Note: This is an excerpt from my favorite book: One Hundred Open Houses. This is the book that saved me from total deterioration at a certain time in my life. My agent took me to lunch in Sag Harbor. We changed restaurants twice. We'd look at each other and say, You want to leave? Let's go. After we finally settled down and started to eat, she said, Write another book. It's time. I like the book Julie/Julia. I like the structure - cooking all of the recipes in the one book. What if I did one where the structure was looking for an apartment and going to open houses, I asked? Great, she said. Do that.
One of the happy outcomes of having a bestseller (Three Daughters) is the spillover reader interest in One Hundred Open Houses)
Don't show me this message again!
The pseudo-porn magazine contact has sent me an e-mail with a huge file attachment because his parent company has had ten lawyers drawing up the contract. Lawyers on staff of large corporations are lazy and careless. They send you boiler plate stuff written in the Middle Ages and when you point out that the terms are impossible to enact, they tell you to just cross it out. When I try to open the attachment, the message says that the file is compressed. I e-mail back that the file is compressed and he tells me to use WinZip to open it. That’s like telling me I have to turn into a crocodile to open it – in other words, impossible. I look on my desktop and there is an icon of a vice squeezing a file cabinet as when you want to glue furniture. I click on the icon and whoa! WinZip appears right over the e-mail. It says. “Do you want to unzip this now?” I love it when the message is clear.
Once I called Dell for advice on an e-mail problem and the tech person in Sri Lanka or wherever told me to check “Don’t show me this message again.” The minute I checked it I realized I needed the message to get to my e-mail. He said, “I’ve been working here 10 years and I know pretty much and I could probably help you solve your e-mail problem but I have to follow the rules.” I should have known he was telling me in a subtle way to urge him to help me but (not knowing the next help station was going to charge me to undo the damage from their bad advice,) I said, “Oh, that’s all right.” I think the people in Calcutta or Sri Lanka have better ethics. They are more empathetic and want to do the right thing unlike American telephone companies. When I called back almost in tears, a soft voiced man said: “I know one way to help you get that message back. It’s called ‘system restore’ and it allows you to go back to any date you select and start all over again.” And that’s exactly what I did. I went back to May 10, a Monday, when I still had not checked: “Don’t show me this message again.”
Imagine if you could do this in real life. I’d go back to 1999 and be rich again. And then I’d go back to 1960 and accept a date with Butch Ordway. Or I’d go back… oh, hell, I can’t go back.
When I first came to work here, I didn’t know how to transfer a call. I was on overload for about two weeks and even with a gun to my head I couldn’t have told you what color the walls were. Now I’ve used WinZip.
I open the contract and try to compare what we sent to the pseudo-porn people and what they are sending to us. It’s tedious and confusing and I already have a slight headache
Before work today, I went to see the dentist to see what is making the right side of my face hurt. They took an x-ray of the pain site and I thought the technician was going to look at the x-rays scream and say: oh, my god, your teeth are all messed up. That’s not what happened. She said my sinus was resting on the nerve. If you thought they were going to say: you don’t need us, go home, no charge. That was not the case. The dentist looked in my mouth and said I had some fillings that were decomposing and now he’s going to do a whole bunch of things that are going to cost a lot of money. I’m obsessing about it because in the moment of relief that my teeth were okay, I relaxed my attention and the medical establishment swooped in and mapped out a plan to keep me there for a year and separate me from thousands of dollars.
Three calls to the dentist’s office and now his whole desk staff has doubts about me. I want to know why he can’t do everything in one visit. I want to know how much it is all going to cost. I want to know whether it is necessary. For some reason the woman on the phone finds these questions unreasonable and obscure, as if no other patient has asked them before. In the medical establishment, if you ask a question the staff always sees you as trouble. It’s our own fault. The rules that the medical man is the king and the patient is damn lucky to be in his presence were made a long time ago. So I have to let this bullshit dentist have his way about “decomposing”: fillings that haven’t given me one iota of trouble. On top of that, without any permission from me, he has numbed the entire left side of my face and ground down one poor tooth to a nub. “You’ll need a crown on that one,” he says. Yes, I obsess but this dentist is nuts. Trust me, he is nuts.
There was something on the news today that vindicates my theory that you should never have a medical procedure by the ‘top man.’ Every horror story I’ve ever heard about a procedure is always prefaced with the words ‘he’s supposed to be the top man.’
This man went in for a knee operation and when he comes out, the nurse is wheeling him to his room and says casually: “Well you have a new left knee.” And the patient says, ”It was supposed to be the right knee. The doctor marked it.” Sure enough there’s a big x on the right knee but the numbskull replaced the left knee. And the hospital is only awarding him half a million dollars. I would have ruined that lazy crazy bastard. I’m ready to stab that dentist who ground down my poor tooth. If someone replaced a perfectly good knee and left me with the same problem I came in with, I would never be done hunting him down. Dr. Feldman was the name in case you need knee surgery.
I can’t stop thinking about that dentist that absolutely ruined two of my teeth and drilled them down as if he were excavating for a new subway or something. Why do people become dentists anyway, to be legally aggressive? Now my mouth hurts and I can’t eat peacefully. I guess I shouldn’t complain about that.
On top of this, Shana’s dog has pooped in the office and in order to kill the smell they sprayed the kind of floral scent that gives you a big headache. I just read a story about a woman who was frequently ‘employee of the month’ but had to quit because of the excessive scents people wore to the office. While I’m talking about scent assaults, I may as well call your attention to the soap Lever 2000. I went up to my second floor one day because I smelled the overpowering scent of cheap perfume mixed with stale sweat. I thought a cologne-crazed robber might be hiding up there. The smell was suffocating and it was coming from an unwrapped bar of Lever 2000. I began to feel nauseous and had to take it far out of the house and throw it away. I would vote for any candidate that would outlaw perfumed soaps, shampoos or anything else. Thank god for scent-free All.
Shana has no reprimand for the dog. She loves, loves, loves the dog. Twice the dog has done number two in the office. Once right next to the hardest working employee who takes twelve hours to tell you something that could be said in half a sentence. However, she claims to work until two in the morning (which, by the way, is Shana’s dream employee). If you worked past seven at night, she would hire you forever even if you were dealing drugs.
So the hard worker had to go out and buy Febreze and clean up the poop and spray everywhere. But then she said a brilliant thing and a courageous one, too. She told Shana, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
I know too many people who are blindly in love with animals. Peta petitioned the government not to give Timothy McVey any meat for his last meal. The reasoning was why should one more living thing be killed for the monster. Ay, mommie! I know people who prefer their pets to humans and many of them are women who never had children. These people are perfectly okay with having the dog knock you down or put his muddy paws on your best silk dress. They let cats sit on the dinner table before and after you eat and only say, “Now Fluffy get off there,” in that tone that Fluffy has learned means “I love you so much, you can sit on my toast for all I care.” And Fluffy does want to sit on the toast especially when it’s still warm.
When Oprah was on Ellen, they had a dog love competition.
Ellen: What makes you happiest?
Oprah: Being with my dogs.
Ellen: How many do you have.
Oprah: Three and I’m getting two more.
Oprah: I don’t understand people who don’t love dogs.
Ellen: Me either. Where are you going after the show?
Oprah: To play with my dogs in the dog park.
Ellen: I’ll go with you.