Nov. 08, 2009

Chapter 6: Success at Work

So, back at work, and we've got a big meeting with the whole team about "really sticking hard to our goals" with a beautifully wrapped Q&A/PSA session at the end, just begging to be used for shameless plugs (every year, John invites us to a fancy party his boyfriend throws for him; back when he turned 70, he actually brought a cake into the meeting with the time, date, and location of the party [and, since the lettering was so small and got chopped up pretty quickly anyway, it was also on the plates]), like a quick invite to a fun sci fi night ("Hey guys, I know you're all secret sci fi loves -- I'm lookin' at you Saxby!" or "So, ya'll know how people say that Debbie's gotta be from Mars" [pause for laughter] "yeah, well, I organized a little get-to-know-you night with some of her neighbors!" or "I'm sorry, Debbie, I didn't mean to make fun of you" or "No, I didn't know that your parents were killed on an expedition to Mars" or "Oh, and your childhood corgi too... no, I wasn't aware" or "And, you were also hit by a Mars Corporation truck?! I'm so sorry..." or "Wait, they sued you?" or "And, now you're broke and getting deported? I thought you were from..." or "Oh, no, I still think that we're friends," or "I'm sure you have plenty of other friends..." or "No, Debbie! Stop! Please don't try to break into a NASA launch!" or "Debbie! Stop! You won't find your parents that way..." or "Saxby, stop her!" or ...). And, when it comes time, when John's inviting everyone to a "whole cow barbecue extravaganza" he and Jon are hosting, when there's this perfect moment of silence, and then when Barbara is telling everyone about what a great time she and I had at bowling, and how we should all go together at some point, and when I'm smiling and nodding, and then when there's this other perfect silence, and then--

The thing is, what's going to happen? I mean, it's not like anyone's going to come, right? It'll be a catastrophe. It'll be one of those, "Yuck. I work with her!," "we should start a petition to get rid of her," "yeah, everyone here would sign" types of moments. It would... imagine a turtle trying to use sign language to communicate, or, like, a lemon trying to save a crashing plane - just a complete catastrophe on every possible level. Like, "Oh, so, hi, I have an anno--" "Oh, God! Rose is about to say something!" "Everybody, cover your ears, or you could become just like her!" "My sister got Rosified... She... She's dead now." "Please, Rose, I don't mind dying; my children are grown and no longer care about me, but spare George and Kristen. They just started here, and they're -- their kids still need them. Just... have some mercy, Rose. On them." "I never told my husband I love him..." "I never told Kristen I'm secretly in love with her..." "You're secretly in love with me? To Hell with this. I'm gonna live! Let's kill Rose!" "Yeah, wait, why don't we just kill Rose?!" "Everyone! Get your pitchforks! She's allergic to pitch!" "This is for my sister, you monster!" "AUUUGGGHHH!!!!"

Really, I'm doing everyone a favor here.

Chapter 7: Fun Park

... Well, except maybe Sen and co.

Monday night, there's a "Minigolf Courses Late Night B&E" group, and Gully and I are set to join them as a business-driven couple who love or Tuesday-night sci fi friends but are looking for a wild time on Monday nights. This was... Sen's idea.

The B&Eers recommend coming dressed in black, "Not because anybody actually cares, but because it's more fun sneaking around," so I don't actually see Gully when I go to pick him up, and since I've never been to his apartment before, the only thing that gets me to finally stop inching along trying to find an easy-to-read street number, is a pink blob floating behind me and getting smaller, from my rearview mirror.

I stop and start to back up, only now the pink blob is getting bigger faster than I expected him to, so I have to slam on my breaks to keep from running him over.

When he gets in the care, he is panting and giving me an Ice Glare. Only, he can't quite pull it off, so after a couple of seconds, he breaks into a smile.

He says, "Good job on the not killing me there, Rose."

I say, "You're dressed completely in black! You're wearing a black hat, for crying out loud. Couldn't you have, like, give me an 'I'm here' signal or something?"

He says, "I stuck out my hand! I waved!"

I say, "Yeah, well, you're wearing gloves."

He says, "I took them off!"

I say, "You did?"

He says, "Well, no... But, if I had taken them off, then you'd really be in trouble."

I say, "But... you didn't."

He says, "We're speaking hypothetically here, Rose. Keep up."

I say, "But... you didn't take off your gloves."

He says, "Listen, what I'm saying is... can we head out already?"

I start heading for the highway to the Support Universal Health Care (If You Want Your Children to Live!) Fun Park. (It shows up at "Supunhec" on Google Maps and "Threat Park" on Yahoo! Maps.) I say, "Don't think you can change the subject, Mister."

