June 11, 2005
At any rate, I've started shopping at the smallest, snottiest, exclusiviest (I know, not a word) little men's boutiques I can find. At first I was content merely having the guys at Nordstrom all know me by name (and call me when they got a new season's worth of fashions), but that was merely a gateway (like marijuana in the eyes of conservatives) to littler shops, where each individual thread in a garment has a value measured in dollars, not pennies.
Sadly, these kinds of shirts require dry-cleaning, which requires that I make it to the dry-cleaner. This is something of an issue for me, because I'm wont to keep odd hours, and because when I'm awake I'm usually working (c.f. "being single, the suckiness inherent therein"). So, for the last week, in preparation for WWDC, I've been driving around with a big blue laundry bag full of dirty shirts in the passenger seat of my pimp ride.
I should mention that, when I was a wee lad, I had visions of one day getting a pimp ride, so that when I passed pretty women on the side of the street who were forlornly walking somewhere, I could pull up and say, "Hey, mamasita, you want a ride?" I've since been informed that women find this, in fact, really creepy, so I've never actually done it, but I have to mention that every guy has a fantasy of one day doing this, even while admitting this fantasy is in direct opposition to any possible reality.
[I should also mention that should I wish to Jackson out and hit on 12-year-old boys, instead of women, a pimp ride is the perfect way to go. The number of times I've had 12-year-old boys yell out "pimp-de-pimp-pimp-pimp!" to me when I drive by is surprisingly high, considering I had previously never heard the "pimp-de-pimp-pimp-pimp" call and have no idea what it means. But for 12-year-olds it's some kind of lingua franca.]
At any rate, you can imagine how cool it is to drive by a pretty woman walking in the rain and think, "Hey, I should offer her a ride... wait, then she'd have to have my big bag of stinky shirts in her lap... that'd probably strike her as pretty strange... possibly even frightening."
So it is that, when packing for WWDC 2005, I only took one good shirt with me. Mind you, this was a really good shirt. This shirt was made in London by a guy named Ted or James or some such, which to me lends instant credibility to it, because as much as I love (the blue states in) my country, when I think of America I think of rebels, I think of individualists, I think of can-do spirit and an indomitable dedication to individual freedoms and happiness. But I don't think, "nice shirts!"
London, on the other hand, has class and panache, and Ted/James clearly was the latest in a long line of shirt-makers who had, for generations, been making shirts for discerning gentlemen, not carrying guns, and/or shipping off criminals to unsettled countries.
Nor is the cotton in this shirt simply from normal cotton plants, oh no. It's grown someplace exotic, like Morocco, and it seems to carry a slight scent of the spices of distant lands on it. Bury your face in this shirt and you can almost hear Bogey whispering, "Listen, kid, this shirt is bigger than the both of us..."
I've received about five or so unsolicited compliments in this shirt, which is five more than I have in any other shirt. Guys don't get complimented on shirts a lot, unless they say, "Hey, look at this shirt," which I admit I've done a couple times, but I'm saying I've been complimented on this shirt without fishing for it, five times.
And so I wore this shirt on Tuesday at WWDC 2005, because Tuesday was the day of the Apple Design Awards. My previous company had won a number of these when I was running it, and so this award had a personal meaning to me. This was the first time my new company had entered, and I had high hopes. And, should I win, I wanted to be up on that stage smiling at the crowd while looking fine in my shirt that combined the best parts of London and Morocco.
And here's where the story take a tragic turn, because, in their unknowable yet infallible wisdom, Apple suddenly decided the Design Awards would be on Wednesday. I found this out late Tuesday, and spent the day grousing to all and sundry about how this messed up my plans vis-a-vis the shirt. And everyone agreed that it was, in fact, a very nice shirt, but I should note that I didn't count these compliments towards my previously-mentioned total of five, because I was really fishing.
For a moment I thought this mishap might end up for the best, because that night several of us nerds ended up at a bar, and in my mildly drunken state I started talking with a pretty lady about... well, I don't remember. Something, I'm sure. We'll call her Laurie Anderson, because she looks just like a young Laurie Anderson, and it'll be more evocative this way. I didn't exactly hit on Laurie, per se, but I will say I was glad I was wearing a nice shirt. It wasn't until the next night that one of her friends let me know, in a very friendly manner, that if I had intentions towards Ms. Anderson I might reconsider them, because she was, in fact, as interested in women as I was.
Which was a nice thing to do, frankly, because it's good to know the boundaries of your relationship with someone right at the start -- I like it when women I'm talking to let it be known they have a steady boyfriend, for example, not because I can then cut bait and run, but because I can adjust my expectations and demeanor accordingly, and not embarrass myself or her. For example, you don't say, "I want to nibble your neck," to a woman with a boyfriend. Instead, you'd use the more coy, "If you didn't have a boyfriend, I would certainly be interested in your neck, vis-a-vis the nibbling thereof." See, it's all about delivery.
