Monday, February 28, 2005

"You could learn a lot from a dummy"

Monday, February 15, 2005
Steve's work, 9th floor conference room

Jerry approaches me, looking sad.

"I need to speak to you after the meeting."

"All right."

Steph has not mentioned Elena at all. I have no idea how Elena and Jerry are doing, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if she's dumped him. The guy was up her ass like a cheap pair of panties, and he sure as HELL wasn't listening to me when I told him to cool it.

I've spoken to Jerry a couple of times since we had lunch on the 7th, and he's only mentioned Elena very obliquely. "What would you buy for a girl for Valentine's Day, if you just started seeing her very recently?" He asked a few days ago.

I'm tempted not to answer at all. This is the guy who was all gung ho about following his instincts, remember. "I'd buy her a little stuffed animal and a cute card, and I WOULDN'T write the word 'love' at the bottom," I say.

11:30. The meeting ends.

"I screwed up," Jerry says.

"How so?"

"I bought her a necklace with a little....diamond on it, and-"

"You bought her a DIAMOND?!"

"Just a little one! On a necklace!"

I'm not training Jerry anymore. I have to remember that he's not my problem at this point.

"So what happened?"

"She opened it, and she liked it! And we had a nice night; we went out for a few drinks and had dinner. And then we went back to her place and we were talking, and I... just said something stupid. And now she's pissed at me, so..."

"What did you say?"

"Something stupid."

"Go ahead, tell me."

"You're gonna tell me I'm an idiot."

I look at him. "Tell me."

"I said, 'I could see myself marrying you someday'. But I said 'someday'!"

"Ugh," I say, as if punched in the stomach. "What did she say?"

"She just got this really pissed off look on her face and said, 'Jerry, you gotta back off'."

"NOW do you see why I was warning you?"

"I know, I know. I just have such rotten luck. I have terrible luck! Why can't luck be on my side, just once?"

We start to walk down the hall.

"How did you leave off with her?"

"She said she had a lot of studying to do, so I left. I haven't talked to her today yet. I'm sure she's probably breaking up with me now."

"It's a possibility."

"It was just that one stupid sentence. One WORD! Everything would have been fine if I didn't make that stupid comment! Now she's gonna break up with me! I always do this! I'm such an IDIOT!" he smacks the wall with an open palm.

"Easy, killer. You're not an idiot."

"I wish I could take back that one stupid word. I wish I could just take it back. Maybe if I call her and apologize-"

"Listen. I already told you what the problem was. Your approach and your attitude were all wrong. THAT'S why she's pushing you away. It's not because of bad luck, or because of a certain word or sentence. It's the whole way you're going about it!"

"But that was what I felt in my heart!"

"You were just starting a relationship! What you were feeling in your heart was .... googly-eyed mushiness!"

He shakes his head. "I'm gonna die alone."

"Cut it out."

"Will you have Stephanie call her and ask if she's breaking up with me?"

"No. This isn't high school. Next thing we'll be passing her a note: 'Are you breaking up with Jerry? Please circle yes or no'."

He laughs.

"I think if you kept it more casual, you could've done something with her for a while, but you might just wanna write her off at this point."

"So you're saying that, if I had handled it like you, I could have had some casual sex for a few weeks or a month?"


"I don't want that."

"You don't wanna get LAID? Come on, Jerry."

"I don't want casual sex! I want a girlfriend!"

"Fair enough."

"So what's the point of doing it your way? If the girl doesn't want someone serious, I don't want her anyway."

I look at him. In a way, he's right. I still believe he went too fast at the beginning, but at some point he's got to show his true colors. And there ARE girls out there who respond to that sort of thing. So maybe THOSE are the girls he should be looking for.

The two of them clearly want different things. There would only be one reason for carrying on, for delaying the inevitable: Sex. Jerry could have gotten laid - a lot - while the relationship slowly dried up, withered away and died. That's how I would have handled it.

But that's just the thing: Jerry is not me. And MY way of handling it is not necessarily the best way for Jerry to. It's not necessarily the RIGHT way. It's just my way.

"You have a point."

We reach my office. He shakes my hand. "I know I disappointed you. I'm sorry I let you down."

"You didn't let me down. Just take it slow at the beginning with the next one, ok?"

"OK, Steve."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Mending busting fences

Thursday, February 17, 9:47pm

My phone rings.


"Hey." Her voice is barely audible.

"Hey, Lila."

"How are you."

"OK, how are you?"


"You sound like you're about to cry."

"DON'T! You're gonna MAKE me cry!"

"Why? What's wrong?"

"I'm ruining everything. I'm sure you think I'm a fuckin' psycho with the way I've been acting."

"No I don't."

"Steve. I call you screaming every freakin' night. You think I'm a psycho."

"I think you're hurt."

"Are YOU?"

"What kind of question is that? Of COURSE I'm hurt that it didn't work out!"

"No you're not."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because YOU broke up with ME. And then you were with someone right away."

"That's how guys deal with breakups."

"That really hurt me. That you were with someone else right after."

"I know."

"I don't like thinking of you with another ..... chick."


"I get jealous. I have this - nightmare, but it's like a daydream. It's like a nightmare when I'm awake."

"Your mind wanders?"

"Yeah. I keep thinking that I'm gonna find out that you're screwing one of my girlfriends or something. Or my mother."

"Your MOTHER?"



"So you mean you would never have sex with one of my friends?"


"What if I had sex with one of YOUR friends?"

"That would really, really hurt me."


"Because I would get jealous. It would be hard to see you with someone so close to me."


"Would you ever do that to me?"

"I just feel like you don't care. I feel like you're NOT jealous, like you DON'T care what I do."

"I DO care, Lila. I want to be close to you - I tell you that all the time."

"I know."

Long pause. "Hey," I say, finally.


"It's nice talking to you."

"You too."

"Can I call you this weekend?"

"You mean STACY isn't gonna get pissed if you call me?"

"You mean Stephanie?"


"She knows I want to be your friend."

"I'll call you next week. It's just hard talking to you sometimes."

I feel good that Lila and I actually had a civil conversation.


Monday, February 21, 8:47AM
Steve's office

"Guess who I ran into last night?" Dom asks.



"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah! I think she was.... hitting on me."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tea Tim for two

Friday, February 18, 10:45am
Steve's office

Dom is standing in my doorway.

"Does Steph have study group tonight?"

"Of course!"

"Come out with me and Tim tonight. She keeps bugging me to introduce you."

"Where are you going?"


"That's way downtown. Are you driving?"

"We are, yeah."

"I think I'll take the train. What time should I be there?"

"You know, 9:00, 9:30, whatever."


Suede (a downtown bar)

I'm dressed in sharply-creased black pants and a silk button-down shirt, with a long black overcoat.

The bar is big and roomy, with shiny tiled floors and 20-foot ceilings with spotlights pointing everywhere. I can hear the dim thud of dance music from a floor above us.

Dom is standing at the bar with his back to me; I walk towards him. I am almost there when a short, beautiful blonde steps in front of me.


I nod.

"STEEEEEEEEEVE!" she shreiks, and proceeds to hug me. It's a full-body hug: Thighs against thighs, stomach against stomach, shoulders against shoulders. Her tits press against my chest, thick and plump and BIG. I am instantly hard.

I am overwhelmed by the heavy, sexy scent of perfume; Tommy Girl, I think. I put my hands around her waist; her skin is soft and supple, her back taut and toned. I like the idea that my arms go almost all the way around her body, as if I could pick her up and carry her away.

"It's so great to finally MEET you!" She pulls back, looking up at me. I take a good look at her, and I'm suddenly short of breath.

The words most beautiful girl I have ever seen involuntarily cross my mind, like a slogan that flashes on the TV screen as I channel surf. She is truly gorgeous: Her hair is long and thick, and well past her shoulders; her eyes are big and round and the color of... denim, beset by impossibly long lashes. Her smile is wide and happy, exposing two rows of flawless teeth.

This girl is not human. She's too perfect. She's a cartoon, a picture drawn by a horny 15-year-old boy in the back row of anatomy class. Her hair looks like a shampoo ad; her skin like a Noxema ad; her teeth like a toothpaste ad.

"Nice to... meet you," I manage, staring at her.

"Sit down!" She guides me by the wrist to a bar stool, then spreads my legs apart and bumps her curvy hips between them and against the seat. She's wearing tight black pants and a midriff-exposing shirt which dangles droolingly, far in front of her abdomen.

Dom comes back with the drinks. He smiles, and without a word he places a vodka and tonic in front of me.

"I would introduce you, but it looks like you two already know each other."

"Why didn't you tell me he was so CUTE?" Tim says.

"Ah boy, here we go," Dom says, rolling his eyes. "I told you how he is with the ladies."

She picks up the toothpick from her martini and gently grabs the olive with her teeth. As she slides the toothpick back out, it slips from her hand and lands right in her cleavage.

All eyes go to her breasts. Without skipping a beat, she reaches down and grabs the toothpick and puts it back into her glass. "It's ok, they're real. They won't deflate," she says. Dom and I burst out laughing.

"You told me how he WAS with the girls," Tim says, staring at me. "Now he's got a ball and chain!"

"I have to tell you, I am really happy to have a ball and chain like her."

"I think that is SO hot," she says, rolling her eyes.

"What is?"

"That you're so capable of commitment."

"Why? You don't want a boyfriend," Dom says.

"That doesn't mean I can't admire Steve!" She leans in closer, tilting her chin up at me. For a crazy moment, I think she's going to kiss me.

"I think Dom is jealous of you," she whispers. A puff of her breath hits my face, clean and hot.

"Tim, come on! Don't be silly!"

"He sees how happy you are, and I think he wants that for himself. You're actually a good influence on him!"

"I doubt it."

"He talks about you a lot. I feel like I know you."


"MM-hmmm," she nods.

I look over at Dom. He's talking to another blonde.

Dom is no slouch. I can't imagine him getting jealous over Tim talking to me, or over anything. He's way too cool for that. The most he'll do is what he's doing now: Show us, without words, that he can have a good time without us. I have to admit, Dom is probably the most suave person I know.

Tim appears to have forgotten Dom is here. She's staring attentively up at me as if we were on our first date. I'm beginning to think she's hitting on me.

Some girls play games. I know that. Sometimes they like to pit one friend against another to spark jealousy. But I get the impression that Tim is really serious, that I could nail her if I wanted to. I never would, of course, but she seems very willing...

We talk for an hour. Tim wants to know all about Lila, about my weight loss, and about Mary Ann, the girl who took my virginity. She presses me for every last detail: What position (her on top), was I able to hold out very long (about five minutes), did I ever sleep with her again (yes).

Her face goes serious as her eyes look down at the floor. "Interesting," she says, biting the inside of her bottom lip. Is she getting turned on?

Dom goes back to the bar. I haven't talked to him all night.

"So when do I get to meet Stephanie?"

"Whenever you want!"

"Let's have a double date!"

"If we do, just don't hug me like you did before."

She grins hugely, her eyes tipsy and glazed over. "You got a hard-on, didn't you? When I hugged you?"

Shit, that's embarrassing. But I recover quickly. "You see what you do to me?"

"Just WAIT until you see what I do to you," she coos. I am hard again. Yeah, she definitely wants to fuck me.

Dom comes back with the drinks. "Finally!" Tim says. "You took so long, Steve and I almost ran out to the car for a quickie!"

Dom and I laugh. "You two looked like you were having one on the bar stool already!" he says.

"I'm sorry babe, he's just too hot," Tim says, patting the inside of my thigh without looking, maybe two inches from paydirt. "We wanna have a double date!"

"Sure you can keep your hands off him?"

"Yeah, but not my feet," Tim says, winking.

Around 1:00, we go upstairs to listen to some music. Tim continues talking to me, though she has to shout in my ear to do it.

2:00. A slow song comes on--the DJ's subtle way of telling us to get the hell out.

"Dance with me," Tim says.

"Tim, you're here with Dom--"

"It's fine," she says, staring at me with her big blue eyes.

No way I can say no to that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


It's mid-December, and Steph and I are at a gift shop looking for Christmas presents. There are some pink roses near the front counter.

"Those are so pretty!" she says. I don't respond, but I keep it in the back of my mind for later.

Trust me: Remember shit like that, and act on it from time to time, and she will be eating out of your hand (or wherever else you want her to).

Sunday, February 13, 8:00pm
Steve's house

"Are you staying here tonight?"

"No, tomorrow's Monday."

"Stay over," I smile.

"What have you got up your sleeve?" she says, grinning.


"Yeah, right."


Monday, February 14, Valentine's Day
Steve's kitchen

There is a card and a dozen pink roses on the table.

"Ooooooooh!" she sighs. "You are too sweet! They're BEAUTIFUL!"

"You're welcome! Open the box."

It's a fairly large cardboard box, the kind that copy paper comes in. She opens it.

It's packed with little things: Chocolate-covered cherries, whipped cream, Swedish Fish, and candy hearts, as well as a pair of handcuffs, a blindfold, flavored body oil, and a little vibrator.

"You are baaaaad," she says, smiling. "I got you something, too!" she hands me a card.

I open it. It's a really sappy one, but cute. It's signed, "I love you very much Steve! Please be my Valentine!!" There's also a coupon entitling me to a one-hour massage.

"Is the happy ending extra?"

She laughs. "Nope. Sorry I had to be cheesy with the gift, but you know, money..."

"It's fine! But I may use it in five-minute increments."

Steph heads off to school. And I get busy.

Steve's office

"This is Steve."

"MORE pink roses, Steve?"

"Where are you?"

"I'm at work." Steph works at the alumni office at school, about 15 hours a week. "You sent me MORE flowers?"


I drove to Steph's school and left them with the receptionist early in the morning, before Steph got to work.

"You are too sweet, honey."

3:00. My phone rings.



"What are you doing??!"

"What do you mean, Steph?"

"You know what I mean! You had flowers sent to my CLASS?"

"Oh, that."

'How did you DO that?"

"I grabbed some kid at the cafeteria and paid him $20 bucks to knock on your classroom door with the flowers."

"You came to my SCHOOL?"


"Oh my God!"

"What, are you embarrassed?"

"No, everyone thought it was cute. Where am I going to put all these flowers?"

"Your problem," I laugh.

5:30. My cell phone rings.

"OK, now you're just crazy."

"What do you mean," I ask, innocently.

"I came home and found another dozen roses on my kitchen table! You got me FOUR dozen pink roses?"

"Hmm, I'm not sure. I thought it was five or six."

"How did you get them in here?"

"I have a key! I dropped them off!"

"You came all this way? Have you gotten ANY work done today at all?"

"Well, if delivering roses counts as work, then yes."

"You are crazy."

"Come over."


"Just for a half hour."

"Why? I'm coming over tonight!"

"I need to ask you something."

Steve's house

"Hey flower boy!"


"Why did you want me to come over?"

"When are classes over for the semester?"

"End of April."

"Let's go to Hawaii in May."

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Happy anal day to you, happy anal day to you...."

Saturday, February 5, 2005, 9:00pm
Steve's house

Stephanie and I have developed a kind of language all our own when it comes to sex. Neither of us ever says, "I want to fuck"; it's much more subtle.

No, with us it's a little smile, or a wink, or a sly comment. "You're in BIG trouble when we get home, mister," she'll say to me from across the booth at Friday's or in line at the laundromat, and that is all I need to set me off. After that, without another word, I am ready to explode by the time I pull into the driveway.

I like waking her up in the middle of the night. "Baby, get up! Steph!" I'll say, gently shaking her shoulder.

"Mmmm?" she'll say, rubbing her eyes.

"Kiss me."

"You're crazy," she'll say, but she will. Next thing you know, we are naked and fucking each other's brains out at 3:37 in the morning.

If there is something she wants me to do, or something I want her to do, we usually drop a hint beforehand. One day, we're flipping channels and we see a rodeo on ESPN. "Have you ever heard of reverse cowgirl?" I ask. "Of course," she says. That night, guess what we did?

Lately she's been dropping hints about anal. "Why do guys like that so much?" she'll ask, then study my face carefully as I answer.

I'm careful not to speak in too many generalities with a question like this. I want to make it seem like it's the idea of doing it to HER that drives me crazy, not the idea of doing it to any old girl who comes along. If I play my cards right, I can flatter my way right up her ass.

"I don't know about other guys, but your ass is so perfect, so soft and round. The idea of bumping up against it...mmmm," I say.

"But you bump up against it when we do it doggie. What's the difference?"

"The angle is different. And it....feels different. It's tighter."

"So you can fantasize I'm a virgin?"

"It's more the idea that you have your back to me, that you're trusting me so totally to put myself inside you in a place that's not usually....used for that."

"Ahhhh, ok."


We're laying in bed, flipping channels and talking. Steph's study group got out early today and we've just been relaxing.

She turns over and puts her chin on my chest. Her eyes lock onto mine, and her right hand wanders down to my boxers. Without a word, she pulls them down, not off, just enough to get them out of the way, and goes down on me. Her eyes never leave mine as her head bobs slowly up and down my cock.

I love having sex with Steph on a Saturday. It's a lazy day, the laziest of the week, and we can really let go and have fun.

She pulls me from her mouth with a little pop! and licks it slowly, swirling her tongue around the head. My eyes roll back; I am throbbing with desire.

"You like that?" She says.

I look down at her. "It's ok," I smile. She smiles back.

"You looove getting your dick sucked, don't you?"

"I do love it."

"Do you love fucking me?" she asks, slipping her panties off. Her gaze is still bolted to mine.

"HELL ya."

"Do you wanna fuck me in the ass?"

My stomach leaps. "Of COURSE I do!" This girl really has a flair for the dramatic, doesn't she?

I reach for the nightstand and get the Astroglide. She crawls to me on all fours, kissing me passionately. I get up and pull my boxers the rest of the way off; she lays down on her stomach, flipping her hair over one shoulder.

I smear lube on my right palm, then rub my hands together to warm it up. No sense freezing her to death; she's going to be tense enough back there.

I rub the lube gently against her tight little opening and the area all around it. I slip a finger inside her now and again, and I am surprised how little resistance there is. She never actually said she hadn't done this before, after all. Maybe she has!

I press my index finger into her more deeply, up to the second knuckle. "NNNNNugh," she says.

I straddle her from behind, and rub my cock in between the cheeks of her ass. It slides effortlessly across her asshole with all the lube I've put on her. It feels incredible.

I'm taking it very slow today; I want to ease her into this. Every so often I will pull back and let my cock slip down between her legs, brushing against her pussy and clit. Each time I do, she lifts her hips up slightly to accomodate me.

I should probably go a little longer before going for it, but I am so horny now that I can't wait another second. I sit up a little straighter, and she senses that it's time. She grabs her cheeks and pulls them apart for me, pointing her ass up at the ceiling. Her butt truly is perfect, round and soft.

I squeeze some more lube on my dick. If this doesn't work, it sure as hell is NOT going to be because it wasn't slippery enough!

"Is this gonna hurt?" She says.

"I don't intend to ever find out."

We laugh.

I press the head against her asshole and push down on it with one finger. I'll leave it there for a while until she opens up a bit-

It slips inside effortlessly. AWESOME!

She reaches back and grabs my forearm, then pushes her ass back against me. I slide fully into her with a grunt and a sigh.

"Ohhhhhhh," she moans.

Now I am fucking her, watching, trancelike, as my greasy cock slips smoothly in and out of her. "DAMMIT that feels good!" I moan.

She turns around and looks at me, seductively, over her right shoulder. "Do you like my asshole?" she says.

"I fucking LOVE your tight little asshole."

"Then fuck me, baby."

She lifts her hips a little higher, pushing towards me in perfect rhythm with my thrusting. I can feel every inch of her, gripping me tightly as I slip in and out.

I don't like to do anal for very long the first time; I like to take it slow and see how she recovers the next day. I'm also not a fan of going from ass to vagina or ass to mouth: Sure, I've done it, but there are germs back there you don't want to spread.

These are all just excuses, really: I am so horny right now that I want to explode.

"You are gonna make me cum, baby."

"Go for it."

I pull it out and rub it against her cheeks again. She squeezes them together, and it feels squishy and warm, almost like I am fucking her.

I blow my load on the small of her back, leaving a puddle the size of a silver dollar. Did all that come out of ME?

Steph smiles back at me. "It wasn't even your birthday," she says.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Is this what it's like having kids?

I want to send my best wishes to New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who had a stroke (yes, a STROKE) last night. He's only 31 years old. Scary, isn't it?

The good news is, he's up and around, walking and talking, and it appears to have been pretty mild.


Monday, February 7, 12:03pm
Shogun Japanese restaurant

"First of all, Steve, I wanna thank you for introducing me to Elena. This past week, it's just been..."

Why is it that some people pronounce "introduce" as "innerduce"? Where exactly does one learn that pronunciation?

"This past week? You just met her a couple of days ago!"

"You know what I mean. Anyway, listen, Steve, seriously. I REALLY appreciate it. If there's anything I can do for you-"

"You're welcome, Jerry. But listen, my friend-"

He waves his palms at me. "I know, I know. I'm supposed to be playing it close to the vest. I did follow your advice, for awhile."

"How long, exactly?"

"I went to her house. We had AMAZING sex. I mean, just totally fucking incredible. And I remembered what you said. I stuck around for about a half hour and told her I had to go."

"Good. Good!"

"I told her I had to go to my mother's house in the morning."


"And then I woke up the next morning, and I just... missed her. And I wanted to call her. I just started thinking of all the things you told me, and it just got to be too much. I'm afraid to open my mouth when I think of all your advice, because anything I want to say feels wrong!"

"It takes time."

He shakes his head. "I just decided to go with my instincts. I wanted to call her, so I called her. I listened to my heart!"

Hey, great! Did your HEART happen to mention what you're gonna do after she dumps you?

"You called her the next MORNING?"

"Yeah! That one moment that I decided to trust my instincts, that one SECOND, I felt better right away. It was like night and day! I wasn't worried anymore."

"What happened when you called her?" Not sure I want to hear the answer, though.

"We talked for an hour. And then later that night, I wanted to see her, so I called her again, and we went out to dinner, and then she came over!"


"What, Steve? This is the real deal here! There's no game-playing! No bullshitting! It's just two people who like each other, that's all!"

"Jerry, I gotta tell you, you're making a huge mistake."

"Steve, don't take this the wrong way. I know you're more successful with women than I'll ever be. But I know that it took you a long time to find Steph, and I think you're probably..... jaded about women because you couldn't find the right one for so long. You probably figure all women are cynical because those are the ones you've run into before now."

OK, now he's pissing me off.

"I'm JADED?"

"You know what I mean! I mean, I don't think all women need to be treated that way. You don't have to play games like that with a mature woman; I really believe that. Don't you think that's kid stuff?"


"You and Steph, you don't play games!"

"We've been together since November. TOTALLY different situation. We took it slow at the beginning. VERY slow. Taking it slow is NOT playing games."

"I don't know, Steve. I mean, with all due respect, you met Elena once for, what, three hours? I've been with her nonstop since that night, basically. I think I know her better than you do, right?"

"Evidently not."

"Come on! You gotta be happy for me, man! I've got this beautiful girl who cares about me! We're inseparable!" He's smiling so broadly that he can barely speak.

"Have you ever heard that expression, 'The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long'?"

He scoffs. "Come ON, Steve! Lighten up!"

"When things start out hot and heavy like that, it never lasts."

"This time it will."

"Ok, Jerry, listen. Apparently you have things ....well in hand, so I won't give you any more advice, except for this one last thing. Then, I'll trust you to your... instincts."


"You've basically laid all your cards out on the table. She knows exactly how you feel, how crazy you are about her. She knows that you can't help but call her constantly, and that you want to see her every day. "

"She wants to see me, too!"

"But who's calling who?"

"A little of both."

"How many times has she called you?"

"I leave a message; she calls back. RIGHT back."

"YOU'RE calling first. Now, SHE is in the driver's seat. She can sit back and not call, and she can be sure, absolutely sure, that you and your INSTINCTS will be up her ass before too long at all."

"Who CARES who's calling who?"

"YOU should care. Now you've set the paradigm. You've set the expectation. YOU'RE the pursuer; she's the pursued. It's probably flattering now, but it's gonna get old fast. And boring."

"Boring?!" He laughs. "You weren't in my room with us last night."

"It's going to get boring for her, knowing that she's got you locked down. There's no mystery, no sense that you're a man with options. That's boring!"

"As soon as it gets boring, I'll let you know."

"When it gets boring, it'll already be too late."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Not making the grade

Monday, February 7, 10:00am.

"This isn't right, Steve." says Andrew from underwriting. "Commercial lines was supposed to finish up this report. That's who you assigned it to. Then I come in this morning and I see Mary from my department working on it again. She already spent five or six HOURS on this last week! We DID our part, now we're doing someone else's?"

"Wait a minute," I say. "This is the project I assigned last week, right? The one I need for the board of directors tomorrow?"


"So why is Mary working on it now?"

"Judy from commercial lines is out today. Again. She's out more than she's here, and every time she takes a day off, she dumps her work on someone else. Last night she left a note for Mary asking her to finish up the report."

"Bonnie, get Larry from commercial lines in here, please."

"Andrew, listen. Mary was working on the report, she knew the background, she was part of the team that prepared it up to that point. If Judy wasn't going to be in, Mary wasn't a bad choice to finish it."

"So why give it to Judy at all? You know she's not going to come in! Why bother giving it to her? Why not just give it all to my department?"

"Andrew. She's not out that much."

"She's NEVER here! And it always falls on MY department when she's not!"

Larry walks in.

"Larry, Judy is out today, right?"


"Are you aware that she asked Mary to finish up that report for her?"

"Yeah. I'm a three-person department, so when Judy is out I can't spare anyone."

"If you need someone from another department to do work for you, it ought to come from you, not her."

"This was fifteen minutes' worth of work!"

"It was?"

I look at Andrew.

"That's irrelevant," he says.

"So it's done?"

"Well, yeah, but come on, Larry, she's here maybe half the time. She's always asking Mary to do her work."

"She's missed six days so far this year," Larry says. "Her son has cancer and her husband is having gall bladder surgery today. She's having a rough time right now."

"I didn't know about the son," says Andrew. "He has CANCER? Is it serious?"

"It's CANCER!" shouts Larry.

"All right, Larry," I say.

"But fine, fine, next time she needs fifteen minutes' worth of help, I'll make sure I stop what I'm doing to ask you," Larry says.

"That's right. Because it's not my job to staff your department."

"No one's asking you to staff my department! It was fifteen damn minutes! You're exaggerating, just like you exaggerated how many days she's missed! Because of two family members in the hospital!"

My IM goes off.

JERRY: I nailed her all night long!

STEVE: when?

JERRY: LAST night, night before..

STEVE: where?

JERRY: her house friday, my house saturday and last night

"......MILKING it! She's always got some drama going on!"

"You think she's MILKING it? You want to speak to her doctor? You wanna call her at the HOSPITAL, where her husband is having SURGERY? Because of a fifteen-minute project?"

"No, Larry, I don't. But next week, it'll be something else. And it'll be MY department picking up the slack. I'm telling you, Steve, this is really unfair."

STEVE: YOUR house? no no no man

"Gentlemen," I say, looking up from my screen. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were bickering over nothing. This was a project I needed for the board of directors for tomorrow. So first of all, please have the report to me right away if it's done," I say to Andrew.

"Secondly, Larry, if you need help, again, YOU should be the one to ask the appropriate supervisor. And Andrew, if your group is unavailable to do it, say "no". You're allowed to say no. But we are a team here, and if there is an urgent priority that the company needs, I expect whomever is available to help.

"But that was assigned to HIS group. So they drop the ball, and it falls on ME?"

"You know what that sounds like to me, Andrew?"


"Remember that kids' story, where the two brothers lived in a log cabin, and one brother had to cut the firewood, and the other had to carry it in? And the one brother cut it, but the other one neglected to bring it in, and the first brother said, 'No way am I doing your job for you. That's YOUR job.' And a blizzard came, and it kept snowing harder and harder, and the second brother wouldn't get the firewood, and the first one refused to help, and the first brother ended up freezing to death?"


"When we have a job to do, a critical job, I expect us all to work together. You wanna discuss the ramifications and repercussions of who did what percentage of the work, I'll have that discussion - AFTER the emergency has passed and the work is done. But I'm telling you now, you're gonna have a hard time getting me very angry over fifteen minutes, and six days for sick husbands and sons."

"Well, it's just wrong, Steve."

"What's wrong about it? Should we have left the report undone, so I can go to the board of directors with incomplete information? Is that all you're looking to do, just make sure it's someone else's problem, and then walk away?"

"Just assign it to my group next time, Steve. Just give it to me, since I'm gonna be doing it anyway."

"My girl worked on it just as much as yours did," Larry shouts.

JERRY: She stayed over last night
JERRY: i think i am in love

"Yeah, right!" Andrew spits back.

"OK, Andrew. Next time one of your employees takes a Monday off for a hangover, you're gonna hear from me!"

