Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gum isn't pussy

Psycho chicks are by far the best in bed.

Traumatic childhoods. Drug problems. Nasty breakups. All of them swirl around a woman's brain, flipping the cerebral switches necessary to turn her into a dick-loving sex fiend.

It all boils down to self-esteem, if you ask me. Remember the chick in high school who got her first boyfriend, and sat in class wistfully scrawling his name on her books? Remember how she couldn't go more than 30 seconds without talking about him, and then wandered the halls wailing like a widow when he finally dumped her for someone cuter? We all shake our heads sadly to hear about a chick who's that far gone. And we all long to have that power over someone.

The real sick ones, like Krista, only wish they could get some guy to commit. They don't try to find boyfriends, lest they get turned down or dumped, which would make them feel even worse.

"She needs help," you are saying. "She needs therapy. You should be ashamed of yourself for taking advantage of her."

At my old office, there was a vending machine filled with Chicklets. It sat there for months, until, at some point, someone found out that the top was unlocked and could be pulled off, so that anyone could just reach in and pull Chicklets out, free of charge. The pure-hearted folks walked by it every day to get their coffee, never dreaming of taking candy without paying. Me? I indulged lustily, laughing as I grabbed overflowing fistfuls of the free gum, like a pirate running his fingers through a chestful of dubloons.

Yeah, I know, gum isn't pussy, but you see me working. I won't be the one to crack open the vending machine, but I'll help myself to what's inside. It's someone else's job to monitor such things, and to fix them when they break. If they don't, whatever happens is merely Darwin's law at work.

I guess I'm supposed to be Captain Goody Gumdrops, swooping in to carry Krista off to the therapist's office, wherein she will exorcise all her demons. And I am supposed to do it not for money, or thanks, or for any repayment at all, but simply because it is the Right Thing To Do, and knowing that should be more than compensation enough.

Or maybe I am supposed to be aloof, and simply run away from Krista. Maybe I should just walk by the vending machine and leave the gum alone.

First off, I'd be madder than a swarm of hiveless bees if someone tried to force therapy on me. In fact, people have, and that's just how I felt. Secondly, if something is in front of me, and it's free, and the only reason for not taking it is "it wouldn't be nice", I'm taking it. Oh, and this isn't exactly torture for Krista, anyway.


Thursday, November 30, 2006, 6:30pm
Steve and Tim's house

"Nate's taking me to Ming Garden on Friday," Lila says.

"Damn, that's expensive!"

"So does that mean you don't want to come? You said you wanted to go on a double date with us."

"No, we'll come. That sounds like fun! Tim's gonna have to switch with someone to get the day off, I think."

"Are you guys doing okay?"

"Yeah, you know."

"What does that mean, 'you know'?"

"Nothing, we're fine."

"Are you cheating on her? You cheated on me, I know you did."

"Don't be silly, Lila."

"Did you?"

I should have no qualms about telling her the truth. I'm not with her anymore, and probably never will be again, and you all know how loathe I am to lie under any circumstances. Maybe I'm being nostalgic; maybe I want to preserve the idea that our relationship was pure and unspoiled. Even if the idea were only in Lila's mind, it would still be alive.

"No, Lila, of course not."

She pauses. "So, does Friday sound okay?"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Remember the Brady Bunch episode when Marcia was supposed to go out with a guy named Charlie, but she broke their date to go out with Doug Simpson?

Sure, she liked Charlie and all, but Doug was the quarterback of the football team, and the most popular guy in school. So, Marcia did what most of us would have done, and told Charlie she couldn't make it.

In old-school sitcoms, this type of behavior is viewed with shocked disdain: Marcia might as well have been hiding pot inside the head of Cindy's Kitty Carry-all. Of course, the network television gods, with their uncanny ability to solve all human dilemmas within a half-hour (including commercials), saw to it that Marcia was duly punished for her aberrant behavior.

As even non-Brady fans will recall, shortly after extinguishing poor Charlie's testosterone-fueled fantasies, Marcia takes a football right in her formerly petite schnoz. And once Doug gets a load of Marcia's newly banged-up grill, he suddenly realizes he's got better things to do than be seen with the female version of DanielBEAK.

The incident helps Marcia understand her appalling behavior, and after her nose miraculously heals--literally overnight--she decides to go out with Charlie, the purehearted lug who didn't care what her nose looked like, kicking Doug to the curb. And wouldn't you know it? During the date, Doug shows up, he and Charlie fight, and in a Shakespearean twist, Doug runs home with a swollen nose.

This is how I learned morality: in 30-minute installments, complete with clearly-delineated rights and wrongs, and guaranteed happy endings. I never bought it, not even at 10 years old. Life doesn't work that way, I knew.

You probably chuckled at the ridiculousness of this episode, because you know there's no way it would have happened like that. After getting ditched, Marcia would never have gone back to Charlie: She would have descended to self-esteem hell, convinced that she was the ugliest creature ever to breathe earthly air, until A) she underwent a few years of therapy, or B)Doug asked her out again.

She would have pursued a course of action dictated not by "good vs. bad", but by what felt right. She wouldn't have analyzed why it felt right; she would have just done it.

Whether we admit it or not, most of us work the same way--and it's annoying when others try to steer us in a different direction.

A good example is the 65-mph speed limit. We can assess road and weather conditions, and we know our own driving abilities. We have a clear sense of how fast we can safely drive, and that's how fast we go. And we don't agonize about breaking the rules, because the rules are arbitrary; they were written by people who don't know anything about us.

There are legally-blind octagenarians, with licenses still in hand, who are completely within their rights to do 65 on the highway. Of course, they would probably kill someone if they did so, but it's legal. Formula I drivers, on the other hand, do three times that speed with another car six inches away from them. I'll ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 80mph a hell of a lot faster than I'll ride with some Depends-clad senior citizen at 50. But of course, the rules tell us one of these men is bad, and the other is not.

Some people are emotionally incapable of cheating. They simply can't bring themselves to do it, or they are racked with guilt if they do. For them, it's clearly wrong, so they stay faithful. But they are faithful not because some rule says they have to be, but because that is what feels right to them.

The Brady Bunch is good television, but it's a farce. People like Marcia are superheroes of morality, making choices to benefit mankind before themselves. It's a fairy tale.

Far be it for me to disappoint, but I ain't Marcia Brady. Then again, you probably aren't either.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006, 9:45am
Steve's office

"Do you want to come over for lunch?" Krista says.

The bottom falls out of my stomach.

With a simple question, she has managed to communicate to me that she wants sex, and that she is willing to have it secretly, without discussions of what this means or how we stand. I know a freebee when I hear one, and if I don't nail her, someone else will.

I wait for the guilt to come. It doesn't. Obviously, I will be safe, so I'm not jeopardizing anyone's health. I'm not breaking off a relationship to be with her, and neither is she. Hell, I'll be on my lunch break, so I won't even be wasting work time! I'll go back to work, and, at the end of the day, I'll go home, just like I always do.

"That sounds good... did you... I... did... could... I mean, I could... bring over some, Chinese, I guess--"

I'm surprised at how flustered I sound. Sure, I've played this scene out a million times, but not lately. In fact, not for well over a year. And it feels good, just like hearing a song from my high school days that I had totally forgotten about.

"Great! See you around noon?"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stevo the fixer

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 6:58pm
Steve's house

"Is Tim there?" Chris asks.

"No, she's working. Why, you gonna hit on her next?"

"Shut up. She's working at that steakhouse now, right?"

"Yeah, she comes home in the middle of the night."

"In that case, can you come over to Irene's house?"



"Why are you being such a bitch?" Irene screams at Kristen.

"You're the one dating a married man!"

"Oh, like you didn't go out with a married guy last year," Irene hisses.

"He wasn't married in my eyes, because she didn't treat him right."

"Oh my God," Irene chuckles, derisively.

Kristen wheels around. "Oh, hi, Steven," she purrs, and her warm smile makes my stomach hitch. She kisses me slowly on the cheek, as if... if she had a major crush on me. Was this the girl who was screaming uncontrollably 10 seconds ago?

"Sit down, I'll get you a drink."

"Thanks, Kristen."

"Call me Krista."

"You're engaged! Why are you still living at home, anyway?" Krista snaps to Irene, as she hands me an icy Diet Coke.

"You know why! We got engaged and he left for Iraq the next day!"

"Why didn't you live together before? And why did he go back to that idiotic war if he loved you so much?"

"Why don't you mind your own business?"

"Thought so," Krista says, plopping down on the sofa next to me.

"Steve has a girlfriend, you know," Irene sneers. "Better stay far away."

Krista launches herself off the couch, and for a crazy moment I think she's going to attack Irene. Chris and I flinch simultaneously, ready to break them up.

"Can we please go for a ride?" Krista asks, her eyebrows raised pleadingly, like a little girl's.


"You probably think I'm crazy," Krista says.

Well, that's a very relative term... nope, on second thought, you're crazy.

"I think you two should lay off of each other."

"She's such a bitch!"

"Krista, no she isn't. And even if she is, she's your only sister."

"I knoww,"she whines, again reminding me of a child.

"I know you don't approve of her and Chris, but she's old enough to make her own decisions. If you really disagree, you should tell her in a supportive way."'

"So when did you get this car?" she asks, running her hand over the freshly-Armor All'd dashboard. Guess she's done talking about her sister.

"It's a couple years old. I hardly use it. I think I'm trading it in for a 4Runner."

"You're such a loser," she snips, staring straight ahead.

"You love to start fights, don't you?"

"You're stupid! You quit your job, you're selling your car. Your girlfriend has you wrapped around her little finger!"

