Friday, October 29, 2004

Gag me with a spoon greeting card

Fuck her. I don't want to see her face again.

Stephanie had been perfect the whole time we had been together, just perfect. Not talking about "us" or asking "where we stand". I actually LIKED that she had a boyfriend, because it meant that she would take it slow while we got to know each other.

I got the impression that she was conflicted, that she really loved that FBI dork, and that she was sorting through her feelings and needed time. And her being at arm's length gave me breathing room enough to start caring about her. And I did!

Now, the words "clingy" and "needy" come to mind. That card sounded like it was written by a lovesick 16-year-old. My brother Chris had tons of girlfriends in high school, and sometimes I would sneak into his desk and read his love letters from them, and they sounded exactly like Stephanie's card. And she's 23!

I don't like the idea that she is already talking about settling down with me (commitment-phobe, indeed!). What the fuck is she DOING?


Friday, October 22.

I'll just dodge her calls until she gets tired of chasing me. I hope she doesn't come to my office and make a scene. She also knows where I live, but I can just ignore her if she shows up there.

Today is the worst fucking day in the history of my professional life. We have been converting to a new payroll tax system, and due to setup errors, about $80,000 in tax payments have been submitted late. I am looking at $4,000 - $5,000 in penalties.

Employees have been dashing into my office all day long, armed with penalty notices from the IRS and other agencies. Fran, our CFO, has been up my ass for hours, screaming at me over the phone.

6:37 pm. Fran calls me a "fucking idiot".

It takes a lot to piss me off. The best way to do it is to wear me down. If you really want to make me blow up, you have to eat at me, just drip, drip, drip on my head like Chinese water torture. I don't lose it easily, but when I do, you better head for the hills.

I feel myself snapping, but something interesting happens.

I look over at Mona Lisa. She's smiling, just like she always does. She's been holding that same pose for hundreds of years, through wars, droughts, famines, terrorist attacks.

She makes me think: Besides death, what is there, really, that can't be fixed? Is any tragedy really as bad as we think it is? There really is not much in this world worth getting upset about, is there?

Surprisingly, I take a deep breath and I am able to calm down. Still can't let this dickface off the hook, though.

"Fran, that is the first and last time you are ever going to disprespect me like that. You understand?"

"No, Steve, I don't."

"That's too bad. Because the next time you fuck with me, you're gonna regret it."

"Is that a threat-"


I walk outside. I have hours of work still to do. Fuck it.

I get in my car and start driving. I can't relax. My heart is pounding, I'm breathing heavy, and I keep fidgeting in my seat. So much for the Mona Lisa effect!

Finally, I pull over at a rest stop. I really need to talk to someone who can calm me down. I stare at my phone for a long moment. Then I call Stephanie.


"Hey," I say.


"How are you?"

"OK, Steve, how are you?" she sounds afraid.

"I got your card."

"I... figured. I want to apologize, Steve."

"For what?"

"That was dumb. I know I came on too strong. I know I aggravated you."

"You do?"

"It's just that, I wasn't ready to sleep with you yet, and I didn't want you to think that I wasn't interested!"

"I knew you were."

"And, far be it for me to make excuses, but I had just watched 'An Officer and a Gentleman', so I was in an extremely cheesy romantic mood."

"Well, then I guess it was a good thing you didn't watch 'A Clockwork Orange'," I say.

"He he he!!"

"I hear ya," I say, finally. "Hey, look. I think we were off to a really good start."

"Absolutely. I'm sorry for messing that up."

"You know, something tells me you are not as cheesy as you look on paper."

"You mean on greeting cards?"

"Yeah. I guess I shoulda said 'recycled paper'." She laughs.

"I mean, you said some really sweet things in there. And to be honest..."


"I was actually really flattered. And I kinda feel the same way. In a way."

"Well, then thank you. In a way."


I get back on the road. I am feeling better.



"I'm just gonna tell you: I promise that I am cool with the way things are. I mean, I'm not totally ready to get into something serious with you right now."

"OK," I say.

"OK. Hey."


"I'm glad we talked," she says.

"Me too."

"OK, Steve, well I probably ought to get studying."

"OK. Do you wanna get a drink later?"

"I'll need a break around 10."

"I'll pick you up."

Ten o'clock is bootie call time, my friends. Methinks this is back on....