"MY employees don't call out! YOUR employees-"

"QUIET!!!" I shout.

"This is NOT a day care center! Andrew, the attendance of Larry's department is not your concern. If he asks you to help with a project, and you can't help, say 'no'. But if you do, I better not see your employees playing Solitaire on the computer.

"Larry, it's not right for your employees to be asking employees from another department to help out with work. I know they work right next to each other, but you have to keep that in mnd. Alright, guys?"

They nod slowly.

"That is all."

They leave.

STEVE: i think we need to have lunch again my friend

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"Is that a tongue, or a flash memory card?"

"Guys, we're here."

Slurp, grunt, moan.

"GUYS!" Stephanie says.

Smack, lick, sigh.

Elena has her hand on the inside of Jerry's thigh. He's got a massive crotch-bulge.

"Ok, we'll see you inside," I say, laughing. Steph and I get out of the car and walk into the house.

We sit down on the couch and the two of them walk in holding hands a full minute later, their clothes rumpled, their mouths ringed with faded lipstick.

"Hey guys," Elena says, quietly.

"I would ask if you're having a good time, but it seems kinda redundant," I say.

"Very redundant," Jerry says, looking longingly at Elena.

They park themselvs on the love seat across from us, holding both their hands together. Elena is resting her thighs across his, her dress slipping far enough back to reveal a flash of the dark spot between her legs. I've decided Elena has a VERY nice body.

"We have to go to the laundromat tomorrow," Steph says to me.


"They're on the machine. That blazer they were cleaning for you is ready."

"Oh really?"

"MMMMmmmmmmmmm," smack, slurp.

"Jesus fucking Christ," I say quietly. "These two are ridiculous!"

"SHHHH! They LIKE each other! It's CUTE!"

"I'm happy for them," I whisper.

Jerry slides his hand across the inside of her thigh. She wiggles her butt a little, her legs opening slightly. OK, are these two going to fuck in front of us now?

"Guys, GUYS!" I say loudly. They stop and look at me, their eyes bleary with lust.

"Obviously we're not adding to the equation at this point, so why don't you guys get going?"

"Well, I, we, don't wanna be rude," Elena says.

"Elena. You're MAKING OUT in our living room!"

They laugh sheepishly. "I'm sorry, we just kinda got....carried away," Elena says.

"It's ok, you guys," Steph says. "We're HAPPY for you! Maybe we could do it again some time!"

"DEFINITELY!" Jerry says, getting up and walking over to me. He shakes my hand. "I OWE you one, my man!"

"Elena! Come here for a minute," Steph says with a smile, walking into the kitchen. I watch as they stop near the dishwasher and turn to face each other.

Jerry plops down next to me. "I'm having an extremely good night!"

"I can see that."

"Sorry about the PDA. It was just going so well and I didn't want to lose the moment."

"Don't worry about it. We got a nice crotch shot," I say, winking.

He laughs. "Yeah, short skirts are good!"

"You mean dresses."

"Yeah. Hey listen, Steve. What do I do now?"

"What do you mean, what do you do? Take her home and nail her!"

"Are you sure she's ready for that?"

"Are you joking? She was practically fucking you on the couch!"

"She was KISSING me. How do I know she wants to have sex?"

"Take her home and pick up where you left off. You'll be naked in ten minutes. IF that."

He looks up at the ceiling. "So just take her to my house, and just take her inside-"

"NO! No, no, Jerry. HER house, not yours!"


"So you can leave when you're done!"

"What if I don't want to leave? A little morning nookie might be nice!"

"No. Do her and leave. You can stick around and talk for a half hour, tops. But you can't show all your cards this early. You can't let her know how crazy about her you are. Remember, you have to be CASUAL about it."

"But she LIKES me! I don't need to do that crap anymore!"

"Yes you do! You need to do it MORE now that she likes you!"

"But why?"

"She has to look at you as a challenge. It was a challenge to get you into bed, and it looks like she's going to meet that one. Now, the next challenge is making you want to stick around. You have to make her wonder if she's going to do that."

"Leave something to the imagination," he says, nodding.

"Exactly, man. Give her something to think about. She'll be much more attentive if you do."

"But I like her! I want to pursue this."

"You don't know if you like her yet. All you've done is play tonsil hockey. Take your time. Take it slow. Trust me. Take her home tonight, and have a good time, and hook up again next week."

"All right, well, I just have to try to-"

The girls walk back in. "What are YOU guys talking about?" Elena says.

"You," Jerry says, getting up and grabbing her around the waist. They laugh, then kiss longingly.

Yeah, great fucking poker face, Jerry.

The two of them leave, arms draped around each others' waists.

"Just so you know, your friend is getting his eyeballs fucked out tonight," Steph says.

"What did you say to her in the ladies' room?"

She laughs. "As soon as Elena saw him, she said, "Ooooo, he's CUTE!" But she was being so shy and wouldn't even talk to him. So we went to the ladies' room and I was trying to get her to calm down and she couldn't. So finally, I made her get into one of those Yoga poses and hold it. And she's standing there with her arms all twisted up and her leg bent like a flamingo-"

"And someone walked in?!"

"Two old ladies!" Steph says, laughing. "They barely looked at her! Anyway, after that she was fine!"

"So what do you think of these two?"

"Mmm, I think Elena might just be horny. I'm not sure she's looking to start anything. Jerry's already talking about going away together."


"He wants to take her on his friend's boat or something."

I roll my eyes. What a fucking idiot.

"Not a very good student, is he?"

"I told him to just take it easy. But he hasn't been with anyone in a while."

"I know. A year. He told her."

If he doesn't screw this up, it will be amazing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I hear hotel rooms are cheap this time of year....

Wednesday, February 2, 7:00am.

"Hey baby!"


"You're calling me in the morning?!"

"Yeah. What are you doing?"

"Getting ready for school. You?"

"Thinking about you."

"Uh oh. Too bad I'm not there."

"Yeah, TOO bad."

"So are you just calling to turn me on, or do you want something?"

"You know that guy Jerry I work with?"


"He's about 37, 38, maybe 5-foot-9--"

"And you're trying to set him up on a blind date?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"

"Lucky guess."

"You always say that. So, what do you think?"

"Ummm, how 'bout Heidi? No no, forget that."

"'Forget that' is right. I don't like being friends with both people in a relationship. When there's a problem, they both expect you to take their side. And get pissed when you don't."

"Heidi can be a handful, anyway," Steph says.

Two handfuls, to be precise. But who's counting?

"Ok, well lemme think about this a while, and I'll - WAIT a minute! How about Elena?"

"Who's that?"

"She's in my study group."

"What does she look like?"

"She's about 5'6", brown hair, brown eyes, she's in awesome shape. She does Yoga every day!"

"OK, cool!"

"Lemme call her and I'll call you right back!"


Ten minutes pass. My phone rings.

"She wants to meet him!!"


February 4, 7:30. We're having a fancy steak dinner at Ricardo's.

Elena and Jerry are not getting along well. Jerry is doing the best he can: Involving her in the conversation whenever possible, asking her questions, and so on, but she keeps giving him one-word answers and pushing food around on her plate.

Steph gets up to use the bathroom and shoots Elena a glance. Elena gets up and follows her.

"This sucks," Jerry says, once they are out of earshot. "She is fucking HOT, too!"

Elena is attractive. Not the prettiest I have ever seen, but she's tall and trim, with long, shiny brown hair.

"Yeah, she's hot. Don't let it bother you. You're being very nice to her."

"I'm trying to talk to her. Am I not talking to her enough?"

"No no, you're fine. That's probably what Steph is telling her right now. She's probably telling her she's being rude."


"So am I doing anything wrong?"

I think for a minute. "No, you're fine. You're talking to her, you're not being pushy. Give her some time; maybe she'll come around."

"And if she doesn't?"

"If she doesn't, NEXT!"

The girls come back. We finish dinner and order a round of drinks. Elena seems to be loosening up, laughing and actually speaking to Jerry in multiple-word phrases.

They order another drink (I am driving, so I skip this one). Everyone is starting to laugh a little too loudly.

"Let's get outta here," I say.

Jerry pulls out a wad of cash big enough for a gas station attendant. "It's on me," he says. Elena studies him as he counts out the bills.

You like money, do you sweetheart?

I'm sure glad we got Steph's car fixed today. Whenever we go out with other people, or give someone a ride, we use hers, since mine is a two-seater. It bothers me that her car is so beat up, so little by little I get little things fixed on it. I've already replaced a headlight, had it steam cleaned, and got the muffler fixed today. It's looking a lot better, I have to say, but she always insists on paying. Every once in a while I try to fix something or replace something without her knowing, and she always finds out and screams at me, then makes me take the money from her.

Jerry and Elena are in the back seat. He's got his right arm around her. She's wearing a short black dress, and it's riding way up her black-stockinged thigh. All the body language has gone Jerry's way since Steph and Elena went to the ladies' room together. What, are they giving out horniness pills in there?

The two of them are hitting it off really well now. "Stephanie is SOOO frigging smart," Elena says. "The professor has her get up in front of the class and teach!"

"He did that ONE time!"

"You were SUCH a good teacher! I learned so much from you!" She turns to Jerry. "And she aces every test, knows every case, every exception, she's such a brain!"

"Like the Chinese kid in math class, huh?"

They burst out laughing.

Steph and I look at each other. I think we've created a monster.

Steph and I start talking about school, and pretty soon we can barely hear each other; the talking and laughing are getting louder and louder in the back seat.

I make the turn onto my street, and suddenly I realize it's gotten pretty quiet back there. Steph and I look at each other, then turn to the back seat.

They are making out like horny teenagers.

"Guess we can skip the movie," I say.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A (second) peek into Steve's skeleton closet

Friday, February 4, 8:30am.

Steph and I are at a local muffler shop. Since her car sounds like a motorboat, I figure it's time to get it checked.

