Friday, October 19, 2007

An Open Letter To The Men Who Work On My Floor

Dear Sirs -

It has been a sheer delight to share the same floor of this office building in Corporate Woods with you for the past 7-plus years. The fact that we've been working shoulder-to-shoulder as soldiers of industry and capitalism has imbued upon me a great sense of pride and patriotism. If not for the vast army of men collectively named "Joe Lunchpail", this country would come to a standstill.

That being said, I have a concern that I feel I must bring to your attention.

As you all are obviously aware, we share a single men's restroom on our floor. It is not a large restroom, like the women's restroom that has a separate changing/smoking/napping/deep-tissue massage room. No, we are left with two urinals, two stalls and three sinks. Since we have upwards of 20 men working on this floor, that means we have a lot of traffic coming through our tiny place of refuge. Add in the handful of men who commute from the 3rd floor while their restroom is being remodeled, and you have a lot of waste being eliminated in a small area.

This brings me to my issue: Half of the time I go to use the urinal, there is urine remaining from the previous person's discharge. And why is that? Because many of you continue to retain the mind-boggling habit of flushing midway through your expulsion yet NOT flushing after you are completed, leaving half of your legacy to remain for the next poor sap who comes in to relieve himself.

This leads me to ask: Are you not repulsed by the presence of urine in the fixture you're about to use? Are you not affected by the smell of said urine, left to marinate until the next person comes along? The only response I can reasonably predict from you is a resounding "Maybe."

Maybe it is a case of revenge: "Someone left this gift for me, so I will, in turn, leave a gift of my own!" If this is the case, I vehemently urge you to PLEASE break the cycle. It is like the never-ending cycle of child abuse, handed down from one generation to the next. Or the Kansas City Chiefs' never-ending cycle of fielding competitive football teams that, year after year, fail to win even a single playoff game. The cycle must be broken!

Maybe you are just hopelessly lazy: "Flush the toilet TWO times?!?! You must think time grows on trees!" If this is the case, may I suggest looking at this situation as a matter of timing, then? If you just wait 15-20 seconds longer, you can flush both the previous man's urine as well as your own urine away in one bold stroke.

I hope you will give careful consideration to my concerns and possible resolutions. I would really hate to have to start using the 1st floor restroom; those guys are just animals.

Yours in bathroom etiquette,


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hearing, But Not Listening

Two attractive, blond, young women sit on a park bench just outside their office. For them, it is break time, a time to vent about what's going on inside or with their boyfriends or how their families are completely loony. They sit casually, cross-legged and turned towards each other. There is a slight breeze but not enough to justify how often they each touch/adjust/flip/pull their hair. They take turns speaking, as those who possess manners tend to do. There is much hand gesturing and animation while one of them talks and what appears to be thoughtful, polite attention from the one who is listening. But upon closer inspection, one wonders whether they are really listening or just hearing. The body language speaks volumes. While the expressive, earnest story is being told, the other will occasionally look at the cars that glide past in the parking lot. Or she'll adjust her skirt. Or look to see who's coming in and out of the building. It even sounds like she's listening because on cue she'll offer up an encouraging head nod or say "I totally know what you mean!" But really she's just listening for the hint that tells her it is her time to speak again. And once she starts talking, the other girl picks up where the former left off. Both girls look forward to their daily breaks when they can go outside and get a few things off their chests. But neither of them feels any better afterwards and they can't quite pinpoint why.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Have A Dream...

...and it isn't meant to mock Dr. Martin Luther King. I've had that Regina Spektor song "Real Love" stuck in my head ("stuck" carries a poor connotation; let's just say it's been on a continuously pleasant loop) for the last couple of days. And today, while listening to that song in my head, I have this vision: A bunch of friends laying on a couch; intertwined but comfortable, not sitting stiffly side-by-side; blankets on those who want them. It would be cool or cold outside, making it reasonable for everyone to be inside cozied up to one another. And nobody would be talking. Not necessarily silent; there might be that song playing or some other soothing, melodic music. But no one would utter a word. For maybe an hour. Those who felt inclined to nap would do so. Those who wanted a foot rub or massage of some sort would receive one. Those who just want to lay back and have someone stroke their hair would be permitted to do so. It would be peaceful and warm and dreamy. I realize this echos the sentiments of a couple of earlier posts, but it's a bit different. It has a feeling of utter contentment, if only for a while. And total understanding without having to voice it. I suppose "intimacy" would be a good word. Anyway, it was just a dream I had on a rainy Wednesday afternoon...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Denny is an oddity. Not in a bad way, though. See, nearly everyone in his family is an addict. Three alcoholics on his dad's side. A sex addict on his mom's. His father-in-law, while not blood related, is another addict in his life; a Webster's-certified workaholic. And every single person in his family smokes. Every. Single. One. All but Denny, that is. Denny doesn't smoke. Oh, he'll puff on the occasional cigar or pipe. But he's never even placed a cigarette between his lips. And he partakes in his fair share of alcohol. Except that he rarely drinks alone. And he spends a fair amount of his time alone. That is, when he's not spending time with his friends. And he's been doing a lot more of that lately. In fact, when he isn't spending time with his friends, he expends a goodly amount of energy thinking about them. He'll call to see what they're up to. He'll text them to let them know he's thinking of them. He's constantly creating new ways for them to interact, whether it's by email, internet or planning events. He's often inspired to buy them gifts. And he feels so safe and secure when he's with them. He'll share all his ideas and plans and worries. He tells them about his Family-O-Addicts and breathes a sigh of relief that he managed to avoid being like them. And his friends sigh in agreement.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Real Love

