Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Trouble in Paradise

December 30, 2004. 8:45am.

Heidi is wearing her new telephone headset. Now, I can't tell if she is talking to me, or the person on the phone.

"THANK you!" she says, smiling. "I hope you have a great new year, too! I'll be sure and give Dom that message for you." And then, without missing a beat: "So, I heard YOU had an interesting night recently!"

What a weird thing to ask a caller about, I think. I wonder who she is talking to. I hope she's not pissing off one of our agents or clients.

"Steve?" she says.


"I heard you had an interesting night."

"Oh! You were talking to me?"

"Yes! Of course I was! So you two are REALLY hot and heavy, aren't you?" She says, with a cute little shrug and wide eyes.

"We get along great. I like Steph very much," I say, diplomatically.

"That hot tub thing? Wow! I can't even get my dates to take me to dessert!"

"How do you know about the hot tub thing?" I say, in a Clint Eastwood voice.

"Oh, Meg told me," she says, conversationally. "Good morning, this is Heidi speaking, how may I help you?"

I call Stephanie. Voice mail. "Steph. Call me. Bye." Click.

I know good friends share things with each other, but this is really starting to piss me off. Steph tells Meg. Everything. And then Meg tells Heidi. Everything. And then, just to make sure she hasn't missed anything, Heidi approaches me, at work, and verifies every minute detail.

She needn't worry. These girls never miss anything. On one occasion, Steph and I went to the drycleaners to pick up some clothes, and the cleaners had ruined one of my Jerry Garcia ties. While trying to remove a stain, they actually made a small hole in the fabric. The next morning, Heidi approached me and said, "My God! I can't believe they did that to your tie! And it wouldn't have been so bad, but the hole is right in the front," she said, forming a little square with her fingers and holding it in front of her chest. "It's RIGHT where everybody can see it!"

Yeah, everybody can see it. Including people who haven't seen it yet!

No detail is too small. No morsel of information is too insignificant to mention.

Remember the "telephone" game at school, in which a message is passed verbally from one student to the next, and by the time the message reaches the end of the room, it bears no resemblance to the original, because people embellish and forget things? Steph and her friends are immune to that. We're talking digital-quality data integrity here, folks. Not one byte of information is lost. We should use the three of them to backup our servers.


You might think that, now that classes are over, Steph has a lot of free time on her hands, and that is true to an extent. But she has been so busy for so long that she has put a million things off that she now must get to by mid-January, when classes start again.

My phone rings. It's Steph. "Hey."

"I can't really talk," she says.

"I need to talk to you later."

"Is everything ok?" she says. "You sound upset."

"No, it's not ok," I say.

"Do you need to talk now?"

"No. You're coming over later, right?"


6:45. Steph walks through the door and hangs up her jacket. "Hi," I say, weakly.

She sits next to me on the couch. I put my laptop down on the coffee table.

"What's wrong?" she says.

"Heidi is CONSTANTLY talking to me about us. She knows every detail."

"So tell her you don't want to talk about that stuff at work."

"No, Steph, YOU shouldn't be talking to Meg about it. Then Meg won't talk to Heidi, and Heidi won't know."

"Steve, Meg is my best friend. We talk."

"I don't WANT you talking about all that stuff."

"It's my business too, Steve, and she's my friend."

"It's affecting ME!" I say, loudly.

"I'm sorry you're so embarrassed," she says, sarcastically.

"I'm NOT embarrassed! Don't be sarcastic!"

"Oh, yeah, 'cause you're never sarcastic, Steve!"

Wow, good one! And nice delivery, too.

"I just don't want people knowing our business, that's all."

"I'll tell Meg to stop talking to Heidi about it."

"And it'll go in one ear and out the other, and nothing will happen," I say.

She stares at me, open-mouthed. "THANK you......for trusting me, Steve." She is getting angry. She gets up off the couch and paces to the front of the room, near the door to the garage.

"Meg is a loudmouth. She's not gonna keep quiet."

"She's a LOUDMOUTH? She's my friend, Steve. Is that what you think about my friend?"


"Well, I'm not crazy about your friends, either."


"Yeah! I have no idea why you hang around Dom so much. He treats Meg like total shit, and you just follow him around like a little puppy dog. He's, like, your HERO."


"You KNOW he's a total scumbag, Steve. Why do you hang around him so much? Don't you disapprove of what he does? You know he's out there screwing every bimbo in the world."

No, not EVERY bimbo. Only the blonde ones!

"I don't give a SHIT what he does. We go out, drink a couple of beers, and go our separate ways. He's not my best friend."

"Well, it's just strange to me. I don't see what the fascination is. I don't see why you're around him so much."

"Say it, Steph. You don't trust me. SAY IT! Why else would you give a shit about who I'm hanging around with? You're worried I'm out there screwing around just like him! Aren't you?"

She stares at me, her jaw clenched, her eyebrows furrowed. Yeah, she's WAY pissed off, now.

"You know what, Steve? Fuck you!"

"No, fuck you!"

She snatches her jacket off the coat rack. "Find another date for new year's," she says. "I'm going to my mother's house. You can go fuck one of your teenage whores, for all I care."

Uh, thanks. But could I get that in writing?

She storms out the door and speeds off.