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.


Carmen Miranda Tunnel Scene

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A few months ago I stumbled across a Carmen Miranda video on YouTube. What can I say? It was love at first sight. I was struck by a passion beyond words for this "Brazilian Bombshell" who died more than 50 years ago. I made the mistake of sharing my admiration with M. and she flipped out.

"Jake," she scowled, "Carmen Miranda looks like a man. Are you gay?"

"What?! No!" I exclaimed in sincere shock.

Perhaps still photographs of Carmen don't portray the raw magnetism, dazzling beauty and natural talent like the movies do, but she is not a man. She is ALL woman. C'mon!

That's when I took my Psychology Today magazine to work and showed it to M. She is obviously green with envy over Carmen Miranda.

"Weekend in Havana," "Greenwich Village," and "Copacabana." These are a few C.M. titles I recommended to M. but she refuses to watch them. When I bring Carmen up, the conversation turns sour:

M: "Do you see what I'm doing, Jake?"

Me: "You're sitting there with a blank expression on your face."

M: "That's right, I'm sitting here with a blank expression on my face because I started to think about something else but then I realized I was being rude, so I tried to listen, but THEN I started to think about how I was thinking about something else earlier and how rude it was so I stopped paying attention. What I'm trying to say is that I am a great multitasker."

Then she adds a P.S.

M: "She's a dead woman, Jake!"

She is so jealous.

Can you blame her?

M. is not in the office today so it's very quiet. The two of us have worked together for many years, but never in such close proximity. I remember when M. first mentioned her dark obsession with gritty foreign film; the grittier the better! Being a movie buff, I asked her to recommend a DVD. She said, without hesitation: "Irreversible," so I rented it.

In summary, "Irreversible" is an edgy French thriller that starts with the End Credits rolling backward and shows every scene in reverse order. There is one scene in particular involving 1 man, 1 woman, and an underground tunnel that is very unsettling. It is a graphic rape scene that goes on for twenty minutes and I'm not convinced they were acting.

"Wow, M.," I told her the next day. "That tunnel scene was gruesome." She giggled in response.

So now, whenever M. recommends a movie, I ask with anticipation if there is a "tunnel scene." Sadly, there usually isn't, but here are some close contenders: "Martyrs" is a French film about the afterlife, and "An American Crime" is a film about the slow-torture-murder of a teenage girl (based on a true story). Yuck!

Perhaps Carmen Miranda's musical comedies from the 1940's are too upbeat for someone of M.'s taste.


Monday, July 27, 2009

A lot of people on the team, myself included, like to sing. The problem is we are tone deaf. Whenever a co-worker feels the need to warble a tune, M. reacts with great urgency.

Picture it:

Random girl on the team: "Meee-ee-yow-woo-oooo-oowwoowow!" (The sound of a kitten being slowly strangled to death.)

M: "Are you OK? Who do we need to call? Do you need some water? Don't ask questions, just sign these papers. What is your social security number?"

A co-worker named V. said this when I asked if she was crying: "This isn't American Idol, OK Jake? This is the real world where people sing off key. Don't be hatin!"

On the rare occasion when M.'s cube mate is brave enough to attempt a little song and dance, M. reacts in one of two ways.

1.) She asks for aspirin, Tylenol, Lortab, etc. because her head hurts.

2.) She pretends to hear a blaring alarm indicating a nuclear attack and hides under her desk.

One day, I heard what can only be described as a "chipmunk on meth" interrupted by the loud clanging of M's chair as she pushed it aside to dive under cover. Her head was poking out, braces shining in the florescent light while her arm frantically waved towards her cube mate. "Jake! There it is again!" She said. "The alarm! Quick, get under your desk!"

Don't think M. doesn't sing out of tune. Any mention of the 9-to-5 work shift sends her into a catatonic trance ala Dolly Parton mixed with hot gravy. Words cannot describe what the ears endure. It sounds like a screaming mouse in a blender.

"Niiiiiine to faaave!" Accompanied by jerking shoulders.

I ask M. if she's OK. She replies, "Jake, I'm retired." She says this because a customer once told her the same thing when she asked if he was traveling. It doesn't make sense, but say it out loud the next time you're asked a question and see how effective it is.

M: "Where are you traveling?"

Customer: "I'm retired!"

M: "Oh, sorry."


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

As morning clawed its way over the day, M. tilted her head slightly to the right and asked, "Coffee?" Then she cupped her hands over her mouth and replied to herself in a high-pitched cartoon voice, "M!"

She is dressed in American Apparel attire, her hair in a ponytail, looking very sharp in three shades of aqua-blue. She glances my way and exclaims, "I need to go see who's calling my name." Then she skips down to the cafeteria.

Upon her return with a tall cup of Seattle's Best, she grabs my attention.

M: "Jake, do you like yams?"

Me: "I love yams."

M: (Shocked) "You do not like yams!"

