The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume XI
May 25, 2010For the next few days, I threw myself into my work. Even as I was creating pivot tables like a pro, e-mailing while on the phone, I knew the clock was ticking. First, socializing would require some new "Saturday Night" clothes. My wardrobe had degenerated into Snoopy pajamas and Tweety slippers; that just wasn't going to cut it. Second, I hadn't picked any social activities. If I didn't do that soon, I would get a fax from NY. My mother had learned to fax from her computer, and she would be sending a completed itinerary. I could not let that happen. If I let her get away with it, the next thing I knew, I would be getting an oversized box via UPS with a matchmaker inside.
I leaned back in my chair. I couldn't stare at the pivot tables anymore. I was getting an eye twitch. Another attractive habit I couldn't afford. I got up out of my chair and stretched. Tonight is the night, I thought. I am going home to review all of my options and make decisions. I should make a pivot table of all my options. Then I can spend some time sorting and examining the possibilities. Good going Joanie, I thought. It only took two minutes to suck the joy out of creating memorable social experiences.
I needed caffeine. It's good for headaches and menstrual cramps. Maybe it could help me get over my decision making inertia and get a move on.
In the kitchen, I leaned against the counter sipping my coffee, thinking. After a few minutes I heard, "Hello?"
I came back to the here and now to find Duncan staring at me.
"Are you with us?"
"Present and accounted for."
He moved closer. "You look pensive. Did you do something wrong?"
I smiled. "Maybe later. It's not work related."
A cloud crossed his features. "Everything all right?"
I had worked for male bosses long enough to provide my own internal translation for these statements, mon petit morse code, if you will. Allow me to demonstrate:
"Everything all right?" = "Is this problem going to inconvenience me?"
When I made the move to Seattle, Duncan had made sure that Gina, the VP's Executive Assistant was on call for me twenty-four seven. Translation: "If you have a problem, whatever you do, don't call me."
I gave him a reassuring smile. "Yes, everything's fine."
And then I took another look at Duncan. This was a new city for him too. So who did he talk to in his spare time? Spend time with? How did he find friends? It was so easy to imagine he had no friends. But was that really feasible? If he had friends, who were they? What did they do? Were they also in business? Doctors? Lawyers? Actors? Musicians? I couldn't see Duncan in an underground cafe, listening to poetry or seeing a play filled with profanity and righteous social indignation. But who's to say he didn't?
I realized I was staring. He seemed to find it amusing.
"Question?" he asked.
I toyed with the idea for a moment, weighing the possibilities of awkwardness and disaster. I shook my head. That was the annoying thing about Duncan. He made it almost impossible to open a conversation. I think he enjoyed that.
"Plans for the weekend?" he asked.
I nearly choked on my coffee. He really was Yoda. It was a little unnerving.
"Still deciding," I said. "You?"
He was silent for a moment. C'mon, I thought. I've seen you blow your nose. I know you use the men's room. You are not Superman. You are mortal. What do you do on weekends? Would it kill you to share?
"Flying down to Laguna for the weekend."
Thanks a lot, I thought. Big fat help that is. I'm trying to get a life and Trump is taking the jet and blowing town.
"There are a few book festivals going on this weekend," he said. "And I think there's a jazz festival in town."
Don't ask me why the mention of the book and jazz festivals upset me but I began to blink fast. If I looked at him, I was going to cry. And that would be a disaster.
When I got the courage to look over at him, he was staring at me intently.
Yes, your assistant is a pathetic diaper girl. Next subject. Move on.
"Thanks for the tip but I'm pretty sure I'm all set." Excellent Joanie. Strongly exudes confidence, projects image of an independant woman with a full and satisfying life. Memo to me: Log on to e-bay, look for copy of Helen Reddy classic, "I am Woman."
"I'll have your reports for you after lunch," I said.
"I didn't ask."
"You were thinking it."
His smile said we weren't in the admin kitchen at work but alone in his house, as we had been so many times when I first began working for him. Only not like this. We were standing closer now, too close. My stomach flipped.
And then I knew why I wanted to cry. I wanted to go to the book festival. And the jazz festival. And I wanted Duncan to take me.
And we both knew it.
He strolled out.
I went back to my office and closed the door. Perspiration from nerves: check. Racing pulse and pounding heart from sexual excitement: bingo. I sat down and forced my breathing to slow down while I mentally clobbered any thoughts about Duncan.
No more hiding. Tonight I was going home and choosing an itinerary of social activities to fully settle into my new life. My hot flash over Duncan had given me something to else to think about. Something that had to with my decisions in the past and last year's project, Jennifer.
Check in next week for the next chapter in the continuing adventures of The Jennifer Chronicles!