“We have to stop and get a nice bottle of wine, he’s a ‘VP,’ he’s in so-and-so’s vertical.” Or group or whatever the hell strange and twisted game they play up there in Round Rock that means you’re supposed to kiss this guy/gal’s ass because they report directly to a guy/gal who reports to a guy who once met “Michael.” They seriously get a glow in their eyes and whisper… “Michael,” like an 8-year-old talking about Santa just days before Christmas. I imagine it’s much the same at Microsoft, Apple (before what’s-his-name went tits up), Amazon, etc.
Flashes of Quincy.
Whatever KoolAid was being handed out and guzzled up there never looked good to me so I never drank it. In fact, the one on-site contract job I had with those folks ended with me being walked to my car by security – in a way that still makes me smile. If anything, when these people got together and talked about work, which is all they did/do by the way, I found it entertaining in a way they wouldn’t appreciate.
These are people who demanded that everyone around them spoke in a way that would only fall pleasantly on their ears while systematically smashing the spirits of subordinates. People who made up words and phrases that were longer and more confusing than the words and phrases that were working just fine before they made up the new ones. These are people who would drop the name of their college into conversation if it were a particularly good one, flash a Rolex or their BMW keys, in short, these were NOT my people.
In my world, money doesn’t make the world go ‘round, getting things done does and these people were making a lot of money and not getting anything done and seemed to be proud of it. It’s as if large bonuses were being offered for over-complicating things into oblivion. And here I was dating one of their go-gettingist go-getters. A small town girl without the fancy pedigree that was out to prove to the world that she wasn’t just a small town girl without a fancy pedigree. She was going to have the condo in the nice part of Austin and the enviable convertible.
By the time I spent an evening in her home and saw the framed posters of Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin shoes – and the Us and Celebrity Weekly magazines stacked on her coffee table, I lost faith in our future. Perhaps that’s even more judgemental than I’m making these folks out to be – but it doesn’t change what happened one fateful evening.
The VP of Such-and-Such was hosting a soiree in his massive home on top of other massive homes in the well-to-do part of Austin just west of downtown. I wasn’t looking forward to it but was making an effort. We arrived fashionably late with a “nice bottle of wine” and met new people, mingled a bit, ate crackers and cheese and laughed on cue.
The host heard me say something about a cigarette and his eyes lit up. He escorted me to the back patio, which would make a nice home for the average person – complete with pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen and gazebo-type-thing. I liked the guy, he was smooth but not too smooth. He was easy to talk to and listened well, obviously well-read and relaxed. I enjoyed the relaxed part.
We shot the shit and he motioned to the outdoor kitchen and asked if I needed anything. On a cutting board atop the large counter just right of the sink sat whatever you wanted that law enforcement would celebrate finding in your console or trunk. I politely declined, claiming it was too early for me, (laughter) but when he went back in, I did pocket two joints for a friend of mine.
My girlfriend was enjoying a conversation about an upcoming server conference or something regarding networks so I stood in the den and spoke with who turned out to be the “lady of the house” for quite a while. She was delightfully honest and didn’t care much for corporate talk – so we ranted tag-team and in tandem about our favorite TV shows and movies.
She excused herself to attend to some needy guests and I took a seat next to my girlfriend and looked for cobwebs on the ceiling or something that made these people human.
I noted the baby monitor on the fireplace mantel but no other signs that children inhabited the mansion. Yet another reminder that parents have cutting boards of cocaine and weed at cocktail parties, made me feel naive and rube-ish. Then I remembered the old “parents who do drugs have children who do drugs” commercial and I got lost in thought.
It seemed like hours and hours went by while my counterparts in the living room went on and on about work. I noticed we were now down to four couples at 11 pm.
The tall, bald German guy I’d found intriguing got up and mixed himself another drink. When he returned, he sat next to the host’s wife, the woman I bonded with over The Wire earlier. The host, big swingin’ dick VP guy, took a seat next to the German’s wife. We’re all smiles and laughter at the moment, then each man started caressing and kissing the other’s wife.
The couple closest to my girlfriend (who remained absolutely oblivious to the situation) smiled our way. I whispered to my girlfriend that she should probably make note of what was happening – and she froze. In shock.
I then apologized and announced that we had no intention of staying so late and had tickets to the midnight show at the Alamo Drafthouse. No one appeared to feel slighted or grimaced in any way. We simply said our goodnights as we backed toward the entrance and ran to the fucking car in a sprint.
I still think about that baby monitor and wonder what vertical those kids will be in.