Saturday, December 4, 2010

Giraffe Necks

This story starts over here and ends up waaaay over there. And while I'm telling it today, it happened yesterday but started the day before. Sorry.

I forgot to stop at my market (yeah, sign says "Bill's" in big red letters on the front of the store; the manager says if he catches me tagging one more time I'll need surgery to remove the spray can) to get a salad for my next day lunch. Actually, I thought I had a project I would be working on through lunch (it's not like I can't afford to miss a meal), and, somewhat chagrined, discovered I was done before the supper bell chimed.

Usually I eat lunch at my desk-I can catch up on other work (I'm assuming my boss is reading this, so don't make that face when I type stuff like that and stop muttering 'butt shark') and organize the afternoon. But here I was hungry and with no lunch. About a three minute hike from the office is a snack bar with a couple of tables so I figured I'd give it a try.

I wound up sharing a table, after asking (I wasn't raised in a barn), and as you may have suspected I have a finite supply of people skills, so small talk at meal time requires effort and is rarely worth it. I stick to tall talk. I thought I was okay since the free chair was at a three-person table and the two guys shoveling down streak fries with cheese and chili seemed fascinated by the utensils and I hoped for smooth sailing.

Except (unseen by me; I've now spent another ten minutes looking for it in the mirror), somewhere on my forehead, is written 'include me in your most private conversations! Nothing is too embarrassing to not be mentioned!' (I have a high forehead, to allow for capital letters) or at least I assume it's written there, based on the discussion I walked in on.

The pair were comparing notes on personal grooming-not that either was what anyone might regard as hirsute, if you follow my drift. Yeah, that was a good guess but try lower. LOTS lower. As the discussion continued about the going price for this service and the frequency of maintenance visits, I stared into my tomato salad and balsamic vinegar dressing like the keys to the universe might be at the bottom of the dish and shifted uncomfortably in my chair as if--never mind why. Talk about creep show.

It was the longest lunch I may have ever had and in terms of awkwardness even more so. Too long in windowless booths of broadcast radio land (because when people reject you by changing the dial you don't see it or feel it) have left me unwilling to make eye contact with most people in close quarters. I haven't lost anything so I have no reason to look for it especially in another person's face.

I found myself listening to the semi-scandalous soundtrack of an adult movie without having any idea as to whom either of the actors might be. I wasn't sure what could be worse-discovering I had been included as carry-on conversational luggage by two guys I didn't know or (gasp!) by men whom I did know and who now knew I knew their ultimate, intimate grooming secret.

Years later (or so it felt), they gobbled the last of the steak fries (and no, I, too, never understand how you run out of chili before you run out cheese and fries) and pushed their chairs away, stood up and bussed their own trays as they headed back to work, wherever it is people worry about giraffe's necks are employed. I don't think it's at the zoo though before lunch I might have thought otherwise. I couldn't be positive they were really walking funny or if I just wanted them to be walking funny out of sheer meanness (and maybe sheer is a poor choice of words).
-bill kenny

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