Jason Fried, the president of 37signals, had just finished speaking to an admirer.
“It’s always guys,” he said wistfully of his fan base. “Never women.”
Fried’s colleague, Jim Coudal, said, “Women come up to me all the time. They say, ‘oh my God, do you know Jason Fried? My brother LOVES him!’”
Baby A__ , designer Jason Santa Maria and I were leaving everyone’s favorite egg-and-bean breakfast joint. We paused while Baby A__ and I negotiated the fine points of stroller and sippie cup maintenance.
A guy with just a touch of yesterday’s ashtray about him, one arm draped over a parking meter, eyed Jason Santa Maria suspiciously.
“You a Jew?” he asked.
Somehow it didn’t sound friendly.
Jason, who is of Italian American descent, answered truthfully in the negative.
“Have a good day,” I said to the guy, pushing the stroller briskly out of his universe.
A bunch of us had been dawdling in a sunbaked courtyard and now I was alone and late for the green room. Still wearing jet-black sunglasses against the Austin glare outside, I rode the long escalator through the airconditioned cool. Up, up, up.
I was riding up. Others were riding down. My face was turned vaguely in the direction of the people coming down, but I wasn’t looking at them, and wouldn’t have recognized anyone through my dark glasses even if I had been paying attention to them.
Suddenly, one of the people coming down was in my face, leaning across the up-down barrier to confront me.
“Ya know me!” she shouted angrily. “I’m Mary!” [Not her real name.]
It took all of a cartoon moment. By the time I realized what had happened, Mary [not her real name] was twenty feet below me and about to turn onto a lower escalator.
I could see by her gestures that she was furiously complaining to a companion about my perceived rudeness in not embracing her with flowers and song, or at least with a hello, as our bodies passed in the vast anonymous convention center space. That I might not have seen her hadn’t occurred to her.
Off guard and off balance, I tried to rectify a social mistake I hadn’t made by calling down to her rapidly disappearing body.
“Hi, Mary!” [not her real name] I trilled down the escalator, girlishly waving a hand in her direction. My voice was chirpy and strange to me, my gesture artificial and nanocenturies too late.
So now there are two dolls in hell.
There’s the Mary doll [not her real name] that breathes dragon fire and roars, “Ya know me! I’m Mary!”
And there’s the Jeffrey doll, waving girlishly down the vastness of an endless escalator shaft.