Big giant head

In Other News

We continued our weekend socializing with a jaunt down to Long Beach to have dinner with my friend Tim, his wife, and their two boys who are a few years older than Zoe and are, for her, the most fascinating fellows on the planet.

At Tim's I also continued my string of disastrous home improvement projects. Tim was using his Jeep's winch to uproot hedges in front of their new place, so I decided to help him. He'd been doing it all morning with no problems at all, but as soon as I got involved things started going wrong.

Pulling out the hedge by the front steps, the chain slipped off and somehow managed to snap all four pipes for the front lawn's sprinkler control. After we'd turned the water main off, we moved on to pull out the next hedge over and managed to rip out the brick wall bordering the planter we were working in. We moved on to the next hedge and instead of pulling it up, we instead pulled the Jeep up the curb and across the yard several times. It just wouldn't come up.

At this point Tim wanted to quit until after I left, convinced I was the source of the trouble. He cited my home improvement journal entries as evidence. It was a compelling argument until I pointed out that in MY debacles, blood is always shed. Thus far we'd broken the plumbing, broken the wall, and were well on the way to pulling the Jeep's front bumper off, but nobody was bleeding. Therefore, it COULDN'T be me, now could it?

Tim allowed that, okay, maybe it wasn't me, and we went after the bush for yet another try ... and I somehow managed to slice my finger open on a branch. Blood was flowing. It was officially my fault.

Chuck strikes again.



Sunday-- September 12, 1999
Security Breach

Little known fact: Every member of the President's Cabinet has their own Secret Service security detail, the agents of which are trained to sacrifice their own lives to save those of their charges. Overseeing these individual Secret Service security details is the Agent in Charge, code named REBAR. REBAR is held responsible for ALL the Cabinet members' safety. If anything should go wrong, if a Cabinet member should die, be it by accident or foul play, REBAR is required to personally kill every single agent on the failed security detail, after which he is required to kill himself. It's a Samurai thing, as I understand it, something to do with shame and code of honor and all that.

Accordingly, REBARs going back to the tragic day of Kennedy's death have forbidden cabinet members to travel together, meet in person together, to even be in the same city together. All those meetings where you see them all together? Special effects. They used to do it with mirrors, but genetics has come so far that now they use clones. (Which, if you've seen Multiplicity, explains quite a bit about why Washington works the way it does.) Cabinet members are kept as far away from each other as possible, ostensibly as a security measure, but everyone who knows knows it's because REBAR doesn't want to have to kill himself multiple times. REBARs don't mind killing their subordinates, but killing themselves over and over again puts a damper in their weekend plans.

I mention all this only to draw a parallel: If Archipelago were the Cabinet, then a serious breach of security was permitted to occur Saturday night. As I observed at the time, one well-placed grenade could have taken out a good part of the ring. Saturday night, you see, is when four Archipelago members --the "president," Lucy included -- met for dinner here in Southern California. Were we the Cabinet, heads would surely have rolled.

But they didn't. So... So much for my parallel. Anyway.

Minus the dramatics, what happened was that Lucy and her husband were in L.A. for the weekend and Lucy had suggested the local Archipelagans meet her for dinner. Having been summoned by our President, we came, and all eight of us met for dinner in Studio City: Lucy and husband John, Diane and husband Darin, Steve and wife Viv, and myself and Beth. (Stee was out of town, much to our universal chagrin, otherwise he'd have been invited too.)

I'm not all that big on meeting other journalisers-- Hey, I like that term! I was typing journalists, reconsidered and was changing it to journalers, and that's what I ended up with. I like it. Anyway, I'm not all that big on meeting "others," but I wanted to meet Lucy because she clearly is an intelligent and on-the-ball person, as evidenced by her accepting me into her webring, and I wanted to meet Diane because we've corresponded a bit and kinda sorta almost met once before and I wanted to get all Nike about it and Just Do It.

I'm glad I went. Our reservations were for 8:30 and when I looked at my watch an hour later it was nearly midnight. That never happens to me. Time never flies when I'm having dinner out, be it just Beth and me or a table full of fascinating people. Time simply does not fly when I'm trapped at a table and at the mercy of the waitstaff. But since it did last night I have no choice but to deduce that I had a good time -- or that someone put something in my food. I'll have to check with REBAR on that.

As always, it was great seeing Steve and Viv, especially this time because I got back the sunglasses he stole from me on our Newport Beach safari. I've been blinking like an owl in the harsh noon sun for two weeks now and cursing his name all the while. It's good to have my optic nerves back under wraps. Unfortunately, Steve and Viv kind of got lost in the shuffle of meeting and talking to new people and I hardly got to talk to them at all. But we did manage to talk long enough for Steve to offer a laundry list of excuses for why his scheduled return to updating has passed without a peep outta him. Suffice it to say that he's having host problems and hopes to have everything straightened out soon. At least that's the story he's concocted.

Darin and Diane were pretty much what I expected, except that she was thinner than I thought (I'm sure she's happy to hear that <grin>) and Darin was taller. I sat next to Darin and he basically talked my ear off -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. He's a friendly, personable, pleasant guy and I enjoyed our conversation. I didn't get to talk with Diane much, though. She seemed a bit standoffish at first, but warmed up by the end of the evening and was fun to talk with. I don't think I made a good impression on her, however. At one point I made some relatively tasteless comment and caught an expression on her face that was so heinous that I had to call her on it and say she was probably thinking I was a total asshole. She didn't quite deny it, allowing only that she was deciding what would and wouldn't go into her journal. So I'm a little nervous to see what she has to say...

Unfortunately, I sat too far across the table from Lucy and John to get to talk to them very much. I can say that Lucy is both younger and prettier than I thought and John somehow made the whole bearded/wrinkled-shirted/wild-haired intellectual thing work. From what little conversation I shared with or heard from them, I liked them quite a bit and I wished we could have spent more time together. Maybe next time they're down here, or next time we're up there...

We finally called it a night around midnight, right around the time the waiter started coughing from clearing his throat so much as he tried to hint to us that it was time to go. We said our goodbyes out front and then Beth and I headed for home, home for a long, quiet weekend sans Zoe, who we'd dropped at Aunt Karan's house earlier that afternoon.

We drove home, anticipating sleeping late the next morning, reading the paper in bed, maybe going out for croissants and coffee -- and then the cell phone rang just as we pulled into the driveway. It was Karan, with a hysterical Zoe on the line, who had only four words to say over and over and over: "I wanna come home."


Back out onto the road, drive downtown, pick up our daughter, and return to our standard weekend fare of getting up too early and not reading the paper and watching Disney videos... And it was worth it. Because I know that if we'd actually made it into the house and had had even half an hour to ourselves, Beth and I would have started missing her and wishing she were home. That's what happened last time, after all.

So it was all good in the end. We got to have an adult evening of adult conversation with adult people we liked, then we got to have our little girl back again to have a weekend of toddler activities.

It was the best of both worlds. But I have to admit, I was kind of looking forward to sleeping late today. Oh well.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins