November 3, 2000
Humanizing Secra


Franz walked around the office on Tuesday afternoon handing out presents to everybody ... souvenirs from his big trip Down Under. The managers all received bottles of pricey Australian wine. The lower-level Testosterone Units in the company were given attractive souvenir bottles of lager and ale. The women got miniature gift decanters of fancy Aussie walnut liqueur.

And what fabulous souvenir did he bring to his long-suffering SecraTerri, you ask?

*I* got a little plastic tray with koala bears stamped on it. The price sticker on the back says "10 dollars." I have no idea whether that's ten Australian dollars or ten American.

(It doesn't matter, anyway. His real "gift" to me was immediately getting back onto an airplane and heading to Southern California for the next three days. Basically I've only had to put up with him face-to-face for about an hour, total, this entire week.)

But what's most interesting to me about all of this? Giving everybody in the office liquor except me, I mean?

It means that Franz is finally starting to *get* the fact that I don't drink.

This, of course, after a year and a half of Secra politely declining that glass of wine at the Totem Pole Company Christmas Party (No thank you: I have a club soda) ... Secra politely declining that beer at the Totem Pole Company Picnic (No thank you: I have a 7-Up) ... Secra politely declining that mandatory four-martini-after-work-*happy-fun-time* on Friday afternoon (No thank you: I have a functioning liver).

And why is it so important that he *get* why I don't drink?

It isn't. That's not what this is about at all. I couldn't care less if he does or doesn't know that I'm a recovering alcoholic. (Although I'm sure that the Human Resources Director Person has mentioned it to him, a time or ten. I'm sure, in fact, that that is precisely how -- and why -- I wound up with a plastic koala bear plate this week, instead of a bottle of de Bortoli: she has probably "mentioned" it to him so often that some of the *information molecules* have finally penetrated and stuck.) The why of it is incidental. I couldn't care less if he thinks I abstain from alcohol for religious reasons, or for medical reasons ... because I'm trying to lose weight, or because Grandma Vert appeared to me one night in a dream and said "Terri Lynn, you big dummy! If you don't stop drinking that stoopid box of Mountain Chablis every night, you'll be dead before you're forty!"

The IMPORTANT thing is that he gets the fact that I don't drink.

Never mind why I don't. It means he acknowledges something vital and specific about me as a human being. It humanizes me a little, in his perception. Look! There's Secra! She's got three kids who live in Seattle, she's got a boyfriend named David, she types really really fast, and she doesn't drink. It makes me a person. (A person stuck with a really cheesy plastic koala bear plate, maybe ... but a person nonetheless.) And that makes it a little tougher for him to treat me like something disposable.

That's progress.

Now if only I could get him to spell my NAME correctly, once in a while ...

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A few odds and ends, before I depart for the weekend.

  • To my pal Jennifer (and to everyone else who thinks I hate them/thinks I've developed an impossibly big head since that Diarist Awards thing/thinks I've fallen off the edge of the planet ... simply because they haven't heard from me since before Daylight Savings Time began): writing e-mail, once again, seems to have become one of those things I aspire to do  ...  like defrosting the freezer, or updating my archives, or sewing that button back onto my jacket ... yet never actually seem to get around to. The awful irony here, of course, is that there is almost nothing I love more than RECEIVING e-mail ... especially when you're writing to me about something you've read on this website. Your feedback is literally the fuel that keeps *FootNotes* running.

    (I can hear Grandma's voice in my head right now: "Secra, you big dummy! You have to WRITE e-mail in order to GET e-mail, forcryingoutloud!")

    Anyway, I'm sorry. I'll try harder. And in the meantime, please don't stop fueling the machine.

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  • To my pal You-Know-Who-You-Are: Sorry, kiddo. Didn't mean to get you in trouble with You-Know-Who. Maybe you could just get her a nice jigsaw puzzle! Or a circular saw!  Or candy!  (I know where you can get a bag of gummy bears, cheap.) Just don't come crying to me about the problems of shopping for "December birthdays." You're talking to a December Baby right here ... and speaking for all December Babies everywhere, I can tell you that we expect something fabulous for our birthday AND something equally fabulous for Christmas. None of this one-present-for-two-occasions bullshidt. Plus you'd better never ever ever wrap our birthday present in fudking SANTA CLAUS WRAPPING PAPER. OK?

    I'm sure You-Know-Who will agree with me on this one. Right, You-Know-Who?

    You-Know-Who: "Right, Mommy!"

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  • Speaking of candy. We had no trick-or-treaters this year. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. (If we'd known we were going to have such a lousy turn-out, we would have bought better treats. Now we're stuck with an entire bowlful of those stoopid little bags of "classic" M&M's. Blecch.)

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  • Special howdy to Whoever Stole The Old Piece-of-Shidt Computer We Left Sitting Outside Our Apartment, earlier this week: the password to activate the virtual windchimes program is "byte me." The exclamation point key sticks on the keyboard. And you're just about out of room on your hard drive.

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  • Did anyone else watch that amazingly awful FOX special last night ... the one where the pathetic scheming girlfriends trick their unsuspecting boyfriends into marrying them live on national television? Have you ever heard of anything so devious? So desperate? So utterly conniving and evil and dishonest and manipulative and awful and contrary to the laws of God and nature and holy matrimony and stuff?!?

    Who in the world came up with this miserable, offensive garbage in the first place??

    [and more importantly: why didn't *i* think of it?]

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  • Hi Karen!! How incredibly groovy to run into yet another *FootNotes* fan in an Alameda check-out line!

    I swear to god I'm gonna make David start carrying the fudking camera with us everywhere we go, from now on.

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  • Our fabulously exciting weekend plans? Taking me to get my California State I.D. ... finally. Going to the Post Office and mailing EdmundKaz' birthday present. Shopping for underwear (him) and groovy shampoo (her) and cilantro (us). Going back to the library for more free videos. Napping. Laundry. Making tacos. Making tapes. Making whoopee. And writing tons and tons of e-mail, of course.

    Right after I defrost the freezer, update my archives and sew that button back onto my jacket.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody.

throw a rock