Topic: "Part Two" (5)
Frodo is a big hit at parties (hint, hint). For some inexplicable reason, he thinks up cool things to occupy the lightly-inebriated, and some times it even means that no one has to remove their clothes. Frodo often asks the listener to document their very first cognitive moment in life. "How old were you, what were the circumstances, and how do you know exactly how old you were?" Frodo begins the game with this true story, and it is a kind of neat segue into the promised topic for this evening.
Bilbo's Second child was born exactly two years and nine months, to the day, after Frodo. The event in question took place on Christmas Eve, and the Second child was ambulatory. This means that Frodo was most likely four years and three months old when he looked down through the transom in the joint bedroom he shared with the Second child, and they both watched Bilbo and Frodo's Father placing toys under the Christmas tree. The next day, of course, Frodo heard the usual discourse about "Santa Claus," and it was the moment that he first used the expletive "Bullshit." Traumatic moments, such as what followed, are often the basis for the first memory.
The Second child followed Frodo almost everywhere, and that was no problem. The enmity developed much later, when Frodo began to distance himself from activities at home, and the Second child had not yet caught on. The conflicts became more frequent when the Second child felt it necessary to share Frodo's secrets, as if there needed to be a penalty for growing up and away. On the other hand, Frodo was a successful student, and it was as if the Second child was in a constant state of secondary achievement. Sibling rivalry being what it truly is, there was no permanent damage at this point in time.
Frodo began to accumulate rights of passage which were, quite naturally, more than what was available to the Second child, who was beginning to exhibit less and less patience. The conflicts became more open, louder, and much more frequent. The Second child accelerated opportunities to publicly berate or humiliate Frodo, and he grew increasingly determined to be somewhere, anywhere, where the Second child was not.
Once Frodo went away to the College of the Shire, he was convinced that things would even out over time, and that a normal sibling relationship would develop. In fact, as Frodo matriculated beyond pure academia, Samwise came into his life and the Second child smiled with true approval. When storms tossed the relationship between Frodo and Samwise, it was the Second child who stood by him, and helped him think about something other than ending it all.
The worst day came when the Second child, now independent and on her own, came to visit Frodo and Sam, from half-a-continent away. Frodo was in a very responsible position which demanded the highest of personal standards, and here came Second child bringing dope into the pre-Shire household. It soon became clear that the Second child was associating with elements whose futures were limited by bullets and prisons. Frodo's lack of interest in the affairs of the Second child were partly defensive, and partly offensive.
Over time, they grew more distant, and the Second child began to change, physically, significantly. In a funk, Frodo testified that there was no longer a friendship, but merely siblings of fact, not choice. The Second child left the presence of Frodo, and the great schism began. It was exacerbated by the death of Frodo's father, and the complete collapse of the Second child in relationship with anyone, not least being the survivor, Bilbo.
Immediately after the death of his father, Frodo sat down with the gentleman who had lobbied to be Frodo's investment advisor, and told him of Bilbo's plight. Bilbo, he said, had less than $20,000 in savings, a house with complete equity, and Social Security. He told the advisor that he could have Frodo's business if he first met with Bilbo, set up a way for Bilbo to continue independent living, and to inform Frodo only when Bilbo was about to run out of money. Frodo wanted his assurance that the advisor would work only with Bilbo, and be there to attest that Frodo had no hand in anything which the Second may someday allege was imprudent.
Seventeen years later, Bilbo had $75,000 in savings, a house with complete equity, Social Security, and a "Living Trust." Frodo's advisor had matched the "loaves and fishes" which fed those who attended the Sermon on the Mount. But the aging Bilbo had been duped by a local parasitic salesman, who frequently feed off the elderly, and had established a "Living Trust" (without telling anyone), in order to avoid the "costs of Probate." Frodo had no knowledge of this until his investment advisor told him what she had done, and that he would need legal authority in order to work with the "Living Trust." The bomb at Hiroshima did not do the same level of damage that was soon to occur in Frodo's life.
The Second child had evidently harbored increasingly vituperative resentments of Bilbo's financial independence. So, while on a visit with Bilbo, and hearing of the developing problems, took it upon herself to contact the financial advisor directly, and to treat him with feudal disdain. He, of course, refused to discuss any of Bilbo's affairs, except as it related to the "Living Trust" and anyone with a Financial POA in that regard. It ended with the Second child filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, both of which were short on either fact or justification. Frodo entered the scene and sought to assuage the feeling of the investment advisor and his employers, while letting the Second child know that the actions were unjustified and insulting. In order to stave off a lawsuit against the Second child, Frodo and the investment advisor, out of respect for Bilbo, ended that relationship which had served Bilbo so well, for so long.
Today, Bilbo's house is up for sale, her Social Security checks still arrive monthly, and her savings are somewhere down below $15,000. Frodo forgot to mention that the drug habits of the Second child may still be present, that she has developed all the signs of being clinically bi-polar, that she has been unemployed for almost four years, that she has removed her name from any and all assets, and that she has resided with her same-sex partner for the past decade.
So Frodo travels to Mordor to bring Bilbo into the house he shares with Samwise. It is likely that it will be the last parting between Bilbo and the Second child, and certainly the last with Frodo until the act of burial occurs for Bilbo. The tragedy being that Frodo does not care.
If you're planning a holiday party, don't invite Frodo this time around. He'll be more fun next year (and it'll give him a chance to flatten his abs for a different game).