Bedeviled by network bureaucracy, forced to use the reeking portable latrines deposited at the end of the Reagan Airport runway (ripe targets for some accidental plane engine backdraft), carted by his sister to the rare and random social engagements that I can squeeze into my overstuffed and underfunded calendar, Bob’s first two weeks chez KYP have been eventful, if not enjoyable. He arrived just as my colleagues and I were beginning the first of three successive one-week sprints to set up back to back to back estate sales in Maryland. Usually we have two weeks to organize and price a house—for each of these sales (the second of which concludes tomorrow) we’ve had four days. Our schedule just had to accommodate them, and I’ve been getting home around midnight, or past it, in consequence. Thank God we’ve got a good team—we’ve all pulled together and put the sales together with our usual professionalism, and this weekend in particular has been lovely. So lovely, in fact, that I decided this afternoon to take advantage of the homeowner’s offer that we might use the crystalline back yard pool. I brought my purple bathing suit to work with me and after the last lingering customer had been shooed through the front door at 4:15, I whipped into the back bathroom and slipped it on. I dove off the board. And dog-paddled shivering to the shallow end, having decided that the water was just too cold for enjoyment. I got the better part of the damp off with a handful of paper towels, and immediately returned to my regular wear. The whole experiment had taken less than ten minutes, and it wasn’t until I walked barefoot into the foyer, wringing the water from my hair, that my boss, who had been tickled to learn I was planning to swim, realized that I had already finished the experiment. Tomorrow we start work on House #3. I hope it will be as low-stress and high quality as this one has been. But sans the shoplifting problems—we had an Asian woman tuck a $265 ivory cameo, framed in tortoiseshell, into her bag, and we were only able to identify the culprit and recover the merchandise thanks to the good offices of another customer, who pointed her out. And five cast-iron urns were nicked from the back garden by someone who broke the lock on the fence we’d placed to make sure customers could only enter and exit through the house. Honestly. Do people think that simply because it’s in an estate sale it’s automatically OK to steal? Or do they do this everywhere? Bob, the misanthrope, opines that aall humanity is depraved. I believe in total depravity in the Calvinistic sense of our all being tainted by wickedness, but to such an extent, and manifested in such a light-fingered way? It’s dreadful.