Obviously, this girl thrives on conflict. She loves screaming matches and bare-toothed anger. Staying calm ought to screw her up, but good.

"Yeah, she probably does," I smile.

She stares at me.

"What?" I ask.


She's 24, a couple of years older than Irene. No job. She quit school after sophomore year--not that her degree in archaeology was going to bring a stampede of hiring managers to her doorstep anyway--and she has absolutely no employment prospects.

"So what do you--do all day?"

"You sound like my mother."

"It's not good to sit around, Krista."

"Don't lecture me," she says, quietly, but I can barely hear her. "Can we talk about something else, please?"

The conversation turns to movies, and her mood lightens quickly. She loves Monty Python; all I have to do is utter the words, "Cheese Shop", and she collapses in giggles.

Tim calling, my phone says.

Instinctively, I glance at Krista, who has already pulled out her own phone. She powers it down noiselessly, then sits statue still, looking directly in front of her.

"Where are you?" asks Tim.

"I was out of wheat bread."

"You're being quiet."

"I'm okay. How's work?"

Krista stares silently out the window. I am impressed with her; she knew it was my girlfriend on the phone, and, with no hesitation, made herself as quiet as a Las Vegas confessional. She's done this before. She's sat in the passenger seat next to guys who were supposed to be at work, or drinking beer with their buddies. She's probably lost track of how many times.

" I told them that I can't do my job if I don't have proper equipment. It's like, so ridiculous! They have money for new curtains, but they can't buy a basket for the deep fryer?"

"I hear ya."

"I better get back," she sighs. "I'll see you when I get home."

Krista snaps back to life immediately as the phone beeps off. Here come the questions: How long have you two been dating, what does she do, do you love her, and are her hips skinnier than mine.

"I appreciate you getting me out of the house."

"You're welcome."

"There's a Starbuck's up ahead. I'll buy you a coffee, if you want."

She didn't mention Tim, not one word. She knows the rules, and apparently she accepts them. Clearly she lacks the self-respect to believe she deserves a real relationship, so she bounces from one taken man to another, giving each a couple of months' worth of sexual highlight reels before the inevitable "I can't do this to my wife anymore" speech.

Her face softens as she sips her latte, the way it did when she kissed my cheek. Her brown eyes seem bigger somehow, and I suddenly want desperately to kiss her as she licks foam from her supple lips...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stupid is as stupid horny does

Wednesday, November 1, 2006, 6:47pm
Steve's house

"Steve," Chris says, breathlessly, on the phone. "You gotta help me. I just--oh, man."

"Oh man?"

"Okay, so I told Janet I was working late tonight. And I went to the liquor store, and I paid with my credit card. She looks at the online statements all the time. She's gonna see I was here, and the bottle was like, 47 dollars--"

At first I have no idea what Chris is talking about. Then the concept gradually reveals itself, like a bathroom mirror slowly unfogging.

His wife Janet is due in a few weeks, and titanically pregnant women are not the horniest ducks in the pond; Chris must have found a pinch hitter to get him through the dry spell. He's probably romancing her with champagne, or getting her loaded so she'll talk less. There's no bigger turnoff than a chick who takes your cock out of her mouth to tell you how guilty she feels.

"Steve, are you gonna help me?"


"I meant to pay with cash, but it was just force of habit," he says.

There's no way to keep her from seeing the transaction online now. His only option is to explain why he was at the liquor store dropping 50 bucks, instead of working, where he told her he would be.

You guys are probably thinking that this is easy, that Chris can just spit out some lie about buying a bottle for a friend at work or something. But remember, Chris has cheated before, and it almost ended his marriage. She's going to be suspicious of him, so this story better be worthy of publication in The New Yorker.

"This isn't going to be easy, man," I sigh. It seems knotty problems just like this are always being offloaded on me, both at work and personally. Just once, it would be nice if someone approached me about an untied shoelace.

Forget the notion of wanting to surprise his wife with a bottle. She's pregnant, and can't drink. Of course, a dutiful husband might think ahead, however...

"Okay, let's try this," I begin. "You went and bought a bottle of champagne, to open when the baby is born. Go home and tell her you got a little surprise at the liquor store on the way home for when the baby comes. Just make sure you really go and get a bottle today. And pay cash!"

"But what if the prices aren't exact..."

"Never mind the prices! Take the price tag off if you want to, but after the baby is born, the last thing on her mind is going to be checking out a story you told her a month ago."

"Ahhh," he says, slowly.

Now for some dirt. "Chris, what are you up to?"

"Not now, Steve."


Friday, November 10, 2006, 4:00pm
Steve's office

"Can you meet me for a drink tonight?" Chris asks.

"With who? Just you?"


"You're introducing me now? You two must be getting serious!"

"Don't be a smartass. Her sister is coming along."

I must admit, Chris impresses me when it comes to the ladies. He must have game, if he was able to hook up with Amanda and now this one. But he's also making rookie mistakes, such as letting her bring her sister along. You never know: Her sister could know someone who knows someone who knows Janet, and then he would be truly fucked. The less evidence, the better: If I were in Chris's shoes, and this were just about sex, I wouldn't even leave her bedroom.

"A double date? How cute!"

Frattari Tavern

Irene is engaged, and her fiance is overseas in Iraq. She's majorly honked off that he signed on for a second tour of duty, which explains the cheating; women usually stray because they feel unloved.

She's hot beyond belief. I keep catching myself glancing at her shiny brown bob and thick red lips, and her flawless complexion tells me she's in her early 20's. Exactly the type I would go for.

It takes me about three and a half seconds to determine that her sister is a total nutjob. "I'm pissed at you," Kristen says to me, five seconds after shaking my hand.

"Why is that?" I smile.

"You quit a six-figure job? You just quit?"

Yes, but of course, the new job pays basically the same, and requires a lot less work. Factor in the improved mental health, and it's a raise. But none of this concerns her, so I choose not to answer.

"Something like that," I say, tilting back a vodka-tonic.

Chris is an idiot for dragging me into this. I have a girlfriend, too, lest we forget, and I'd have some explaining to do if she found out what was going on.

Kristen heads to the ladies' room, and I look at Chris and his new friend.

"She found out," Irene says. "She saw some text messages on my phone, and overheard me talking to him. The best way to deal with it was to have her meet him. We just brought you to kind of distract her."

"Text messages?" I say, looking at Chris.


"Text messages? Why don't you just leave a bloody knife at the crime scene with your fingerprints on it?"

They exchange looks.

"I'm not judging you. Believe me, I'm not qualified to judge, and Chris knows that, which is why he dragged me into this. But if you two are gonna use each other for a pit stop, you shouldn't be out in public together. And you sure as hell shouldn't leave evidence around."

"But my sister..."

"Tell your sister it's none of her business!"

"You don't know her, Steve. She'll be better about it if she knows the details. We live at home, and it wasn't safe to bring you and Chris over."

"So where do you guys... hang out?"

"My mom works late a few nights a week."

I scowl at Chris. "Are you stupid?"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Steve's new job

Monday, October 2, 2006, 10:30
Steve's (new) office

It all seems like such a waste of time.

I know, I have to know where the bathrooms are, as well as the lunch room, supply closet, and emergency exit. But I have a highly complex job to learn, and customers who signed contracts and are waiting patiently (or impatiently) to go live are now my responsibility. Any work time spent on voice mail configuration and benefit enrollments should be kept to a minimum.

Phil and Tom are going to work for me, installing the software after the customers buy it. Installation sounds easy, doesn't it? If you or I go to Staples and buy Quickbooks, we can pop in a CD, install it, and be balancing our checkbook within an hour. Corporate software has gotten out of hand, though. Especially ours.

Customers like it, but from time to time they demand modifications. In the interest of making them happy, and keeping their business, we comply. Our program now has more options than a Big 12 football game.

Every message the user sees can be edited. Every screen can be customized. Imagine buying a car and having to pick three pages' worth of colors and styles. "Honey, what do you think about this one for the gear shifter?"

There are so many possible configurations that no one can test them all, and so, occasionally, bugs are found. Our three-man development team knows the urgency of those, so they bounce crazily back and forth between fixing what's already been installed, and programming new features for the next release.

I take a good look around the office. Every white board is filled with reminders; stacks of papers and books litter every desk; phones ring as if we were hosting the Jerry Lewis telethon.

The installation team and the programmers have not had a supervisor for months. That means they have probably been careening from project to project, working for whichever customer screamed the loudest that day.

First, the office needs to be flawlessly clean--or at least a hell of a lot cleaner than it is now. If there's anything I hate, it's being unable to address a problem because someone can't figure out which pile the paperwork is in.

Next, we will have to define procedures to help us decide what project gets done when, and by whom. Changing gears mid-project wastes time, and leads to confusion. Breaking bad work habits is not a fun thing; these guys may hate me when this is over.

And of course, the employees are going to have to learn to trust me as a manager. They don't know about my previous job, and don't care. They need to know that I'm not going to run them all into the ground with work, and/or fire them.

"Can't make the 1:00," Phil says, trotting past me in the hallway. No way he's blowing off our first department meeting.

"Phil, we need you to be--"

He disappears into his office and closes the door.

"He always does that," says Bernadette, our administrative assistant. "Get used to it."

"Tell him to see me when he comes out of there."

"You don't wanna go there..." she says.

"Let me worry about that."



"You wanted to see me, Steve? I'm very busy--"

"Phil, the meeting today," I say. Not a direct question; I just want to see how he handles himself. Will he address the problem head on?

"Too much going on, Steve. Too many installations. Everybody wants a 1/1 go-live--"

"Too busy doing work to talk about how we're going to do the work?"

