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July 2003

Sex and the Single Software Developer
A Cautionary Fable
by Brian Dunning

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Jenny 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 he's on 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 doesn't 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. Once it 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 questions, 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.

Drew's emails are always like one sentence long. This one says:

Call 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 for a glass of chardonnay but there isn't any. There is about one glass left of merlot from the other night though, so she pours herself one.

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. First of 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. It 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 and…

Ever hear the expression, it never rains, but it pours?

Mateo's name is lit up on her buddy list. And it says Mateo is typing a message.

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.

Some 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 girlfriend; 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 go 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:

JJ, where were you tonight? I waited at the airport.

Jenny doesn't 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 either.

Plane is boarding now. Gotta go. Call you from London next week.

Outside, 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 care less.

In the morning, she'll email Drew that she didn't work after hours last night.

Browse Mode
Jan 10 Solving Performance Emergencies with FileMaker Server
Aug 06 Top Ten Sessions Cut from the 2006 FileMaker Developer Conference
Jul 06 Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway? Or, How Marketing and Engineering Buried the Hatchet (Warning: Contains a Curse Word)
Nov 05 Shingle Grandiloquence
Oct 05 In Celebration of Geek Magnetism
Aug 05 A Rogues' Gallery of Devcon Attendees
Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye