I’m Old, Part XVII: Reputation? What Reputation?

Round about the time that Acrobat 1.0 was in the works, I took an interest in making life casts and prosthetic make up. The internet was tiny and there weren’t many resources, so I had to make up a lot of it myself. Trial and error led to approaches that worked well enough for making plaster positives and then subsequent negatives for making prosthetics. I did a bunch of the experimentation with Alan Wootton, who was a good egg about the whole thing.

Surgical stitches
Surgical stitches

At one point, I had a prolonged illness which left me unable to work effectively and consequently with a lot of time on my hands. Eventually, I was able to work from home, which was a godsend. What I decided I’d do is a few days after I returned to work, I would come in wearing “comedy lobotomy scars”. I figured that there were a lot of people at Adobe that hadn’t seen me in a long time and would be easy to convince that I had to have some set of sutures put in.

I will briefly interject that during the time that I was working from home, the people in my department set up a sign-up sheet for people to go out and get lunch or dinner and bring it by and sit down with me. It was an extremely touching and classy thing to do. I felt cared for.

I had convinced Jeremy, a friend of mine from college, now a doctor to send me some suture materials as well as instructions on how to tie them. I made some brutal looking latex scars and stitched in some sutures at key points.

I arranged some time with Karin Jurcevich, the administrative assistant of the Acrobat group. Karin has a fabulous sense of humor. She got laser surgery to correct her vision and they did one eye at a time. After the first one was done, she came in wearing her glasses, but with one lens out and made a point of rubbing that eye right through the glasses. At one point, Karin had worked at the makeup counter of Nordstrom and still had her tester kit, so she brought that in and she helped blend the scars into my skin.

As I’ve mentioned before, John Warnock took a very hands-on approach to the Acrobat project and followed each of the products during every phase.  Today was the day that he wanted to check on the Macintosh full text search progress. It wasn’t a full-on Warnocking, just a quick catch-up. As John and eye were talking, his eyes kept going from my eyes to the scars on my forehead and back again. I think I let him do that about a half dozen times before I said, “John. They’re not real. They’re makeup. Just something I was playing around with.” John leaned forward, raised his glasses and squinted at the scars. “Oh, hey yeah! They are!”

Reputation destroyed. Or created. Probably both.

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