As I’m sure you know, my dear son Bob has been having a bit of an on-again-off-again relationship with the International Girl in my division.  It’s been a very bohemian kind of thing, and my husband and I are very proud of him.  Nevertheless, despite extensive coaching from me, my husband, Dale and Chip, and practically everyone else in the entire branch, their romance seems to have run aground on the rocks of modern sensibilities, like the Exxon Valdez of post-modern relationships.  How sad.

Perhaps the most regrettable incident of all was a falling-out they had over mixing their CD collections.  While she wanted to combine them, poor Bob (ever the cautious one) refused, citing the irreconcilable differences between their tastes.  Even though all hers were easily identified by the simple fact that none of them were in English, Bob stuck to his point.  Just so, the damage was done.

Finally last week they had an unfortunate blow-up at work.  I won’t embarrass either of them further by recounting the details, but suffice it to say the day ended with the International Girl sobbing to her mother incomprehensibly in Mandarin and booking last-minute plane travel, while Bob stormed into Tom’s office and resigned his position.  I was unable to talk any sense into him at all to stay and try to pick up the pieces and carry on.  But he would have none of that.  The damage of the broken relationship was severe indeed, and it appeared neither of them would recover quickly.

So yesterday his father and I went over to his apartment, now sadly empty and frighteningly reminiscent of his perennial nihilist phases.  I asked him what he planned next, since he’d quit his job, and he replied that he’d given it some serious thought and was going to go back to school.

“Back to school?” I asked incredulously.  “Surely you’re not contemplating a third PhD?”  He nodded gravely.  And though I knew it to be a bad idea to ask, I simply couldn’t contain my curiosity.  “But what subject?”

“Psychology,” he said finally.  I pursed my lips and nodded with him.

It’s going to be a long decade.

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