Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 9

Money and Football

     Tim and Sharon had arranged to visit the bank and its component trust company the day before the funeral. They had long been told that there would eventually be trust funds for them, but it was anyone’s guess what the stock market might have done to them. It seemed as if now might be the time to find out.

     They were to meet in the lounge of the Parker House, and Tim was a little early, taking a seat in a darkly paneled corner. It was fun to sit there, pretending to be a young Boston Brahmin and finding fault with the people who passed. One middle-aged man in a pin-striped suit had to lean backward to balance his tummy while his consort had legs seemingly too spindly to support her ample upper body. A rather plain younger woman passed quickly in apparent irritation. Tim wondered whether she had just been dumped by a man, or, more likely, was about to complain about the difficulty in getting good domestic help these days.

     A little later, there was an attractive young woman in a navy blue suit and matching pumps who didn’t seem to have anything wrong with her. It turned out to be Sharon! After she hugged him with a certain formality, he stood her back to look at her. It wasn’t just the suit. He was used to the swimmer’s body with broad shoulders, narrow hips, and little padding, but the lithe joyous ready-to-pounce look had been replaced by the look of someone who hired and fired people. Perhaps with little compunction. When he asked what had happened to her, she replied, “I got my hair done, in the hope of convincing the trust fund johnies that I’m not going to take all the money to the casino and put it on red.”

“Okay. If there is any money. Shall we go?”

It was a short walk to the bank, amid scurrying business people, and they penetrated to the inner recesses of the great building. Having found the Trust Department, they were quickly ushered in to see a Mr. Walter Lowry.  Mr. Lowry, small and middle-aged with large thick glasses, rose jerkily and smiled tentatively. He did remind Tim of a frog, but a nice frog. He came close to leering at Sharon, but she smiled in a cool professional way.

     The condolences, brief and quiet, nevertheless seemed sincere. Mr. Lowry evidently thought that disasters were waiting right around the corner for everyone, but that they should still be duly noted when they appeared. The business at hand was, he said, quite simple,

“Your father’s will sets up an irrevocable trust with this company. The income would have gone to your mother, but will now be divided between the two of you with certain restrictions. The capital, running to something over three million, is administered by the trust company here, and will be invested more for growth than income. Money can be taken from the capital only to cover the costs of illness, education, and funerals. As regards income, the stipulation is that each of you will start receiving thirty thousand dollars annually, with annual adjustment for inflation. That’s about the size of it.”

Sharon said, “I’m surprised that there’s that much money.”

“One of the main investments, prior to our management, was in a company that was the target of a bidding war and a takeover. A bit of luck for you.”

“Okay. We were also wondering what happens with the house.”

“I’ve only seen the part of the will that pertains to us. You’ll have to see your father’s lawyer for the other provisions.”

“So there aren’t any other conditions as to what we should do with the money?”

“No. The saying is that the dead hand can only reach out so far, and shouldn’t try to go beyond it. But you may wonder why you get a stipulated income, as opposed to the net income of the trust.”

Tim said, “I guess that means that we’ll always get essentially the same income even if the trust doubles.”

“Yes. If you have children, the income would go to them after your deaths. There’d then be no such restriction, and they might get more. Perhaps much more.”

Sharon concluded, “It looks as if our father trusted his possible grandchildren more than he did us.”

“Not knowing how many grandchildren, if any, he might have, he couldn’t really have stipulated amounts.”

Apparently not content with that, Mr. Lowry continued, “He may also have subscribed to the well-known Buffett-Gates nostrum, which says that you should leave people enough to allow them to do anything, but not enough to allow them to do nothing. Thirty thousand each might be an expression of that.”

Tim laughed and replied, “He probably didn’t realize that Sharon and I could happily live on a combined sixty without earning anything else.”

“Yes, we’ve had a number of situations like this. It’s been pretty well demonstrated that, if you have enough to do anything, you can, indeed, do nothing. At least in the financial area.”

By the look on Sharon’s face, Tim guessed that she might have strong ideas as to the uses money could be put to. In fact, in the novels of Europe in the nineteen thirties that Tom liked to read, he could imagine Sharon, with a big hat and decent French, in Paris.

     The main business having been conducted, Mr. Lowry added, “Just send the college bills and bills for funeral expenses to me here. I’ll get the income going to you as of next month.”

As they thanked Mr. Lowry and left, Tim, walking behind Sharon, noticed how an athlete managed her long legs in a tight skirt and heels.

     At dinner, Howie said to Tim, “You know, we’re going to be out of here in June. What are we going to do next?”

“Damned if I know.”

“We did get that call inviting us to the NFL scouting combine thing. They apparently got the video of the game right off.”

 “I’m inclined not to go.”

“Audrey says I’ll just get my body ruined if I go near them.”

