Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Judge

“Will you call Michelle?”

“You call her,” I said.

David huffed in frustration. “I don’t have my phone with me, and I’m driving. And it was your idea,” he said.

“You can use my phone, you haven’t even started the car – it’s not like we’re in any big hurry, either, and, if I might add, it’s a brilliant idea.” I began to smile, but held my lips straight when I saw the look on David’s face. “Because I don’t want to be the bad guy, okay? It’s not my dog. Here.” I handed over my phone, with Michelle’s number already highlighted, and looked out my window. The ocean was painted with Monet-esque strokes of rose and lavender, reflected pastel remnants of what had, moments before, been a spectacular sunset.

The problem might have seemed straightforward to an onlooker, but I knew better – when it comes to family, nothing is straightforward. Fortunately, this was David’s family we were dealing with. After the passive-aggressive boot camp that was my childhood, each member of David’s tribe appears as conspicuous as a bright orange buoy in an endless blue ocean.

My father-in-law has an octogenarian friend known only to us as The Judge, because that’s what he used to be before he retired to live on Martha’s Vineyard year-round. The Judge and his wife are good friends of David’s parents, and I have heard many an engaging anecdote about him. I was excited to finally meet him at the reception for David’s annual summer exhibition at the Granary, which is the gallery that represents David’s photographic art on the island.

The Judge seemed like most of my in-laws’ friends on the island – old, wise, friendly, and full of interesting stories about his life experiences. But here’s the hitch – the Judge is an amateur photographer. The night of the reception (and the following night), the Judge sequestered David in a corner of the gallery and interrogated him about lenses and exposure times until, finally, I received David’s nonverbal distress calls and moved in like a Seal Team Six to execute the conversation and open the door for potential art collectors to speak to the man of the hour.

David’s father was disappointed to the point of being hurt when David expressed his fatigue with the Judge’s limitless fascination with the minutia of photography. David is passionate about his work, but it is still work; when socializing, he doesn’t always want to job-talk. He went so far as to tell his parents that he preferred they not invite the Judge and his wife over for dinner while we were visiting, because we’d rather spend our very limited time with just the family.

Because she is hyper-sensitive to everyone’s needs and desires, David’s mother, Ency, took us aside the day after Thanksgiving. “The Judge is coming for cocktails tomorrow,” she said. David rolled his eyes and groaned. “Don’t worry, it’s just a drink, they’re just stopping by, they’re not staying for dinner.” She was whispering, which made it clear to me that Robert was not aware of his wife’s conspiracy to spare David from a night of photographic tech talk.

Michelle, David’s sister, was also in town for the family’s Thanksgiving celebration. She would be having dinner with us that night, and would likely be around when the Judge stopped by. My cunning plan was to employ Michelle as our informant. We had left the house that morning, so I could accompany David on a photo expedition. It was after 5 p.m. when David, reluctantly, called Michelle.

“Can you do me a favor?” he asked, in an unsure tone. “Can you text us when the Judge gets there and then again when he leaves?”

I could hear the laughter on the other end of the line. I grabbed at the phone, which David couldn’t seem to let go of fast enough. I said hello, and a still laughing Michelle said, “Mom said you guys wouldn’t be coming home until after the Judge left, and I didn’t believe her!”

I explained why David was so intent on avoiding the kindly but obsessive elderly gentleman and then asked, “Will you do it?” As I expected, Michelle -- the family’s self-appointed mediator -- agreed to help us out.

By 5:50, David and I had already hit up the gift shops and bookstores on my to-do list, and had finished picking up the few items Ency had asked us to grab at the grocery store. The headlights of Robert’s Jeep created a light-tunnel on the dark and winding tree-lined roads. (One of the island’s antiquated charms is its lack of street lamps and traffic lights.) David was driving aimlessly when, at 6:15, Michelle texted: “They just got here about 10 minutes ago.” I read it aloud to David, and then texted back, “Shit. We’re done with store, now circling the island.”

I was beginning to get cranky. “They’re going to be there at least an hour,” I said. “What are we going to do, just drive around aimlessly for an entire hour?” David tuned the radio his favorite station (WBRU, the college station of Brown University), which perked us both up for a while. “You know what’s going to happen,” I said around 15 minutes later. “Even if they do get up to leave, your dad will say, ‘No, wait, David and Barbarella should be home any minute, you can say hello!’ Because it’s not like they can use ‘eating dinner’ as an excuse without us there – they obviously won’t eat until we’re home, which gives the Judge no reason to leave until we get there. You’re going to have to see him.”

David was getting increasingly irritable. I gave him time to think about what I’d said, and turned my attention to spotting animals skulking about on the side of the road, given away by their eyes, which were briefly illuminated and shocked as we passed by them. I’d counted two skunks and a bunny when I sighed and said, “This is absurd. It’s like some game to find out who’s more stubborn, you or your dad.”

Had I known that was all it would take, I would have busted the line at least an hour earlier. We pulled into the driveway at 7:15 p.m. Robert had no idea what had been keeping us so long, and when the Judge got up to leave, Robert encouraged him to stay for just a bit longer. For an awkward 15 minutes, they all stood at the door – David, Robert, the Judge, Ency, the Judge’s wife, and Michelle – the ladies making small talk with Robert, the Judge immediately launching into questions about every shot David had just taken. I had done my part, so I just smiled and breezed past the whole bunch to the kitchen, and poured myself a glass of wine.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What San Diego restaurant staffs eat, dumpster diving for dinner

How food critic Naomi Wise started her life in San Diego, how food critic Eleanor Widmer ended hers
Next Article

Sanctified and glorified at Encanto Southern Baptist Church

Life is important on this side of death, but what really matters is eternity.

