Chapter Two: Penny Loafers and Red Socks

 

The year was 1991, and our story continues:

After the LucasArts Game interview, I had to fess up to the Bechtels that I was looking around for jobs and probably wouldn’t be their nanny forever.

Susie Bechtel asked if I wanted to transition into working for her on a global project that would connect the families that worked for Bechtel abroad. It would involve writing and community development through the new-fangeld interwebs.

I said no thanks. I had decided to take my life savings and backpack around Europe for a while. Alone. Since I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.

[Again with the “was I stupid to turn that down?” Would I have been a VP at Google by now? Who cares. Europe was good for me. I wrote a little story about it here.]

September 1992

I was 26. I was female, and I was wearing shorts on the day I arrived in the lobby at Dynamix to interview and meet the team.

Okay, they were black linen shorts that skimmed my knee, and I was wearing a turtleneck and and a long sleeved jacket. I mean, I was over dressed by a mile compared to everyone else, but I was a girl wearing shorts and word had spread that I’d be arriving.

Geeks.

I am so NOT a rockstar or a super model, I just picked the right industry to help me feel special. I’m not so dumb after all.

So anyway, I’m hanging out with the receptionist (who was far cuter than me, by the way) when a few guys from my new team start trickling in to say hello. They were all quite nice and harmless and funny.

One of them was Rhett. He was the tallest, at 6’6″. And the skinniest. Super skinny. And he had a mustache, long sideburns, thick round glasses, and looked like a cross between a rock star from the 1970’s and a cable guy. I couldn’t quite figure out which.

He was wearing a black silk shirt, Levis and penny loafers. And red socks. This was a fashion statement I’d ever seen before. Intriguing. Do cable guys wear red socks? No, not usually. My brother was a cable guy at the time. He has never owned a pair of red socks, to my knowledge.

Rhett made me laugh within the first minute. And he made everyone else laugh too. Oh my god, I thought, this goofy looking cable guy is working the room. And he even had pennies in his penny loafers.

Again with the “Huh.” I’m not easily baffled, but he wasn’t really as geeky as it seemed like he should be.

I got hired, went back down to Palo Alto to pack and move, and looked forward to my October 1st start date. I grew up in Eugene, and it was nice to be moving home.

My new buddies were happy to hang out with me before I actually started my new job, and it helped that my apartment was across the street from a McMenniman’s pub, just a few blocks from work. We hung out as a group, and I was introduced to a few of their girlfriends and it was all good.

I invited them all over for a little party one night. I didn’t have furniture yet, so we sat around on the floor and drank beer and told funny stories. The next day, Rhett sent me flowers as a thank you.

Oh dear, I thought. He likes me. How awkward. What a geek. Poor guy, I’d have to let him down easily. I called him to thank him, and he asked me out. I said no, I didn’t think it was a good idea to date someone on the same team. I was making boundaries, but I was flattered and the flowers were nice, thank you very much, that is all.

October 1992

I started working, it was fun. I wrote dialogue and text for the game scripts and helped with some of the documentation and my new buddies tried to teach me to love love love the games the way they did. I goofed off with the guys after work. In a group. All together, as friends.

Then Rhett started calling me every night to ask me out. We were friends now, so he wasn’t really a stalker. In a bad way, at least. But I kept saying no, we shouldn’t date since we worked together. I told him he was just lonely, and what he really needed was a kitten, since my mom’s cat just had kittens. 

Yes, a kitten is a great distraction from an empty house, I said. If you have a kitten, you won’t need to call me every night.

So I took him to my mom’s house and he picked out a kitten and named it Speed Racer. She was a needy kitten, just right for him. My mom thought he was very nice and quite funny and asked me later if I was dating him.

Argh. I had not intended to take him home to meet my mother, it just sort of happened. Accidentally.

A week later my sister and I were in the grocery store and saw Rhett buying milk and I introduced her, and he told us a funny story about the cat. She thought he was great, and cute, and why wouldn’t I want to go out with him? Double argh.

And still he kept calling me, every night with great ideas of dates we should go on, and I kept saying no, we shouldn’t really date, but we should invite the group and all go together because it would be fun. To go all together.

Then one night he didn’t call. And I was quite surprised that I missed talking to him.

Triple argh. He’s very clever after all.

The next day he called with a group date idea, we’d all meet at the Eugene Celebration, the big street festival. We all met in front of the main stage and danced, but then those nerds all started leaving one by one until it was just Rhett and I left. Of course they had planned it. After that, I conceded to going out with him alone, but we weren’t dating, I reminded him, just friends. No kissing, no touching, etc.

October 31st

We were all invited to RandyT’s house for a halloween party. Rhett had spent the last two weeks telling me why we should actually be boyfriend and girlfriend. He was wearing me out. We went to the halloween party, had fun, and then he drove me home.

I told him I was tired of all the elaborate convincing discussions and he needed to change the subject. He asked me why I was being so difficult about this.

I told him I knew he wasn’t a casual guy, and that if I agreed to date him for real, I’d have to marry him and I barely knew him. I said I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and he was asking me to jump right this second and it scared the shit out of me.

So then he held my hand and didn’t say anything at all. And I jumped. And we got married a few months later.

Turns out I was allergic to cats, so Rhett had to choose between Speed Racer and me. The cat moved in with Marty, one of our friends.

I moved in with Rhett and I put the red socks in the cedar chest that my Great Grandpa made for my Great Grandma, and they’ve been there ever since.

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