I know the manager, Pat. His eyes perk up as soon as he sees me; he comes out from behind the counter to shake my hand and pat my back.

"Heyy, Steeeve!" he says, warmly. "How's your family? How's mom and dad?"

"Mom died last September."

His face sags; suddenly he looks like a Bassett Hound. "Oh no. No! What HAPPENED?"

"She had a stroke."

"Oh, Steve. I'm so sorry."

"Thanks. Listen, the reason I'm here is I think my girlfriend's car needs a muffler."

"OK, sure."

"On the phone they told me they're gonna be backed up for an hour and a half or two hours this morning-"

"Oh, no. No, no. They didn't know you were one of my guys. I'll take care of you. Gimme a half hour."

"Pat, it's ok. I was gonna let her drive me to work and use my car-"

"Nope! No way! Give me the keys, I'll get 'em started on it right now. Can she wait a half hour?"


He holds out his hand. "Key."

I drop it in his palm. He winks at me. "I got you covered, my friend."

What is so strange about this, you ask? Why the ominous-sounding title? Simple: Because Pat is the last person in the world I would expect to be so friendly towards me after what happened about 18 years ago.....

I'm halfway through my sophomore year in high school. I'm basically a ghost at this point; a big, fat ghost, but a ghost nonetheless. I haven't yet developed into the loudmouth son of a bitch you know and love today; I just sort of float aimlessly from class to class, hoping everyone leaves me alone.

History class, third period. We're in the middle of an exam on the American revolution, for which I have been cramming for a week. I'm acing the hell out of the test. There's a knock at the door: Mr. Roberts, our teacher, gets up, opens the door, and begins speaking to whomever is there.

I turn to my left and there is Pat, future muffler-store-manager Pat, with a folded-up 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of notebook paper on his lap, surreptitiously copying answers into his blue book. A girl to his left scoffs and shakes her head as she watches him.

"Did you bring enough notes for everybody?" I say. A few kids laugh out loud. Pat doesn't look up.

Class ends, and I'm headed for the stairwell. I'm about to take the first step when I feel a shove from behind. I turn around; Pat is standing there. What's his fucking problem?, I think, not making the connection. I turn around and take a step. There's another shove; I almost fall down the stairs.

"WHAT?!" I say, wheeling around.

"You almost got me busted for cheating!" he spits.

"So study next time, asshole!"

"Shut up, lard ass!" The stairwell fills with laughter.

I seriously don't want any trouble at this point. I just want to be left alone. I speed up a bit and manage to lose Pat in a group of kids at the bottom of the stairs.

Later that day, I speak to my shop teacher and tell him what happened. He makes a phone call. "Principal Barnett wants to see you," he says.

I report to the vice principal's office, and he goes over the story with me. "If we confirm this story, this student is going to be severely dealt with," he says. "We don't tolerate cheaters here. And I want to commend you for not sinking to his level."

Barnett is a prick. He's the guy who, two years after this conversation, almost expelled me from that very school. But that is quite another story.

Well, he must have confirmed it, because for the next five days, there was no Pat.

The sixth day was a day I won't soon forget.

Pat is back in history class, but he doesn't say or do anything to me. I know he must be pissed, and I wonder if he'll try anything, but when he doesn't even look at me, I figure it might be all over.


I am walking home, backpack over my shoulder, when Pat and an older-looking kid get out of a car parked in a neighbor's driveway and walk menacingly towards me.

The older guy swings a fist fiercely at my head. I try to move, but he connects squarely with my ear, filling my head with a deafening, high-pitched whine.

I don't fall. I don't even drop my backpack. I just stand there, shocked, my ear stinging like a fresh burn.

Pat slaps me across the cheek with an open hand. His face is red with anger, his teeth clenched, his jaw square.

The other kid gets me in a headlock and squeezes until I can hardly breathe. Pat spits in my face and punches me square in the gut. The air rushes from my lungs; my legs collapse from under me, so that the only thing holding me up is the older kid's headlock.

Pat swings at my face and catches just the tip of my nose. It stings a bit, but I'm not bleeding and I don't think it's broken.

It strikes me that neither one of these guys has said one word to me since they got out of the car.

"Come on! Someone's coming!" The older one says. They hop in the car and come about three feet away from hitting me as they back out.

Dad's not home when I get home, of course. I ice my bruises and think about my problem, but I don't tell one single soul about it.

What do I do? Go back to Barnett? Rat Pat out again, and get my ass kicked again? Call the cops? For a spit in the face and a punch in the stomach? He'll get a slap on the wrist, and then he'll be back after me.

Yeah, I was being an idiot. But I was 16 fucking years old, and I wasn't asking any adults for help. It's no wonder I chose poorly. And choose poorly I did.

It's a Tuesday, and I have fifth period phys ed today. I happen to know that Pat always comes into the locker room through a little-used side entrance, right near a utility closet. Directly across the hall from the closet is an empty office marked "training room".

I get to the locker room early, open the door to the closet, and prop it open with a five-gallon drum of paint. And wait.

The door squeaks open. It's Pat.

I wait until he's next to the doorway and I lunge at him, pushing him into the training room and tackling him violently against the brick wall inside. "UGHH!" I hear him say, and I can almost feel the air leaving his lungs, just like it left mine.

He falls to the ground, and raises his forearms defensively. I swing viciously and connect squarely with his nose; blood spurts everywhere. And I do mean SPURTS. This kid looks like a lawn sprinkler!

He stares at me, shocked, for a long moment, then covers his face with his forearms. I swing again and connect with his right cheek; it sounds like a lump of clay hitting a tiled floor.

Seeing him bleed, seeing him in pain, seeing him vulnerable, doesn't placate me; it makes me angrier.

I want to hurt him.

No, I want to maim him.

No, I want to kill him.

No, I want to destroy him. I want to tear his body into bloody, unrecognizable shreds and leave them to rot and be picked at by birds of prey (why do I suddenly feel like Susan Hawk?)

Anger rises inside of me, anger I have never felt before, boiling up and spilling over like hot, molten magma from a volcano. I am very close to totally losing control.

Pat has squeezed himself into a tiny ball, his knees pulled tightly to his chest, his hands covering his face. I flail one meaty fist after another at Pat, but mostly all I'm doing is pounding the hell out of his arms.

I get up slowly, gasping for breath myself, return to my locker, change into a t-shirt and shorts, and head out to the gym for volleyball.

Teams are being chosen, and after a very routine two or three minutes, I actually entertain thoughts that I might get away with it.

Just then, Mr. Murphy, the football coach, rushes from the locker room and charges at me. He grabs me violently by the back of the shirt. "OFFICE! NOW!!" he shouts.

An hour later, I had my very first school suspension, this one for five days. There would be many more.

Pat was suspended too, for two weeks, after they found out what he and the older boy did when I was walking home that day. About a month after he came back, his parents shipped him off to some prep school and no one heard from him again for a long time.

A few years ago, I was getting my muffler fixed, and there he was, running the muffler shop, just like he is today. He acted like I was his best friend in the world that day, and he has ever since. There was no discussion, no reconciliation, no air-clearing, nothing; nothing to explain how he went from wanting to kill me to being my best buddy.

Maybe that is why I look at his friendliness so suspiciously; because I can't explain it. I sometimes think that he's biding his time, waiting for me to turn my back so he can clang me in the head with a tire iron. But mostly I figure he's grown up, and possibly gotten sober or found religion, and is trying to make up for what he's done wrong in the past.

Maybe someday I'll ask. But not today.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Linda's have it!

Well, Maura narrowly beat her in the voting, but yeah, Linda Cardellini is my fave girl on ER. I definitely have it bad for THAT hottie!

Yesterday's song quote was from "Nobody's Fool" by Avril Lavigne.

Talk to you guys later!!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Let's play...... "Who Would Steve Do?"!

Think you know Stevo better than most? Time to prove it.....

Which "ER" chick would Steve most like to play doctor with?

1. Linda Cardellini

2. Maura Tierney

3. Sherry Stringfield

4. Ming-na

"Hang up the phone...I got a backbone stronger than yours"

Name that quote!!

"Who would Steve do?" Coming soon......

Sick Stevo

Yeah, I'm sick today. Working from home. Any cold remedies from my friends in blogland that I should try?

Symptoms: Cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat..

I'll post again a little later.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Stevo's sex school

Thursday, January 28, 11:45. I'm talking to Jerry, one of our local agents.

"I haven't had any in a year."


"I don't know what the hell I'm doing!"

"Come on, man. Yes you do."

"I thought you were supposed to help me! Are you still with that hot blonde?"

"Yes." I guess I could hook him up with Meg. But then again, Meg is very tough. As soon as she got the impression that Jerry was interested, she'd probably get bored and take off.

"Doesn't she have any sisters? Or friends?"

"Maybe one of her friends from law school. But first I want to give you some pointers. Are you free for lunch?"


Doc's, 12:15.

"The first thing you have to remember is, you're very casual."

"Casual," he repeats.

"You ask her out, she says no, no big deal. She says YES, no big deal."

"So I'm just very straight-faced all the time."

"No no, but if you smile, it's a little smile. If you laugh, it's a quiet laugh."

"So I'm just a cool customer."

"A very cool customer. That's your attitude, no matter what it is you're doing."

"Now let me ask you: When you see a girl you like, how do you approach her?"

"Well, if it's at a party, I usually get nice and toasted first so I'm more comfortable."

"What about if it was here? Do you like our waitress? She's hot, right?"

"I'm not gonna hit on a waitress!!"

"Why not?"

"What if she's not interested? Then I have to deal with her for the rest of the time I'm here."

"So hit on her right before you leave. Besides, remember, it's no big deal."

"I guess."

"So what would you say to her?"

"I don't know," he shrugs. "I guess, ask her if she's from around here, ask her name..."