He sighs. "I know you want to help..."

"There's a kid, Eric, who lives down the street from me," I begin. "He's in college. The lady next door asked him to rake the leaves on her mother's lawn. She offered him $100 for it, too."

"Okay..." he says, leering at me with dark, inquisitive eyes. He has no idea where I'm going with this.

"The kid really needed the $100, so he took the job. He got the address from his neighbor, ran over immediately and started working. He wanted to get it all done in one day, so he was really busting his butt.

"His phone kept ringing, but he didn't answer it. He didn't even look at who was calling. He was extremely busy working, see? So whomever it was was going to have to wait until he was done."

"Uh-oh," says Phil.

"Turns out it was his neighbor calling. She had given Eric the wrong address. The kid was raking the wrong lawn!"

"Oh no!"

"By then four or five hours had passed. Poor kid did all that work for nothing."

"Wow," he says.

"We haven't had any leadership in this group for a long time," I say. "There are going to be some growing pains while we get out of the ruts that we're all in. But we will get out of them, I promise you."


"As much as it's going to hurt all of us, we're going to have to stop working and talk sometimes. Yes, that will put us farther behind. But in the long run, we'll work smarter and faster."

"So I guess I'll see you at 1:00," he says with a frown.

I'm here one day, and I've already got a problem employee.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Keep in touch"

Wednesday, September 6, 2006, 1:30pm
Steve's office

Dom agrees that the biggest hurdle between him and my job is his personal life. He has to reassure Dan that he's calmed down, but he can't be too obvious about it; otherwise it will look like he is merely saying what Dan wants to hear.

"When we talk to Dan, I'll handle it," Dom says.

At first, I thought Dan was agreeing to the phone interview as a courtesy, and that he had no intention of considering Dom for the job. But to my surprise, he pulled in three heavy hitters, including the CFO and the VP of HR, for the call.

On the call, I speak as little as possible, letting Dom take the lead, just as he would if he were in charge. Naturally, he answers every question effortlessly, having been with this company for years, and having worked closely with me on every major project I've been involved with. It's going as well as I could have expected.

"Dom," Dan says, "You do realize why Steve is leaving this job, don't you?"


"And you do realize that this is an extremely labor-intensive job, and will be for the foreseeable future?"

"Yes, I do."

"You might not have much of a... personal life. I need to hear how you feel about that."

This is it--the key question of the interview. If he answers this correctly, I think he'll get an offer. They'd be crazy not to offer it to Dom: There'd be no recruiter to pay for, no lengthy hiring process, no long "onboarding" period for him to get acclimated.

"Actually, I have a girlfriend now. We see each other a lot, but we don't go out much. I spend most nights at home lately."

Of course, he's full of shit. Dom doesn't have a girlfriend, at least not that he's told me about, and though he's usually on time for work, he does have the occasional 10:00am raccoon-eyed roll-in.

The line goes dead silent. This is a startling revelation for anyone familiar with Dom; it's like Diddy announcing plans to sell off his bling-bling and join the Hare Krishnas.

"A girlfriend?" Fran, the CFO, manages, finally.


"She's not an employee, is she?" Dan says, to uproarious laughter. Guess Lila wasn't as much of a secret as I thought she was.

"No, she's a physical therapist," Dom says. He had a lie ready. The man is one hell of a bullshitter.

The conversation runs long, which to me is a good sign: Why would they bother if they weren't serious about him?

Yes, I want this for Dom. Despite a rocky beginning, we work well together. He's the most qualified person I know for the position, and he's done his time with the company, even moved clear across the country for what was technically not a promotion.

"We'll try to make a decision by the end of the week," Dan says. Another good sign. If they were considering outside candidates, the process would take a lot longer than three days. I think he's got it.

"Physical therapist?" I say, after we hang up, and we laugh hysterically.


Friday, September 8, 2006
Steve's office

Dan Johnson is here, which is yet another good sign. He wouldn't come all this way to turn Dom down.

"Steve, I have some bad news for you," Dan says. Dom and I exchange white-faced looks.

"W-what's that?"

"You just lost your parking spot. Dom, congratulations. You're the new district manager!"

Friday, September 29, 2006
Steve's office

My desk is empty; my phone is silent. All I hear is the steady whisper of air from the heat vent in the ceiling. The vent is directly over my head; I always meant to have it moved, but never got around to it. There are a lot of things like that.

With all the silence, I have time to think, about how it used to be, back when I liked, no loved, my job, when I sometimes spent 12 or 14 hours at my desk, getting up only to use the bathroom, when I worked weekends straight through and woke up from a dead sleep to add to my to-do list. I didn't resent the work then; I thrived on it. It reminded me that I had a purpose. That purpose is Dom's now.

Did I make a mistake? Did I commit "career suicide", as Dan called it? Was I wasting my talent?

Now that the pressure is off, I wonder if I could have made it, if I could have somehow dealt with the stress until things calmed down again. But in the end, I take a deep breath, and all I feel is relief.

"It was nice working with you," my coworkers say, awkwardly running their fingers over my doorhandle. It was "We'll miss you, Steve," and "Thanks for helping me," and "be sure to keep in touch."

But I won't keep in touch, and neither will they. They will get preoccupied with other things, and grow closer with the new boss, and my time here will fade to a distant memory. Dom will do my job, and if he leaves, someone else will take over, and the world won't come to an end. Employees will come, and they will go, like a subway train that never has the exact same group of people on it twice. I made friends here, but most were friendships of convenience; once physically separated, we'll forget each other. That's not a bad thing; just the way it is.

But I'll miss my job.

This is the company where I grew into a true professional, where I learned what a 10-K and an IPO was. I learned budgets, forecasting, and G/L accounting. From now on, I'll be able to say, "Having worked for a Fortune 500 company, I..."

"Steve?" Bonnie says. "I just want you to know it's been a pleasure working with you. You always took care of me. I appreciate that. I want to--" she pauses, looking down at the floor. "I wish you the best of luck." She hands me a small, gift-wrapped box--two tins of rasperry Altoids and a box of Chai tea, my favorites. Funny how silly things like that make me want to cry.

"Are you taking off early?" Lila says, standing in my doorway. It's around 3:30.

"Hey!" I exclaim, leaping from my chair to hug her. "I was wondering if you were going to stop by."

"We're gonna keep in touch, right?" she says, casting her huge eyes up at me. How can I say no to that?

"Definitely. Let's really stay in touch," I say. "Everyone says it, but let's really do it."

"You better," she says. "Call me this weekend, maybe we'll go on a double date."


"I'm really happy here. Thanks for getting me my job back, Steve."

I want to say something profound, something that you would read in a book or see in a movie. I want to dazzle her, or amaze her, or make her cry. But I can't think of anything.

"You totally earned it. You're a great employee, and you have a great future here."



"Are you gonna be okay at your new job? I mean, will you like it?"

"Yeah, definitely!"


"Dom, I won't see you Monday," I say. I'm standing in his doorway, watching as he shuffles three pages of reports and clutches the phone between his shoulder and ear, and it occurs to me that this is exactly how I always looked to him.

"I, wait, Bruce, can you hold on just a second?" he says into the phone, smiling up at me.

"It's okay, Dom, you don't have to," I laugh.

"You sure? I wanted to walk out with you."

"I know the way."

"Well, listen, I--"

"It was a lot of fun," I say. "Just... keep in touch. Okay?"

"I will."

No, he probably won't. And neither will I.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lemons and lemonade

"I think you should call a lawyer. You should fucking sue him!"


"You should call the newspaper! You should call channel five news!"

"Good idea, Tim. Let's broadcast to the world that I fucked a high-school student who was half my age. Oh yeah, and she worked for me, too!"

"You were dating!"

"I'm gonna look like a total pervert, Tim. I won't win that one."

"So you're gonna do nothing? He's blackmailing you! He's wrong! You have to fight him!"

"Tim, right or wrong doesn't matter in this case. As soon as it gets out that I was in a relationship with a girl under 18, I'll be radioactive. "

"But it was legal," she reasons.

"People are still going to think I am a perv. Whatever reputation I have left will be gone at that point."

"What did Lila say?"

"Didn't tell her."


"You heard me."

I'm not telling Lila unless I absolutely have to. If she knew, she'd probably get pissed off and quit, and that would be a mistake. Management really likes her, and the only reason she would get fired would be for revenge--against me.

I'm glad I didn't let myself get more pissed off at Dan--the quieter I am, the more he will wonder what I know that he doesn't. But what am I going to do?

I actually go so far as to search online for an attorney before I stop myself. Do I really want to go this route? Do I really want to stand up in front of a judge and make a claim against Dan Johnson, a millionaire CEO with a spotless reputation, a claim that he is almost certainly going to deny?

Besides, even if Dan admits it, Lila won't suddenly become innocent. She still broke the rules, and she is still subject to termination. Perhaps the lawyers could arrange some kind of compromise, given Dan's ham-fisted attempt at extortion, but that would be a best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Lila still gets fired, no one believes my side of the story, and my face is plastered on nursery school bulletin boards across the state.

I'm being hasty. Calling an attorney is giving up, and it's too early for that. I've known Dan for years; we've worked through complex problems together. He respects me professionally. Maybe if I prepare a solution and present it to him, he'll accept. I'll write up a business case, like I would for any other issue.

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Corporate headquarters
Dan's office

"What good news have you got for me, Steve?"

"What if you could fill my position with someone equally talented, and without having to hire an attorney to do it?"


"You knew about my relationship with Lila two years ago, and did nothing. Sounds to me like that's a pretty egregious violation of company policy."

