Story of M, Marisa Tomei

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A strange expression flashes over M.'s face. There is a brief smile at the corner of her mouth and she says with absolute certainty, "I am going to dress like you tomorrow, Jake."

Her name is M. She is a smart, fashion-forward, thin woman with a wicked sense of humor. She wears braces on her teeth. She is in her 40's but could easily pass for a girl in her late 20's. To me, she looks like Marisa Tomei. To one of our co-worker's, she looks like Halle Berry.

I glance down at my simple attire: A short sleeve buttoned-up Hawaiian shirt, blue jean shorts and sneakers. I look across at M.'s high-end designer skirt. It is a one-piece skirt that counts as a top and a bottom. I don't know what it's called, but it is swirled in black and white zebra stripes. You can tell it cost a lot of money. M. resembles a giant piece of expensive salt water taffy.

"You're going to dress like me?" I ask?

She replies, "Yes, Jake. I am coming to work dressed like you tomorrow."

I've learned not to question why M. does anything because when I do, she goes off-topic with all sorts of random abstract imagery about everything and anything. She does it on purpose to annoy me. She's crafty like that.

To be fair, I sometimes insert a paperclip over my lower lip and imitate her. (Remember, she wears braces.) She is also "the first patient to undergo a new orthodontic procedure" involving not only an actual screw, but also a metal spring put into her upper left gum. She loves talking about it.

"Do you know what I'm reminded of when I look at my mouth in the mirror?" She directs the question at me. "Robocop! Don't you think of Robocop when you look at my mouth?"

"No," I reply, "to me, you look more like The Terminator." She recently had two of her wisdom teeth pulled.

"I kid you not," she continues, "there is enough leftover food from yesterday in my gums to make a taco. Jake, there is a taco in my mouth!" Her finger is gouged into the back of her cheek as she says this.

The next day comes and M. is not dressed like me. Instead, she is wearing a feminine black golf shirt with the buttons undone and the collar popped up atop silky black dress pants. Trendy sneakers are fit snugly on her feet.

"I didn't have time this morning," she admits," but wait. Just wait..."

When M. gets bored, she wads up scrap paper from her desk and tries to hit a squishy stress-relieving softball from my cubicle wall. On occasion, she asks me how much I'll "give her" if she makes the shot into my neighbor's trash can. The can is less than 3 yards from where she sits.

"Jake! Jake!" she exclaims, "I have the simple!" (Pronounced 'SEEM-PLAY.') "It's not even noon and I have the simple. I am laughing at everything. Ah-ha-ha-ha."

She puts on her mock professional voice accompanied by extra pursed lips and a sleek sneer. "Hmmmph. Whatisthestockmarkettodayhmmmmmm...?"

"What?" I ask.

"Jake," her demeanor changes instantly into exaggerated snobbery. "You need to read this article." She holds up a Psychology Today magazine with a green-faced woman on the front. JEALOUSY is typed out in big bold words. "You need to read this."

"I already read it," I explain, "I'm the one who gave the magazine to you."

"Jake, no." Her lips quiver and she raises her eyebrows. Imagine Bugs Bunny giving Elmer Fudd the ol' one-two. This is what she's like. In fact, it's easy to imagine M. shoving a carrot into her braces, chewing ferociously and squeaking, "Ehhhh, what's up dock?" while pieces of carrot dangle from her metal.

She quickly changes the subject by asking me if I can wiggle my upper lip like Charlie Chaplin. She does it flawlessly, and I have to admit, it looks cool. M. gulps down some filtered water as I try to do the Charlie Chaplin but I only manage to scrunch up my mouth in a twisted kid-like manner and awkwardly move it slowly from side to side. This causes a riotous uproar from M. and she spits her water all over the floor.

As I type the former paragraph, M. jumps up behind me and yells, "Hai-ya!" She is staunched in a karate pose. "Don't be scared," she says, literally bouncing from one leg to another, changing into a different pose with each landing. "Hai-ya!"

I stare at her, speechless. Again, M. reaches for the Psychology Today magazine and holds it in front of her. "I need to hang this by my desk. I mean, when people are in the presence of greatness, well..." Her lips get all sorts of pursed and she lets her face slide down as if in a celebrity photo shoot. "I can't blame you. I mean, look at me. Look."

M. decides to just wear the magazine. She opens it to the JEALOUSY article and tucks it slightly into her pants so the entire magazine is spread open for everyone to read.

"Let's try it out!" she says and approaches two unsuspecting team mates. From my desk I hear:

M: "What's up, ladies?"

Ladies: "Nothing. What are you doing?"

M: "Oh this? Pffffft."

I think M. truly does have the simple.


  1. So pleased to have a new co-worker blog! As much as I miss Ernie I think I may already have a bit of a crush on M.