school, my work came and went. Lars left for his work and Benjy woke at ten.
Second Darkness: Benjy is a person of leisure. He is still without a school, and he is BORED out of his mind. Boredom rides tandem with sadness. He started his day with Prehistoric Park on Netflix. (VERY cool show, by the way. Any pre-teen boy will love it.) He moved on to My Pet Fennec Fox videos. Then he got restless, which escalated into agitation. And then he resumed the lobbying for an X-Box that has been his mission for the past month.
I am spineless, so I said, "We'll see..." And then I tried to go back to my grading. I have precisely two days (which is realistically about three and a half hours, when you consider everything else I have to do on those two days) to comment on twenty 6-page essays. And Gentle Readers, it is Not Going to Happen.
Ben left me alone for a few minutes. Slid into a posture of despair. Picked his fingers and buried his face in the sofa pillows. So of course I had to stop working.
Ten minutes before we left to pick up Saskia, I told him I'd buy him the X-Box. We absolutely cannot afford this. The bank will own that X-Box because it's going straight on our overdraft. But if I refused to buy it for him I was not going to get my papers finished, Unhappy students = bad evaluations, and bad evaluations, for the underemployed like me, = no job. I need that job. No matter that I learn poverty wages. Every cent of my paltry income is spoken for. More importantly, if I bought the X-Box there was a middling chance the darkness might break, the clouds disperse. I was ready to do anything for a little sun.
As we waited for Saskia in the car, Benjy asked me about Wall Street, and the occupation of it."What exactly IS Wall Street," he wondered, "and why does it need to be occupied?"
Oh, why didn't I make some silly story up? Why don't I ever learn? Instead of making a silly story up, I told him the truth about Wall Street. (You might have guessed we're Occupy sympathizers around here. If Benjy were not so off-kilter right now we'd be down there with the Occupy Bostonians every so often.)
The truth about Wall Street threw Ben into despair. He draped my jacket over his face and curled into a fetal position. His face went white and blank, as it always does when he is breaking down. When he is sad and broken. He told me life is not worthwhile, that it holds no treasures. And nothing I could say would bring him peace.
But things change, and fast. We braved the icy rain and acquired an X-Box. The darkness lifted. And now, as I write, Ben and Saskia are in the basement racing cars or flying planes or walking on the moon, for all I know. And they are happy together.
Let the grading begin!