He looks at me.

"Of course, you could say you knew nothing about it. But you'd probably have to lie under oath, and Ross would too. There would be all sorts of uncomfortable questions from lawyers and newspeople--"

"I understand, Steve."

"Your story might not pass the smell test. I give my resignation, and then you conveniently find out about my affair from two years ago? Let's face it, CEO's are not exactly the most trustworthy people in the world right now."

"No one wants a battle, Steve. None of us have the time or the energy."

"So let's find a solution."

"Fine. You know, Steve, something you said really bothered me. You said you had lost respect for me, and that you didn't think I cared about that. But I do care very much."

"With due respect, Dan, you're a Fortune 500 CEO. Your job is not to care about people. Your job is to hit revenue targets. "

"True, but that doesn't mean I don't get attached to people along the way. It doesn't mean I don't admire you and the way you make it your business to succeed."

"If you admire me, and respect me, I need you to trust my judgment and let me go, Dan."


"I will never understand your decision as long as I live, but you know my objections, so I won't repeat them."

"Fair enough."

"What is your solution, Steve?"

"Promote Dom."


Dan has a problem with Dom. He had a chance to promote him two years ago, and he chose me instead, even though Dom had more experience. After I gave my notice, Dan had yet another chance to promote Dom, and he did not.

Dom is a natural leader, hard-working and thorough, and is more than capable of doing my job. Dan must have something personal against him; if I had to guess, i'd say it was Dom's ongoing quest to shove his dick into every warm vagina in the time zone.

"He can do the job."

"If I wanted Dom to do the job, I would have hired him."

"Why don't you want him?"

"I think he lacks dedication."

"Ridiculous. He can do the job. I've got no reason to lie. Will you at least interview him?"

"Of course."

"I will get you two more candidates as well, so you'll have three to interview," I say.

"And if I don't like any of the three?"

"I'll stay on as a consultant to help you find a replacement, even after I start my new job."

Doing two jobs might seem tough, but it would be temporary, and the workload will seem like a picnic compared to this.

"I suppose we'll have to pay for your consulting services?"

"I work cheap; I don't work free," I answer.

He sits quietly. "So what do you think?" I ask.

"You've made up your mind; what else is there to say?" he shrugs.

"So, Dan, about our phone call the other day--"

"Forget it, Steve."

I wish I could.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

About that happy ending...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 5:45pm
Steve and Tim's house

"That's incredible," Tim shrieks. "You did it! You did it!"

"I can't believe it," I say.

"So, when do you start?"

"I told him I might need a month. He was okay with that. I haven't formally accepted yet."


"I had to talk to you first."

"Thank you, honey. Now take it!"

"Don't you have any questions?"

"Are you going to be travelling a lot? I don't want you getting stressed out."

"I might have to go to Thailand once every spring or summer. They'll pay for you to come with me, but only once a year."

"So if you go more than once a year and I want to come, we'd have to pay?"

"Yep. But I want you to."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Steve's office

This phone call is going to be fun. I've never spiked a football, but I bet it feels a lot like this.

"Steve, what have you learned today?"

"Actually, this phone call is about teaching you something, Dan."


"I've decided to resign. I'd like my last day to be Friday, September 15."


"Steve, I thought we had gotten past this."

"And now you see that we haven't. Right? This is the right move for me, for my health and sanity."

"Steve, it's career suicide. Career suicide, Steve!"

Big shots like Dan love to repeat themselves. They think they are so brilliant that, if they say something and it does not have the intended effect, they simply say it again, as if the only possible problem is that we didn't hear.

I knew he was going to regurgitate the "career suicide" bit, and I have an answer ready--actually, it's more like a story. And telling a story is exactly what Dan Johnson would do in my situation.

Shit! Am I turning into this guy?

"Did I ever tell you about Craig, my next-door neighbor?" I ask.

"I beg your pardon?"

"He lives next door to me. He's an avid jogger. Every morning, he jogs up a hill on a street adjacent to ours. There's heavy tree cover on either side of the road, no sidewalk. It's a narrow road, poor visibility, very unsafe. No way he should be jogging there."

"What's the point, Steve?"

"I asked him why he jogs there. He says it's the steepest incline in the area. He loves the workout he gets jogging up that hill, and he hates treadmills. His resting heart rate is in the 40's. He brags about it! And you know what I told him?"


"I said, in the morgue, everyone has a heart rate of zero."

He chuckles.

"It doesn't matter how great the workout is; the cost is too high. He's risking his life jogging up that road. One day, he's going to get hit by a truck and die."

"Cost-benefit," he says softly.

"Yes. The cost outweighs the benefit. It doesn't matter what this job has to offer me. There are too many consequences for staying here."

Could I be convincing him this easily?

He breathes deeply. That means a speech is coming. Shit.

"That's a wonderful story, Steve. Your point is well thought out. But this is not a matter of life or death. You're not playing in traffic; you're leaving a lucrative job with a promising future at a Fortune 500 company. The sky is the limit for you, Steve."


"Steve, other men do your job. Lesser men. Men who are less talented, who have less energy."

Ah, I see. So I'm a lazy slug!

"What are you saying, exactly, Dan?"

"I'm saying try harder."

"I'm done, Dan."

"Try. Harder."

"September 15, Dan. That's the date. I would advise you to have a replacement ready."



Friday, August 25, 2006, 6:55PM
Steve and Tim's house

Dan calling, my phone says.

It's not unusual for Dan to call me after hours, but I have a bad feeling nonetheless. We haven't spoken since I hung up on him Wednesday, and I have been expecting a lecture.

"Good evening, Steven."

This is not the after-hours Dan Johnson, who makes bad jokes and asks what I've learned today. This is Dan Johnson, businessman, who makes million-dollar decisions while sitting on the toilet.

"Hello, Dan." I don't ask how he is doing, or what I can do for him. I ask nothing, so he has no segue into what he wants to talk about. I have no intention of making this easy.

"Steve, I need to talk to you." It's the voice he uses in the boardroom, and with customers. Whatever he has to say, it's not good.

"I have a few minutes," I say.

"Steve, I hate to say this to you, because you know how I feel about you. But, sometimes past mistakes can come back to haunt you when you least expect it."

As opposed to those future mistakes that come back to haunt me?

"What mistakes?"

He takes a breath. "Steve, I trust you are well aware of our fraternization policy."

Yes, I violated the policy, with Lila. I probably violated the policy 150 times. And I confessed as much to Dan himself, two years ago, back when I was a rubber-kneed, babytalking, lovesick doofus, and could not have cared less if I was fired or not, as long as I could lay down next to Lila at night and be blissfully intoxicated by her green apple-scented shampoo. After I confessed, the whole thing went away. There were no consequences. I knew it was too easy.

But why is he bringing this up now? Does he want to fire me? Why bother? I'm quitting!

Maybe he wants to destroy my career by letting this information slip out. But, as I've already admitted, my career might be over already, and I'm not sure that spreading this kind of story about me would be worth the risk.

Maybe it's a bargaining chip, I think.

"What are you getting at, Dan?" I bark, discarding any sense of decorum I was pretending to have.

"Dating a subordinate is a serious offense. It exposes the entire company, Steve, all of us. Our livelihood, our--"

"I get the point," I say. I'm in no mood for an academy-award winning speech.

"The point is," he says, "that dating a subordinate is expressly forbidden by company policy. And if we were to ever find out that it happened, it would be grounds for immediate termination. For both parties."

That son of a bitch. If I insist on quitting, he's going to conveniently find out about my relationship with Lila from two years ago, and fire us both. I am leaving anyway, but Lila has no plans to quit. She's been doing a great job for us, and has a bright future. Dan knows I won't want her termination on my head.

"So this is what you're being reduced to, Dan? Blackmail? You're going to blackmail me into working for you?"

"She's a good employee, Steve. It would be a damn shame if we had to fire her. And it would be a shame to lose you, too. The company won't be the same without you. Your employees need you, and the company needs you. Just promise me you'll think about it."

"Yeah, I'll think about it. And maybe I'll stay, and maybe I won't. But either way, I've lost all respect for you as a human being. As far as I am concerned, you don't exist to me anymore. I'm sure you don't care about that, but I need you to know it anyway. I used to look up to you, and now..."

"You're angry now, Steve. Take some time to cool off. Go for a long drive and think it over. Someday you will thank me."

"I doubt it."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!"

Being the resourceful fellow that I am, as soon as I made the decision to leave my company, I told everyone I knew that I was looking, and asked if there was anyone they knew of who I could speak to. Their responses fell into three major categories:

1. "You're the big hotshot: Why are you asking me?"
2. "I don't know of any job openings in that area."
3. "Why don't you look in the newspaper / go to / call a recruiter?"

Notice that none of these answer my question, which was simply if I could have a few contact names. Frustrating? You bet. But, rather than alienate them by reminding them how stupid they are, I merely repeated the question, slower, until I got an answer--which was usually, "Nope, don't know anyone."

Conventional wisdom says that you don't look for jobs in the newspaper, or online, because everyone is looking there. You must network, the experts say, and find jobs that are not listed on websites, so as to reduce your competition. Sure, it makes some sense, but nonetheless, I posted my resume on Monster, and Careerbuilder, and received daily email updates on new jobs. Then I spent every free moment calling contacts, reading job descriptions, and waiting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I see an interesting job on Monster, and before applying, I tweak my online resume to highlight my relevant experience. In so doing, I changed a few keywords. Over the next three days, something amazing happened.

