2020 So Far....Bruce and his New Best Friends
Last week you heard from Scott about his 2020 so far…this week Bruce will share his 2020 year so far from sunny Glendale, CA. As you all know, Bruce commutes between Miami and LA. Bruce was last in our Miami branch office in early March and we haven’t seen him since. Bruce will now muse about his 2020 year so far….
I have a confession to make during these unprecedented times. I have been getting together with two old friends every night after dinner. Occasionally, after lunch too…and (I'm ashamed to admit), even a few times for breakfast. Since these friends and I never socially distance, I’ve hidden our meet-ups from my wife. I know all about the health risks, but I can’t deal with her judgement at the moment. I love ♥ Ben and Jerry ♥ and she can’t make me stop seeing them; even if I become a Chubby Hubby.
Enjoying ♥ Ben and Jerry ♥ , my two best friends
Speaking of marriage, I find myself reminded of when I told my dearly departed father that I was going to ask Lise to marry me. Instead of the big hug I was expecting, he sat me in a chair and said, “I want you to think about all of the little things about Lise that annoy you.” (dramatic pause) “Now, multiply that by 1,000 and you have what it’s like to be married. If you can handle that, you’ll be very happy.”
Needless to say, COVID-19 has put the “1,000 times doctrine” to the test, though mostly for Lise. Since starting my career as a management consultant at the age of 21, I had never been home for more than about a month straight.
July 10 marked month four of the current streak.
Honestly, I fear my lovely wife is fraying at the edges. Not Lorena Bobbit fraying, but fraying all the same. After all, for nearly 14 years, I have alternated weeks between Miami and Los Angeles. Conveniently, in both locations, I had a Starner woman telling me what to do. In Los Angeles, Lise would tell me to clean the garage or make the bed. In Miami, Margaret would tell me to outline revocable trusts and analyze insurance policies; and on occasional evenings, put away household items in the “tall cabinets” that she and Roger couldn’t reach. The relationship was balanced; symbiotic even. I did what I was told and neither Starner woman had to deal with me for more than a week or two at a time.
Now, that balance is horribly askew. Every day, Lise witnesses my transgressions… the ice cubes I drop on the floor when I fill up my water bottle, the trail of Dorito crumbs between the pantry and the office, the occasional plate of hot spaghetti and meatballs that shatters when I trip on my way to the dinner table. I try to be better, I do, but I was born this way. Even worse, since our cleaning lady can’t come, Lise is forced to clean up not only after me, but also the messes of our somewhat slovenly teenage children. She is a chauffeur, math tutor, and chef all rolled up into one. Lise is my hero…and I fray her EVERY NERVE daily.
Meanwhile, back in Miami, Margaret is remarkably cheery. Sure, she dislikes staying at home, but she orders food out most nights, hosts virtual wine parties with friends, and schedules weekly zoom calls with her grandkids. She has rekindled her love affair with computer solitaire…bringing her back to simpler times when she first discovered the game on her 286 Compaq computer running Windows 3. No longer burdened with in-person “Bruce duty,” she seems to be spreading her wings and finding all sorts of new ways to enjoy life. Lise’s curse is her blessing.
In terms of other family members, my aforementioned children are dealing remarkably well with life in time of COVID-19. My 15 year-old son Cole is living the dream; unfettered by the shackles of school and summer baseball, he plays 5-10 hours of video games per day. He has literally sprouted in 2020; he’s grown 5 inches and his voice has dropped multiple octaves. I feel blessed to have witnessed the transition daily; an opportunity I would have never had in “normal” times. Someday soon, I will teach him to shave the caterpillar growing above his upper lip.
Cole using the family piano as a video game shelf
Meanwhile, my daughter Micaela, 20, has decided to take a year off from her studies at Columbia University after learning the school will not be back on campus in the “standard manner.” Remarkably, she found and applied for a human resources opportunity in Hawaii and was recently given the job. She is already working remotely and will move to Hawaii sometime in August. I will terribly miss knowing she is safe in her bedroom right across from my home office; even though she surely will not miss me waking her up daily with my business calls.
In terms of today’s remarkable times, I tell Cole and Micaela they will share 2020’s stories with their children one day…just as I have told them about watching 9/11 in the tiny loft of my Chicago apartment, with one-year old Micaela cradled in my lap; or witnessing the Challenger explode while sitting in my high school physics class. Just as my dad showed me his blurry 8 MM video from July 12, 1969; when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon.
So much has changed in 51 years. My dad filmed Neil Armstrong on a black and white TV; meanwhile, my children have never lived in a world without remote controls. At the close of 1969, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was priced at $809. Today, the same index is priced over $25,000. So, when clients or friends ask me what I think of “the market” given the events of 2020, I remind them of my favorite Mark Twain quote: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Our country (and our world) has a long history of overcoming tragedy and marching forward and I fully expect this to be no different. Let’s just hope Lise can hold out long enough until the glorious day she gets to send me back to Margaret!
In the meantime, I have never been prouder of my colleagues on the Starner Group than I have been during the past few months. Though working remotely, all of us are here for you…to answer your financial questions or just to talk.
Oh…and if you ever need some company after lunch or dinner (or even at breakfast), I’ll happily introduce you to my pals Ben and Jerry. They are really swell guys.