July 5, 2000
A Sporting Wager


"I'm taking bets!" I announce to David, as we're dressing for work this morning. "'Car trouble' ... or 'sports injury'?"

He gives me a blank look.

" 'Car trouble,' or 'sports injury'?" I repeat. "Which excuse do you think he'll use?"

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Dawning light of comprehension. We're talking about Franz here. "You mean, as a reason for not coming into the office today?" he says, and I nod.

It's actually a pretty tough call. The jaunty little sports car, aka *The Franzmobile,* seems to break down on a fairly consistent (and weirdly convenient) basis. But then again, it's the end of a four-day holiday weekend, and vague physical complaints -- or "sports injuries," as we in all levels of admin are required to winkingly refer to them -- are pretty popular, too. Especially amongst senior-level executives of the testosterone persuasion.

(Me? I always relied on the all-purpose "stomach flu," the day after a particularly festive holiday celebration. But then again, I usually spent that extra day off crouched over a variety of porcelain bathroom fixtures, praying for swift and merciful death. So it wasn't like I enjoyed myself or anything.)

"I'm not sure I want to take that bet," David says cautiously. "I think the guy might surprise you."

But I am insistent.

"Fine," he says. "I'll bet that he shows up at the office today, after all."


"OK," I say. "I'm going with 'sports injury'." And I finish getting dressed for work, smug in the certainty that I will be fifty cents richer, come nightfall.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I actually don't mind the thought of going back to the Totem Pole today. Half the office will be on vacation until the end of the week. It's a pretty safe bet that a handful of other people will call in with assorted maladies and complications. And Franz, of course, will be MIA for most of the day.

The place will be a ghost town, essentially: the perfect time to get some serious work done.

(Or the perfect time to get in some serious DOOMBALL ... depending on your personal work ethic.)

In a bizarre way, I am actually looking forward to it: one long, lovely, uninterrupted day to catch up on voicemail and filing and paperwork, and to clear out the flotsam from my tickler files, and to rearrange the Tot photos on my bulletin board ... all without the usual distraction of ringing phones and chatty co-workers.

And, best of all, without Franz around to set off any Fifth of July *fireworks.*

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Our Independence Day was quiet and uneventful. (Unless you call shopping for women's underwear at K-Mart "eventful" ... in which case you've come to the right website.)

Alameda goes insane over the Fourth of July. I've never seen anything like it. The entire island decks itself out: street after street of beautiful old Victorian homes, festooned in flags and patriotic symbols and tons of red, white and blue bunting. And the island plays host to one of the largest Fourth of July parades in the Bay Area: over 100,000 people either watched or participated in yesterday's parade.

David caught some of the parade in the morning. Later, we saw a little bit of the big New York fireworks display on TV. (Although I view televised fireworks with about the same amount of enthusiasm as I would televised gum surgery. I just think it's one of those "you have to be there in order to fully appreciate it" sort of situations.) But other than that, and the afore-mentioned trip to K-Mart, that was pretty much our Fourth of July. We were asleep by 9:30 p.m.

(Yeah, I know. Next, David and I will doubtless feel compelled to buy matching rocking chairs and scowl at the neighbor children for trampling our petunias. But at least we're growing old with dignity ... she says, scratching her foot with her hairbrush.)

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I've just settled in with my second cup of coffee (in my spiffy new "World's Cutest Nephew" mug) and four days' worth of unopened mail. I have my cough drops and my letter opener. The radio is tuned to KFOG. The door is closed.

All systems go.

The VP of BFD has already called in with a "sprained ankle" -- [snicker] -- and the rest of the office is every bit as deserted and silent as I predicted.  Best of all: there are no voicemail messages waiting for me from Franz. No stoopid little Post-It notes stuck to my chair. No faxes from the home office in Napa. No communication of any kind, as a matter of fact.  I am going to kick some serious paperwork butt today.

Or ... not.

I've just started to put a significant dent in the incoming mail. Suddenly, somebody is tapping on the glass partition of my office door. Annoyed at the interruption, I glance up ...

... and there is Franz, standing outside in the hallway, peering in at me. He is sunburned, slightly wind-blown, distressingly bright-eyed, smiling ... wiggling three fingers of his left hand at me in greeting ...

... with his right arm is in a sling.

Guess David and I are going to be SPLITTING that fifty cents tonight.

one year ago

throw a rock