“Will you call Michelle?”

“You call her,” I said.

David huffed in frustration. “I don’t have my phone with me, and I’m driving. And it was your idea,” he said.

“You can use my phone, you haven’t even started the car – it’s not like we’re in any big hurry, either, and, if I might add, it’s a brilliant idea.” I began to smile, but held my lips straight when I saw the look on David’s face. “Because I don’t want to be the bad guy, okay? It’s not my dog. Here.” I handed over my phone, with Michelle’s number already highlighted, and looked out my window. The ocean was painted with Monet-esque strokes of rose and lavender, reflected pastel remnants of what had, moments before, been a spectacular sunset.

The problem might have seemed straightforward to an onlooker, but I knew better – when it comes to family, nothing is straightforward. Fortunately, this was David’s family we were dealing with. After the passive-aggressive boot camp that was my childhood, each member of David’s tribe appears as conspicuous as a bright orange buoy in an endless blue ocean.

My father-in-law has an octogenarian friend known only to us as The Judge, because that’s what he used to be before he retired to live on Martha’s Vineyard year-round. The Judge and his wife are good friends of David’s parents, and I have heard many an engaging anecdote about him. I was excited to finally meet him at the reception for David’s annual summer exhibition at the Granary, which is the gallery that represents David’s photographic art on the island.

The Judge seemed like most of my in-laws’ friends on the island – old, wise, friendly, and full of interesting stories about his life experiences. But here’s the hitch – the Judge is an amateur photographer. The night of the reception (and the following night), the Judge sequestered David in a corner of the gallery and interrogated him about lenses and exposure times until, finally, I received David’s nonverbal distress calls and moved in like a Seal Team Six to execute the conversation and open the door for potential art collectors to speak to the man of the hour.

David’s father was disappointed to the point of being hurt when David expressed his fatigue with the Judge’s limitless fascination with the minutia of photography. David is passionate about his work, but it is still work; when socializing, he doesn’t always want to job-talk. He went so far as to tell his parents that he preferred they not invite the Judge and his wife over for dinner while we were visiting, because we’d rather spend our very limited time with just the family.

Because she is hyper-sensitive to everyone’s needs and desires, David’s mother, Ency, took us aside the day after Thanksgiving. “The Judge is coming for cocktails tomorrow,” she said. David rolled his eyes and groaned. “Don’t worry, it’s just a drink, they’re just stopping by, they’re not staying for dinner.” She was whispering, which made it clear to me that Robert was not aware of his wife’s conspiracy to spare David from a night of photographic tech talk.

Michelle, David’s sister, was also in town for the family’s Thanksgiving celebration. She would be having dinner with us that night, and would likely be around when the Judge stopped by. My cunning plan was to employ Michelle as our informant. We had left the house that morning, so I could accompany David on a photo expedition. It was after 5 p.m. when David, reluctantly, called Michelle.

“Can you do me a favor?” he asked, in an unsure tone. “Can you text us when the Judge gets there and then again when he leaves?”

I could hear the laughter on the other end of the line. I grabbed at the phone, which David couldn’t seem to let go of fast enough. I said hello, and a still laughing Michelle said, “Mom said you guys wouldn’t be coming home until after the Judge left, and I didn’t believe her!”

I explained why David was so intent on avoiding the kindly but obsessive elderly gentleman and then asked, “Will you do it?” As I expected, Michelle -- the family’s self-appointed mediator -- agreed to help us out.

By 5:50, David and I had already hit up the gift shops and bookstores on my to-do list, and had finished picking up the few items Ency had asked us to grab at the grocery store. The headlights of Robert’s Jeep created a light-tunnel on the dark and winding tree-lined roads. (One of the island’s antiquated charms is its lack of street lamps and traffic lights.) David was driving aimlessly when, at 6:15, Michelle texted: “They just got here about 10 minutes ago.” I read it aloud to David, and then texted back, “Shit. We’re done with store, now circling the island.”

I was beginning to get cranky. “They’re going to be there at least an hour,” I said. “What are we going to do, just drive around aimlessly for an entire hour?” David tuned the radio his favorite station (WBRU, the college station of Brown University), which perked us both up for a while. “You know what’s going to happen,” I said around 15 minutes later. “Even if they do get up to leave, your dad will say, ‘No, wait, David and Barbarella should be home any minute, you can say hello!’ Because it’s not like they can use ‘eating dinner’ as an excuse without us there – they obviously won’t eat until we’re home, which gives the Judge no reason to leave until we get there. You’re going to have to see him.”

David was getting increasingly irritable. I gave him time to think about what I’d said, and turned my attention to spotting animals skulking about on the side of the road, given away by their eyes, which were briefly illuminated and shocked as we passed by them. I’d counted two skunks and a bunny when I sighed and said, “This is absurd. It’s like some game to find out who’s more stubborn, you or your dad.”

Had I known that was all it would take, I would have busted the line at least an hour earlier. We pulled into the driveway at 7:15 p.m. Robert had no idea what had been keeping us so long, and when the Judge got up to leave, Robert encouraged him to stay for just a bit longer. For an awkward 15 minutes, they all stood at the door – David, Robert, the Judge, Ency, the Judge’s wife, and Michelle – the ladies making small talk with Robert, the Judge immediately launching into questions about every shot David had just taken. I had done my part, so I just smiled and breezed past the whole bunch to the kitchen, and poured myself a glass of wine.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Dress up with cork wedges from Aerosoles and a necklace from Pier 1

“For three months, I existed only on yoga pants and sweatpants.”
Next Article

A poem for Independence Day by Francis Scott Key

His poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close