"We already know her name. Allie."

"That's right, that's right."

"All right, when she comes over here, try and hit on her a little bit."

He nods.

Minutes pass. Allie walks by. "Everything all right here, guys?" She's got short dark hair and huge melons. She'd be a good catch.

Jerry smiles. "Could I, ah, get a little ketchup?"

"Is that one empty?" she says, pointing to a bottle on the table.

"Huh? Oh! It was right there!" He laughs. "I'm a little blind today."

"You didn't even have a drink yet," she says.

"We're on the clock, so we probably shouldn't."


"Do you guys have happy hour here," Jerry asks.

"Yep, six o'clock!"

"OK, thanks."

She walks off.

"What are you doing, man?"

"What, was that bad? I was so embarrassed about the ketchup."

"You played it off very well. I LIKED that! And then you started talking to her. I thought that was going very well! Why'd you quit?"

He shrugs.

"Next time, just keep talking. And when it starts to wind down, ask her-"

"For her phone number," he nods.

"NO. Don't ask for her number. Ask her out. When she says yes, THEN you get her number."

"Ahhh, I see. This way there's no confusion as to what my intentions are."


Allie comes back to the table. "More sodas, guys?"

"Yes, please."

"I need some ketchup, too," Jerry says. We all laugh.

There's hope for this guy yet.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Skeletons on parade




Suddenly, this bustling beehive of commerce seems like a funeral home. Steph and I leave Sears and cross the mall, and all I can hear is my shoes against the tiled floor.


I really can't stand Kelly. I figured that, after she managed to get me an ass-whooping courtesy of Rob, she would have been satisfied that she had her pound of flesh. But not Kelly. I get the impression that, if we run into each other at a nursing home in 50 years, she'll be looking to put my bedpan in the freezer. Does she never give up?

Steph is not saying anything at all. Her face has no expression. She's waiting for me to talk first, I know. Then there is going to be an onslaught.

I know I have to start off with a joke. I think carefully for a minute, as we pass Sam Goody and Yankee Candle and Hot Topic.

"I gotta remember to start carrying garlic and a sharp stick," I say, finally. I like that one!

Steph looks at me, unsmiling.

"Steph, I wasn't always a nice guy."

"Is she telling the truth?"

"Yeah. Mostly."

"So you cheated on Lila with her?"

SQUEAK-squeak. "Yeah."

"Who's Taylor?"

"Kelly's friend. Rob's girlfriend."

She looks at me. "Did you sleep with her?"

I clear my throat. "Kelly is sort of bisexual. We had a threesome once."

"With another guy's girlfriend?"

"Yeah," I say, looking down at the floor.

She shakes her head, snapping her tongue.

"So you cheated on Lila twice that I just found out about, and I found out by accident. How many others DON'T I know about?"

"It's irrelevant."

"No, it's not, Steve. I'm dating you."

"So you don't trust me now?"

"I just don't like surprises. I wish I would have known. I hate finding out this way."

"Steph, I'm not gonna sit down and tell you every single sordid thing I did. I was screwing around a lot. I was having as much sex as possible. That was just me; it's not me now."

"Well, if you're not going to tell me, then you better be prepared for me to get upset when I find out."

"I know."

"You know what bothers me the most?"


"That you loved Lila. You loved her, and you still cheated."

"That wasn't love. I was emotionally vulnerable. My mother had just died-"

"DON'T blame this on your mother! Your mother didn't have sex with all those girls!"

BAD visual! Bad, Bad, I say!

"It's my fault. I take responsibility. I'm not giving you excuses, only explanations. But then again, what do I really have to apologize for? I was safe. And now I'm being faithful to you."

"So you don't think you have anything to apologize for?"

"Not to you."

"Why did you cheat on Lila?"

"I was being selfish."

"Even though you loved her."

"I DIDN'T, I said!"

"So you told her you loved her, but you were lying?"

Uh, excuse me, your honor. I'm gonna need a five-minute recess so I can go smash my head against a wall. Preferably ceramic tile.

Now I am fucked. If I tell her I was lying, she could extrapolate that I am lying to her, too. And if I wasn't lying, then I was cheating on a loved one. More extrapolation.

"I was confused." It's the best I can do. "It's different with you."

"I just don't see how you could do that to her."

"Well, I did. But I promise I won't do it to you. And I hope you keep trusting me, because I still haven't lied to you."

Her face darkens. She stares silently ahead as we walk, her eyes tired and defeated.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"What floor is damage control....?"

Saturday, January 29.

It should have been a fucking sign that I was shopping at Sears.

Yeah, I was just there to buy a set of deep sockets (I only use Craftsman, btw). But that's really no excuse. I should have just purchased my tools and left.

"Hey Steph! My neighbor has these nice paisley bed sheets and he says he got them here."


"I know. Let's go check it out and see what they have!"


We're cutting through the infant department, and I see a familiar head of blonde hair bent over a crib, looking inside. My blood goes cold.

It's Kelly.

No, I don't want to talk to her. But I'm not going to start acting weird either, running around like an idiot. I'll just keep walking, and she won't see me, and everything will be just fine. Calling attention to myself would be a mistake.


Ahh, fuck. When it comes to Kelly, nothing is easy.

"Hey, Kel." I keep walking, but Steph is slowing down.

They look at each other. I sneak a glance at Steph. She's studying Kelly intently, eyes slightly narrowed.

I kind of like it when two girls I have boned meet each other. It's a nice boost to the ego to watch how they size each other up. And when two of your exes are in the same room, you get the feeling you have fucked the whole world, somehow.

"How ARE you?" she says, with a big, fake-looking, Stepford Wife smile.

I feel like I am going to be sick. Now I am going to have to explain the whole sordid mess to Steph, as she tilts her head and twirls her hair, listening intently to every word, asking me questions that I can't bullshit my way out of.

Maybe I can get out of this. Maybe if I can find an excuse to get outta Dodge quickly. Can't make it look too obvious, though.

"Fine, you?"

"Oh, greeeeaaat. I just closed on a 5-bedroom, so I've been really busy."

"Well, nice seeing you," I say, taking a step towards the mall entrance. It's 100 feet away. It's so close I can SEE it! I can practically smell the Auntie Anne's pretzels from here. Just 100 feet...

"Kelly, this is my girlfriend Stephanie. Stephanie, this is Kelly." They shake hands.

"I guess Steve's told you all about me," Kelly says. "Don't believe a word of it."

Kelly is beautiful. Her hair seems longer; her skin glows. She is a psychotic, vindictive bitch, but she really knows how to take care of herself. Looking at her, I am smitten, in a way. How can I be pissed off at a pretty girl like this, I find myself thinking.

"No, actually he's never mentioned you!"

Both their heads turn to me.

Lunchtime! Manchu Wok for everyone! On me!

"Musta slipped my mind," I say, smirking.

"Come on, Steve! We dated all summer!"

"This PAST summer?" Steph asks.

"YEAH! We had fun! I mean, it wasn't anything serious or anything like that."

"Yeah, not serious at all," I say.

"So you guys are BABY shopping? How long have you been together?"

"Three months. We're not baby shopping; we're just passing through," Steph says.

"Ahhhh. So three months, huh? Any bells in your future?"

"It's quite possible," I say.

"Woooooow," Kelly says, looking at Steph. "You must be someone special to make him commit like that."

"She is," I say.

"OH my God," Kelly says. "You guys are really serious, aren't you?"


"So whatever happened to that other one? Lisa? Linda?"

"Lila?" says Steph.

"THAT'S it! Lila!"

"We broke up."

"Yeah, that must have been hard dating two girls at the same time," Kelly says.

OUCH. Thanks, Kel. Now don't you have a satanic ritual to get to?

"So who are you shopping for, Kel? I'm guessing not you."

She laughs. "No, it's for my cousin. I'm not gonna buy anything here, though."

"OK, Kel. We'll see you around."

"I'll tell Taylor you said hi," she says.

Thanks again. Bitch.

Monday, February 07, 2005

It's a beautiful day dynasty

Patriots 24, Eagles 21.....

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ballbreaking: The aftermath

Wednesday, January 19, 5:05pm. Dom comes to my office.

"What was going on with Rob? He flew outta your office like a big bird."

I show him the email. He laughs.

"Did you fire him?"

"No. I just made him sweat it out for a while."

"Is that why you made an appointment for a day in advance? And wouldn't change it?"


"OUCH. That's harsh."

"Bet he won't do it again, though."

"I know. Rob is a prick. Did you put a memo to the file?"

"We're doing that tomorrow."

"Because then, if he does it again, you can fire him."


"You wanna have a drink with me and Tim tonight?"


"The girl I met the other night."

"You're dating a girl named TIM?"

My phone rings. I probably shouldn't answer. After 5:00, it's usually bad news. Either that, or it's Stephanie. Sometimes she calls my office line right after 5 to ask how my day went.

"This is Steve."



"Steven, Steven, Steven. WHAT have you learned today?" He sounds angry.

"Well, let's see. Not to piss up a rope, maybe?"

"Funny you should mention pissing up ropes, Steve. I just fielded an angry phone call from someone in your office!"

"Is that right?"

"Phil says that you are circumventing his authority."

"I spoke to him. I offered to have him come to the meeting; he refused."

"He says you only offered because he called. And what did this employee do, anyway?"

"I only OFFERED because he CALLED?"

"He says you didn't keep him in the loop."

"But, of course, he knew all about it, because that's why he called you."

"But HE had to call YOU."

"I would have called him. This is DUMB, Dan."

"Did you call HR?"

"They know all about it."

"What did the employee do, Steve?"

I read him the email.

Long pause. "Fucker," he says, softly.

"As far as I'm concerned, he got off light. I could have fired him."

"I would've fired him on the spot. Especially in your case, where you're new and trying to mark your territory."

"Exactly. These guys have to learn that I'm not a substitute teacher."

