April 9, 2000
Houseguest From Hades


Franz is spending the weekend with us.

I brought him home from work with me on Friday night  --  "You'll hardly even know he's here!," I grimly promised David  --  and the three of us have been pretty much joined at the hip ever since.  He went grocery shopping with us after work on Friday ("Can we get the lemon meringue?"), and then he spent the evening curled up in bed between the two us, watching "Nash Bridges" and listening to David practice the opening four bars of "El Paso," over and over again.

("Know any Ivan Rebroff?" he asked hopefully.)

On Saturday morning, he was awake before we were. I walked into the kitchen and he was standing there, waiting for me to grind the Organic Mexican Altura French Roast. After coffee and cereal and showers, he came along with us to Daly City so David could get his Driver's License renewed.  When the DMV Robot snootily informed us that they couldn't issue *me* a California ID card because I don't have my birth certificate, Franz offered to have her kneecaps broken. Afterwards, he sat in the backseat of the Subaru as we drove around Haight Ashbury and the Richmond District. More than once, he asked us to turn down our music.

("Got any Ivan Rebroff?" he asked hopefully.)

At Mel's Drive-In, where we stopped for lunch, he reached over and helped himself to a couple of my fish sticks.

We managed to lose him for about forty minutes last night while David and I ... uhh ... *played Yahtzee.* [ Sorry, Daughter #1.]  Even so, I could hear him through the wonton-thin walls of The Castle, playing "Blake Stone" on David's computer in the next room. It was only through sheer force of will that I was able to tune him out and score that Triple Yahtzee.

This morning  --  while David is out having Sunday breakfast  --  Franz is sitting here next to me at the computer, watching me color my hair ("I see we're buying the expensive stuff now, huh?") and work on my website.

I guess that as houseguests go, it could be worse. He doesn't smoke cigarettes. He doesn't leave crayons and little bits of Play-Doh in our bed. He doesn't use up the last of my eleven-dollar shampoo, or watch the same &*#! "Rugrats" video over and over again, or run up our long distance bill with middle of the night calls to France..

He usually remembers to flush.

But he is an incredibly difficult houseguest, nonetheless. He demands 100% of my time, attention and thought molecules. He doesn't care if it's the weekend. He doesn't care if I need to recharge my psychic batteries. He doesn't care if I've just survived -- barely -- the second-worst week of my entire Totem Pole *career.* (Another one of my very-most-favorite people in the Totem Pole Company turned in his resignation. All of a sudden the canoe is emptying at an alarming rate.)  He doesn't care if I'm exhausted and cranky and teetering dangerously on the brink of quitting again ... teeny-tiny obligatory token raise or no teeny-tiny obligatory token raise.

And that pretty much makes it impossible to relax when he's hanging around.

When I'm trying to catch a Saturday afternoon nap,  he's laying there next to me, pushing my *panic button.* ("You didn't throw away that lunch menu from the 1993 Regional Meeting, did you?")

When I'm trying to put a dent in the 43,897,621 unread/unanswered e-mails in my cyber mailbox,  he's right there, pushing my *sympathy button.* ("Another one of my Senior Managers quit last week. I don't get it. Is it something I said?")

And when I'm sitting here at the computer on Sunday morning, surreptitiously glancing at the new online Help Wanteds,  he's standing behind me, pounding away on my hair-trigger *guilt button.* ("I give you a raise this week and you're STILL thinking about abandoning me?")

Frankly ... I'm ready to scream.

Because the whole point of a weekend, as far as I'm concerned, is to relax and decompress and recover from the week that went before it.

And because it's going to be really difficult to sit here this morning and do any cyber job-hunting with my BOSS standing right behind me, correcting my spelling ("No hyphen in 'multitasking'' ") and dribbling Organic Mexican Altura French Roast down the back of my nightgown.

Even if the only one who can see him -- or hear him -- is me.

one year ago ... more or less

throw a rock