Me: "Yes I do."

M: "Nobody like yams. Jake, you do NOT like yams."

I pause a moment before asking, "What's going on?"

M: (condescending) "YOU like yams?"

Me: "Yeah."

M: "How do you like them?"

Me: "Kind of mashed, usually. Or candied if it's Thanksgiving."

M: "Ha! Candied!"

Me: "I usually eat them mashed."

M. stares at me, then gets all serious. "When I was a little girl and I asked my mother what I‘d be. Would I be famous, would I be pretty? She told me to shut up and eat my yams."

Then she sauntered off to clean the department refrigerator.

During lunch, M. sits at her desk eating microwaved yams. She tells the story of a recent purchase involving a mystical 'Mirror of Truth.' According to M., The Mirror of Truth is a small mirror that magnifies the pores in your skin so they appear bigger than both of your fists put together.

M. tells it like this: "I took The Mirror of Truth home and put it over the mirror I already have. I wanted to look at myself, so I did. And what did I see? My pores are this big" (holds up hands to form a giant circle) "There is a party in each pore. There is alcohol and reproduction and bacteria and all sorts of wild things at the party, and bacteria reproduces fast!"

Sometimes for no reason, M. declares she is growing a beard, so I ask how her beard looks in The Mirror of Truth. Her reply: "I saw hairs I wasn't even paying attention to."

She then demonstrates how to use 2 Magnifying Glasses of Truth placed permanently in front of her chest to attract attention from the opposite sex.

For the next three hours, M. points her finger in the air and says aloud to everyone passing by: "The Mirror of Truth!"

Later, free of charge, M. takes out a tiny bottle of Nature Energy Spray and juggles it before our very eyes. Even though it's only 1 bottle, she gyrates her body and keeps the bottle afloat several times before dropping it to the floor. Not one to easily admit defeat, M. gracefully slides her naked toes from their flip-flop holsters and snatches the bottle up with her pigglies.

"Ta-Da!" she shouts.

Ta-Da indeed.

The rest of the afternoon fizzles into a dizzy whirlwind of exaggerated snobbery and wacky quips.

Example: "Mmmmph, you people don't know where I shop!" (Accompanied by extra pursed lips and fluttery eyes.)

Example: "You need to read this article on JEALOUSY."

Example: "There is a wire between my gums and the back of my teeth that is killing me. I have so much food in my mouth!"


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"This is not the time for joking," M. says as she stuffs a finger into her mouth. "You have no idea how much pain I'm in!"

The wire on the end of her braces is poking the back of M.'s gums and it "hurts real bad" so she shoves wax in her gob to make the pain go away.

Me: "Your pants are unzipped."

M: "What?!" M. is wearing a white t-shirt with brown 'Shakira Shakira' kid-sized cargo pants. Zippers are everywhere. The zipper going across one of her legs is widely agape so I notion towards it and M. quickly unzips ALL of the zippers on her legs for spite.

(She's classy.)

M. takes out the Psychology Today magazine and hands it to me. But what is this? What has M. placed atop of the mag for my unsuspecting eyes. Why, it's a shiny gold token worth "3 Payne Points!"

"What are Payne Points?" I ask.

"Don't be jealous," M. winks with an all-knowing smirk. "My orthodontist gives them to me. I get 1 point if I show up on time to an appointment, 1 point if I brush my teeth, and 1 point if I wear his shirt."

"You wear his shirt?!" I ask.

M: "Yeah, it says 'Payne Orthodontists' on the front. It's a blue T-shirt. There is a glass case in his office with all sorts of neat things I can buy with my Paine Points, like an iPod and an iPhone and... you know, all sorts of stuff."

The acronym for Payne Points is P.P.

M. is hoping to soon trade her P.P. for an iTouch.


M. loudly chews apart a mini chocolate candy egg while talking. The over-worked, wet smacking sound of her full lips is only outdone by the brutal glimpses of chocolate, metal, and tongue I see in between chomps.

Me: "Are you supposed to be eating chocolate?"

M: "Shhhh! No."

Me: "Is it because of your braces?"

M: "No, it's because it's chocolate."

M. unwraps another mini chocolate egg and plops it into her mouth. "You have no idea how much pain I'm in."

M. is not aware of this blog. It's weird to work with her all day, taking mental notes of conversations on the sly, jotting down little reminders, etc., and then sitting down to put a little blurb together for the internet. There is so much to digest. Case in point, today I made the mistake of asking what kind of pants M. is wearing because for the life of me, I have no idea how to describe them. I mean, are they just pants?

Picture it- M. and her cube mate are huddled around a computer, deep in shoe talk. They are engrossed in fashion, chocolate, and the thrill of free overnight shipping. From the innocent space in my cubicle, I peek my little head out and gently interrupt with a meek query: "What would you call those pants, M?"

M: (snapping her neck to give me the coldest stare in the history of the universe). "What, Jake?"