"I know. But Steve, this whole nonsense about making the appointment and making him sweat it out? That's just silly. For something like this, if you want to fire them, do it. I'll back you up. And if you want to rip him from stem to stern, rip him. But do it right away, and bring HR into the loop. AND the supervisor. They can't trump you, but they have a right to know."

"All right, Dan."

He's right, I suppose. If it were me, I would want to know if one of my employees was being ripped by the boss. But if he told me after the fact, I think I'd be ok with it. Phil is just being a candyass.

"Just between you and me, next time somebody does something like that, fire them. You need to mark your territory. Did you know I fired three people in my first week as CEO?"


"Yes, three."

"Things like this?"

"Borderline cases. But I had to mark-my-terr-i-tor-y!"

"I see."

"Steve, I've got to run. Just don't pull a silly stunt like this again. Just fire the guy next time. I'll back you."

"Ok, Dan."

"Carry on."



"You did WHAT?"

"I told you, Steph. I ripped him a new asshole."

"You made him wait a whole DAY?"

"Yeah, why?"

She curls her lip. "Steve, that's cruel!"

"And what about calling me an asshole? That's not cruel?"

"That's stupid and childish. It doesn't justify you being stupid and childish back."

"Bet he won't do it again, will he?"

"If you ran him over with a freight train, he wouldn't do it again. Does that justify it?"

"That's a good idea! Where were you when I needed you?"

She tilts her head at me. "I swear, Steve, when you tell me about what you do at work, you remind me of..."

"I remind you of who?"

"Never mind."


"Al Pacino in Scarface."

"Steph, come ON."

"Say helloo to mah liddel friend," she says, in a mock hispanic accent.

"So I should let this guy walk all over me."

"NO! You SHOULDN'T! I know you have to assert your authority to send a message. But making him wait was cruel. His productivity was probably shot that whole day!"

"Dan Johnson told me the same thing."

"So I hope you learned your lesson."

"And I hope YOU'RE done breaking my balls."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sorry, you still only get 20%

Tuesday, January 22, 9:00am. Dom is standing in my doorway.

"I got laid," he says, with a sly smile.

"Ahh, Meg finally gave in, huh?"

He smirks. "Forget Meg. I'm all done with her."

"So another one then?"

He nods. "Met her at the bar. She's a wild one! You'll have to meet her sometime."

"I'm thinking a double date is out of the question, though," I smile.

"Uh, yeah."

11:37am. My phone rings. It's Steph.




"Our study group isn't meeting tonight. Can we go out someplace nice for dinner?"

"You mean like Papa Gino's? I'm not sure I can afford that. I'll check the paper for coupons."

"Smart ass. Don't you have that gift certificate that Dan Johnson gave you?"

"Oh yeah! For Carla's!"

"Can we go tonight?"

"You gonna get all dressed up?"

"MMmmmm-hmmmmm," she says. "You too?"

"Yep. I can't wait to see what you're wearing."

"You'll like it."

"I bet I will."


6:30. Carla's is not very busy at all tonight. Steph and I get a nice table by a large picture window overlooking a snowy field.

Steph looks beautiful. She's wearing a long pleated skirt with an off-white cashmere sweater and high heels. She's also sporting a pearl necklace and earrings which I've never seen on her before.

We've been dating for months, and I think I have seen her dressed up 3 or 4 times outside of the holidays. Like I said, it's a real treat when she wears something nice.

Her hair is up, held in place by one of those fancy-looking combs. "Why don't you have that one strand hanging down, like you had in the picture," I ask.

"OK, if you want me to, sweetie."

I get a good look at Steph as we walk to the table. I am struck by her petiteness. She's always wearing baggy clothes, so I really can't appreciate how small she is. The sweater is tight, and it accentuates her thin arms and tiny waist.

The skirt isn't very tight, but form-fitting enough for me to appreciate the nice round bump she has going on in the rear.

She cuts a beautiful figure tonight, classy and elegant. I am proud to be with her.

Our waiter comes over almost immediately. Right away I can tell that this guy has his way with women.

He's a six-foot tall Latino with an olive complexion and jet-black hair. He looks like something out of a magazine, with his finely-chiseled facial features and muscular build.

"Hey, folks, my name's Carlos. How you doing tonight?"

"Fine, thank you," I say.

"So you guys are out for a romantic evening, huh?" He says it with a relaxed tone and easy smile, as if he's known us for ten years.

"Yeah," Steph says. "I was getting so burned out from studying."

"Oh, really? Where do you go to school?"

She tells him.

"What do you study?"

"I'm a second-year law student."

"Ohhhh, wow, that's great!" he says, bobbing his head emphatically. "I've been thinking about going to law school myself."

"Oh really?" Steph says.

"Yeah. I always wanted to be a police officer, ever since I was a little boy. But I'm starting to think law school is for me."

"Well, good luck with that," Steph says, smiling sweetly up at him. She's digging him for sure. But since I was ogling that hot waitress's ass at Angelo's, I suppose I can't really complain.

"Would you folks like an appetizer? The fried mushrooms are AMAZING," Carlos says, rolling his eyes up at the ceiling.

"Sounds good!" says Steph.

"How 'bout a couple of glasses of cabernet to go with those?"

"OK," she says, looking longingly up at him. At this point, she's so googly-eyed that I'm pretty sure she can't even hear him. He could have offered us a 1984 Pontiac LeSabre to go with the fried mushrooms and she would've taken it.

Carlos turns to walk away and I see her eyes lock on him for a good three seconds. Yeah, she's checking out his ass, all right. Payback is a bitch.

I know better than to say anything. This isn't my first time playing this game. I could try to launch a counterattack; all I would have to do is wait for any moderately attractive girl to walk by and let Steph catch me gawking. But that seems too easy.

What I will do is simply pretend not to notice. I won't show any reaction whatsoever. Not striking back can be very powerful indeed.

The appetizer and drinks come. Steph stabs one with a fork and slips it slowly into her mouth. She's staring at me.

She puts another mushroom on her fork and holds it up to my mouth. Her mouth is open, as though she's showing me what I need to do.

I fucking hate mushrooms, but there's no way I'm ruining this moment. I bite the mushroom off her fork; it's actually not half bad.

I slide my foot against hers under the table. "Careful! These are my nice heels!"

"Yeah, we better keep them clean, 'cause they're the only things you're gonna have on later. Right?"

She grins widely. "Maybeee".

I am getting hard. With a throbbing erection like the one I'm sporting, eating is the farthest thing from my mind. I just want to go home and rip Steph's Bebe skirt off.

Carlos takes our orders and turns to leave. She checks out his ass again; again I pretend not to notice. If she disappears into the kitchen with him and comes back ten minutes later with her sweater on backwards, I'll say something; otherwise, I'm not.

It's about 7:15. Carlos comes to the table. "Sir, I'm really sorry about this, but the chef burned your scrod. They're making you another one right now; it won't be long. But I just wanted to let you know that your dinner is on the house."

"Oh! OK, thanks, Carlos."

"I hope the lawyer doesn't sue us," he says, smiling at Steph.

She smiles. "Law STUDENT."

"Would you like me to bring your Chilean sea bass out now, or do you want to wait for his?"

"It's ok," I say to Steph.

She nods at him; he walks off. No ass-check this time.

Dinner was great. My scrod was worth waiting for, especially since it was free. Steph loved her sea bass, too.

Carlos is back. "How 'bout a little tiramisu, folks?"

"No thanks," Steph says, looking at Carlos, then back to me. Her eyes have darkened over. She is horny as hell. I feel myself getting hard again.

"So do you have any advice for me for law school," Carlos says, smiling flirtatiously.

"Mm-hmm! Get references from current students. Interview faculty if you can, visit the campus, and sit in on a few classes. Things like that. Take your time; don't rush into it. That's how I did it." She ticks off the list effortlessly, as if she gives advice on this stuff every day. I am struck by how mature and composed she always seems. She is going to make one hell of a lawyer.

We get back to the house around 8 and have another glass of wine in bed. She disappears into the bathroom and comes out with my bathrobe on.

I get hard. What the hell is she wearing under there?

She puts one knee on the bed, and I roll to my left to face her. She rubs my cheek with her hand. "I had such a good time tonight. I love you so much, sweetheart."

"I love you too."

"Turn around."

"Turn AROUND?"

"I don't want you to see me take my robe off."

"You mean MY robe?"

"Turn AROUND!"

I roll to my right and face the wall. The room falls silent, and I hear the faint whisper of tericloth against flesh, and the rumple of robe hitting floor. The anticipation of seeing her naked eats at me until I am so hard that I actually ache.

Before I can turn back around, I feel her hand on my shoulder and her mouth on my neck.

She reaches around and grabs my belt, trying to unbuckle it with one hand. I reach down and undo it for her, then slide my pants off.

She grabs my stiff cock and rubs it. I have been horny for so long tonight that I almost feel like I could explode in orgasm right now.

"You liked that waiter, didn't you?"

"What waiter?" She knows damn well what I am talking about.

"Carlos, the studly Latino."

"Mmmmm, Carlos," she says.

"He got you all worked up, didn't he?"

"Mm-hmmm. But you should be glad. I was so horny that I didn't even want to eat. I just wanted to take you home, and..."


"Get you naked and fuck your brains out."

My pulse quickens. I HAVE to fuck her soon.

"Can we do it like we did the other day in the car?" she asks.

"FUCK yeah."

"I LIKED that," she whispers in my ear.

"Me too."

I sit on the edge of the bed; she stands up with her back to me and lowers herself onto my lap. I look down at her feet; my stomach flinches when I realize that she's wearing the high heels.

I feel myself slide into her; she is slippery and hot. "Uggghhhhhhh," she moans. Her feet are on either side of my legs as she bounces slowly up and down on my cock.

