“Despite the gardeners best intention, nature will improvise.”
Those perfidious fiends at the home and garden store! They basely sold me six little plants, that were labled as cherry tomatoes, that I lovingly planted along with cilantro and basil, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t kill them. My little sister also gave us a potted geranium, in a vibrant red, to put outside our front door to make it more cheerful. This too I hoped would survive being my plant pet. But I seem to have been doomed to disappointment. After weeks of coaxing these fickle things with water, sunlight, fresh air, and lots of expectations, I have been rewarded thus:
“I can always tell which is the front end of a horse, but beyond that, my art is not above ordinary.”
A new horror! I go to the gym everyday and there’s a girl who works the front counter there. Since we see a lot of each other we’ve struck up a sort of friendship: I tell her the dramatic goings on of a police department, she tells me the ridiculous tales of a gym. The other day she asked me how far off the wedding was and when I told her, “Next week,” she got a dark look on her face and said, “Stay away from horses.”
“Why?” I asked intrigued.
“My family keeps horses and I’ve ridden all my life. So I was out riding a couple of weeks before my wedding and when I was taking off its tack when I was done it kicked me in the head.”
My jaw dropped.
“I was in a coma for three months,” she continued, “and had to do months of physical therapy when I woke up. We got married after all that, though.”
Completely at a loss for what to say to that (“Crikey?” “Good on ‘ya?” “Congratulations on being currently upright?”) I just mumbled, “Wow…” She waved me off to the weight room cheerfully, “I’m sure that won’t happen to you! See you tomorrow!”
“I’m finalizing everything this week so I can spend the weekend panicking uninterrupted.”
Good grief, I’m getting married in nine days…and worst of all, mostly everything is done! I get to make a million and one confirmation phone calls this week, and then sit around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for everything to come crashing spectacularly down.
Any second now J. is going to awaken to his danger and take off running. My immediate and extended family will decide not to show up…or they will, and get into a huge fight culminating in a salad slinging war throughout the luncheon site. The florist will die of swine flu and they’ll send her final creations to her funeral in tribute instead of the reception. My family’s luggage will tumble out of the plane halfway between London and Chicago. Mika (my loveably but hyperactive dog) will sneak her way into a suitcase and reduce my gown to shreds in her excitement. There will be an awful gas leak at the salon which, thanks to the oceans of hair spray that are going into my, Mama, Snickers, Venice, Marie, and Peregrine’s hair, will result in a doubly horrific explosion when a stylist goes outside for a ciggy break. One of J.’s exes will kidnap me to prevent the nuptials (seriously, could happen. Our department is running security on an wedding that’s happening on campus for this very reason). I’ll stumble groggily to the car way too early in the morning to go get my hair done and halfway to the city realize I’ve forgotten everything. The wedding license will spontaneously combust. Despite all my careful working out and eating, I’ll wake up the day of so plumped up with stress that my dress will pop open at the seams when we try to force me into it. I’ll trip going down the stairs at my flat and end up in a bodycast and with a mouthful of broken teeth (this one is actually most likely…).
Though ludicrous, and yes I do realize they are, these are real fears. But I’m not alone. Yesterday both Darling and Mama gave me slightly more realistic-but no less-terrifying possibilities to consider: my family’s luggage could not arrive (never mind being left at Heathrow!), and everyone could come down with food poisoning! J.’s family, on his mother’s orders, will probably be eschewing all restaurants ‘twixt now and then, and I’ll be popping vitamin C likes it’s candy to ward off the cold several helpful and loving friends insist is coming (you jerks!).
“Mws. Venice, I can’t find my pants anywah!”
-one of her students who can’t pronounce his R’s
Having finally let go of (most of) my rage about the incident I am about to relate, let me share the tale of The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.
One of my less enviable jobs is doing the laundry for the department. When I first started we were with a company that picked up and delivered our stuff as part of their service, which we loved. However over time we found their service also included the smashing of zippers, losing of uniforms, discoloration of the same (most memorably turning some silver patches a most ungentlemanly shade of pink), and dishonesty about accounts…all of which served to outweigh the convenience of delivery. After various warnings, cajoling, and threats, we switched to a new dry cleaner.
With tolerance for laundry mistakes at an all time low, I honestly expected some officers to be annoyed with longer-than-usual turnarounds, etc., during the switch. I did not expect that Lt. South would come to me about clothing that was missing almost immediately. This happened three weeks ago…and instantly the scandal took over my work life!
Without fail, three times a week South lectured me about locating their clothes before we staggered out the door burdened with laundry baskets. Then off to the cleaners with Hennessy where we were lectured on how they are a model of integrity, business acumen, whatever…but still unable to find the missing items. Back to the office to be subjected to scorn for failing to find four shirts and three pants (because the loss of those items by the individuals or the cleaners is clearly my fault). Cue the Chief and Lt. Figaro both taking me diplomatically aside to urge me towards “better efforts” in finding the articles. Week 2 rolled around and we escalated to South going down to the cleaners, to bully them into finding his pants I suppose, and the cleaners immediately seeing this as antagonistic (no idea why) chose to punish me and Hennessy with ever louder defenses. We were ordered to carry increasingly vicious responses back and forth and adequately punished by both sides for thm…a double case of Shoot the Messenger. According to their records, South’s pants had been signed, sealed, and delivered.
Honestly, I believed the cleaners. I’m convinced that half of the lost/misplaced problems we had with our last cleaners were purely officer operator error. The guys wouldn’t label their things, or just do it improperly, find items that didn’t belong to them but neglect to turn them in, and never failed to whine to their lowly secretaries when a problem arose that us girls literally had no control over.
By week three I was so sick of the heckling, whining, and lecturing that I yanked Lt. Colossus head out from where it was buried in the sand and flat out ordered him to get us a master key to go through all the lockers in case any of the missing clothes had managed to find their way into them. Sure enough, one pair of pants had meandered into Lt. Citrus’ shirts…the which he entirely neglected to mention even though Wise sent out two emails asking any unclaimed or unknown stuff to be turned into us.
That left two. I spent nearly twenty minutes talking the cleaners off their Righteous Anger ledge with Hennessy before we trudged back to the office emptyhanded again yesterday.
“Well?” demanded South as we stumbled into the office laden with laundry not belonging to him.
“No luck,” I said, “They’ve asked you to call them so they can work out restitution–”
“They can call one of you, that’s what you girls are for,” he rolled his eyes.
I could have gleefully disemboweled him with a hanger!
AND THEN! This morning, Susie came up to me as I was giving a pants update to Aims and Sport.
“You’ll never guess,” she breathed almost maliciously.
“You’ve found them!” I gasped.
“South did…in his home closet.”
I felt my face drain in anger. I’d spent three weeks getting abused by my supervisor, lectured by my boss, barked at by our dry cleaner, dragging my friends an co-workers into it, being slapped in the face with my own lowly station as a secretary maliciously and repeatedly, and forced into the roll of Resident Wench On Behalf of the Entire Department. I’d spent several hours delivering laundry, trying to ameliorate irrationally angry people, and leading a witch hunt for pants thieves…only to find that the man who had started it had FAILED TO LOOK IN HIS OWN CLOSET? Moreover had failed at any point in the last month to check and see if he already had the items, convienently marked “Delivered?”
Apparently my wrath has an effect. After trying to joke once about how the last three weeks “gave me something to do” and being met with my evilest of vicious stares, he hasn’t been seen in the front office all day. In fact he’s been using the back hall to get around instead. Good.
Disheartening : knowing that your fitness goals (lose about one pound every two weeks) are attainable and therefore you have absolutely no excuse not to achieve them.
Soul-destroying : working out religiously all week only to discover you have gained a pound instead of lost it.
GAH!, C. cries out to you in angst.
But, C., you say helpfully and soothingly, you know that muscle weighs more than fat and you have been sticking to your weight lifting with admirable regularity. You spend an hour in the gym every weekday, and sometimes saturdays, and you try really hard to eat a balanced diet, you even take vitamins. And look how flat your stomach is! The arm flab is gone too! Do try and have a little perspective here. And C., you say a little more firmly and with much less patience, it is one pound. Surely your melodramatic tendencies can be put to more effective use on another angsty problem.
No! (C. wails) I am picking up my wedding dress on Saturday and already in a nervous panic to see what they alterations girls have done to it and now I am the size of a walrus! And it’s not even about the wedding (C. howls, swathing herself in sackcloth)! I know it’s just one pound. It’s just one of those days: I’m fed up with my job, my internet keeps cutting out, and I gained a pound. And I really…want…a brownie…! !
