I was meant to go on a date with Mica Spirelli, my first date in eons – eons! Was I looking forward to it? (Do Serbs eat pork?) Yes, massively, and I was prepared for it too: toothpicks, mouthwash, I bought a shirt with a collar, and I even rehearsed lines in the event of a blackout (me blacking out) – What do you say you and me we go for a walk Mica? – I even called Brendan for tips in the event of the theoretical i.e. if things get hot – Shift the paradigm, Labas. Change the whole geometry on her. Get horizontal. Got it! She’s au-pair, they like that stuff.
I was ready, but nervous too, so I went down to the German bakery on Bergstraat (Ulrich’s Brothaus) for a loaf of Schwarzwald – that’s Black Forrest sourdough – but on my way back something happened and I got sidetracked.
Imagine coming out of a German bakery with a loaf of Schwarzwald and a tall guy in a suit hands you a card that reads Clay Dove Esq. III – CEO, Banque Internationale and he motions to an open door on a blacked-out vehicle with a driver in leather gloves. Imagine that.
For a minute Mica was eclipsed; for a minute I was taking in all this leather and gadgetry. Then I turned to Clay Dove with a question: Mr. Dove, is your dad called Clay too since you’re the third… and his dad, and his dad.
Mister Labas, we would like you to focus. There’s a great deal at stake. Please.
Mister Clay Dove, I’ll tell you what’s at stake, I have a date with Mica Spirelli in exactly two hours and... twenty two minutes. So I don’t know what you have in mind, but – and then I took a bite out of my Schwarzwald and cut myself off.
As we drove over the Erasmus bridge I thought of Mica, her gap teeth, her spiky hair and the way her laugh warms my belly. Mica Spirelli – father Italian; mother Slovenian, from Ljubljana –It’s true she’s au pair, but I did not know au pairs dig the horizontal. Is this so?
Trick question Mr. Dove: how many J’s in Ljubljana? ... Sir?... Mr. Dove?
(A real bag of laughs these financiers.)
The meeting at Banque Internationale was held in a pretty small room for sixteen Esquires and Thirds. One guy had a tiny laser he was pointing at a screen with charts. He looked like he knew what he was talking about so I asked him, I said: sir, tell me, what is hyperinflation... I mean, exactly? (Brendan would have poked fun: that’s like when your jeans get tight around the crotch, no? But I’m not Bren).
Hyperinflation, mister Labas, is hugujeei strajasm the money supply lieah tiy urg. And this about how much sense it made to me. I said, thank you sir. Yes, please carry on. But my presence had shaken the room and laser-man could not carry on. He could not.
This is when Clay Dove the Third asked for my opinion on (and I quote) “the coming collapse of the dollar and the investment opportunities in a global depression”. My mouth was full of sourdough. I needed a moment to think.
(Like I said) there were sixteen of them around the table and in the middle of this mahogany donut was a rabbit hole going into the ground deeper than the eye could see. I said to one of them – not Clay Dove but an even taller man – I said to him, Sir, you seem like a reasonable man. I have a date with Mica Spirelli –
But he interrupted. Mr. Labas, we want you to go down the hole and tell us what you see. So I said, why don’t you go yourself, it’s your hole, it’s right there. Or does this have to do with size, because I’m so much smaller than you. And then this wellspoken man – he wasn’t black, but he could have been – he said, we’re not asking you Mister Labas. We want you down the rabbit hole, we want you to look. Laser-man nodded and then a few of others nodded too.
I left my Schwarzwald on the table and thought of bigman as I climbed into the ground. Up above, laser-man pointed the way with his laser and grinned.
Funny, but I was relaxed on my way down, and I even calmly went over some things in my head: Toothpicks (check); mouthwash (check); collared shirt (check); "How about you and me we go for a walk…
(…to be continued)