Things My Father Taught Me: Rony Vardi

I walked into Catbird and was thrilled by Rony Vardi’s abilities as a buyer. Smart buyers, those who can calculate in the midst of a hectic market what will look right, mixed with all the other stuff going on in their space, are some of the most enjoyable people I have met. Rony Vardi is a smart shopkeeper. I’m sure it pays to have a mathematician as a father.


For years – decades really – I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. It was a cause of great anxiety for me personally and a huge source of strife between me and my dad. My father was a mathematician. As a child when I asked him what he did for a living, he would say, “I think of problems and then try to solve them. I have the best job in the world.”

Every so often, my sister and I would go with him to work at Bell Labs where we would be baffled by its geniuses walking the halls backwards while reading, mastering the art of juggling or wearing gigantic down coats and mittens in August. No one ever seemed to be doing anything but hanging out having a grand old time.  My dad “worked” when and where he wanted (mostly at home until all hours of the night) and wore whatever he wanted. He never owned a suit.

We were so steeped in his rare lifestyle that without my knowing, he set a standard that made the years I was adrift more painful, but the satisfaction of finally discovering my calling so much more joyous in that, not only had I fulfilled my own desires, but I knew that I had fulfilled my dad’s fondest wishes for my life.

My father died, suddenly, 6 years ago. Above all other things, I wish he could have seen the results of that lesson he taught me simply by filling his life with work he loved.
So, thanks for the bewildering trips to Bell Labs, Dad – they paid off. And those cafeteria BLTs were the best.