Cube Mate: "What kind of a question is that, Jake?"

Me: "Well, I mean... are they slacks, or cargo pants, or... what would you call them?"

(Silence and cold, deadly blank stares.)

Me: (looking at Cube Mate.) "Well, you are wearing blue jeans, right? So you would call those blue jeans, but is there a name for what M. is wearing?"

M: "Jake! What!?"

Cube Mate: "They are her Shakira Shakira pants, Jake."

Me: "Shakira Shakira? Like the singer?"

Cube Mate: "Yes, Jake. Like the singer."

Me: "But, are they really called that? Do I have to say Shakira twice?"

There is a brief pause until M. stands up unexpectedly and bursts into song: "Whenever, whatever!" She shakes and jerks with her elbows in the air, that eerie Dolly Parton voice shatters through my skull like an alien tractor going down in flames.

They giggle as if the whole thing is a laugh riot. Cube Mate tells me they are cargo pants. M. adds that she got them from the children's section because she thought they looked cute. She said they were meant to appear baggy on a child, but they fit her perfectly.

That's fair, I guess. Shakira Shakira pants.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Today M. is grumpy.

I ask what she wants to hear people say about her when she is globally famous.

"I don't give a flying bird what people say about me." she replies. "I don't care."

Perhaps M. is grumpy because I mentioned that men and women generally think differently. M. strongly disagrees. She believes people have different layers, regardless of their sex, and she does not think men and women use their brains to process information differently from one other. She has a valid point.

We let the issue drop.

One of our co-workers was interviewed on the news last night so M. re-classified her as a "famous" person. The co-worker was also an extra in a film.

M: "She is famous, Jake. She was in a movie."

Me: "Does that make you famous for knowing her?"

M: "Yes! I am almost as famous as Paris Hilton's friends." (She smiles really big!)

Me: "Is that how it works?"

M: "Of course that's how it works, Jake. When you go to Vegas and win millions of dollars on Poker, you'll remember me because we're friends. I'll be sitting in my living room like this" (she leans back in her chair and puts her feet on the desk) "because I'm recovering from liposuction, and I'll ask myself, 'What should I do first, watch TV in the bathtub, or sit by the fireplace?' (She snaps her fingers) "'The fireplace!' Of course, I hope it's winter, otherwise I'll be really hot."

M. is so pleased with this thought that she instinctively attempts to give me the Psychology Today magazine. (It never gets old.) "No thank you, M." I tell her. "I would read it, but it smells like it's been down someone's pants."

M. practices signing autographs to herself. She takes a red inked felt tip pen and writes frantically on a small pad of white paper.

M: "I'm going to be original and write, 'To M. with heart,' instead of 'To M. with love."

She scribbles in exaggerated circles for several seconds then finishes with a hard tap of the pen against the pad before showing it to me. Before I see anything, she jerks the pad back and hides it like buried treasure. Then she reads it aloud. "To M. with heart!" She kisses the tip of her finger and touches the paper. "Some famous people kiss the paper, but I am original so I do this." She kisses her finger again and touches the pad. "See?"

She shows me the paper. It is very impressive. M., however, scrutinizes the way she signed her name. "I don't like that signature." She stands up, walks to the paper shredder and disposes of her work. She sits back down and starts afresh.

M: "I need something more... JAKE! How does God sign his name?"

Me: "On TV he signs his name with a lightning bolt."

M: "Haha! Hey... you are onto something!"

She signs her full name with a lightning bolt in place of where the "s" should be. "Yes!" she exclaims. "Check it out. Huh? Huh?"

When I see it, a strange sensation sweeps over me. Typically, I feel one of two things when M. and I goof around like this.

1.) I'm 8 years old.

2.) I'm part of the Carol Burnett Show.

For some reason just then, I felt both.


Monday, August 3, 2009

M. has a Mexican shawl wrapped around the lower half of her mouth and upper body. She twirls around and around in her office chair like a whirling dervish and explains, "I am going to be the most fashionable homeless person!"

"How so?" I ask.

"Everything was on sale yesterday, Jake. I bought it all. I won't have enough money to pay the mortgage, but I will look very fashionable not paying it."

Suddenly, M. stops twirling and demands to know why I haven't said anything about her new sandals. Before I answer, she stands up and walks down the aisle. A very long piece of toilet paper trails behind one of her heels. I bust up laughing as do other members on our team. It gets funnier when M. sits down and takes off the piece of Scotch tape she used to manually apply the toilet paper to the bottom of her shoe. Hilarious!

She continues with the homeless talk: "I'll be sitting there, in fashion, on the street corner begging for change. I won't have any money for food, so I won't eat, so I'll be skinny and look even better in my new clothes. Do you see how it all comes together, Jake? It's like taking a jigsaw puzzle and throwing all the pieces in the air then watching them fall to the ground. You record the pieces falling and watch it back in slow-motion to see how everything falls into place."

As always, I'm not sure how to respond, so I sit patiently waiting for M. to finish. She rummages through her giant giraffe-colored bag and produces an enormous pair of MK sunglasses which she adorns. This creates a shocking yet stylish look accompanied by her shawl.

"Guys, I washed my wallet!" M. shouts with glee as she unfolds a giant pink armadillo case, showing off her credit cards, Drivers License, etc. I didn't know you could wash a wallet, but apparently M. did it with spectacular results. Her cube mate is very impressed.

M. asks, "Jake, how much will you give me if I catch this M&M in my mouth?"

I respond, "I dunno... three pennies?"

M. proceeds a circus act of tossing candy into the air and stepping forward to catch it in her mouth. The first one misses and makes a loud clanging noise as it ricochets off her teeth. The next two hit their mark and fall into her shiny mouth. (M. doesn't eat them, of course. She spits them onto the palm of her hand and tosses them in the wastebasket.) By the time she is finished, I owe her 9 cents. Wow! Her cube mate follows suit and tosses the candy into the air, trying to catch it in her mouth. I wonder what a person might think if they walked down our row at that exact moment.

I should mention that M. took the liberty of giving my little plush Ewok his own set of "staple braces" last week. I walked into work this morning to find him standing under my monitor where he always is, smiling at me with a crooked piece of metal over his sewn-on smile.

"How are his braces doing?" I ask M.

"There is a seance in his mouth from all the wax," M. tells me. (He uses the wax in the same way M. does- to keep the wire from poking his gums.)

Before the day is over, I ask M. about her new sandals. She leaves early, trailing a long piece of toilet paper behind as she pursues a new life in homeless fashion.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

M. brought The Mirror of Truth to work. She waves it in the air like it's a magic orb from another world.

"I don't know if you are ready for this," she tells me.

"I'm not," I say.

M.'s Cube Mate is brave enough to take a look. Lo and behold, The Mirror of Truth must really work because the expression on her face was one of grave concern and absolute concentration as she studied her nose magnified in The Mirror of Truth's reflection.

"Do you see the party happening in your pores?" M. asks. "Tequila!" She kicks her leg out and imitates the Rumba. Without warning, M. nearly falls out of her chair because her foot catches on the seat. Instead of losing her cool, M. acts as though she intended to nearly fall out of her chair. She starts moving from front to back in exaggerated body gestures. "It's my new dance, Jake. What do you think?"

"I dunno," I tell her. "Chair dancing?"

"Don't be so negative." M. grabs a small stuffed bear from her desk and sets him on her knee. "Jake," she explains, "this is my new look for you." She moves the bear's entire body from side to side, making him look like he is shaking his head in disgust. "And if I approve, it looks like this." She tilts the bears head forward two times. "See?"

M. takes the bears small paw and makes him repeat a certain motion near his crotch. "Actually, it would be more like this." She moves her hand faster and busts up laughing.

Of course, the morning would not be complete without M. telling me to read the Psychology Today magazine on JEALOUSY. "You say you've read this, but I don't think so. I don't think so." She stuffs it down her pants again and sits slouched back. Her Cube Mates gives her a weird look.

*A friend of mine read yesterday's entry about M. putting toilet paper on the bottom of her shoe and asked me if I was absolutely positive M. doesn't know about this blog. I understand why the question was asked because it might seem like M. purposely 'hams it up' for her readers, but rest assured, I am capturing the essence of M. in her natural work environment. She has no idea about any of this.

If she did, I have a feeling her antics would include little side notes for me to put into the blog specifically for her readers. As long as I can keep the secret for three more months, I'll have enough entries to give M. her very own diary for Christmas.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

M. came in late today. She's wearing a white dress embroidered with sparkles and rows of vertical flowers. Her blouse is also white with short puffy sleeves and her hair is styled in a 1950's ponytail. She is posed and ready to sing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from the movie, Grease. Native American style earrings dangle to her shoulders a la Pocahontas. (She is ready for a sock hop!)

She curtsey's, sits down in her chair, stands up, curtsey's, sits down, stands up, curtsey's and sits down again.

She talks about her son. This is an exact quote: "If he wasn't my son, I would definitely marry him. Let me add something to that: AND if he were 17 years older." Something about seeing all of her son's paint gun equipment has given rise to romance.

M. demonstrates how she can get a child to do anything. First, she gets all excited and opens her eyes really wide. Then she puts on a huge smile of big metallic shiny braces and says, "Do you want a spanking??" Her tone is all puppy-dog like. "Or," she furrows her brow, scrunches her lips into a hateful wad and seethes with snake-like spittle, "do you want a hundred dollars?"

She concludes, "Ask a child like that and he will choose the spanking."

"Jake!" M. turns the pages of her calendar. "I've scheduled my Liposuction. They can get me in on October 6th. I don't mean to pressure you, but I made the appointment." She is convinced I will be a millionaire by then and pay for her liposuction. She is the last person I would consider for Lipo because she is so thin and fit already, but M. assures me there are 'problem areas.'

A co-worker passes out enormous zucchini from her garden to several gals on the team. The jokes fly aplenty about the "shape" and "size" of the giant plump vegetables. The one M. gets is the length of two bowling pins put together and as wide as a chubby baby boy.

M: (With a huge grin.) "I just might call in sick tomorrow."


Saturday, August 8, 2009

M. is congested. Her voice is scratchy and every few minutes she coughs. "Don't mind me," she says, "I have a small case of the Swine Flu." She sniffles.

I offer her some Cepacol throat lozenges, which she takes and quickly pops one into her mouth. Within seconds, her eyes get all wide and she smacks her lips.

M: "What is that?" 

Me: "It numbs your mouth and throat."

M: "My tongue!" (Smacks her lips a few times.) "I don't like it."

M. decides the Cepacol tastes like a banana. "It's cherry flavored," I tell her, but she is not convinced.
M. hates bananas. Sometimes I'll eat one for breakfast and M. reacts as if I'm handling a dead skunk. She plugs her nose and scrunches into a ball, waving one hand in front of her face to escape the smell.

"Bananas are healthy," I protest, but it's no use. M. seizes a tiny perfume bottle from her bag and sprays it all over the room. One whiff of that stuff makes everybody's eyes burn and soon the whole team is coughing and gasping for air.

"What makes you hate bananas so much?" I ask.

M: "Jake, they smell terrible!"

Me: "Is this why you're jealous of Carmen Miranda? Because she wears bananas on her head?"

M: "Carmen Miranda is a man. And she's dead!"

Me: "Look, I'm done eating the banana. I've thrown the peel away so you can relax now."

M: "The peel is what stinks! Throw it away in another room."

Me: "What?! No way."

The Cepacol eases M.'s coughing for the time being, and the morning banana is soon forgotten. M. is a master at changing the subject when a conversation starts to spoil, so after a few minutes of arguing over monkey fruit she spins the discussion into a humor-filled rant about S.T.D. flare up. 

The day winds down into a blur of JEALOUSY magazine references, twitchy singing, and M. asking me if I'm OK in between coughs.

Another Thursday in the books.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Last week, a former team mate who is now in another department paid us a visit. She illustrated how a person looks busy just by walking around an office with a piece of paper in their hand, and it's true! Try it the next time you are at work.

Dressed in gray tights with a long top with tri-purple-colored high heels resembling an updated "Flashdance," M. takes it to the next level. She holds in her hands: 3 pieces of paper, a blue accordion file folder, AND a UPS 2nd Day Air envelope. Wow!

I confess to her that I'm biting the bullet and admitting I am in fact very jealous of her importance so I'll do my best this week to be more like her, starting with taking notes of everything she says.

I ask M.'s cube mate for some advice. She shows me an application for her cell phone called "FART ANDROID," which plays a variety of "fart" sound effects such as "juicy," "long," "relief," "messy," and "toot."

Upon hearing the sound effects, M. slants her eyes and leans her head back. "This is how we do it, Jake." She tells me, holding up her iPhone. With sheik, hard fingernails, she presses several random buttons and explains, "I'm checking to see if you have an appointment."

Before my appointment can be confirmed, M's cube mate cries "Ow!" We look over to see her spit out a piece of chewing gum. Cube mate explains that she bent over to spit her gum out and hit her head square on the desk by accident.

M. stands up and walks down the aisle. As she turns the corner, her foot slides out of her heel and back in again, creating a small pocket of air that makes a funny noise.

"Did her shoe just fart?" I ask cube mate.

Cube mate responds, "My phone does."

I sit in front of M. with my pen ready. I ask what I can do to be more like her.

M: "It took me years, 79 of them, to be where I am now."

Me: "Where are you?"

M: "It would take me years to explain, Jake. You wouldn't understand. I'm busy."

(After a pause, she continues.)

M: "I impress myself. Jake, do you want chocolate from my golden tray?"

Me: "No, thanks."

M: "You obviously don't know who I am. This tray is heavy because the chocolates are expensive."

(Time passes and I reluctantly have a chocolate. It's dark and tastes bitter. When I come back from lunch, M. fills me in on the afternoon fun.)

M: "Earlier it was awesome! It was an FF; Festival of Farts. It was like a garlic festival but with farts. I was eating eggs and cube mate had the Fart Android. Between us, it was an awesome FF! You missed it."

M. offers me a Halls cough drop. My voice is scratchy so I accept it, but M. suddenly licks the side of the wrapper and says, "Nope. The milk has leaked. Sorry."

M: "What happens on Fridays stays on Fridays!" she tells me.

Me: "That doesn't seem noteworthy. Should I write it down?"

M: "Jake, everything I say is noteworthy. You should write everything I say down."

(I read that part back to her.)

M: "I did not just say that."

M. offers weight loss advice to a co-worker: "Don't weigh yourself. Measure your inches. Muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle burns fat."

I ask M. if she has any final quotes for the day. She thinks about it momentarily, then blurts out the following:

M: "Jake, I only hope that I am able to inspire greatness. The degree of greatness that I inspire... I've lost my concentration because when you're this great and this important there are several priorities constantly on your mind and they have no order. I have to pee so bad I can taste it."

And she is gone.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

M. viewed Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) last night per my recommendation. She said the film was so heavy that she gained weight just watching it.


M: "Tomorrow, I'm getting my face peeled off. It's Martyr's 2! If I were the girl in 'Martyrs,' I would have just looked up after the first beating." (M. looks up and poses like she's in a sunshine kid's commercial.) "I mean, she had a clue before she went in."


M. still doesn't know about this blog, but she knows I'm taking notes of everything she says this week, so I read yesterday's notes to her, followed by the preceding two paragraphs from today.

M: "You know, it's different hearing what you said from someone else."

M. talks about how Victoria Secret clothes never look the same when you get them as they do on the internet. "The Victoria Secret models are all up here, and when you get it, it's all down here." She acts as though she's lifting two wiggly babies, then tossing used Kleenex to the floor. "It's like before and after, but in reverse. Before." (Lifting babies.) "After." (Dropping Kleenex.)

M. busts some quick hip-hop lyrics and takes a big sip of coffee. I've been sitting across from here with a blank expression on my face. Suddenly, I reach for my notebook which causes M. to spit coffee all over herself with laughter. She laughs so hard she declares her ab workout is no longer needed for the day.

M: "My mere presence is a gift."

Me: "What are you thankful for?"

M: "There was a sale. Nordstrom Rack, Jake. It was beautiful There were these boots, Jessica Simpson, knee-high, leather, honey-colored, 5 inch heels, brown tip toe, from $450 to $249.99, in my size. Need I say more?"

She continues, "I am also thankful for mirrors. They allow me to see me. In all my glory, Jake."

Me: "Do you consider yourself an egomaniac?"

M: "I consider myself realistic. That's not all, but when it comes down to how I perceive myself, I am realistic. Greatness is greatness, Jake. You don't have to add to it. No need for more. That's why it's great."

Me: "Who inspires you?"

M: "Barack Obama. (Jake, I am officially mentally retarded.) Because he is energetic, a hard worker, positive, he seems to stay cool and calm in spite of problems, he seems very sure of himself. And he wears Armani suits."

I ask M. for any closing statements before she leaves. Her response: "When I leave, the company as a whole will collapse. It's about quality not quantity. I don't repeat greatness."

She adds: "I wouldn't say anything about my abs, Jake. One million abs!

I read all of the notes from today aloud and ask what M. has learned. She says, "Hearing that is almost like leftovers. It's almost better the second time. I'm going to get my nose pierced, Jake, and then I'll be a real Robocop."


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

M. is dressed as a sailor. Her top is black with 6 huge buttons and a flap. Her pants are white.

"I'm in the Bahamas," she tells me. "This is my bathing suit."

Her purse is a spectacle all on its own. The border is giraffe skin, the middle is a wild zebra print, and there is a big leather Peace sign bejeweled with what M. says are real diamonds. Wow.

M. offers advice on nutrition: "If it's delicious, don't eat it."

She is leaving work early to get her face peeled. Before she heads out, she leans over to her cube mate and says, "My lunchbox smells like fart. Do you want to know why it smells like fart? Because last night I farted in it and zipped it up."

And then she's gone.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

I was asked to take a photo of M.'s purse from yesterday's blog. Here it is, along with the notorious Psychology Today magazine. Behind it is the Mexican shawl. And behind that... you can see the back tips of M's hair. (Yes, she is a real person.)

I ask M. what her thoughts are as we come to the end of a week of note-taking. She says, "Maybe I should just keep my big mouth shut."

Me: "How has it been?"

M: "Very enlightening, Jake. I had no idea... the things that come out of my mouth."

(She continues.) M: "Now I understand why I can't get a boyfriend, Jake. And when I do, he's crazy. Now I understand.

Me: "Why?"

M: "Have you been listening to me this week? Need I say more?"

The truth is, I've been listening to M. for months and I consider her to be one of the most entertaining, funny, goofy, adorable, talented people I've ever met. Part of her charisma comes from the fact that she doesn't know how great she really is. Sure, she talks herself up all the time, but it's mostly in jest. She laughs at her antics more than she accepts praise, and like a true celebrity, she is not aware of her natural coolness. She makes work fun, and I almost look forward to waking up early everyday to sit across from her.

Of course, that doesn't stop me from mocking the loudness of her purse, which I do every time I see it. That's a lot going on for one accessory.

