"So let me get this straight," I say to the PFY. "You want me to give you a reasonable amount of time to make a suave first impression - and engage her in some meaningful conversation about one of her interest topics - then bust in with some huge problem that only you can fix which will make you look like someone pretty bloody important?"
"Yes - a problem that I need to go offsite for so that I can arrange to meet up with her later to continue the conversation over a couple of drinks, yes."
"No problems - but are you sure she's worth the spadework?"
"Positive. You remember the temp from PR a couple of months back?"
"Oh yeah," I sigh happily.
"A two bag special in comparison."
"I find that rather difficult to believe..."
"True story," the PFY says, grabbing some office install disks and exiting. "She's a stunner, so just remember - 20 minutes then emergency time."
Ten minutes later I'm still trying to think of the right emergency that would require the PFY to go offsite. Then it comes to me, Core LAN switching problem. In a telco network - that's affecting emergency services - and they need the PFY because of...the paper he once presented on...repairing core LAN switching problems in Telco environments...where emergency services are affected...
True, it's not my best work and about as believable as the old weapons-of-mass-destruction chestnut, but we're talking about a user who can't even install her own copy of Office, so I don't think we need to go into too much back-story.
...Five minutes later...
"There you are," I gasp, muttering excuses as I turn to...
"What is it?" the PFY asks an indeterminate amount of time later.
"Is something the matter?" the PFY's companion - an absolute vision of radiance - asks.
The mental tyres are spinning in sand as I realise that the PFY had understated her beauty somewhat and that it was a bit like calling Michaelango a painting contractor.
"You have some emergency - for me?" the PFY prompts "Something important that only I can fix?"
"I...uh...yes," I say, still a little gobstruck but mentally turning over options. Bingo! "Your wife called and said her water's broken and she needs you to come home and take care of the triplets while she drives herself to hospital again...And she said that if you're not home in 20 minutes she's going to burn your porn and flush your viagra down the toilet."
That last bit was just a touch cruel but I figured that the PFY still had a bit of credibility from "sharing the parental workload" and all...
"I...I'd better go then," the PFY says, uncommonly subdued now he knows the death blow has been dealt. "I...can you finish the install?" he says, feigning distraction.
"Course I can," I say. "What stage are we at?"
"I...haven't actually got around to putting the install CD in yet," the PFY says.
The sly dog, dragging out the install so he'd need to come back repeatedly - one of my favourite ruses, it has to be admitted.
"Ok then, I guess I'll do that and get started as soon as," I say, slapping the CD in the drive as the PFY exits. "Sorry, I suppose I should introduce myself - the name's Simon."
"Katherine," she says in sweet melodic tones.
"And you're new here?"
"Yes, a mutual friend suggested I apply for this position," she says.
"Oh really, someone who works here?"
"Yes, he works in HR and noticed the vacancy."
"Partner?" I ask.
"Your partner?" I ask pretending to be too deeply immersed in setting the install options to be probing for details of her private life.
"Goodness no," she says. "No, I just know him from dancing."
"Ah, you mean like ceroc?" I ask having kept vaguely abreast of social trends.
"Wha, oh, no no, line dancing."
"Line dancing?" I gasp.
"Yes yes, I know what you're going to say, but there's nothing nerdish about it at all - it's great fun. I was put onto it by some friends in my D&D group."
"Yeah, I got into it when I was a student. One of the people in my book group was a D&D-er."
"Book Group!?!" I say, surreptitiously prodding feverishly at my cellphone keypad.
"Yes, we read the classics - you know the Bronte sisters, Solze..."
"Excuse me," I say, drawing my phone into the open and pretending to read a text message. "Oh no! There's been a...core lan switching problem - at the Telephone Centre and...half of London is affected. I have to go!"
"Oh, that's a shame - would you like to perhaps meet up later - there's always room for another at the book club!"
"I'd like to but there's no telling how long this will take!"
"WHAT A GEEK!" the PFY gasps as soon as I get back to Mission Control.
"Did she show you her photos?"
"What, line dancing, D&D, or book club?"
"What a waste," the PFY says. "And so sad too. So, what's up now?"
"Well, I thought I'd spend the rest of the afternoon playing Stalker, get 10 pints in at the pub, a quick curry chaser, then fall asleep in the tube and wake up in Snaresbrook five minutes after the last train."
"Now THAT's a hobby!" the PFY says.