I stare at her round ass; it jiggles ever so slightly each time it slaps against me. That alone is enough to make me want to come. Then there is the dirty talk.

Steph has a real potty mouth on her when we fuck. I LOVE it. Tonight is no exception: "OH my God, your cock is so fucking hard," she says, and "Oh, Steve, fuck my pussy baby," and "My pussy is so wet for you." It's like being in a porno movie, which reminds me that she wanted to videotape us. Gotta remember that for next time.

She reaches behind her and grabs her hair in her hands, holding it up against her head. There's something incredibly sexy about the way her ass flows seamlessly into her naked back and neck. I reach around in front of her and grab her tits. They are bouncing slightly as she rides me.

With everything working together like this, I simply cannot hold back any more. "Baby I need to come," I say.

She turns around and locks her big eyes on me. "I want you to come inside me," she whispers.

The words are hardly out when I erupt, unloading wave upon wave into her. "I can feel you coming," she moans.

We collapse onto the bed, exhausted. She turns over and rests her forearms on my chest.

"Can I take my shoes off now?" she asks.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Add stress; let stew for 25 1/2 hours

I get about 40 - 50 emails a day at work. Most of them don't need action on my part, but reading and sorting them is a major part of my day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2:30pm.

DAA-dum!, goes my email alert. I check my inbox.

It's from Tommy. The subject line says, "FW: Workers' comp test audits".

There's no message; just a bunch of messages and replies. I read them. It's just two people in risk going back and forth about some new clients. What the hell is Tommy sending this to me for?

Then I see this exchange near the end:

From Al in risk management:

"Steve wants all the test audits stored on the server so they can be looked up without digging through files and so people can view them remotely"

From Rob in risk management:

"Fuck Steve. He's an asshole."

I guess that explains why Tommy forwarded it.

I've always known that Rob has a problem with me. Oh, he's friendly enough when we're face to face, but his smile is a little too forced, and his handshake a little too stiff. He looks... uncomfortable around me, like he can't wait for me to leave so he can badmouth me.

He's a few years older than me, maybe 40 or so, and he's been in the same job for ten years. He's the kind of guy who will get drunk and bend your ear for an hour about how the company doesn't appreciate him and how he's always getting fucked over for promotions and raises. Meanwhile, he's taking whole days off work for dentist's appointments and not helping any of his coworkers with anything because that's not his job. In otherwords, I'm supposed to promote him and give him more money because he hasn't managed to get his ass fired yet.


I'll admit, I feel my ears getting red while reading the emails. It's like snatching a note from my sixth-grade classmate and reading it, only to find that there was a whole conversation going on about how fat I was. It makes me wonder how many OTHER emails just like this one are floating around that I don't know about. What are the chances that this is the only one? And if this isn't the only one, how many others are out there? Five? Ten? How many of my employees think I am an asshole?

"Bonnie, call Rob in risk management and tell him I want to see him tomorrow at 4:30 for 10 minutes."

"What's it in reference to?"

"Don't tell him. And don't make it any earlier than 4:30. If he can't make it, push it ahead to Thursday."

"OK, Steve."

I'm gonna give this fucker a good, long time to think about it. At first, he might not make the connection. But then, suddenly, his "asshole" comment will dawn on him, hopefully early in the morning, and then he'll have to sweat it out for the whole day while he waits for his 4:30 appointment.

3:00. Bonnie buzzes me.

"Steve, Rob wants to know what the meeting is in reference to."

"I'll tell him when he gets here."

"What IS it in reference to?"

"Are you writing a book?"

"OK, smarty pants."

Thirty seconds pass.

"Steve, he wants to speak to you."

"Tell him I'm all tied up. I'll see him tomorrow."

Wednesday, January 19, 9:00am. Heidi is standing in my doorway.

"So, Steve, how are you?"

She's got a flowery white blouse on with the first two buttons undone, and she's wearing way too much perfume. But Heidi cleans up very well, and she looks hot.

She usually doesn't stop to talk; she just sticks her head in the door on her way by. If she's starting a conversation, she wants something.

"Fine. You?"

"Okaaaaaay," she says, tilting her head coquettishly. "Steve?"


"Are you firing Rob?"

"Am I firing Rob." I phrase it like a statement, not a question.

"Well, I mean, there's a lot of rumors going around that you're angry at him."


"It's just that you told him to come to your office and you won't tell him why. So everyone thinks you're firing him."

"I see."

"Did he do something?"

"I'm kinda busy, Heidi."

"Sorry, Steve." She leaves.

1:00pm. Bonnie buzzes me. "It's Rob from risk management. He wants to know if he can reschedule; he's got a department meeting at 4:00 today."

"Yeah, we can reschedule. For tomorrow."

A minute passes. "He'll be here at 4:30."

Yeah. Thought so.

1:05. Bonnie buzzes me. "It's Phil from risk management. He wants to know what you're seeing Rob about." Phil is Rob's supervisor.

Jesus fucking Christ! "Put him through!"


"Steve! How are you?"

"Fine, thanks. What can I do for you?"

"Is Rob in some kinda trouble?"

"Ask me in the morning."

He chuckles softly. "I mean, is he being fired?"

I know Phil is going to go back and report everything I say. I better watch myself here.

"Phil, am I hearing that you wanna be here when I see him?"

"No, can't you just tell me?"

"No. Come to the meeting if you want."

He sighs. "Ok, Steve."

1:45. Bonnie. "Steve, Mary from HR."

Am I going to get ANY work done today?

"Put her through."


"Steve, Mary from HR. Is it true you're firing Rob today?"

"You know, when there's a rumor, it goes through the company in three minutes. But we can remind them 9 times to turn in their health insurance enrollments and they still don't remember anyone telling them about it."

She laughs. "That's true."

"If I need you, I'll call you."

"Are you terminating him? You really should have a witness for that."

"I'll CALL you if I NEED you."

2:50. Heidi is in my doorway again. Her top two buttons are still undone; her perfume still fills the air, just as strongly as this morning. She's leaning against the door frame; it's actually a very sexy pose.


"Yes, Heidi."

"I was just on the elevator with two guys from risk? And they were arguing over who's getting Rob's flat screen monitor after he gets fired. I mean, I think they were kidding, but...."

"Thanks for the update."

"No scoop, eh?"


4:05. Bonnie. "Steve?"

"YES, Bonnie." What a completely fucking annoying day this has been. One interruption after another.

"Rob is here. He wants to know if you can take him early."

"No. In fact, tell him I'm running five minutes late."

I make a few phone calls and check the clock. 4:40.

"Bonnie, send Rob in, please."

I am sure to be writing something when he walks in. I look up, and I'm very careful not to offer him my hand.

Rob's face is a waxy, pale white, with pink splotches on his cheeks. He inhales sharply as he enters the room, as if coming in from the cold. He licks his lips twice.

"Hello, Rob."

"Hi, Steve."

"Take a seat."

He sits and immediately begins rubbing his knees.

"Rob, do you know why you're here?"

"Well, no. Bonnie said that she...couldn't tell me..." He licks his lips again.

"Rob, what do you think about me?"

"Ah, heh, wh-what?"

"What do you think about me?"

"Er, well, I, I mean, ah, I don't know you very well, but, ah, you obviously, ah, work very... hard..."

"mm-hmmm." I stare at him.

He licks his lips. He gets even paler, if that's possible.

I open a file folder, pull out a copy of the email, and put it on the desk in front of him. "Can you explain that to me, Rob?"

He doesn't look very surprised. "Steve, I, ah, I mean, ah, that was, ah, it was just a personal conversation. I didn't know anyone else was going to read it-"

"I don't care about that. Why did you say it?"

"Wh-what?" Lick, lick.

"WHY did you say that, Rob?"

"I - I, well, I was just.. talking."

"Asking about the wife and kids is just talking. Discussing the weather is just talking. Calling someone an asshole, that's NOT just talking."

He stares at me. "I, just, I don't know."

"Not good enough, Rob," I say, raising my voice a little.

Lick, lick.

"Wellll, sometimes I just think that you're.... a little big for your britches."

"Ah, a little big for my britches," I say, looking out the window. "NOW we're getting somewhere!"

"I mean, I mean, I think you're doing a good job, but."

"No you don't, Rob! No you don't! YOU think I'm too big for my britches!"

Lick, "I, ah," lick, lick. "Well, I just meant that, sometimes you, ah, you seem to like to give orders and make changes just because you can."

"Rob, do you feel good about this company? The direction we're going?"

"Well, I mean, you made that announcement that you want to cut another 10%, and you're not even giving anyone any raises. People are pretty upset about that. If we're gonna work harder, at least we should get more money."

He seems a little calmer now.

"First of all, remember what I said about discussing other employees' problems. I don't want to hear about how upset everyone else is. If everyone else is upset, let everyone else come see me. We're discussing YOU right now. No one else."

He nods.

"Secondly, regarding raises. I don't look at the company as a whole when giving raises to an individual. I'll never say, 'Gee, we have a pretty big surplus this year, so let me bump Rob ten percent.' If ROB does an outstanding job for us, and ROB deserves it, and the money is in the budget, then yes, you'll get a huge raise. If not, you won't, and I don't care HOW much money this company has. This isn't socialism. Are you following me?"

He nods and swallows visibly.

"Now Rob, the day is almost over, so I want you to just take the rest of the day and go home, and think about your position in this company. Think about how you feel about me and the direction in which this company is going. If you feel good about it, then we'll welcome you back. If not, you ought to look elsewhere."


"Either way, I don't ever expect to see you sending silly e-mails like this ever again. I should remind you, you are using company equipment and company time on these. All right?"

"I-I, I apologize, Steve."

"Thanks, Rob. Now, I should let you know, we're gonna have to put a copy of this in your personnel file. But I hope you can just put it behind you."


"Have a good day, Rob," I say, turning in my chair and picking up the phone.