M: "It's painful to me with you so jealous of the things I own. I feel bad, Jake, after I see how much it affects you. I'd give the purse to you but you're a guy."

Me: "I don't want it."

M: "I went to the spa yesterday to get my face peeled and people were crying when they saw my purse."

Me: "Can you blame them?"

M: "Just please do yourself a favor. You need to read "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die."

Me: "Who is the author?"

M: "The person who wrote the book."

(I looked it up- it's Karol K. Truman.)

There is no definitive moment to sum up this week, but I keep going back to M.'s statement about "Greatness is greatness, Jake. You don't have to add to it. No need for more. That's why it's great."

I think that's why M. is great.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Today M. sports a boring old purse that is the color of stained furniture. If she needs to clean it for any reason, she can use Pledge.

She has a little voodoo doll that she's using to get a certain "wind bag" on the team to be quiet. Per the instructions, M. 'casts the silent spell ' and lays the doll atop a personal artifact, places 2 pins into the doll's face, twists its head, and says "Hmmmmm." close to the voodoo doll's ear.

It's actually working! The "wind bag" has remained silent for most of the day.

In hopes that the "wind bag" calls in sick tomorrow, M. has the doll wrapped in toilet paper, with the same 2 pins pushed deep into the head.

She then attempts a spell on me by taking the little Ewok with braces from my desk and placing him in her potted plant. She sets an ibuprofen 800 near his mouth, a bottle of water (or as M. calls it, 'Vodka') next to his head, a couple of pennies and a bottle of Kickers 8 hour energy spray under his arm. She leans down and says, "Ahhhhhhhh." This is to send me on a tropical vacation where I can feel high and drunk.

"Jake," she asks, "are you feeling energized, drunk, high, relaxed, and rich?"

Me: "Sure."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This week I am taking notes of what M.'s cube mate says. Not to publish them here, but just to see M's reaction.

"You know I am hungry for attention, Jake." M. tells me. "You already know this."

It's true, I do. M. needs a lot of attention and she is usually pretty good at getting it.

Today, for example, she 'sang backup' for her cube mate while I tried to take notes. It distracted me so I asked her to stop (several times).

M: "I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky!"


M. discovered my obsession with dts-hd master audio. I made the mistake of revealing my love for dts sound by admitting previous purchases of dts merchandise. Such as a coffee mug, an ink pen, a decorative pin, etc.

M. couldn't resist. I stopped paying attention to her for awhile until I heard her say in an exaggerated voice, "Guess I'll just pour some water now."

I turned around and watched M. pour water from a large jug into a smaller water bottle. On the jug, she had taped a piece of notebook paper where the label would go with a fake "DTS" logo she wrote by hand.

It was hilarious! Not only that, but she picked up a pair of scissors and started cutting paper. "Oh, I just need to cut this paper here," she said. Hanging off one of the scissor blades was a square piece of paper with another hand-written "DTS" logo.

I told her they were cheap knock-off's because dts isn't capitalized, but she wouldn't hear it. Instead, she picked up the receiver of her telephone and said, "Hello? Oh wow! Where are you calling me from? Your voice is so clear. Oh wait, it's because of my phone." Hanging off the receiver was yet another hand-written fake "DTS" paper logo.

You have to admit, M. is a master at getting attention.


Wednesday, August 20, 2009

M. crawls under her desk. I watch her for several minutes sprawled on the floor, going deep to the back of her cubicle wall. After awhile, her head pokes out and notices me watching her. She fakes an embarrassed expression like she's been caught doing something naughty and waits for me to say something.

Me: "What are you doing?"

M: "I'm looking for my extension cord thingy. And I dropped the lid to my water bottle."

Later in the day, our team eats sandwiches from a local grocery store. I accidentally drop the lid to the jar of pickles on the floor. Before I can pick it up, M. jumps to her feet and kicks it down the aisle, Pele-style. Her fancy footwork is impressive as she bobs and weaves in front of me, criss-crossing her legs, daring me to make a move.

I simply wait for her to finish.

She scuttles the lid down the aisle. "I don't think you want to put this back on the jar," she says, ricocheting the lid off the floor and drop-kicking it in my direction. "There you go."

I pick the lid off the floor, replace it on top of the empty pickle jar toss it in the trash.

"Nice moves," I say.

In response, M. scrunches up her lips and makes a noise like she is constipated. "Mmmmmmmh!"



Thursday, August 20, 2009

I ask M. if she'll sign an autograph for me using her famous "lightning bolt" in place of the letter "S."

She refuses on the grounds that I might sell her signature on eBay for profit.

M: "Jake, how do I know that you won't post my signature on the internet and get millions of dollars for it?"

Me: "I won't."

Instead of signing her name, M. decides instead to draw a picture of herself. She narrates as she draws.

M: "I have big beautiful eyes with really long eyelashes, so let's do this... And I'm totally ripped so let's make my midsection tiny and muscular... And then I need liposuction here so let's give me a big one of these... There."

