Episode 53: The Undoing Project

Simon pulls up Rolf’s drive in Lana’s Volvo.  He’s still listening to a talking book on the stereo when Rolf gets in.  Rolf looks at the case: The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis.   Simon shuts it off.  Bettina wants me to try out as a narrator, reading audiobooks.  Rolf nods and turns the stereo back on, and they listen in silence all the way to Auggies.

There’s a line outside the door as Rolf and Simon approach.  People stare at them as they go inside the crowded restaurant.  The hostess motions them to follow her, and she takes them to a booth, where Jon is sitting across from a pretty waitress.  Emilie?  The hostess asks incredulously.  The waitress springs out of the booth.  You caught me, she tells the hostess, blushing.  What can I get you gentlemen to drink? she asks quickly as Rolf and Simon sit down.  Just water for now, Rolf says.  I want my own pitcher of Oatmeal Stout; I don’t need a glass, Simon says.  She laughs while laying a hand on Jon’s shoulder, and then goes away.

How’s Jax doing?  Jon asks.  He’s back in town, Simon admits.  He wanted to help you teach, but Lana talked him into starting a hedge fund.  She asked him to invest ten thousand dollars for her.  It was so funny, Simon chuckles.  She asks him how much he’s going to charge her.  And he tells her nothing if he loses money, but he gets half of the gains.  And she gives him this look.  Hedge fund guys typically get 20%.  And he said that he’d guarantee her principal.  And she looked at Bettina, who gave her the nod, and she told him to let her know who to make the check out to.

Where is he staying?  Jon asks.  At Tom’s.  Did you invest?  Rolf asks Simon.  Ten thousand is the max he’ll allow.  No one else gets Lana’s deal, and it’s an eighteen month lockup.  Once he gets one hundred investors, he’s launching.  I’m in, Rolf says.  Me too, says Jon.  Better hurry, word’s spreading fast.

Rolf puts on his reading glasses and studies the menu.  I didn’t know you wore glasses, Simon says.  They block UV and blue light, Rolf says, which reduces eye strain.  My vision is fine.

Emilie interrupts the moment, bringing Simon a tall glass of Oatmeal Stout, I’m sorry, we’re all out of pitchers, she tells him snickering.  Have you decided on what you want to order, or do you need a few more minutes?  Onion rings.  Simon says.  Want to split a pizza?  He asks Jon, who nods.  The chicken garlic, Simon tells Emilie.  Add Sausage and Mushroom on my half, Jon says.  I’ll get an order of prime rib, Rolf says, with a side of asparagus.  How would you like that cooked?  Medium.  And I’ll have a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with that.  Emilie touches Jon’s arm again and smiles at him as she collects the menus and leaves.

Simon looks between Rolf and Jon.  Uppsala – I want in.  Lana told me that you guys were holding off asking me b/c of Bettina.  Well, I’ve got a kitchen pass now.  “Go forth and conquer” were her exact words.  Rolf and Jon laugh.

How long have you been planning this?  Simon asks Rolf.  Lana gets the credit, Rolf replies.  In that book you’re listening to, the author goes on to talk about collaboration and “fertile pairs”.  You’ve read it?  Simon asks incredulously.  Rolf nods.  What book?  Jon asks.  The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis.  Lana gave me a headsup about Ramon.  And she’s always regretted throwing those pictures on top of Jax.  But she doesn’t regret almost killing him?  Jon asks Rolf.  Lana is Lana, Jon.  You should know that by now.

Rolf steeples his hands, and looks at Simon.  Ever seen the movie Bridge on the River Kwai?  Yeah.  Tell me what it’s about.  Colloborating with the enemy, but the escaped POW comes back and blows up the bridge and the train goes into the river.  I think everyone dies at the end.

I’m a lot like the British colonel, Rolf says.  It’s not in me to do something half assed.  Jon nods and adds, Uppsala – we don’t want Jax trying to blow it up.  Got it, Simon says.   Remember what Sam said about Toni, that all she had to do was show up, and she’s golden?  Jon asks.  Simon nods.  We’re going to do that for Ramon.  How long do you see this going on?  Simon asks.  This summer.  Still want in?  Jon asks.  Oh yeah.

So we get Jax a clean slate, Simon says, then what?  He asks Rolf.  Choose your own adventure, Rolf replies.  Just remember it’s about the journey, not the destination.  It took me a long time to learn that.

Are you still heading out to drum afterwards?  Jon asks.  I’m enjoying playing the guitar and teaching the kids, Rolf admits and then shrugs.  I’ll play it by ear.

What did Lana have to say about Jax when you went fishing?  Simon asks. Rolf looks at Simon and shakes his head no, indicating that he’s not going to answer.  You really don’t want to see Lana end up with Raul, do you?  Simon asks.  I’m not opposed.  Why would you want that for Lana?  Jon asks.  He loves her.  Jax loves her, Simon protests; you should be helping him get her back.

Emilie comes up to the table with the pizza, and some plates.  I’ll be right out with your prime rib, she tells Rolf.  She doesn’t touch Jon this time, and he looks after her as she goes away.

She’s working up her courage to ask you to sit next to her at Bettina’s church, Rolf tells Jon.  Lead vocalist of Uppsala takes what’s his, Simon says.  He doesn’t wait to be asked.  Jon gets up and walks over to the swinging kitchen doors and goes inside.  Rolf looks at Simon.  Church, he growls and turns his head sideways.  Simon laughs so hard that tears come to his eyes.


The drummer is rooting for Raul, Tia tells Ramon.  I knew I like him, Ramon admits.  He and the shy guitarist are going to help you.  If you can play the material, you are in the band.  They will make you “golden”, to use their expression.  What else?  I’ll send you an mp3 file of the recording, Don Ramon.  If you are going to chase this, I would advise that you send Raul back here.  There will need to be a firm hand on the tiller.