As soon as my ex-wife took the witness stand, I knew I was going
She took the oath and sat down, and I think her lawyer waited an
extra few moments so that everyone could look at herand, Ill
admit, she was stunning. Her hair was gypsy black and as dark as
her eyes, which now swept the faces of everyone present but never
paused as they swept past me. Confident and sophisticated, she gave
the impression there was nowhere else she would rather be on a late-September
afternoon than here in a Pennsylvania courtroom.
Her lawyer, a non-descript little man in a gray suit, stepped forward,
head slightly bowed as if in deference, and asked how she wished
to be addressed.
Laura Borago. Ive remarried.
Judge Jeffrey Randall, who had yawned three times during my testimony,
was now paying full attention.
Mrs. Borago, her lawyer began, would you please
tell us how you met your ex-husband, Robert Gardiner? As he
spoke, her lawyer did not turn toward me or even suggest that I
might be in the room. Inconsiderate, I thought, considering that
I was probably going to end up paying his $300-an-hour attorneys
We met five years ago, while we were both working at Mirabellis.
Its a small auction house that does country auctions in the
counties outside Philadelphia. It was my first job out of college.
Robert had already been there for two years.
And what was your job at Mirabellis?
When I first started, I did everything, she replied.
I didnt know the business, and I had a lot to learn.
Before each auction, I helped with the publicity, cleaned and polished
old furniture, washed mirrors, put tag numbers on the sale lotsI
did everything. During auctions, I took telephone bids and made
sure that all of the lots were brought up in the right order, at
the right time. Between auctions, I drove around eastern and central
Pennsylvania, looking at estates and different items we might sell.
Do you have any particular field of expertise? Furniture?
Tapestries, she answered. I studied them while
I was in school.
Please tell us about your background in the field,
her lawyer said.
In my sophomore year of college, during an art-history class,
I was intrigued that, during European wars, when a family or country
had to pay a ransom, the price was often a tapestry. I did extensive
research on tapestries; then I spent a summer in Bruges, Ghent,
and Ypres, where the greatest tapestries were made.
Were you Mirabellis expert on tapestries?
Yes. We had at least half a dozen at every auction. Nothing
too expensive, though. The good ones were sold in Philadelphia,
New York, or Boston, where they got higher bids.
And, I understand that you eventually became one of Mirabellis
Anthony Mirabelli, the owner, was the regular auctioneer,
but we sold between 300 and 400 lots at an auction. He liked to
take a break in the middle, so thats when he scheduled the
tapestries, and I sold them. We got good prices when I ran the sales,
so eventually I handled some of the furniture lots, too.
The truth is that my ex-wifes the best auctioneer Ive
ever seen. Absolutely calm and sure of herself, she always takes
the extra half-second to look each bidder in the eye. And, when
the bidders dwindle to just two or three, she knows how to coax
higher bids in a way that no male auctioneer could get away with,
using a look of hope, or expectation, or sometimes just a raised
eyebrow. After all, its just a few dollars more, and no man
wants to disappoint a beautiful woman.
(End of excerpt)