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my glamorous life

episodes & recollections

#64 happy meal

Most of us would agree that vegetarian meals should not contain bones. Even a meat eater might be unsettled by the sight of large grey bones in his hot, spicy meal. But to a non–meat–eater who’s ordered a vegetarian dinner for two, a pile of bones is an appetite suppressant only slightly less effective than fried mouse.

After dumping our dinners into the garbage, I made the classic mistake of phoning the Chinese restaurant to complain.

“I ordered ‘veggie chicken’,” I explained for the fifth time. “It’s got bones in it.”

The lady on the other end of the telephone asked me to show her the bones. “I’m sending my delivery man now,” she said. “I need you to give him the dish with the bones.”

I spent the next few minutes fishing the bones out of the rest of the garbage—coffee grounds, spoiled fruit, cigarette butts, last week’s beans—so the restauranteur could show them to her chef. Not that I would ever hear his explanation. Not that I would want to hear it.

It was a small thing, really, but it came at the end of a day—

—Where I learned that nearly all the people I’d arranged to have speak at a web conference this week were being cancelled at the last minute. Things are happening so fast, it’s possible that some speakers have not been informed of their changed status. A few may be flying here in anticipation of a hotel room and a speaker’s podium that no longer await them.

—Where I received a DSL modem I had not ordered from a phone company whose DSL services I do not require, with no way of returning the modem or cancelling the order I did not place.

—Where I discovered errors in a site we’d already shipped to the client, and after fixing the errors, was unable to upload the corrections due to server permission problems. I was also unable to mail the corrections. When zipped, they snagged on my client’s Lotus mail program. When unzipped, they snagged on my new provider’s mail gateway rules, which treat HTML attachments as spam. By the time I’d uploaded the zipped corrections to my personal server, the client had gone home for the day.

So I put on some music to unwind, and discovered that my stereo is broken.

Then I met my baby, took her to my place, and said, “Let’s just order in.”

I handed the chicken bones to the delivery man. He handed me a bag of replacement food. I did not throw it out until the elevator doors had closed behind him. I did not want him to see me throwing it out. I did not want to hurt his feelings.

I wanted catharsis. I wanted grief and explosions. I wanted to shriek like Brian DePalma’s Carrie, covered in blood, smashing windows with my mind.

It was only Tuesday but already the week was spinning out of control. On Sunday I learned that someone close to me may be ill. On Monday the FBI issued a warning that more terrorist attacks are expected this week. As I write this, a Manhattan hospital worker confirmed to have inhalation anthrax has died. And though it’s not being reported, the subway system is out of whack. Sixth Avenue trains have stopped running. A friend’s office is strangely empty at 10 a.m.

And yet we go on—working and maintaining while breathing the ashes of our fallen comrades, we go on.

31 October 2001

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