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August 11, 2005

on dorkass

"All people know of me is 'comprehensive migration tools' and 'placesettings,' Dorkass moaned, not realizing that I never actually identified her as the dolt of the placesetting post. But fair enough. I'll tell the story about how we became friends, and I'll even allow her space for a rebuttal.

It begins, as seemingly all stories do, about ten years ago. I was a lead, and she was my direct report...who no one had actually told me was hired during my absence. I forget how I found out she was working for me, but it sure wasn't from Dorkass, who gleefully surfed during her 2-hour workdays. I asked around about her. "She's a radical feminist," cautioned one of her former co-workers. "Watch yourself." So odd it is to hear that in this day and age. I imagined she had her spinster's loft adorned with the jarred testicles of many a neutered man, and I kept an open mind and a wary distance.

Time marched on, and she proved herself a capable writer and human being, and in an uncharacteristic fit of professionalism she even nudged the length of her work day up to five hours. We weathered some sort of a crisis together—the norm on my team—and soon found ourselves doing what I do after a crisis: taking a colleague out to one of my shithole bars. This time it was Waldo's. As I poured truth serum into her, she sounded less and less like a man-neutering radical and more and more like, well, a drunk friend. So I told her what I'd been told.

"A radical feminist...?" she said, befuddled. "What does that mean?"

"Apparently, that you wear pants and have a job."

"That idiot Promise Keeper neanderthal. I can't believe he said that about me."

"I wouldn't worry about it." I sipped my drink and watched the activity at a nearby pool table.

"But I like men," she continued, arguing into the air. "I like penises. All kinds of penises. Big ones, little ones..." She babbled about phalli for a while, but honestly, I don't know how much she said and how much my memory has embellished, so I'll stop here. The next day, a hung-over Dorkass came to my office for our 1:1. She sat down and began with, "Hey, I want to thank you for taking me out last night. That was a lot of fun."

"Mmm hmm. Say, do you remember telling me how much you like penises?" Her reaction indicated that no, she had not remembered, but that she sure remembered the hell out of it now. Ah, sweet professional awkwardness. Utterly priceless. It remains the only time that genitalia have come up during a 1:1.

(Digression: but not during interviews. Not long afterward, I was interviewing a guy for a writer position, someone from SQL who I'd never worked with while there. When I identified myself, his face lit up with recognition: "Oh! You're the guy who called James a 'cocksucker' at that meeting!" My vanity is such that I hired him on the spot.)

No Dorkass backstory would be complete without my telling the tale of the first time we played racquetball. I was chasing down a high, arching ball and not looking where I was running. Dorkass, an Amazon, got in my path, hunkered down, and cut-block me at the knees, sending me tumbling ass-over-teakettle to the floor. Color me impressed; no one gets underneath me and takes my pins out. That's my own bread and butter move. I am the low center-of-gravity, cheap-shot king, but on this day, she beat me at my own game. She still couldn't make verbs agree with subjects, but any woman who can take my pins out from under me is the kind of radical feminist I really respect.

• • •

True story: When I wrote that this summer was going to be like the fourth of July, only instead of fireworks, it would be explosions of amniotic fluid, "boom-boom-boom-boom-BOOM!," Dorkass immediately deduced that the last BOOM! represented her. "Are you saying I'm fat?!?"

posted by john at 7:05 AM  â€¢  permalink