Recruiters called me. A lot of recruiters. The keywords I had added apparently were exactly what some of them were searching for, and by the end of the week, I had four interviews lined up. It was like guessing a password that opened a vault.

I had to explain repeatedly why I was leaving such a high-level position, and why I was willing to go elsewhere for less money, if necessary. I explained that my personal life was important, that the amount of work was oppressive and that it didn't figure to improve anytime soon. I got my share of skeptical looks after this explanation, as if I had actually gotten caught screwing the boss's wife.

I was phone-screened and interviewed. I found myself telling the same few "work stories" repeatedly, when asked about my abilities as a manager. I like talking to people, and I sure didn't mind the ego boost of reliving what I have accomplished.

If I was reading their faces right, most of the interviewers were very impressed with me, but one by one, they turned me down. "We went with another candidate." "Your experience doesn't quite fit our company." "This job would not be challenging enough for you." "It doesn't pay enough."

That last one really bothered me. I was truly willing to take a pay cut, if it meant I would have my life back. But you can't just walk up to an employer and say, "I'm desperate. Give me whatever you want!"

"I'm getting a job anyway," Tim said. "If the offer seems reasonable, take it. We'll get by." She's more or less dumped her catering business and is trying to find a job as a chef at a restaurant. Funny thing about that: No one will hire a woman chef. Sure, these same guys who won't hire a woman probably go home and eat their wives' cooking every night, but they somehow still think women are incompetent to cook for a living. But that's another story.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Looking for a job can be full-time work in itself. Along with the job I already have, I won't be able to keep up this pace forever. When I'm too exhausted to keep looking, then what?

Today I have a meeting with a disgruntled client. They are so frustrated that they asked for Dan Johnson himself to come out and meet with them, but Dan called and convinced them that I could respond to all of their concerns, and that he would follow up with me personally afterwards. Dan has a gift: He can blow you off and somehow still make you feel special.

Dom takes a seat at the boardroom table across from me, and two of our colleagues sit at opposite corners, fidgeting noticeably.

Dom and I have been through this too many times before to be nervous. I find that, if I know someone is going to let loose on me, it's never that bad, because I'm ready for it. It's when I get ambushed that it goes poorly.

You might as well never be nervous for something like this. The worst that could happen is that you don't know an answer. So just be ready for that! Figure out what you're going to say if you honestly don't know something--but try and avoid answers like "I have no earthly idea." People are very understanding, as long as you don't look like a moron.

I like to question people to death when they are badgering me. Keep clarifying, and restating, and taking notes until they lose motivation. They can't stay at maximum pissing rate for long.

Bert, our client's CEO, strides briskly into the boardroom, slamming a heavy pile of books on the table. Several people jump in their seats, startled.

"Steve, right?" He says, looking at me.

"Yes sir," I say, rising and offering my hand.

"That's okay," he says, waving me off. "Just so you all know, I don't sit for meetings. I don't sit for anything. There's no chair in my office," he pauses, scanning the room to see if we believe him.

"You don't have a chair--" Dom begins.

"I injured my back skiing 20 years ago. It hurt to sit down, so I worked standing up. I've been doing it ever since. I use a cordless headset for my phone, and my computer is on a podium. A business magazine came in here and did a story on me," he adds proudly.

"My girlfriend would appreciate that," I say. "She owns a catering business, and she never gets to sit--"

"She doesn't get to sit," Bert says, straightening his cuffs. "Interesting. Not to cut you off, but my time is very valuable, and we need to cover a few things today. With me, you get it straight, and I want you to know that our account is in jeopardy. Are you willing to work to retain our business?"

"Yes," Dom and I say.

"Three hundred fifty-six thousand, two hundred twelve dollars and thirty-eight cents," Bert says, writing the number on a dry-erase board behind him, in six-inch-high digits. "That's what we spent on premiums with you last year. Did you do three hundred fifty-six thousand, two hundred twelve dollars and thirty-eight cents worth of work?" he asks, and all eyes turn to me. So much for spreading my team out.

"I have your policies in front of me," I say, slowly, opening my folder. It's strictly for effect; I've memorized the numbers. "Do me a favor; write a number underneath that one."

He uncaps the marker and looks at me.

"Twenty-eight million," I say.

He writes the number.

"Now write thirty-five thousand." He does.

"We insure this building, your company's vehicles, we insure you against employee dishonesty and theft, we even insure you as an executive, Bert, in case you go skiing again."

The group explodes in laughter, but I get the impression that it's as much about me diffusing the tension as it is about being funny.

"I'm using rough figures, but you see the point. As an insurance company, it's our job to protect you against unfortunate contingencies. Your company is a good risk, so we cover you. For that three hundred fifty thousand, we assume twenty-eight million dollars in risk. Twenty-eight million," I repeat, and it's scary how much I sound like Dan Johnson.

"The thirty-five thousand figure represents the portion of your payments that are used to cover our expenses. It's about ten percent; very low for this industry, but you're a long-standing customer and we don't believe in huge fee increases. It's my job to use that thirty-five thousand to pay my employees, to cover time and materials, underwriting, and any other overhead. Did we do thirty-five thousand dollars' worth of work last year? I guarantee it. I wouldn't be surprised if it was fifty thousand worth of work--but that's my problem, not yours."

The room falls silent. Whatever vitriol he had whipped up among his team is gone. Now, we can have a civil discussion.

The rest of the meeting was uneventful. We ran down the client's list of issues and assigned most of them to our customer service manager. We scheduled a thirty-day follow-up call, at which point all issues should be resolved.

After the meeting, I gather my papers and walk toward the door. "I need to speak to you privately," Bert says, placing a hand on my elbow.

"Is your resume on Monster?" he asks, as we retreat to a side hallway. "I believe I saw it there."


"Are you looking?"

I'd better be careful here. Dan knows I am looking, but if it gets back to him that I admitted that to a customer...

"I would be willing to consider a move if the right opportunity came along," I say, diplomatically.

"Don't worry, I'm not gonna call your boss," he laughs.

He withdraws his BlackBerry. "Are you free next Tuesday at three?"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 3:00PM
Bert's office

"I need you to coordinate our implementations," Bert says, squeezing the sides of his lectern and rocking it idly from side to side. "You'll supervise a small development team in Asia, as well as a couple of implementation consultants here."

The company is not exactly in the insurance business, but they make software that many insurance companies use. The job calls for thorough industry knowledge, as well as technical savvy and management ability. It's an unusual skill set, and Bert has been trying to fill the position for months.

"I probably can't pay you what you're getting now," he says, and waits for my reply.

We talk salary. We're not as far apart as he thinks we are. Evidently, my company wasn't paying me shit.

He makes me an offer on the spot. It's $4,000 less than I make today.

"Increase it by $5,000, and I'll say yes right now," I say. Wouldn't it be something if I ended up getting an increase in salary out of this?

"Twenty-five hundred is the best I can do."

"Deal." We shake hands.

And that, my friends, is how I got out of a shitty job for the low low price of $1,500 a year.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday again!

Hello all, sorry it's been a while since I've posted.

I read your comments to my IM post, and I freely admit that the gag-factor was high, and I deserved a ration of ball-breaking. But come on, guys, tell me that you have never gotten all coochie-coochie-coo with your gf's, especially after a fight, when you know you're going to be laying some good pipe as soon as she gets home...

All is well here, and I'll try to post more updates this weekend so I can get caught up. I would have done so this week, but I came up with a great idea and I've been working on it for days.

Remember the "choose-your-own-adventure" books? It turns out that there are some online / iPod versions around, and I decided to try my hand at writing one. Of course, being the kill-a-flea-with-a-sledgehammer type of guy that I am, it was not enough to just crank out the normal five-page-pamplet-size stories that you usually see; mine is up to about 7,000 words (about 30 printed pages), and it's just about done. I'm looking for somewhere online to post it, so stay tuned.

PS Speaking of ball-breaking, check out the vid I posted on LonelyGirl15's site...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mending fences

August 6, 2006 (cont'd)

"I'm leaving. Try to grow up while I'm gone," Tim says, closing the door gently behind her.

In a weird way, I'm proud of her for handling this with such maturity. At the end, at least--throwing the spoon wasn't exactly an adult-like thing to do. But she got herself under control quickly.

We've had huge fights before, and have retreated to our respective corners of the house to cool off, but this is the first time one of us has left. I flew off the handle, I know, and it wasn't necessarily because of what she asked me. The question was reasonable; what I objected to was that Tim was fine with my decision until her mother told her to be less than fine with it. Her opinion seemed to change 180 degrees before my eyes; at some point, Tim has to be an independent adult.

I know I was mean, but part of it was my frazzled nerves, part of it was the offense I took to being questioned by someone close to me, and part of it was intentional, to show Tim that she crossed the line. Having said that, I don't want to lose her. If she does not call or come home, I will call her, because I want to talk this out reasonably.


An IM window pops up as I check box scores.

Tim: hello

Steve: hi honey

Tim: honey? so im not a bitch anymore

Steve: i never called you that

Tim: no but you called my mother that and worse

Steve: i dont want to fight with you anymore

Tim: me neither! :-(

Steve: do you see my point

Tim: do you see mine, she is my mother and i love her and respect her opinion even if you dont

Steve: i don't like the way you went about it

Steve: if the question is from your mother then let your mother ask me

Tim: but after she said it, it made sense to me so i wanted to know too

Steve: you lied to me and said it wasn't her idea

Tim: im sorry

Tim: but why does that matter

Steve: because sometimes I feel like she manipulates you and tries to come between us

Steve: and it makes it worse when you dont tell me the truth

Tim: so remember our rules? you can ask me to change something

Tim: and it cant be don't listen to your mom anymore

Steve: sigh

Steve: can it be, ask your mom to move to Bora Bora

Tim: steve!

Steve: im not stupid. what kind of an idiot would i have to be to quit without having another job lined up, unless i didn't have a choice anymore

Tim: i know

Steve: i had to quit, for my sanity and my health. i could not wait around until i had another job

Tim: i know!

Steve: but i feel like you were doubting me

Steve: do you trust me

Steve: totally and completely

Tim: YES

Tim: i know you are not an idiot, you are the smartest person i know, and you are very successful, i am so proud of you

Steve: i need you to trust me then, that question really hurt me

Tim: do you trust me??

Steve: YES

Tim: then you have to trust that i won't let my mother change my opinion of you

Steve: lovely weather we've been having :-)

Tim: lol,,, stop it

Steve: ok, ok

Steve: honey i am sorry i swore at you

Tim: and im sorry i threw a utensil at you

Steve: remind me to buy plastic spoons

Tim: LOL

Tim: seriously, i need you to believe that my mother could NEVER make me feel differently about you

Tim: i love you

Tim: lovelovelovelovelovelove

Tim: i know you don't believe this but my mother loves you--she is not trying to split us up, she is just being nosy

Tim: she does this to everyone

Tim: when she gets sick and goes to the doctor, and he tells her what is wrong she sits there and argues with him

Steve: ack

Tim: its her way of expressing love lol

Steve: if shes not trying to break us up then why did she try to break us up at Christmastime

Tim: she honestly felt i was getting too involved and was going to get hurt or was going to hurt you. now she knows we are together permanently

Steve: as long as you dont kill me with flying spoons first ;-)

Tim: dont you have something to say

Steve: i apologized

Tim: *ahem*

Tim: Tim: i love you

Tim: lovelovelovelovelovelove

Steve: baby

Tim: ?

Steve: I lovelovelovelove

Steve: lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove

Steve: lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove

Tim: lol

Tim: ok, ok

Steve: i do have one thing to ask

Steve: if a question comes from your mother can you please tell me that

Steve: ?

Tim: ya sorry i lied :$

Tim: if its a reasonable question i have a right to ask, if you don't feel its reasonable you can just say you do not want to answer that

Steve: ok, i'm just letting you know i might say that sometimes

Tim: i will try to understand

Tim: and can you please remember the rule about no personal attacks

Tim: i seem to remember some bad language ;-)

Steve: can't seem to recall any...

Steve: ok, i will work on that

Steve: ok?

Tim: k

Steve: hey where r u?

Tim: coffee shop lol

Steve: can you please please please

Steve: please please please

Steve: please please please

Tim: i get it

Tim: please what

Steve: come home now?

Tim: you sure u want me there lol

Steve: o ya, i want you

Tim: me too

Steve: dont break the speed limit

Steve: ok break it

Tim: i love you honey

Steve: i love you

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I guess Chuck E. Cheese is out of the question at this point?

Sunday, August 6, 2006, 7:14am
Steve and Tim's house

It's an amazing dream.

Tim's long hair falls on my thighs like autumn leaves. She takes my cock between her lips with aching slowness, careful to shield her teeth, so that all I can feel is the soft insides of her mouth. She caresses me expertly with her tongue, and presses her fingers gently against my balls. The orgasm rises in me; my abdominal muscles tense and shudder. My God, is a dream going to make me cum?

" that baby?" she whispers, as she pulls my cock from its cozy warm spot and the full weight of her body lands on me.

My eyes open. This is how I wake up most days, with Tim on top of me, or, if I am lucky, with my boxers off and my dick already awake, showered, dressed, and halfway down the road to hard-onville.

Our bodies bump together and I feel her nakedness; I like that I don't have to wait for her to get undressed. Not 10 seconds later I am inside her, my hands clutching her naked ass, pulling myself more deeply inside her.

"Happy birthday, honey," she smiles when we are done, tying her bathrobe closed, and instantly I know that I will remember this for a long time: Not the sex, but her smile and the soft sincerity of her voice. God help me, this is actually beginning to resemble a healthy relationship.

I never realized how important weekends were for me, mental health-wise. When work was only "crazy", as opposed to "an endless parade of ballistic mayhem", I could kick back on Saturdays and Sundays, sleep until 9:00 without feeling guilty, and return to work on Monday ready to conquer whatever obstacles hindered my productivity. Now, I don't need an alarm clock anymore; I can't stay in bed past six, no matter what my calendar says.

"Why did you give your notice to Dan if you didn't have another job lined up?" Tim asks as I sit down at the kitchen table.

She's been talking to her mother. I heard the phone ring while I was in the shower, and it must have been her calling. That question had Diana written all over it, with its thinly disguised insinuation. It sounded like something Diana would say; I could close my eyes and see her saying it.

Tim and I have had this argument before. Her mother snaps into action any time she perceives a loss of control over Tim's life, planting poisonous seeds in her brain, as a reminder that Diana, not I, ruled Tim's every thought and deed long before I entered the picture.

I am never comfortable about having my competency questioned, least of all in my own house, by my girlfriend. She wouldn't lecture Tom Brady about football, nor Donald Trump about real estate; why doubt me, when I have achieved so much, so quickly? It's disrespectful of everything I have accomplished.

Normally I would rein in my temper, try to understand Tim's side of things, and calmly explain my point of view. But I have too much work on my mind to allow for anything but a 30-second conversation. And Tim should know better anyway.

"Do you do everything for your mother, Tim? Do you clean her toilets, and wipe the oatmeal off her chin?"

"What?" she sneers.

"Your mother called you, and put that little nugget in your head, and you came right back and threw it in my face."

"No she didn't."

"Who was on the phone just now?"


"Thought so. Do you trust me at all, Tim? Do you think I'm a complete idiot?"

"All I was saying--"

"You know how stressed out I've been. I can't sleep, my heart races all day long, I feel like I'm gonna drop dead any minute. I can't do this anymore, so I gave my notice. You know that!" I spit. The yelling only serves to coalesce my concerns, to encapsulate my anger into a single fiery pill that burns my innards like a Habanero pepper.

"I know!"

"So why the fuck are you asking me that question? Are you a fucking idiot, or do you just lack the guts to stand up to your asshole mother?"

"Don't you ever talk about my mother that way!"

"That's right, defend her, Tim, because you can't stand up to her."

"She just--I just, was asking you a question! If you didn't want to answer you didn't have to!"

"You shouldn't be asking. By asking you're doubting me. You're making me sound like an idiot who doesn't know enough to find a job before he quits!"

"I'm not doubting you!"

"No, your mother is, and you're just following orders."

"Stop saying that!"

"Stop doing it."

"Fuck you, Steve," she shreiks, flinging a spoon at me. She misses my head by inches, and the spoon clangs noisily against the far wall.

The noise startles us into silence for a moment. We stare at each other.

"Can we please talk about this calmly?" she asks.

"No, we can't talk about it at all. I don't need your mother's advice, and even if I did, I didn't ask for it. It's rude to interfere."

"It was just a question," she insists, lowering her voice as if to reduce the impact of her words.

"Bullshit, Tim. What if I walked up to my brother and asked him, 'Are you still a child molester?' Would he get angry? I would assume so. You can imply a lot with questions."

"I have a right to know the answer. And I have a right not to be screamed at for asking," she says, her eyes locked solidly on me. "You hate my mother so much that you can't even talk to me anymore."

"You have a right to know," I say. "You do. She doesn't, and this question came straight out of her mouth."

"Why do you hate her so much?" she asks, her voice rising.

"Because she interferes with our lives, and she doubts me, and she makes you doubt me."

"Well, I don't know if I can be with someone who thinks my mother is so horrible."

"I guess that elminates 90% of the world's population, then."

"I'm serious."

"Fine, get out then."

She looks at me.

"Oh, and thanks for treating me so nicely on my birthday."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A line in the sand

Sarbanes-Oxley has given my company dozens of new responsibilities: complicated, labor-intensive recordkeeping and ass-covering, all of which requires the creation of lengthy procedures and endless documentation. The company doesn't dare put the money that they need to into these projects, because it's money that goes down a rabbit hole; they are, after all, initiatives that won't make the company rich.

Instead of creating a national corporate compliance department and staffing it, as they should, the company split the work into quarters and dumped it on me and my three counterparts across the country. They know we are already overworked, and the additional projects make it hugely difficult to run our offices, but remember, CEO's and CFO's are making these decisions. They have revenue targets to hit, and they have Wall Street boots to lick. They would love nothing better than to stand in front of a room full of reporters and crow that their "SOX" compliance costs 25% less than comparable companies'. Sure, for the people actually doing the work, life is hell, but those are just details, and true leaders don't sweat details. True leaders are on a first-name basis with every maitre-d' in town, and work short weeks so they can drive to the Hamptons on Friday morning to beat the traffic.

My job is to run an office of 100 employees, with an annual budget in the neighborhood of $100 million. I worked 50-60 hours a week before; now, I have forgotten what it's like to come home when the sun is out, and weekends are no longer for sleeping in, but for catching up. As soon as I heard we weren't staffing up to meet the new demands, I called Dan Johnson.

"You're beginning to sound ungrateful," he said, without a trace of humor.

"You hired me to run an office. Now you're asking me to oversee government compliance."

"Compliance is part of your job."

"It's most of my job, now."

"Do you know how many people would kill to sit at your desk, Steve?"

That's right, Dan, change the subject, because you know I'm right.

