Let’s be frank with one another. We all know people who are useless. Actually we also know people who are utterly useless. I unfortunately fall in the latter category. I know what you are thinking, that I am being unnecessarily harsh on myself. Okay, I am willing to change “utterly useless” to “absolutely useless.”

A week or so ago I drove my bride to a stone yard in Van Nuys, where we met our interior designer and our stone contractor. This sojourn like many similar ones is simply part of a marathon process called “rebuilding your house.” 

I have never seen so much stone in my life—all kinds and colors of granite, marble, and so forth. Whenever I am confronted with infinite choices my eyes tend to glaze over and I daydream about being anywhere else.  After what seemed like eternity, the group located a piece of stone, and for reasons I still do not comprehend, there was universal excitement, assuming that I was not part of the universe, which at that point was true.

Somebody said, “I see movement in the stone,” and you might have thought they had come across a major gold find.

The first thing I did was look around to see whether anything else was moving, and when I assured myself that we were not experiencing an earthquake, I looked at that piece of stone. I looked closely. I stared, but for the life of me I did not see that stone move one inch. I still have no idea what they were talking about.

I so wanted to be part of the team, to contribute something to our morning activity. Suddenly among the thousands of slabs I spotted a beautiful stone. It contained a speck of pale blue. I excitedly shared my find with Michael, our interior designer. He did not share my excitement, “Burt, you are looking at the back of the stone.” So much for my contribution.

Things went downhill from there. We reconnoitered at the Pacific Design Center, a complex designed specifically to make your feet hurt by the end of the day. We went to several showrooms which unfortunately were becoming more familiar each month during this laborious process of furnishing a house.

After what seemed like a chunk of the day had passed, we walked through a store which displayed some absolutely beautiful furniture. And then I saw what I wanted—a wooden night table which would be perfect by the side of my bed. I called Michael over and shared my enthusiasm with him only to be told, “Burt, you chose that exact table two months ago, and we ordered it.” At least I was being consistent.

The day finally ended, and I drove my bride back to Malibu. I guess you could say I am not entirely useless. I did provide the chauffeuring.

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