But, upon reflection later that night, I felt I hadn't made very effective use of my shirt, and so it was with a heavy heart that I finally took it off, realizing that it had been sullied for naught. Actually, I was pretty drunk when I got back to the hotel, so all I remember is thinking how much effort it was to take clothes off and put them in a pile.
It was the next afternoon (morning having been lost to C2H5OH), while I was putting on one of my t-shirts and again mentioning how unhappy I was to be thus dressed for the Design Awards, that Mike said, with that clarity of vision associated with the genius, "Hey, you could, like, go buy a new shirt."
T2 and I looked at each other, and although it may have been that we were both still under the affects of chemicals, we instantly agreed this was why Mike was The Smart One. My day had a purpose now, and my step had a spring to it.
I asked the concierge where I might find a fancy, fashion-forward shirt in downtown San Francisco. I figured this would be a slam-dunk. Here's a city whose culture ranks up there with New York and Paris. Here's a city where the rich scions of industry have nothing to do with their money but impress each other with their fancy baubles and ornaments.
She pulled out a map and circled a block. "Here's a Nordstrom's!" Wrong, wrong, wrong. First off, Nordstrom's is NOT fashion-forward, even if they do try to sell orange shirts to golfers in the winter. Second, if I wanted to go to freaking Nordstrom's, I'd GO TO THE ORIGINAL ONE, RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE I LIVE. I'm in San Francisco. The city by the bay! Wow me with your culture!
"There's a Saks on 3rd?" NO! No no no no no! You are not getting me. I want a boutique. "Well, Nordstrom's has different departments, they're kind of like boutiques..." No! How'd we get back here? Seriously, no!
Then, suddenly, she saw. "Oh, there's a little place called Pink, you might check that out, if you're not freaked out by the name." Lady, I'm a true metrosexual. I'm not worried about my masculinity when I shop. You could tell me the store is called "Sweaty Men in a Bathhouse" and I'd go there if it had Moroccan cotton.
T2 and I jumped into a cab and I immediately bought two "slim-fit" shirts from Thomas Pink, of London. The gentlemen who helped us were classy and helpful without the slightest trace of condescension, which was nice considering I came in wearing a WWDC polo shirt and T2 had what appeared to be an original 1970s "Dark Side of the Moon" T-shirt on.
This year was the 10th anniversary of the Apple Design awards, and as such they decided to celebrate by gussing the whole event up, in an homage/parody of the Academy Awards. This struck me as entirely apropos, as I estimate to the 1,000 of us nerds who were there, this was our Academy Awards. This was our Nobel prize. This was our moment.
At the start of the evening one of the high mucky-mucks of Developer Relations, who happens to be a very pretty lady, floated onstage in a drop-dead gorgeous gown. We'll call her Natasha Richardson because she looks like a Natasha's younger sister might. (Yes, I know Natasha already has a younger sister.)
There's another fact you should know at this point, which is that nerds are not, inherently, asexual. We don't have much success with women, but that doesn't mean we are immune to their charms. Quite the opposite. We fall under such a spell that we are unable to function, and this renders us so unattractive that it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of desperate singlehood.
So, in that first moment, 1,000 nerds fell in love with Natasha. Well, 996 nerd guys fell in love with her, and the four women in the crowd thought, "Wow, I wonder where she got that dress?" (Laurie Anderson was out partying elsewhere, but I think it's safe to assume she would have been crushing, too, had she been present.)
As she started to speak a strange calm came over the crowd, as if we were cavemen seeing fire for the first time, or rats hearing a certain piper. There was also some guy in a tux on stage with her, I think. I don't know if anyone remembers. Maybe he was tall?
Immediately my mind was no longer on whether I won the award, but on what I would say to her if I did. When the first award was given, the guy who won it kept whispering things to her as his product was described to the crowd, and I noticed that her lapel mic was sensitive enough that we could all hear what he was saying. This dashed somewhat my plans to hit on her on-stage, because everyone in the crowd would be able to hear me saying, "So, uh, want to ride in my car sometime, uh, assuming I move the laundry? I've been led to understand that it's, uh, pimp-de-pimp-pimp-pimp."
When Natasha called out the name of our company for Best User Experience the four of us ran onstage, and I shook her hand as she handed me the cool glowing cube, hand-designed by Jonathan Ives. I think she said, "Congratulations," and if I recall I replied, coyly, "Thanks." Playing it smooth... way to go Wil. Don't tip your hand yet, old boy. Best to slip in under RADAR. Way under RADAR.
Afterwards, the winners all had to come up front to sign a ton of forms in exchange for our phat loot. Natasha was there amongst us, and I recognized that, if ever I would had a chance, this was it. Time to shine!
