Sex and the Single Software Developer
A Cautionary Fable
by Brian Dunning
article | del.icio.us
Faberhardt is working late again. Not that that's any great earth-shaking
news headlines. If it's not the client in Edinborough, it's the
updates to the system in Santa Monica that have to be done after
hours. In fact, Jenny can't remember the last full week where
she hadn't worked after dinner. For that matter, she can't even
remember the last week when she'd even had seven regular dinners.
It's completely bogus.
At least Mateo is always around, sort of.
He hardly ever uses chat but at least his name shows up on her
buddy list, even though
it's grayed out most of the time. He used to send jpegs of the
view from his flat in Barcelona – if you hang off his balcony
and look down the street you can actually see part of Gaudi's
Casa Batlló – but he hasn't done that for a while.
If he would it would totally help her get through frustrating
late nights like this one. He probably won't until he gets back
from his trip to New York. As long as he doesn't do his usual
thing and "extend his stay indefinitely."
Mr. Sir jumps
up on her lap, which is nice except that he weighs about forty
pounds. He was the neighborhood stray that nobody
wanted because he's so big, and most people don't like male cats
because they spray. Nobody else seemed to care about him so Jenny
finally made it official and took him in. She pushes him off
her lap and gets a few accidental scratches; it's not like they're
even noticeable since both her legs are a veritable patina of
Mr. Sir's claw art.
Now here comes an email from Drew Holt. He's
her client in Santa Monica. He's this unbelievable guy: completely
gorgeous and he
acts like he doesn't even know it. Of course he's married and
has two kids who are like ten years old. His wife must have
incredibly good taste in clothes because Drew always looks like
the cover of a magazine. Half the guys in L.A. try to dress
like that, but not very many pull it off. Drew looks like he
even know or care what he's wearing, or exactly how deep his
5 o'clock shadow is, or that he's two inches taller than every
other guy around him. Every time she goes to his office he
takes her out to some way cool bistro with sidewalk seating.
was even for dinner. She still doesn't know if that was total
torture or absolute heaven. Probably a little of both. When
he takes her out he always asks her all the usual small talk
like where she's from, where she went to school, and then when
she answers he always nods and acts like he's not really paying
attention. But he's making mental notes. She knows it.
emails are always like one sentence long. This one says:
me on my cell if you're still working.
OK. It's like eleven o'clock. Does
she really want to do this? You know what, she's not even going
to answer that question
right now. After a quick pit stop she comes into the kitchen
glass of chardonnay but there isn't any. There is about one
glass left of merlot from the other night though, so she pours
But nothing's ever simple. She's just putting the
cork back in when suddenly the college boy across the hall
cranks up Boomkat.
That's not even going to work right now. God. Going out and
knocking on his door is the last thing she's in the mood for.
all she's only wearing Mateo's T-shirt and Doc Martens. Not
that it would be a bad thing on any other night. The kid is pretty
cute, in a North Hollywood kind of way, and it's almost a game
between them that they've never actually spoken. Once she left
her door open a crack on purpose and let him catch a glimpse,
which was the most exciting thing she'd done in six months.
was fun because she knew that the image would torment the poor
kid, and it's also given her total control in their mute, pretend
you don't notice each other neighborly relationship. Any other
night. Any other night, my young friend.
But not tonight. Please,
just turn the music off. Unfortunately Boomkat is still tearing
it up and it's only the beginning of
a long song. Jenny's going to have to pull on some jeans and
pound on his door. So she sets her wine glass down by the computer
Ever hear the expression, it never rains, but it pours?
name is lit up on her buddy list. And it says Mateo is typing
OK, so it's like Drew needs her to reboot his
server or something, and she can totally turn it into an excuse
to talk to him for
like half an hour. College kid is making that impossible right
now, until she runs over to give him five seconds of facetime.
And she can't even do that because there's no way she can leave
the computer while Mateo is typing a message.
And, of course,
she didn't even write down what time after dinner she started
working, so she's completely lost track of how much
time she's billing for right now, and anyway she doesn't even
know or care what she was working on before Drew emailed.
hideous cackling sound comes from college kid's apartment.
He's got some girlfriend over. This is totally her life. Three
guys at once; only one is actually present, and he's got a
one is married and probably doesn't even think of her as anything
but a consultant; one has the full Latin Lover thing going,
but is in New York. Four if you count Mr. Sir, but we won't even
there right now.
She's yanking on her jeans without taking her
eyes off the chat screen. What is Mateo writing, a book? He's
never been able to
type more than like two words per minute. And then it appears:
where were you tonight? I waited at the airport.
even have time to be shocked that she forgot to meet Mateo on
his stopover, when Boomkat goes suddenly silent, and the
door across the hall slams as college kid and his girlfriend
go laughing away down the hall. She grabs her cell phone to call
Mateo back – he has some weird Euro phone that can't call
out when it's in the U.S. – but the screen is dark because
her phone's dead; she didn't charge it up again. Can't call Drew
Plane is boarding
now. Gotta go. Call you from London next week.
the engine on college boy's tinny little veedub rattles to
life. It's like the only sound in the neighborhood now. Except
for a cricket somewhere. Jenny stands there for a minute before
landing back in her chair.
It's quiet for part of a minute. She
remembers her glass and takes a nice long sip and looks at
Mr. Sir, who's all fat and
stretched out on the floor looking at her like he couldn't
In the morning, she'll email Drew that she didn't work after
hours last night.