The prince is calling

I just finished interviewing my second prince.

His secretary phoned me just before two o’clock to be sure I was ready, and I conference called him at three. The children had been lectured and begged to please not knock on the door during the interview, to please not start bickering in the hall, to please stay as quiet as church mice, and to man the front door.

You’d be surprised how tricky the front door can be. You get all settled into your chair, the children on their best behaviour (crossing their fingers for you upstairs), the phone in their pocket lest it ring, and the interview gets underway.

You’re prepared, asking relevant questions at appropriate times, following up comments with intuitive observations. You’re killing it. Just 20 minutes more and you’ll be out of the woods with a fine little recording that will pave your way to editorial excellence. Then the doorbell rings. It’s your neighbour in his overalls.

You don’t answer it since – well – you’ve got the prince on the line. You carry on.

The neighbour, who by now has realised that you’re not going to answer, waddles around to your office window, which looks out on the front street. On normal days, the view is ultra convenient, not to mention friendly, but you’d forgotten to pull the blinds, and now he sees you sitting perfectly still at your desk, ignoring him.

He moves around to look at your computer screen and sees that you’re talking to a man. He knocks on the window, and waves a letter in your face. You keep your gaze fixed on the prince, and try to not lose your train of thought – and hope he will go away. Thank goodness for the recording because by now you can’t hear a word he’s saying!

Finally, after staring (confused) at the side of your face for a very long time, your neighbour goes away. He rings the doorbell one last time, and gets fielded by your well-schooled children while you conclude the interview.

Life is like that. At least mine is. The serious focus of work melts and pools with the absurd normalcy of life. The complex loveliness of an olio existence. I’ll pad over to my neighbour’s house in the morning with an orange to make amends.


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