I strode up to her confidently. Ok, well, I didn't stride, really, because I pinched a nerve in my neck last month, and ever since I've had to walk kind of hunched over, with my head forward, as if I were a cro-magnan man, or possibly just suffered from osteoporosis. Check it out, ladies! I'm unevolved and/or very old!
The problem is, if I stand up straight, the nerve gets pinched and I lose all feeling in my left arm, and the ability to move it. On the other hand, I knew being hunched over was unattractive, so I kept sort of bending my lower torso backwards to compensate for my bent-forward neck, the end effect being that I bobbed along like a pigeon when I walked.
So I coo-cooed up to her and gave her my most winning wince (because I had tweaked the nerve in the bobbing motion). While I admit this isn't a word-for-word transcript, this is, I feel, an accurate depiction of what went down:
Natasha: "Congratulations on your win!"
Me: "Nice dress! So pretty! Where dress come from?"
Natasha: "Oh, an assistant and I just ran out to Saks today to get it." [Note to four women in audience: question answered!] "Anyways, we're all very excited about Delicious Library..."
Me: "Dress soft! Girl pretty!"
Natasha: "Yes... uh, so, it's great to have strategic partners like Delicious Monster on our platform..."
Me: "Dress for dancing. Pretty girl go dancing with me?"
Natasha: "Um, I have to go over... there... now."
A few moments later she had magically changed into an absolutely gorgeous set of matching coordinates to go to dinner. I overheard her say she was going to schmooze some developers. I kind of felt sorry for them, because they really didn't stand much of a chance. "Pretty girl want us port to Macintosh? Us make pretty girl happy!"
The next night we celebrated our win in style, inviting everyone we met from the conference to get free drinks on us at Captain Eddie Rickenbacker's bar, within stumbling distance of Moscone center. Laurie and her entourage came with us, as well as various other new best friends I'd met at the conference. One guy we'd met while out carousing looked and acted almost exactly like Brad Pitt (circa Ocean's 11), so we actually called him Brad to make our lives easy. In fact, a lot of us got celebrity names; our crazy Australian friend was dubbed "Robert Downey, Jr," and it was a title that fit both his looks and his personality perfectly -- I don't think I ever saw him sober during the conference. (I was later dubbed "George Clooney," but I think at this point they were stretching the conceit.)
Robert Downey and I had seen a couple of very pretty, very young German "au pairs" on our way to the bar, and had convinced them to come along because, well, partying with forty guys and one lesbian is only so much fun. I talked to them for a while at the bar, but it soon became clear they were much too young for me, so I grabbed an extra chair and called Brad Pitt over, and they quickly turned their full attention to him. My work done, I wandered outside with a couple drinks, and sat with Laurie while she smoked her "American Spirit"s.
Laurie thought I might be down after getting passed over by the 20-year-olds. "You know, you're much cuter than Brad Pitt," she said, lying in that sweet motherly way that makes you feel good not because you believe it, but because you appreciate the sentiment behind the lie. "Look at you: you're smart, successful, handsome, and very intriguing." Her friend nodded agreement.
And, seriously, whatever liberties I'm taking with the truth elsewhere in this tale, I'm not making this part up:
"Also, you have totally great taste in shirts."
I write the software for
- "At last, some decent software for Intel processor...
- On Being Crazy.
- What's the coolest thing in Tiger?
- On the payroll of Microsoft much?
- Longhorn: Today's technology, tomorrow!
- Is "helicopter" an indoor toy?
- Regarding Battlestars, galactic and regular-type.
- I, Suckbot
- My Movie Minute
- This Blog Has Been Edited to Fit Your Screen.
Pimp My Code
- Free Programming Tips are Worth Every Penny.
- I will insult your code!
- Part 1: Code Insults, Mark I
- Part 2: self = [stupid init];
- Part 3: Gradient TableViews
- Part 4: Returning late to return early
- JPEG2000: Cool but SLOW.
- Unit testing is teh suck, Urr.
- Part 5: Special Apple Sample Code Edition...
- Interlude: Free Code
- Pimp, Pimp Thyself.
- Frameworks are Teh Suck, Err.
- Part 6: The Pimp Before Christmas
- Thinking, boxes, & what kittens can do to them.
- Part 7: Pimplette?
- Part 8: Mary, Mary, why you buggin?
- Part 9: Beginner Code
- Part 10: Whining about Cocoa
- Part 11: This Sheet is Tight
- Part 12: Frozen in Carbonite
- Part 13: The Pimp Before Christmas, Redux
- Part 14: Be Inflexible!
- Part 15: The Greatest Bug of All
- Part 16: On Heuristics and Human Factors
- Part 17: Lost in Translations