It was a few minutes before five EST when I opened the door to the top floor and shouted up to the Engineer, who was up there in his office conquering some random Etruscans:
“Oh maaaannnn!” came the reply. “I have to update my spread sheet!”
You have to understand that, being an engineer, he has spread sheets for everything. The one in question allocates points to past Presidents for their influence on Supreme Court decisions, according to the actual number of Supreme Court justices said Presidents appointed. You know, to what extent is the dead hand of Ronald Reagan still guiding our legal system? That kind of thing.
I only got out ahead of this spreadsheetery once, when the Engineer’s Dad ran the Boston Marathon. (He was sixty-one at the time, and came in with a 4:01:01 time, which is about as shitfuckhellgoddam as it gets for a runner, one minute and a couple seconds from a sub-four-hour time in your sixties, piss up a rope!!) “I plotted his chip times where he passed the markers” (for those who don’t do this stuff, they tie a chip to your shoelace and it logs at what time you pass various mile markers so they know you didn’t take a shortcut), “and he was doing a steady nine minute mile up to — ”
“Mile twenty-two,” I said.
I work on a lot of distance runners, and though the usual rubric is twenty, I have had more people report hitting The Wall around mile twenty-two. Maybe my people are especially badassed. I reckon the Engineer’s dad is. He’s on his way to run the Antarctica Marathon at the moment, with a stop off in Rio for Carnival. Multitasking.
He’s probably not thinking about Scalia. Or spread sheets.