You, shaking your head in disgust and turning about sharply, merely curl your lip. C., you are being ludicrous. Let’s talk when your sense of reality reinstates itself.
“Do we have any plans tonight?”
“We could get dinner or catch a movie.”
“By the way, my parents are coming tomorrow.”
“Gah! Scratch that, we’re cleaning!”
-C. and J.
Future parents-in-law coming to see the flat where their son will be living once he marries me = mad dash to scrub bathroom, wipe down kitchen, throw multiple lemons down (our incomprehensibly aggravating) garbage disposal, make bed, stash Victoria Secret bags/boxes and issues of Cosmo from scandalous friends (seriously, people, are you trying to get me killed?!) , and spray whole house with happy, fresh apple scent. All for half an hour of sitting in our living room making small talk. And since I have NO food in the place (thank goodness they didn’t look in the FRIDGE!) I had to wait until today to buy myself a post-parental Cafe Rio Tres Leches cake!
I have no idea why I’m so terrified of his parents, they are some of the world’s nicest people! I think I’m afraid that they’ll find out that I’m not very nice myself…
I can always tell when finals week hits this campus: the odor of doom and futility gets a little more pungent, the faces get more harried, and it is impossible to navigate one’s way through the library as it is swarmed with knuckle-gnawing freshman. However, from the glorious vantage point of one who does not have to suffer through exams, papers, and finals projects, I’ve discovered that the nom de usage of this time of the term I and other used as students (“Hell Week”) isn’t really appropriate. If we were to be accurate, I think it would be Freak Week.
Cruel perhaps, but still apt. For example, Hennessy and I were walking down a corridor yesterday on an assignment, when we came suddenly upon a man carrying a pot of rice down the hallway. No explanation, just clutching it and looking worried. The theatre and dance people are scrambling around with drag queen worthy layers of makeup on their faces and their arms full of costumes (when they aren’t actually wearing them). Also, basic hygiene has become optional for many: I have seen (and smelled) a number of the unwashed masses as they scramble past and sleep in hallways.
This comes from nothing resembling a high horse. My alarm clock broke the day of my first final of freshman year, luckily I woke up anyway and made record time sprinting from my dorm to my test. Then once I misread a French exam schedule and showed up on the wrong day. And of course I had the computer crash right in the middle of a stellar ten page paper on medieval philosophy. I also had my share of forgone showers and undone makeup (and temporary eating disorders stemming from actually forgetting to eat for days on end, and the inability to let go of my pens following an exam from severe cramp, and…)
All in all, Hell Week/Freak Week/Whatever You Want To Call It looks much better from the outside!
Our adventures in male/female interactions continued yesterday when I had to attend a workshop in Preventing Sexual Harassment that the university insists its new hires take (note: I’ve been working here for 8 months, first I ever heard of it). I didn’t mind, it was a paid hour out of the office I thought…unfortunately by the end of it I was irritated enough to breathe fire. The problem wasn’t the topic, the problem was This Guy.
Picture if you will a short, rotund man with heavy jowls, greasy hair (where he had any left), small eyes hidden behind thick glasses, and huge pores gaping in his cheeks. Got that? Now add on the annoying personality of that kid you once had in some class or another who had to comment on anything the teacher says, and when he isn’t called on offers up a muttered running commentary anyway under his breath. And finally, top it all off with a nasally voice that was used mostly to talk about himself a lot. Charming, eh?
Not five minutes into her powerpoint presentation the teacher started a new slide with a cheery, “Now, there are several categories of personal aspects that are protected under the law–”
Up shot this guy’s hand. “Why aren’t men protected? When I was the vice president of XYZ Corporation, we had a situation–”
“Actually,” the teacher said quickly, “men are protected. Sexual harassment can pass between genders in any number of ways.”
“But say I was being hit on by a homosexual,” he demanded (the word homosexual was whispered darkly).
I personally couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind, regardless of sexual orientation, hitting on this guy, but I digress. It took a while but the teacher managed to get us back on topic, but then when she brought up the protected categories again: gender, religion, disability, race–
Up shot the hand again! “Well, in my last area of work at Such-And-Such University, I had nothing against the negroes, but…”
My jaw dropped, I couldn’t help it. Out of date, grossly derogatory racial epithet in the middle of an anti-harassment seminar? Seriously?
