July 12, 2016: The Day the Android Came to Dinner (Part 2)

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Miraculously, all of my sisters managed to sit down together at one table for the dinner with Winston and Charlotte. I can't remember the last time we pulled that off. Usually Jane is at rehearsal, the twins are at a party somewhere, and Mary is recovering from the disappointments of the real world by watching Korean dramas in her room.

(Remember this well, Diary: one should never interrupt Mary when she is watching her Korean dramas. I made that mistake once, and I was lucky to escape with my skin.)

As we passed the food around, Winston looked up at the light fixture over the table. "That is an unusual chandelier."

Mom gushed, "It is unique, isn't it? I saw it at Home Depot and fell in love with it. It makes the room feel so airy and elegant, don't you think?"

Winston said, "Catherine de Bourgh has seven chandeliers in her home, including two in her kitchen and one in each of her three bathrooms. All seven are custom-ordered hand-cut crystal chandeliers. As Catherine said to me, 'Winston, if you buy a chandelier, you must custom order one made of hand-cut crystal. A real chandelier is a work of art. Those so-called chandeliers in big box stores are merely lamps.'"

Mom puffed up, and Dad opened his mouth to make another crack about Catherine's excellent advice.

I hurried to ask, "So, Winston, what do you like to do in your free time? Do you hike? Watch movies? Play video games?"

Winston pursed his lips. "I do not prioritize diversions such as sports and games over more constructive pursuits. As Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities."

With that answer, my hopes for engaging Winston Collins in a pleasant and productive dinner conversation flew right out the window. Diary, this man is not merely an android with a thesaurus in his brain. He's an android with a thesaurus in his brain, a bizarre fixation on the mayor pro tempore, and a penchant for reading bestselling self-help books.

Dealing with such a man will require a superhuman level of patience. And though E. Bennet possesses many extraordinary and attractive qualities, she is not known for her patience.

I said with forced cheer, "Amazing, you can quote that by heart! So...you like to read nonfiction?"

Winston nodded. "As Napoleon Hill wrote in The Law of Success, the object of your definite chief aim should become your 'hobby.' My chief aim is to improve myself, as a means of improving the world. Therefore, I strive to cultivate excellence through nightly instructive readings. I take no days off. As Stephen Covey wrote, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Through a mouthful of chicken, Mary said, "As Robert Greene wrote in The 48 Laws of Power, too much respect for other people's wisdom will make you depreciate your own. Excellent people think for themselves once in a while, too."

I kicked Mary's shin under the table. "Ha ha, what Mary means is, you're at the pinnacle of excellence already! You're a successful businessman in a difficult industry. You must be bursting with wisdom you could share with others. I bet you could write your own self-help book at this point, and it would be even better than Stephen Covey's!"

Dad pushed the butter dish towards me. He muttered, "Put some butter on your roll, Liz."

I whispered back, "I already did."

"I'm not sure you laid it on thick enough."

I ignored Dad and said to Winston, "You're also active in local politics, aren't you? Have you decided to run for City Council?"

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