My “that’s a fine how-do-you-do” moment of the week: I was having a very vivid, very pleasant erotic dream when the phone woke me up. It was, of course, my mother: “Oh, I’m so tired, Chris. The dog has had diarrhea all day. I heard little sounds in the night, but I just thought it was the fish tank, but then I woke up and looked at the floor and… well. He only weighs eight pounds, I don’t know how it all fits. Anyway, I’ve been cleaning that up and making him rice. Rice is good for upset stomachs. Oh, it was a chore getting the Kaopectate down him, though. We had to get one of those oral syringes for babies. I gave him some Pedialyte, too. I’m sure he lost too many electrolytes….” The sudden transition from “men at work” to “the poodle digestive catastrophe hour” has ruined my sexual imagination. I can still envision Scott Fujita in the leather harness, but now all he says is, “I even stepped in some in my sock. Under the end table! I was finding little poops all morning.”
We got a wonderful little write-up in my college’s student newspaper. My cover is pretty much blown at this point. I had hoped to graduate without my professors knowing I was behind such phrases as “I can still envision Scott Fujita in the leather harness, but now all he says is, ‘I even stepped in some in my sock. Under the end table! I was finding little poops all morning,’” but there it is. In the alumni newsletter, my entry will read: “Tulane Chris. Sagittarius. Research interests: medieval England, prewar Vienna, and diarrhea jokes.” So that’s fun.
Speaking of “phone conversations I had with female relatives recently,” here were some pips from last week:
Grandmother: How is the book coming?
Me: Oh, fine. It’s hard work, but I think it’ll be good.
Grandmother: Don’t write anything your grandmother can’t read.
Me: Um. About that…
Grandmother: I’ve been twenty-nine for fifty-one years. I don’t want to be shamed by my only grandson this late in life.
Me: Now, this “shame.” Would you be ashamed of, say… an entire page of suicide jokes? Topped off with a limerick?
Grandmother: I wouldn’t be particularly pleased. Is that something I need to be worried about?
Me: SO HOW’S THE NEW DOG
Grandmother: He’s fine, but you won’t get to meet him if your book is vulgar.
Mom: How did the book go? Am I in it?
Me: Indirectly, in that any psychiatrists who read it will probably guess your existence. We need to talk about Grandmother.
Mom: Oh, she was grouchy today. I asked her if she was regular and she jumped all over me.
Me: Well, bowels aside, it’s probably best she not read the book. There are… discussions.
Mom: Just tell her not to read it! She’s not stupid; she can guess what it’s like. She’ll just blame me. I raised you to write books like that, is what she’ll say.
Me: Well, still.
Mom: You didn’t use the c-word, did you?
Me: Crocodile? Colostomy? The answer to both of those is yes.
Mom: You know what I mean.
Me: Oh, “cunt?” Are you asking me if I said “cunt” in the book?
Me: A little.
Mom: You’re grounded.
Me: MEG DID IT. MEG SAID “CUNT.”
Mom: She’s grounded.
[Ed. Note: Chris' mom is a cunt.]
It’s lucky I have them to talk to. Nothing funny happens to me anymore, since I’ve gotten “lolz busy” with school. It’s a brutal little arrangement: now that I’m a little bored with grad school, I hit the busiest patch. I thought I was covering well and not showing the stress of school/work/book/blog/personal issues we’d all rather not discuss, but then I got a “talking-to” at work yesterday. I was told that my “level of politeness in dealing with other employees’ requests had gone down,” which is a very, very diplomatic way of saying “you’re being kind of an asshole.” My initial reaction was enormous embarrassment, which probably worked in my favor, but now I’m annoyed, since I was never rude and just occasionally an stitch short with someone. Brusque, maybe, but not rude – the difference between “in a minute” and “Nothing would give me greater joy than to make these copies.”
Of course, having apologized profusely, I can’t very well go back in and say, “I’ve changed my mind, whoever said I was rude is irrational and probably a Communist, I’m a Goddamn peach to work with and you’re lucky to have me, I brighten everyone’s fucking day and you very well know it.” And to be fair, I do regret upsetting whomever I’ve upset, since I do genuinely like my job and all of my co-workers, but this whole incident seems a little thin-skinned – a classic “well, I’m sorry you feel that way” situation.
Okay, as I write this, I actually think I’ve figured it out. The geography of the office means that 1) people who need files have to come into my area, which startles me and puts me uncomfortably close to someone I don’t know very well and 2) anytime someone needs to ask me something, they have to come toward me from behind, which – my whippet-drinking-a-Red-Bull nervous system being what it is – startles me several times a day. Maybe they’re misinterpreting my bulging eyes and flaring nostrils as anger, rather than “OH GOD SOMETHING’S BEHIND ME IT’S A WOLF! WOOOOOOOOOOLF! - oh, here’s the stapler.” My ancestors must have been fun to be around on the boat to the New World:
Other Immigrant: I can’t wait to see this beautiful new land.
My Ancestor: Tomahawks. Syphilis. Wide open spaces. Shipwreck. Weird plants. We’re all going to die.
Since this whole business went through “the boss” and was all done in vague, correct HR terms, I have no idea whom I annoyed or how, leaving me with the same old options:
- - Quit
- - Get fired
- - Get drunk in the parking lot before work
- - Unnatural glee when confronted with any request of any kind, you know, like we all claim to have in cover letters
So, I guess the reason I’m telling you this story is that in case a headline shows up that reads “Area Man Found Dead at Copier, Smiling, Wearing A T-Shirt with Two Chipmunks Hugging on It,” you won’t expect a purple post that week. Hail and farewell, readers.