"Well, yeah. Like DeWayne. Besides, I just found out that I’m getting thirty thousand a year besides educational expenses from my father’s estate. So I have some breathing room.”

“Jimmy will be going to graduate school in mathematics, which is good for him. But I think it’s a mistake to go into anything unless you’re going to be a star.”

“You’re close to that athletically.”

“But not quite. For one thing, there are almost no white wide receivers or defensive backs in the NFL. I might be faster than some, and more athletic than some, but I wouldn’t be as quick as most. I’d only be marginal.”

“I’m hardly quick at all. I can run fast, but I don’t cut well. And I need time to set up to throw. As a passer, I’d never be able to pick up secondary receivers.”

“You couldn’t be a quarterback, but you’d be useful to any NFL team as a punter and fourth down passing threat.”

“Could be. On the academic front, it’s not entirely clear. My tutor likes the part of my senior thesis that I’ve done, and he thinks I should go to graduate school.”

“Maybe you should.”

“That’s his perspective, of course. He says I’d be a good philosopher, but he didn’t say I’d be a star.”

“Maybe I exaggerated. A man could have a satisfying career without being a conspicuous hero.”

“Yeah, but you’d definitely have to be well above average. Mediocre people get dumped on.”

“Your tutor must think that you’d do pretty well.”

“Apart from the possibility that he might be wrong, I don’t really like the idea of being a professor.”

“I get good grades, and some compliments. But French is a very over-crowded field. Neither of us is where Jimmy is in mathematics.”  

“So, Howie-man, we need something else.”

“I do have a few ideas. There’s always the personal trainer bit. More likely, I could lead kayak or cross-country ski tours.”

“The point is to make things fun. Anything from mathematics to judo. There must be demand for people who can teach without gritting their teeth and causing pain in others.”

“Well, Tim, that’s what we’re really good at. Having fun. And it’s infectious.”

“We shouldn’t try to do it in schools or colleges. Just form a club with an attractive name and put out an ad.”

“Sure. Anybody, any age or sex. Come play with us!”

“Universities were once a bit like that. You did your thing, and then passed the hat. People who liked what you were doing kept coming back, whether they paid or not.”

Howie mused, “We just need a place to do it. Jimmy will probably be here next year, and Audrey and Meredith have another year to go. I could get some sort of temporary job in town. But you and Sharon could go explore possibilities.”

“This summer, we all could.”

     Tim was a bit of an oddity among the philosophy majors because he understood a few things very well, but was largely ignorant of a good deal else. Whatever courses he took, he managed to write papers bringing in the Berkeley-Hume-A. J. Ayer philosophy which most appealed to him. The upshot was that the graduate students often consulted him whenever they had problems or questions touching on such things. They could have gone to faculty members, but Tim was right there, and it was a lot less stressful to talk with him.

     It happened that one of the graduate students, Joe Elson, had been a sportswriter with one of the Boston papers, and still did some pieces part-time. It was notable that he felt great contempt and dislike for most athletes, coaches, managers, and team owners. That feeling was concealed in his writing, but came out quite quickly in his conversation.

     It was at the end of one philosophical conversation with Joe that Tim thought to ask his advice on his possible football career. Joe asked, “Have you been contacted by any teams?”

“I just throw everything in the waste-basket.”

“That’s okay for now, but, if you are going to play, you may as well make as much money as possible. That usually means getting an agent.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Joe promised to recommend some agents, but said, “There’s also the matter of what to say to the agent. Are you going to advertise yourself just as a punter?”

“I don’t think I could be an NFL quarterback even if I wanted to be. I have a strong throwing arm and nothing else.”

“The thing is, you’ll get much more money if they think there’s even a chance of making you into a quarterback. I take it you aren’t planning to go to the tryouts.”


“Well, that may be good. They already know you have an arm, and they can see from the tape how fast you are. They’ll have measured the distances you ran and used stop-watches.”

“They’d go to that extreme?”

“You bet.”

“Well, then, they won’t know that I can’t do T-formation handoffs. I even have trouble handling the snaps in shotgun formation.”

“I’d just tell the agent that you have no experience in those areas.”

“What happens then?”

“You’ll be drafted, maybe as high as the fourth round, on potentiality alone. And, then, you’ll be offered a contract. You can instruct your agent as to how hard to bargain. I’ll give you one who might listen to you. Most won’t.”

“Won’t the teams think it odd that I won’t demonstrate my skills before signing?”

“If they send a scout around, do all the punting he wants. Can you throw your long ball accurately?”

“Pretty much.”

“Okay. But nothing like a scrimmage. Just you and your pal, Howie, and a football.”

“Should I wait until after the draft to get an agent?”

“Probably not. I can inquire around for you.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Remember one thing. Most of these people are completely ruthless bastards. Don’t sign anything without taking it to a good sports lawyer.”

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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