$25,000 coaster

I received my degree today.   Finally.  It nicely states my name and degree and university in a lightly serifed font like an elegant combination of Copperplate Gothic and Cooper Black.  I take it out of the protective case, show my dad, he shakes my hand and I put it on the table to clear space to put it in a place of honor upon the refrigerator.

Aside:  Importance on the Robinson fridge is determined by proximity to the calendar.  You ain’t worth shit if your art/report card/degree/honorific doesn’t at least make it onto the freezer.

I decide to put it directly on top of the calendar and return to see the face of horror: My father’s over-iced screw driver in a plastic tumbler we stole from my aunt’s house slowly approaching the surface of the one indication that proves in the eyes of God and/or the world’s credit agencies that I’m better than my brother.  I see the first drips of condensation held to the plastic of the cup only by a prayer and water’s electrostatic adhesiveness thinking that only the intervention of Le Chantelier himself could change the laws of chemistry such that my symbol erudition and triumph would remain unbesmearched when I receive a deus ex machina: the soft baritone of Shelby Foote announcing factoids of the Civil War stills my father’s alcohol impeded heart enough that I can wrench the 80 lb bonded paper from the Van Der Waals force-induced grip of the table.