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Spreadsheets n' Bedsheets:

It was one of those sultry South Beach nights and all the HBS people were going to Bed together. The lounge, that is. Of course, like any bored dork, I was sure to get my mileage out of this brilliant play on words, which I’m sure I was the first to think of. Here I was living not just in fabled SoBe, but right on the intersection of Lincoln Road and the beach, and it had taken my sectionmate Ashish, who was doing his summer stint in banking in New York, to come here on business, get reservations, and convince me that the TBS Superstation on a Wednesday night isn’t all that.

The place was your standard AAA-turned-DDD-blonde-with-black-roots-chatting-with-AAA-turned-DDD-blonde-with-brown-roots-being-hit-on-by-Ricky-Martin’s-personal-trainer’s-personal-trainer. As I entered, I reminded myself I was on probation. This, ever since my faux pas at Emeril’s, the restaurant in the Loews’ Hotel, which I had patronized with Ashish and others a few weeks back, during one of his numerous “I Swear The Deal’s Being Announced Tomorrow And This Is My Last Trip To Miami” trips to Miami. And since J Lo wasn’t returning my calls (I don’t think it had to do with the restraining order; her voicemail said something about a new husband) shoo-ins at swank lounges were not to be taken for granted.

It hadn’t really been my fault. I had just been in the throes of another What Do I Want To Do When I Grow Up Crisis, and had been explaining inane Excelisms to my cruise line co-workers all week. (Copying-and-pasting-special-values an entire worksheet in order to calculate a weighted average is a bad idea, but if you must do it, for God’s sake use Control-C, etc.) Suddenly, like a kidnapping victim who identifies with her captor, I had begun fantasizing about being back on Wall Street. Oh, to not have to deal with drivers whose voluntary purchase of the car I had rented for the summer – a Chevy Cavalier, in brown – was predictive of their propensity to mistake the left lane for parking. What I wouldn’t give for my trek to work to instead consist of an NY Times-‘n-Snooze on the F Train. (I had to change my whole Coke Routine during my first week in Miami when I realized that napping-and-driving was probably frowned upon.) But my dinner at Emeril’s startled me back into banking-is-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-reality: Ashish and the analyst who’d accompanied him, Brian, were telling us about their week, which had involved, among other things, being diminutively asked by a client if they realized that net debt equaled debt less cash. (They did.) More importantly, while I spent my Saturdays Starbucks-hopping, (the one with the good muffins never had butter, but the one with the butter was always out of muffins) Ashish had not had a day off since the Newport Ball.

Right then the waitress had come by, and Ashish flashed his corporate Amex. Some comment from her about how she wouldn’t mind being in possession of such a card. Then, in slow motion, me, the peanut gallery, piping up that, well, if she were to perform his work, she’s get a card like that too. Oy. Certainly that’s not how I’d meant it to come out. But she ran away so fast, I didn’t have a chance to clarify: With three all-nighters and two near ones pulled in the last seven days, the corporate Amex was as much of a consolation to Ashish as the mere $70 fee for a whole year at Shad is to my besieged bank account. And just like that, Operation Emeril Self-Blackball was in effect. Note to self: Riesling and career crises don’t mix.

Yet here I was ten days later at Bed, reaping the benefits of Ashish’s “Will Model for Food” predicament. Our group was led to our own little alcove on a wedge-shaped king-sized bed with white sheets, where we were served kir royals, fancy sushi dishes and proceeded to play I Never and other classy and mature games. Around one-thirty in the morning, the maitre d’ approached us to “encourage” us to get going, because, he gently explained, another group had a reservation, and we weren’t really cool enough to continue to sit there without being revenue-generating. We weren’t too bothered: we’d just paid and intended to depart shortly. As the guy crawled backwards off our turf towards the floor, we turned to each other to wrap up our game (I was winning, depending on how you looked at it). Not thirty seconds later, one of us spotted a cockroach the size of One Western (and about as beautiful) crawling up the wall on which we’d been leaning, directly above our heads. Needless to say, that maitre d’ couldn’t have gotten us off that bed more quickly if he’d threatened us with a late-night reading of the Cranberry case. As I landed barefoot onto the floor, shaken, I was secretly also heartened by this turn of events: For the sight of our supercilious maitre d’ scurrying onto the bed to swat at the wall with the accuracy of a toddler playing t-ball and the adrenaline of a Crimson Greetings production guy with 30 seconds to go had instantly replaced Emeril’s as Story of the Week. Who would’ve guessed the solution to a firmly-wedged foot in the mouth would turn out to be a cockroach? Welcome to Miami.

September 13, 2004
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