Me: "Is that your ass? What about your chest?"

M: "My chest? Let's do this... and this... and make my feet like this..."

Me: "What is that big red outline around your mouth? Is that a rash?"

M: "Jake, those are my lips."

Me: "What about your arms?"

M: "My arms are like this... and don't forget my naturally beautiful nails..."

Me: "You're making yourself look like Wolverine."

M: "And let's make my butt bigger... like this because I got back."

Me: "You look like the mutated spawn of a Mermaid and Mer-Man. And you have two left feet!"

M: "My feet? Oh, I wear Gucci sandals that are really cute so we have to draw those..."

Me: "What are you drawing now? Is that your Zebra Bag?"

M: "Jake, It's bright and shiny so it sparkles. So do my cute sandals... And the glasses are D&C... and this is Victoria Secret..."

Me: "You've made yourself into a monster. I'm going to have nightmares."

M: "Jake, just because you weren't born with my artistic ability. This is art. I am going to be the next Picasso, or Picassa really. Don't be jealous."

Me: "I'm not. Is this really how you see yourself?"

M: "Jake, this is art, OK? This is a one of a kind that is worth millions."

Me: "Well then you have to sign it. You know, that cool way with the lightning bolt instead of an 'S'?"

M: "OK, but don't let me see this on eBay. I know you're going to forge my signature and create fake documents or sell my autograph."

Me: "You can't even read your name! Why did you change your signature?"

M: "Because I went home and thought about my life and I've made changes, Jake. Just because you can't draw as good as me. Don't be hat'n!'"

M. looks nothing like the drawing she made, nor does her real signature resemble the scribblings on the paper. But the lightning bolt is kinda cool.

I think I'll hang this in my cubicle for awhile and see what kind of attention it brings.


CANDY Heath Ledger

Friday, August 21, 2009

The following is a text conversation that occurred between M. and myself a few minutes ago. (I have decided to start using the initial "J." for myself. It should make conversations in the blog easier to read.)

M. (5:42 PM): "Have you seen the movie 'CANDY?'"

J. (5:58 PM): "The one with Heath Ledger? No, I haven't."

M. (6:00 PM): "Yes! I'm going to marry him one day. Watch it."

J. (6:03 PM) "Ummm... I don't know how to tell you this, M. But he's dead."


J. (6:09 PM): "You can't marry a dead person. It's illegal and well, kinda gross."

She didn't respond.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

M. is dressed in two shades of grey with her hair in a ponytail.

"Jake," she says, "I see that you like your desk in the same way you like your purses- BLAND."

J: "What?"

M: "I have this bejeweling kit. Jake. We can put pink sparkles all around your monitor!"

J: "No."

M: "Jake, when I look at your desk, I want to fall asleep. I'm like this: 'Oh, what a nice desk. Oh ::yawn:: what time is it? I am falling asleep.' So I got you this plant. His name is Octavio!"

J: "Thanks, M! I don't have much of a green thumb."

M: "Don't touch it, Jake. Don't water it, don't look at it, and don't touch it. DON'T LOOK AT IT! Just leave it alone and let it sit there on your desk. See? Ahhhhh. Don't look at it! I will give it plant food."


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

M. has The Simple before noon today. She is laughing at everything, even if it's not funny.

"Jake, it's not just The Simple, it's... it's..." She pantomime's like she's squeezing a bouncy ball with both of her palms. "It's like this, Jake. It's Simple Pulp. I'm gonna take the pulp and I'm gonna throw it at you. You're gonna get pulp."

Today at work I received correspondence from Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania. The correspondence contained a neatly typed letter and a small envelope that looked as though ducks had pooped all over it. Ducks, or buffalo.

M: "Ew! It looks like it's been dropped in the sewer."

J: "I'll give you $5 if you lick it from top to bottom."

M: "You will not give me $5."

J: "Yes I will. You won't do it. Gross!"

M: "Give me the envelope."

I handed it to her. Not only did M. lick the crusty disgusting envelope up and down, but after I complained that I couldn't see her tongue touch the poopy paper from where I sat, she did it again!

J: "I'm going to be sick."

M. sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" but replaced each animal with a strange accented name. Instead of 'duck,' she said 'duke.' Instead of 'cow,' she said, 'coo." She held her elbows out and her fists in front of her did a little farmer dance while she sang.

As the day progressed and people started going home, M. rearranged the little voodoo doll on her desk. She wrapped scotch tape all around the little woman's face and shoved push pins deep into the top of its head, then she whispered in it's ear, "Shut the f@&# up!" and hung the doll upside down from a plant vine on her desk.

The "Wind Bag" is in for a sucky night.

*On a side note, my cube mate saw the self-portrait M. drew hanging from my wall. She asked what it was. "I dunno," I told her. "What does it look like?"

Cube Mate: "From where I sit, the drawing looks like a horse going into a cave."