I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with him. This was the job, and it wasn't changing.
But my strength has always been in managing people, in building strong relationships and finding effective solutions to business problems. Compliance, to me, is tedious and boring. Still, I did not have another job lined up, and the pay was good where I was.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 10:06am
Steve's office

I have reached the point of no return.

Emails continue to flood my inbox, employees with problems continue to flood my office, and new compliance projects continue to monopolize my time. I simply cannot do this anymore, without letting it take over my life.

I decide to make the call that I have been putting off for months, a call which will do serious damage to my career. I have stalled as long as I could, hoping that things would miraculously rebound. They have not.

"What have you learned today, Steve?" Dan says.

"That I'm no longer the right man for this job," I reply.

"Bad day, hm?"

"Bad year, Dan. If this were a six-month situation, fine. But my entire job description has changed. It's not the job I was promoted to."

"Steve, I don't have to tell you--"

"That other men would kill to have this job? Be my guest. Go and promote one of them."

He pauses. I'm sure most people don't have the balls to answer him that way, and he must be surprised.

"Steve, you are better than this. Are you just going to give up? Tell me what the problem is, and tell me what you need to solve it."

"The problem is Sarbanes-Oxley, and I need you to hire a national compliance department to get that work off my desk."

"Not going to happen," he replies sharply.

"Then you'll have to find someone else to do my job."

"You better think about this, Steve. This is career suicide for you. If you walk away now, if you just cave in and quit, it's going to affect you for the rest of your life. You'll never work in this business again, that's for sure."

He's right. A high-level executive my age who quits and does not take a similar or better position with another company will be judged unable to handle the pressures of a corporate insurance job. Word travels fast in the industry around here, too.

And you know what? I don't care. Maybe this is the level of commitment that is required to be an executive now; if so, I don't want to be an executive. I'm smart, and I work hard. I'll find another job, even if it means a cut in pay.

"Thanks for the heads-up, Dan."

"Are you giving your notice?"

"I'll give you until the end of September, if you want."

"Think it over, Steve. Get back to me on Monday."

"I've already thought it over. I wouldn't have called you if --"

"Monday, Steve."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's up, bitches?

Now that I have started posting again, it is only fair to inform you that I will be away next week, and may not post at all until the weekend. Keep checking back for updates, though.

Oh, and Stevo now has a YouTube channel! Check out the MildlyUnwell Network and enjoy the videos. I am a fan of off-the-wall stuff, like Randy Johnson killing a bird with a fastball, as well as eye-popping hotties such as the mid-90's Jennifer Love Hewitt. I hope to make my channel the most comprehensive online combo of hot and amazing.

I will start making my own vids eventually, but in the meantime, if you have a video you would like posted, please send it to me and I'll put it out there!

Have a great week and we will chat soon...


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Without a trace

Wednesday, July 5, 2006, 2:57 (continued)
Steve's office

I dial Bonnie's cell. Voice mail.

"Heidi, have you seen Bonnie?"

She looks suspiciously from side to side, like a spy giving out classified information.

"She ran out of here crying," she whispers. "I asked her what was wrong and she didn't answer. What do you think is going on?"

"That's what I want to know."

"She was due for a raise. I wonder if she didn't get it."

That's nonsense. I am Bonnie's supervisor, and her review isn't for another month. I open my mouth to tell Heidi when I think the better of it. This isn't Heidi's business, but she is damn good at prying information out of people.

"Trust me, it's not about a raise, Heidi."

"So she got one?"


"Okay, okay, I'll let you know if she calls in," she smiles.

I sit in Bonnie's chair and flip through her caller ID numbers. The last one is from a "Pine Brook Veterinary".

Bonnie's husband Mitch died four or five years ago, and her son lives out of state. The only company she has is her cat, Ralphie. She grew more attached to him after Mitch died; I remember one afternoon last December, when she burst grinningly into my office, showing me all the cat toys she had bought to put under the tree for him. That cat was her only link to Mitch; I hope nothing happened.

I dial the vet's number. "Oh. Ohhh, yeah, that was me who called her," says the woman on the other end. "Is she okay?"

"What happened to Ralphie?"

"Sometimes we sedate cats when we clean their teeth. Something went wrong and... he didn't wake up."

"He didn't wake up?"

"It happens."

A red light flashes on Bonnie's phone console. "Steve", the button label says. This is where most of my calls stop before being put through to me. Every time I lean to the left and look out my door, Bonnie's got the phone to her ear. She probably handles at least 30 calls a day for me, calls that I don't have to take because Bonnie knows the answers. I get tons of work done every day, and Bonnie is a huge reason I am able to do so. What would I ever do without her? In fact, what am I going to do today?

Another red light flashes, and the two orbs blink in perfect unison, like a well-rehearsed dance routine.

Screening my own calls defeats the purpose; the whole idea is that someone else speaks to the callers, so I don't have to stop what I am doing. I press the button marked "night", which will immediately route all calls to the automated attendant. The two lights go out.

I return to my desk. Da-dum! Da-dum! Da-dum! goes my inbox. I've been getting slammed with emails and phone calls all day about a contract I'm working on. We are hiring a firm to process our COBRA (insurance for terminated employees), and our HR director wanted the contracts signed today. We are on our 10th or 11th draft, and we aren't nearly done--

"Just say thank you," Peg shouts from outside my door. "Just say thank you!"

"I'll do no such thing," Jared shoots back, his words muffled slightly, as if passing through clenched teeth.

Why are they fighting outside my door? What are they doing there?

Da-dum! goes my appointment reminder. "3:00, Peg and Jared", it says. Bonnie always warns me 15 minutes in advance of my pending appointments, so I can prepare. Obviously, that didn't happen today.

"Steve, we need you! Peggy and Jared are screaming at each other in the hall!" Heidi says.

Da-dum! Goes my inbox, and I click on my inbox, expecting to see 30 or 40 new emails.

One hundred eighty-six.

It's going to take me hours to clear these emails. If I have my raggedy ass under the covers by midnight, it will be a huge victory.


The meeting goes poorly. Peg and Jared shout each other down repeatedly, and it's growing harder to calm them. I had hoped not to have to involve HR, but--

"Steve, if you can't resolve this properly, I'm gonna have to leave the firm," Jared says, his cheeks flushed, his eyebrows knit angrily.

"Good. Go," Peg shouts, and Jared raises his voice in reply.

Da-dum! goes message number 187.

My cell phone rings; it's the HR director, no doubt needing an update on the COBRA contract.

No matter how hard I work, the best I can manage is to tread water. It's demoralizing.

Two years ago, I was a leader. I improved processes, I helped people, and I woke up every morning eager to tackle whatever obstacles were in my way. Now, I referree arguments and make sure our corporate ass is covered. I have grown to hate my job.


I call Tim.

"What do you mean, you're thinking of quitting?" she asks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Just another tricky day for you me

Wednesday, July 5, 2006, 10:15am
Steve's office

"I need to talk to you," Peggy from finance barks, squeezing my door frame with her right hand, as if to keep from being pulled away.

I have an open door policy. In my two years at this job, I don't think I've ever refused to meet with anyone. Of course, that does not mean that you can just barge in whenever you want; I organize my day just like everyone else does, and interruptions throw me off schedule.

Part of Bonnie's job is to be my gatekeeper, to redirect people like Peggy so I can stay on track. It's not easy. Everyone's got an emergency; every problem is life or death, and some people aren't polite about it. Sure, Bonnie takes coffee breaks, and uses the bathroom, but she's good about telling me before she leaves her desk--and she hasn't. So how did Peggy get past her?

There's no way I'm going to ask her what the problem is. If I do that, she'll break out the violin and give me the saddest sob story you've ever heard, and I'll be a cold-hearted bastard if I dismiss her. The trick is to deflect her gently, to subtely remind her of the rules.

"Peg, I'm actually right in the middle of a contract negotiation. Why don't you talk to Bonnie and tell her I'd like her to set up a meeting for this afternoon?"

"I'm gonna walk right outta here," she says, her voice quivering. "He's driving me crazy! I can't take it anymore! I'm gonna look for another job!"

So much for redirecting her. Peg is overly emotional at times, but she does seem very upset. I sure wish I knew where the hell Bonnie was.

"Who is driving you crazy?"

"Jared! He's waiting for me to balance a file and he keeps calling me every five minutes to see if I'm done. I have other work to do, Steve! He's always doing that. Why does he keep bothering me? He's not my supervisor--"

Jared works in our payroll department. He is an amazing worker. He'll do whatever project they throw at him, no matter how early he has to come in or how late he has to stay. When he took a week's vacation, we required two full time employees to produce the same amount of work.

The problem is, he is also a head case. He walks around the office singing gospel songs, argues loudly with anyone who disagrees with him, and regularly sends out rambling, stream-of-consciousness emails complaining bitterly about his working conditions--normally copying the CEO, the VP of Human Resources, me, and anyone else he can think of.

After such a tirade, I'll call him into my office, and he'll smile and tell me not to worry about it. "I was just having a bad day," he'll tell me.

"I know he can be tough to work with--"

"So do something about it, Steve!"

"Peg, I really need you to set up an appointment with Bonnie."

"She's not there!"

My cell phone rings. Maybe Bonnie had an emergency and had to leave; I'll bet this is her. I pick it up.

"Steve, I need to talk to you right away. That woman is going to be the death of me! May she burn in hell! God fogive me," Jared shouts, so loudly that I instinctively pull the phone away from my ear.

Bad move.

"Is that him?!" yells Peggy.

"Is Peggy in there with you?" Jared squeals. "What is she doing there?"

"I was in here first," Peggy says. "You can call him back later, because I came in here first."

Da-dum, goes my email alert. That will be from legal; I was supposed to have the contract reviewed two hours ago.

I wish I could talk to these two together; it would make things easier.

Wait a minute--I can!

I hit the speaker button and place my cell phone on the desk. "Everyone take a deep breath. Enough is enough," I say, slowly. They fall silent, and it looks like things are under control. For now.

"We're not going to resolve all of this right now," I continue. "But Jared, I assume you are waiting for the deposits to be released so you can post the tax payments."

"Right," he says.

"When are the taxes due?"

"Steve, I don't want to wait until the last minute--"

"Friday!" Peggy shouts, so loudly that her voice reverberates. "We don't even have to release them until tomorrow!"

"If we wait until the very last second and then something goes wrong--" Jared shoots back.

"Enough!" The room goes silent.

"Peg, how much time do you need to balance the file?"

"It will be done before I go to lunch at noon."

"Jared, if you don't receive confirmation by 1:00, call me. Not her. Okay?"

"Okay, Steve."

I swing around in my chair and check my calendar. "I want both of you in here at 3:00 today to discuss what's going on between you two."

"Steve, he's constantly-"

"Three O'clock, Peg."

I wonder where the hell Bonnie is.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Fighting fair

Saturday, July 1, 2006
Steve and Tim's house

The phone rings. It's Dom.

"Hey honey!" Tim says, with a flirty lilt. She chats with him for a few minutes before holding the phone out to me.

"Is your girlfriend tired of you yet?" Dom asks before we hang up. "Tell her she knows where to find me."

"Do you have to call him 'honey'?" I ask Tim later.

"I call everyone 'honey'. I call Lila 'honey'!"

"That's a nice thought."

"Does it make you mad?"

"You had sex with him, Tim."

"You had sex with my friend right in front of me. Should I be jealous?" she spits, her voice rising sharply.

The threesome might have been a mistake. It was fun, yes, but Tim brings it up every once in a while, and not in a good way. She'll ask me why guys like that sort of thing so much, or if it bothers me that it happened.

"If you didn't want to do it--" I say, annoyed.

"I'm not saying I didn't want to do it!"

"Then what's the problem?"

"I trust you, but you still don't trust me!" she shouts.

"What does that mean, Tim? I moved you into my house. You have keys to my car. You know my ATM PIN number. What are you talking about?"

"You trust me with your money, because you know I don't care about it. You don't trust me to be faithful."

"I just don't like you flirting right in front of me. It's insulting!"

"Oh and you don't flirt with everyone!"


Tim has taught me a lot about what she calls "fair fighting". She says it is normal to have fights and that fights are healthy, but there should be rules. At first, I thought it was ridiculous; who wants to be running down a list of do's and don'ts when you're screaming at each other? But actually, it is easier than I thought.

A few of the fighting rules we follow:

1. No name-calling
2. Be specific
3. No physical fighting
4. Use "I" statements rather than "you" statements when you can
5. After the fight is over, each person thinks of one thing they can do to avoid similar disagreements in the future

It may seem funny, but I am actually better at following the rules than she is. Tim usually ends up calling me a fucking asshole and throwing shoes at me, while I sit there waiting for her to calm down.

I may be better at fighting, but Tim is better at making up. No matter how angry she made me, she just sits in my lap, whispers "I'm sorry" in my ear, and I turn to mush.

"I would appreciate it if you didn't question my friendliness towards Dom or anyone else," she says. "I stopped seeing him to be with you, I moved in with you. Sometimes I feel like you don't trust me."

"I do trust you. But I also remember when you were with Dom, and you used to flirt with me right in front of him."

"Was I living with him? Was I asking to have a baby with him or get married?"

Yeah, she's brought those topics up before, but that's another story.


"Steve, I love you. So much. Please trust me."

My insides melt, and no matter how cynical I am, I can't resist her pull.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"No, I also want my mix tapes back!"

Sunday, March 21, 1993, 8:45am
Steve and Paulie's apartment

The phone rings.

"I thought you were calling me after your gig last night," Renee says.

I had anticipated the question and was ready for it. "It got late," I reply immediately. The lie was efforless, natural.

"Yeah right," she chuckles. She's just teasing, but doesn't realize how right she is. "I'm sure you and Dennis hooked up."

"No, we're not gay, thank you."

She laughs out loud, and it strikes me how the flawless the tactic is: I have now used it twice in less than 12 hours! I made a joke, and it's almost as if she forgot all about what her concern was.

"Did you get any phone numbers?" So much for laughing it off.

Nope, no phone numbers. Fucked a gorgeous 20-year-old though. But the phone number count was a big zero.

"I was there for work, Renee."

"I know."


Friday, April 23, 1993, 7:30pm
Renee's apartment

"What's wrong?" I ask. "You've been acting strange all night."

"I've been--"

"You've been what?"

"I've been thinking."

"About what?"

She sits up straight in her chair and exhales heavily. I look at her; she avoids eye contact, and I know right away she's dumping me.

"Steve, you've been so sweet to me--"

"Say it, Renee."

"It's just that, and this isn't about you at all..."

I sit silently, careful not to avert my eyes. I'm not trying to make this easy for her; if she's going to break up with me, she's going to have to work for it.

"The plan has always been that I'm gonna marry a Jew, Steve, and you aren't a Jew. We're graduating in a week, and I'm moving back home, so--"

I keep staring, emotionless. I could throw in an "I understand" or a "This is totally unexpected", but I don't want to help her. I want to hear what is truly on her mind.

"Why, I mean, um, why, like, prolong it?"

"Why prolong it?" I retort. "Is it a disease, Renee?"

"Steve, you know I didn't mean it like that."

"You're a coward, Renee."

"How am I a coward?"

"You're not a Jew. Not a true one, anyway. When's the last time you've been to temple?"

"Totally irrelevant," she spits, but her cheeks have flushed and she's breathing just a bit heavier then usual.

"Never mind what your parents want. Never mind what your bubbe and zade want. What do you want?"

"I just told you," she says, with a stiff jaw, and I almost believe her. Almost.

"I think you don't give a shit about religion. I think you want to find someone you love and get married, and I think religion is the farthest thing from your mind."


"I don't think you care whether or not your kids are running around with little yarmulkes on their heads. I bet you think keeping kosher is the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard of. I bet you think it's stupid. I bet you think all religion is stupid. Don't you?"

She stares at me, so still that she might as well be a cardboard cutout.

"I'm gonna meet someone else, Renee, and one day I'll get married, and I'll be really, truly happy. And you know what? I won't give a FUCK if she's Jewish or not. I feel sorry for you. I actually feel sorry."

"Is that all, Steve?"

We had been together for months, most of them really happy. When I looked back, all I could remember was laughter and passion. I could have forgiven her, but as far as I was concerned, she didn't deserve it. She had the freedom to make whatever choice she wanted to, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. But I sure as shit was not going to reward her selfish stupidity with a hug and a warm goodbye. Fuck her.

Without another word, I turned my back and walked out of her life forever.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Closing out some ass

"Is that your girlfriend?" Kiersten asks, abruptly.

I hit the stop button too quickly; I looked like I had something to hide, and now she was on to me. Maybe this was how it was meant to happen. Maybe I was supposed to tell Kiersten I was with Renee, then bid her goodnight with a firm handshake, and go talk to Renee about our future together. At that point, I had blown it with Kiersten anyway.

Not so fast, I think.

Paulie lived in the apartment too. A girl could just as easily have been calling him as me. But I couldn't look suspicious; that would give me away.

"None of my girlfriends have my number," I smirk, and immediately know it was a home run. I didn't deny anything, didn't get defensive. It was perfect!

She laughs and changes the subject. Was that it? Wasn't she going to ask who it was?

Evidently not.

"Can I use your bathroom?" she asks.

"As long as you leave the door open," I smile.

I'm on the couch when she comes out, with the TV set to the preview channel. No sense in letting her get distracted, you know.

She sits next to me, and I put my arm around her. I behold her face for a brief second before we kiss; her skin is pure, flawless alabaster, and her eyes are shimmering sapphires.

I reach around and lower her zipper; her party dress falls away, exposing a beige demi bra, overflowing with her voluptuous breasts.

The thrill is palpable, rising through my insides like hot steam. This was actually going to happen!

My heart gallops as she unhooks her bra and her tits tumble out, round and curvy, much bigger than Renee's. I stare as she slides her panties down, and I am awed by her sexiness; it's surreal, as if I'm watching a movie.

A blow job would have been amazing, but I was sure it wouldn't happen. Girls like Kiersten didn't suck dick. Did they?

She kneels in front of me, and as she takes it into her mouth, I am in full sensory overload, my hands shaking, my breathing choppy.

She sucks me to within an inch of coming and I instinctively pull away from her, my cock soaked in spit, hot and throbbing. I pick her up and sling her over my shoulder like a caveman would, carrying her to my bed as she giggles and runs her fingertips lightly across my back.

I penetrate her slowly, running my eyes up and down her body like a jeweler searching a diamond for a flaw that isn't there.

It was the best sex I had ever experienced, hot and slow, with a climax like a volcanic eruption. Maybe I was lost in the moment, but I started thinking of Kiersten like a girlfriend, like someone who I could get to know, form a bond with. She was beautiful, and the sex was great, so why not?


I woke to the rapidly fading sound of a car engine, and got to the window just in time to see the cab moving out of sight.

Maybe she had to get to work tomorrow, I told myself. Funny she didn't leave me a note, or wake me to say she had to go. But I could always call her--

My pockets were empty. I never got her number! Well, I could look her up...

...that was, if I had her last name. I didn't.

Holy shit. I was never going to see her again.