Sunday night. The new week is nearly here. But they're putting it off as long as possible. A small candle burns on the coffee table, their three wine glasses sit nearby. Kendra and Lily are curled up cozily at each end of the sectional sofa. In between them, Neal sinks deep into the corner of the couch. The blond glow of the candle rests lightly on their faces. Their conversation slows to a stop and the only thing that interrupts the peaceful silence is the soft melody of a piano from the radio. Minutes go by and no one says a word. Tension and anxiety do not exist in this place, at this time. Everyone is lost in their own thoughts. Finally, the conversational hiatus reaches a conclusion when Lily says, "It feels so wonderful to be free of drama and stress and conflict, just for this moment." Neal, parroting the currently playing Regina Spektor song says, "You know why? It's because of what we have. It's real love." Lily furrows her brow and says, "It's not just the three of us that share that." And Neal responds, saying, "I know, Lily. That comment was supposed to be about 30% truth and 70% wit." After a few beats of silence, Kendra admits, "I still think it was sweet." And the three of them silently agreed that it was.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

These Five Stand Alone

A couple of weeks ago Chad, Lisa and I went up to the gallery where Chad's art was being displayed and wrote a number of short stories about the various works. I wrote eight stories in all and I will eventually post them all here. But I want to get pictures of the pieces that inspired these stories to post alongside. The five stories I am posting today are ones that I feel can stand alone, art or no art. But these are much more meaningful to me when one has seen the art and heard what it has said directly. The titles of these stories are the titles Chad gave his pieces.


"Look at that guy over there."

"Yeah, what a fat slob."

"Dude, I dare you to go over there and touch him."

"Touch him? Are you nuts? That's sick!"

"Come on. I bet he wouldn't even feel it."

"Seriously, he looks like a toad. He's just staring blankly into space."

"Fine. I'll give you five bucks if you do it."

"Five bucks? Alright. But you better pay up. When's the last time you think anyone's touched that guy?"

That's exactly what the fat, toad guy was thinking just before he got up and walked home.


Why does everyone think I'm beautiful? I mean, I see practically why they say that. I look in the mirror on occasion. But do people say it just because everyone else does? Is there some sort of beauty equation that I'm not aware of? Has there been an oral tradition, handed down over the years, that has created and shaped the accepted definition of beauty? I don't know the answer, but I know what I am and that is beautiful.


That was the final straw. She had had it, though she couldn't explain why. There he was, so comfortable and confident and lacking in nothing. But he still didn't fill her with passion. She turned away from him, searching for a painless way to end things. Painless for him. And painless for her. But things don't always work out the way you plan them. He reached out and touched her shoulder. Lightly at first and then pleasantly firm. And the passion that she didn't think existed started to glow like a long forgotten ember. And once that fire started to burn, there was no putting it out.


He had to think everything through. Thoroughly. That's why she loved him. That's also why she hated him. See, she was nothing like that. For her, things flowed freely. Conversation. Decisions. Wine. Love. But he agonized over everything. Fish sticks or taquitos? Should he have another drink? When will she discover that he is an unworthy companion? But she stays true to herself. She pours another glass of wine and decides that whatever will be, will be. And he stays true to himself. He goes to bed early. And lies awake for most of the night. And decides that whatever will be, will be.


Does he even remember what I look like? Does he remember what it feels like to feel me? To be felt by me? When he is alone, am I one of his Top 5 thoughts? Have I ever been? Will I ever be again? I can still smell his scent. Does he remember mine? Does he even care? Do I? Does he remember the way he used to say my name? Does he remember my name? Does he remember who I am? Who I was? Who I can be? Does he remember what we had? Does he remember?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Merge Lane

His girlfriend was driving. He sat in the passenger's seat of the '89 Cavalier. Things weren't going well. Not in their relationship. Not in their car. "Why does she always do this? She always looks back and slows to a stop, not realizing that if she just looks forward she'll see there's plenty of room to operate."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Bald Man

A bald man walks past me in the hallway. A bald man with sad eyes and a goatee, wearing an 80's vintage striped Polo shirt knockoff that is tucked into his dark blue jeans that are cinched to his waist by his brown leather weaved belt that resides three feet above his bright white tennis shoes. He is holding a large, hardback novel that he is keeping open about halfway with his thumb and it is making a slight crinkling noise because of the cellophane book jacket and his slow, measured steps. He softly says "Hey." I nod and say hello as we pass. One more bald man in a sea of bald men.

Monday, October 01, 2007


The four of them sit on the couch, boy-girl-boy-girl. Layla with her legs across the laps of Nate & Karen and Charlie on the end. A soft, periwinkle blanket encompasses and unites them. They drink wine. They watch "Categories". They tease one another. They are warm and comfortable. They talk about creating things that are controversial. Their confidence swells and imagination blossoms from the nourishment of their shared intimacy. Though they were once apprehensive, now they are emboldened. Alas, it is late and they must go. With great care, they tuck Karen into bed. And then they evaporate into the night.