As has been mentioned here before, my wife Alpha is the queen of remarkable, spontaneous thinking-out-of-the-box solutions.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, a little exposition concerning the obtainability of working visas in Austria.

They are hard to come by, for two basic reasons. The economy is not as great as it once was, and there is a nationalistic, right-wing populistic party in the government coalition now. For these and similar reasons, the number of working visas issued each year have been significantly reduced. Austria is a member of the EU, as well, meaning that EU citizens don’t need a visa to work here, making it even harder for non-EU citizens to compete with them. In addition, most working visas are reserved for specialized workers such as computer technicians from India, managers from North America, etc.

When Pat found his job at the United Nations, he did not face a visa problem, because UN workers have quasi-diplomatic status here. Spacecheese, who was offered a job as a bartender in an Irish pub, on the other hand, faced significant hurdles, as you can imagine. He would be competing with Irish workers, of whom there is no shortage and who are EU members and have no visa problems.

[Eh, we interrupt this post with an emergency announcement. Gamma has disappeared. Must go look for her - she was last seen after asking where her bathing suit was...

15 minutes later: after driving around the neighborhood looking into every single body of water, Alpha found her under the bed. Gamma's idea of an April Fool's joke.]

Where was I. Spacecheese and visas. But they liked him at the pub. He would have the job if he could only organize a visa.

Now, this is where Alpha astounded me, not for the first time, but maybe this was her biggest idea yet. Traditionally, the only way around the working visa thing for non-EU citizens has been to marry an Austrian citizen. This is what I did, for example. I didn’t marry Alpha for the visa, don’t misunderstand me, but as the spouse of a citizen I automatically get a work permit as well as a residency visa.

It was a beautiful spring day. We carried the picnic table out onto the terrace from the cellar where it had spent the winter. Alpha got a bottle of wine and some glasses. We sat there with Gordon and Pat and watched the kids play. The first butterflies of spring were flitting about.

Alpha: “Who, besides the spouses of citizens, automatically get working permits?”
Gordon: “Heh.”
Miguel: “Who?”
Alpha: “The children of citizens.”
Miguel: “Well, they’re citizens too, right?”
Alpha: “The adoptive children, I mean.”
Miguel: “!?!?” [refills wine glass]

When we lived in Japan, I marveled at the tradition of adult adoption there. It was, historically, a guild-type thing, where a master craftsman or artist without an heir could adopt his apprentice to carry on the family business, and it survives to this day.

As I have learned, not only in Japan. There is are similar laws in Austria, dating from the medieval era, but still active, that make it perfectly possible for Alpha and me to adopt, say, a grown man from Iowa.

Which would solve Space’s visa problem.

Here I have to interject something odd. My first girlfriend in the United States – the first girl I kissed – was a cheerleader from Rock Island, where Gordon lives. I even visited her there, on my first road trip, 25 years ago. Meaning I was in Rock Island when Spacecheese was conceived.

For the fact of this odd coincidence, which I swear is true, I have always had this joke with myself about him being my long-lost son. It is only a joke, because for certain reasons, for example the fact that I never actually ended up mating with that girl, it is not actually possible. But the timing of the whole thing has always intrigued me.

For this reason, it seems, oddly, simultaneously even more bizarre and oddly appropriate that we are now legally adopting Spacecheese as our son. He and Pat will be staying with us – we’ll move some furniture into Gamma’s playroom downstairs on the ground floor – until they find a place in Vienna, which shouldn’t take too long.

I am still digesting this whole thing. I mean, if someone had told me two weeks ago that Spacecheese and Pat would be visiting us on this spur-of-the-moment I would not have believed them. If they would have added that both of them would find jobs here, and Gordon a girlfriend, and that my wife and I would end up adopting one of them – well, what would you have thought?

26 responses to “Spontaneity

  1. (sniff) I can’t wait for the movie… this is such a happy ending :)

  2. You’re wonderfully evil :)

  3. michele

    First, I would have thought you are all nuts. Then I would look at the calendar.


  5. just be glad you don’t have to change his diapers.

  6. Miguel

    But I was in Belgium and Holland in July 1976. How old are you, Bauke?

  7. pat

    Dammit! Why can’t somebody adopt ME???

    I’m stuck translating documents at the UN till the end of eternity?

    Gordon gets the girl?

    Which circle of hell IS this, anyway?

  8. Miguel

    You’re lucky I didn’t reach you before you posted about meeting Noel – i was going to tell you to make him Cambodian, and say you had to take on Cambodian citizenship in order to get the support of the Cambodian permanent mission to the UN for your job.

  9. what a cunning plan!
    you are too brilliant, Mig.

  10. Miguel

    Oh, I was just a cog. Not my idea.

  11. well, it wasn’t exactly mig’s idea, now was it?

  12. kd

    you know, this would be really cool if it were true. and if it were, i’m sure you’d have announced it on a day other than april first. [sigh]

  13. pat

    Oh crap — does this mean I don’t get any frequent flier miles?

    And actually, mig WAS just a cog.

    But so was I.

    And so was Space…

  14. sigh. all that effort. but I don’t think we’re supposed to let on about you-know-who, Pat.

  15. kd

    dammit, miguel, i should have known that a weasel doesn’t change his spots or whatever a weasel has.

    some people are innocent at heart. we believe stuff. we believe stuff that sounds nice because we … like believing nice stuff! and people like you go and ruin it and make us feel like fools when everyone else knew all along.

    yeah. i’m stupid. i bought it, hook line and sinker. YOU PEOPLE SUCK. happy fucking april fools day.

  16. Miguel

    It wasn’t that much effort. I’m the one who had to describe the entire country to you. I’m the one who took the pictures you didn’t bother to use.

    And it still wasn’t that much work.

  17. Good one, mig. You presented it so placidly, I almost bought it.

  18. melly

    Now I don’t know what is true and what is false and so I am not speaking to any of you ever again.

    Except for Patrick.

    And Miguel.

    And I suppose I’ll speak to Gordon when I need Michael Jackson lyrics typed out for me.

  19. my favorite was when Pat was all indignant about having a free warm non-hostel place to sleep, complete with Gamma’s pretty little bike in the closet that he was too lazy to close but irked enough to blog about.

    that was rich.
    almost as good as Pat having to sit at the airport so the girls could come along for the jaunt. it was all very believable. space was off my list of prospective houseguests and everything. damn, that’s dedication.

    but seriously. you all need to get out more.
    and you still need to stock up on lavender lotion, just for even pretending to let all that extra chaos into your household. ;-*

  20. mg

    You are an awful, awful person.

  21. BtC

    I believed what I read here. How can I believe anything here again?

  22. Oh, the humanity… never has so much work gone into pissing off so many. Was that funny?

    I must admit, even though I was highly intrigued, something about the inanity of it all had me suspicious- hoping it wasn’t a juvenile prank. I suppose you guys dress up and Trick Or Treat on Halloween? Sheesh.

  23. To answer the question Miguel, Daddy-O…

    I was two when you went to Amsterdam to “check out the local plantlife”

  24. Miguel

    Ah, thanks, Bauke. That’s a great relief, heh.

  25. Debra

    So…is this true or not? I have been living (off and on) in Austria for over two years and have not been able to obtain a work visa. (I am American). Friends have suggested adoption, but I always took it as a joke.