It sort of went downhill from there, culminating in an argument between this man and a female biochemistry teacher who talked (at length) about her personal dating history and how she’s been subjected to prejudice because of her unmarried status, but how could she marry when all the men she meets are intimidated by her intelligence, has anyone else had this problem, isn’t is unbearable, what is wrong with the men…
But, injects our enlightened friend the greaseball, you made the decision when you decided to pick school over dating, this is your fault, women can’t have it all and it’s ridiculous to try…
“Um, can we please try and stay focused?” asks the teacher in a small voice which no one hears because they’re too busy watching the train wreck.
In the end, the lecturer had to cut out the last third of her presentation and lamely hand us pamphlets saying, “Most of the material we didn’t get to is in here, and feel free to give me a call.”
“I have another question,” our hero demanded, but I didn’t wait to hear it. I bounded up, snatched the pamphlets with a breathless thank you and scampered back to the relative safety of my officer where stupid people, when we deal with them, are usually undergoing some kind of legal recourse.
Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
It has been one of those weeks that makes a girl grind her teeth in sheer, agonizing irritation. Even though most of it has been completely uneventful, wednesdayand thursday were well and truly mind blowing, at least philosophically. First of all we had a guy come in to report that he was being sexually harassed: about a month ago he had written a letter to the editor of the paper of the university (which is a religiously funded one with a rather conservative mindset. Which is the understatment of the century…) about people’s various choices in fashion choice, most particularly women, and how immodestly dressed women deserved to be subjected to catcalls, name calling, and other behavior until they “put some clothes on.” For reasons this knight errant, obsessed with protecting the virtue and chastity of women (what century is this guy living in?), could not fathom some women found this suggested behavior offensive. Go figure. And in the spirit of the modern age, these ladies (grand total: 2) created a Facebook group against him, which was the basis for his harassment claim.
It took about three times longer than it should have to explain to him that while this group could be classified as libel (it was removed from the site, by the way) it did not actually constitute sexual harassment. While the actions he was advocating, on the other hand, most definitely would fall under that category.
“I didn’t mean it seriously,” this guy huffed.
“Well, sir, the truth is that sarcasm doesn’t translate. You aren’t responsible for the tone you intended, you are responsible for the words you wrote as they appear.”
“You agree with those girls, huh?” he asked belligerently. Yes, thought C. nastily. “Not necessarily,” she said politely, “I’m just pointing out that the only actions that could be construed as sexual harassment in the case are technically coming from you.”
He slouched off muttering under his breath about ten minutes later. Clearly this guy is one of those poisonous types who think that all women should be dressing like his mother.
“I am never watching The Bachelor again!”
“Didn’t you tell me you said that a couple years ago?”
“This time I mean it!”
-Hennessy and C.
I swear, if I have to hear about The Bachelor’s choice from one more co-worker, friend, or news anchor I may spontaneously combust. I’ve never watched the show, although Kiri got most of our flatmates hooked on it when we lived together, so perhaps I’m not one to judge…but from my limited expose I venture to postulate it’s one of the sluttiest shows on TV. It’s in league with Rock of Love in which strippers compete for the fondling–I mean love!–of a fickle rockstar, For the Love of Ray J in which hoes compete for the fondling–I mean love!–of a mediocre R&B star, and any number of MTV’s dating shows. The crucial difference seems to be that The Bachelor tries to class things up with roses and champagne in an effort to hide the fact that one guy is poly-dating, and everyone is OK with this!
I like my guilty TV to be absolutely upfront about its triviality. Hence my guiltiest pleasure, America’s Next Top Model, which starts up its new season tonight. Peregrine, Mrs. Cakes, J., and pretty much everyone I know either turn a blind eye to my addiction or mock it outright, but it doesn’t deter me. Tyra Banks’ biggest fan is Tyra Banks and I’m fairly positive she’s insane, I hate the fact that Miss J has better legs than I do, and listening to all those dumber-than-air girls invent words, slaughter grammar, and generally live down to all stereotypes might or might not cause people to lose brain function…in other words it has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. Love it!
I guess I have no problem with people making an idiot of themselves on TV, but I do object to people who use it as a dating medium. If you can’t find love the normal way are are forced to resort to such desperate measures, I figure it might just be Nature’s way of weeding out the undesirables. Reality TV is destroying good Darwinian principles!