Steppin' Out

There are those people in your life - we all have them - that mark a sort of milestone era in your personal history. Maybe it was your high school clique, your platoon buddies, a softball team or the summer you spent with your cousin's family in Spain.

These are the people who were there with you when you made some kind of major transition / had an awakening / made it through. Maybe you shared something, kind of like war buddies, though you didn't necessarily have to live through a war to connect at that level.

In The Varmint's and my case, we did sort of live through a war: Just more of a psychological one. It happened where I met The Varmint.

We all worked together at a successful, San Diego-based agency during the dot-com boom in the late '90s and early millennium. It was the era of scooters in boardrooms - where, for just a little while, hard work and success were creative, progressive and fun. Neckties were no-nos. And you didn't need a stick up your ass and Machiavellian mindgames to do good work, be respected and move ahead.

Long story short, our successful firm was abnormally chock-full of talented people who not only got along well, but were incredibly driven. Success garnered the notice of a bunch of L.A. bankers eager to get in on the dot-com goldrush. They immediately began the process of setting new "growth initiatives" for the firm, which included dismantling the surprisingly close-knit culture that had evolved and installing two additional layers of overpriced and over-egoed, ridiculously entitled executives from huge financial consultancies with no industry experience.

They immediately began squabbling for power - and then proceeded to do what people like that do: Squeeze every bit of lifejuice from the business and its people. In two years, the corporate aphids had sucked the whole thing dry.

It was a shitty trip.

Usually, when you have work friends, they last for the duration of the job. That's not what happened here. A group of at least 10 people has stayed together. We still hang out regularly. We work together when we can. It's been six years now, and The Varmint and I still count that crew as some of our closest friends.

I guess that's what happens when you sort of lose your collective Utopian virginity together. Our most recent reunion celebrated two new kinds of milestones - an impending wedding (the couple on the right, Justin and Lindsay seated next to me) and the impending arrival of The Varmintling.

It's funny. Kharma really does happen, sometimes: Every person from that experience has gone on to do something amazing, while many of the Jabba-the-Klutz execs have tumbled to their addicted, bankrupted, self-righteous dooms.

Would it be bad kharma for me to laugh evilly out loud? How about just in my mind?


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >