Monday, July 21, 2008

Pocket Protector Days

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) came walking toward the barn with that one look on her face and carrying a clipboard. Right away, I calculated whether I had any shot at getting out of Trickster's stall and through the back door without Starr Ann seeing me. It didn't take a genius to come up with odds of about 37 billion to one. Against me.

So I said, "Hey, Starr Ann, see you have the clipboard. This should be fun." Actually, when Starr Ann has the clipboard, you can say anything that comes to your head, because she isn't going to hear what you say, unless what you say has to do with whatever's on the clipboard.

Starr Ann grunted and took the pencil from behind her ear. "Printed out a few graphs, here, Margo. Found something innerestin' about your writing lately."

"My writing?"

"Yes. About The Chronicles."

And here, just to show off to myself how well I know Starr Ann, I said, "Corn cob holders shaped like Peruvian mice."

She nodded all serious and said, "Exactly."

See? Clipboard plus any subject other than what's on her clipboard equals transparent.

Anyway, I said, "So tell me your findings about The Chronicles."

Starr Ann braced the edge of her precious clipboard on her hip real cute and consulted the top sheet of paper as she reported, "I've graphed the number of times you mention Jodie against time and found a shocking drop-off in Jodie-related posts over the last few months."

Well, I couldn't hardly argue with that. "You know as well as I do, Starr Ann, that Jodie's been working her heart out on that book, being totally meticulous about documenting the Bush administration's atrocities here in the last months of the regime."

Well, she couldn't hardly argue with that. "I do know that. And I also know you've made it a point to stand back and give Jodie and me time alone whenever she does come up for air." Starr Ann flipped to the second page. "Here we have a histogram that clearly shows you've been doing that over roughly the same period of time as the Jodie-deficient posts."

All of a sudden it hit me. Lori Hahn. I said, "You saw yesterday where Lori posted her Spreadsheet of Moving, didn't you, Starr Ann?"

Starr Ann shifted to her other, non-clipboard hip and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Well, that proved it. Lori's post definitely had everything to do with this, or else Starr Ann wouldn't have even heard what I said. Heh.

I went on, "You saw that spreadsheet and just couldn't stand it. What else have you got charted there in that stack of papers?"

She clapped the clipboard up close to her chest. "Nothing much. Now, Margo, what are we going to do about your estrangement from Jodie?"


"What else would you call it? Can you even remember the last time you sat down to a meal with Jodie? The last time you put up fencing with her? The last time you saddled up Trickster and rode over to her house to see if she'd like to hop on Amelia and go for a ride? The last time you ganged up with her and made fun of me while I'm listening to music?"

"Stop right there, Starr Ann. We were not making fun. We were sharing how much we love you." Starr Ann didn't even hear that, because it had nothing to do with her printouts. Then I couldn't help myself. I said, "I sure do remember the last time I was all alone with Jodie in this barn. In the biblical sense."

Starr Ann smiled. "That was an anomalous data point that I had to exclude from my reports here. Believe me, I tried to work it into something, but like I said - anomalous."

Since I was just about finished grooming Trickster, I cut to the chase. "So, what do we have to do in response to your findings, Starr Ann."

"I'm glad you asked that, Margo."

I silently cursed Lori Hahn one more time for good measure. "Just tell me, and get it over with, Starr Ann."

Starr Ann pulled several bottom sheets free of her clipboard and repositioned them on the top. "All I need you to do is fill out these forms I've made up." She turned the board so the forms were face up from my perspective. "Answer from your gut, not your brain. And when you're finished, I'll apply your parameters to a little algorithm I've written. After that, I should be able to tell you what we're gonna do about this."

Lori Hahn and her dang Spreadsheet of Moving.