He says, "Right. Anyway, like I was saying, OH MY GOD DID YOU JUST HIT SOMEONE!"

I say, "No. No, I did not." ... I hope...

Whenever anyone makes that joke I always get freaked out, like, maybe they're not joking. Maybe I lost consciousness for a second, and now suddenly some homeless guy is paralyzed for life, and my basketball dreams are ruined forever, or, the guy will get really pissed off, and then all of my friends will start being brutally murdered, one after another, and then after that, all my new friends will start being brutally murdered, one after another, just when I feel like I've kind of recovered a bit from the first brutal murdering of all my friends (not to mention the trauma of being involved in a hit and run to begin with). Maybe it's even worse. Maybe the guy sitting next to me is the ghost of the person I hit years ago and never realized it, and now he's making me relive that moment over and over again, only I keep blinking and missing it, so he's just adding more and more times for me to relive the moment. It's like "Groundhog Day," only it's only a few seconds. "Groundhog Moment"? "Groundhog Murder"? "The Groundhog of Eternal Despair Who Got Run Over by a Car Driven by a Weird Lady Who Seems to Pass Out Sometimes and Doesn't Realize it"?

We arrive at the Threat Park. Fuck.

There are ten or so people there already (honestly, it's hard to tell the exact number), huddled around a closed gate.

We get out of the car, and one of them says, "Finally."

Gully says, "Sorry, uhh, sorry we're late."

The big mass of largely-invisible bodies says, "No problem," and then agrees with itself: "Yeah, no worries."

Gully and I walk forward, and the mass splits in two around us. In front of us is a gate with a padlock on it.

There is a pause.

It is followed by a longer pause.

Someone coughs, so we have to start our pause-a-thon back from the beginning.

There is a--

"So," the half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left (in a man's tenor) says, "Uhh... Shall we?"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our right (in a woman's soprano) says, "Yeah, yeah. Can we get started already?"

There is a pause.

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Hello?"

Someone taps me on the shoulder.

I say, "What?!"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Hello?"

I say, "Uhh... hi..."

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our right says, "Can we get started already?"

There are some inaudible murmurings of general disapproval. Someone uses the word "lame" in a non-disability-related derogatory manner. Someone else uses other words.

I say, "Uhh... me...?"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Yeah, you. Get us inside already!"

I say, "Why...? I can't..."

Gully says, "Is this some kinda induction thing?" He nudges me and whispers, "Are... are you like the ringleader here or something?"

I say, "I don't think so?" in a form that hopefully implies that I am asking a question. Maybe I really have been passing out at the wheel... and maybe someone else has been waking up and living a double life, the life I've always wanted to live, being the person I've always wanted to be, doing the things I've always... forming meetups centered around illegal recreation.

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Wait, so you're not the organizers?! Damnit!"

Gully says, "Wait, nobody here knows how to pick a lock but one person..." he pauses, "... and you all thought it was Rose?"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Well, you guys walked up here with such authority, we just assumed..."

Gully says, "Has anyone here actually met the organizer before?"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "See, thing is, it's my first night," and then in a woman's voice says, "Yeah, mine too."

Not to be outdone, the half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our right says, "Us too," and then in a man's voice says, "Yep."

Gully says, "Wait... nobody's actually done this before?"

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our left says, "Well, I've been meaning to, thing is, I'm usually too tired from my rockin' fun Sunday afternoon lasertag." A pause. "You guys should come."

The half-big mass of largely-invisible bodies to our right says, "Oh, come on, Thomas; you tried to get me over to that stupid laser tag thing at Saturday morning yoga," and then, as a male says, "God, longest morning of my life. Why do that have to make it so hot!"

An entirely different voice from the left says, "Oh, they're doing Bikram. We meet Thursday evenings, and we do Iyengar, which is loads more fun. We even get to use props!"

The male voice from the right says, "Yeah, thanks, Francis. You'll only fool me with that shit once."

A completely different female voice from the right says, "Anyone here curious about underwater hockey?"

Francis(?) says, "For the last time, no!"

Thomas(?) says, "You can't just keep asking out of the blue, Sabina. There's an art here."

Gully says, "Wait, so you're all just here pushing your own groups?"

The as-of-yet unidentified woman's voice from the right says, "Yeah, aren't you?"

Gully says, "Well..."

The woman says, "Let me guess... Sci fi. You guys are like the plague lately."

Gully says, "We... Well..."

The woman says, "Yeah, half these guys are sci fi lurkers. Which meetup are you?"

Gully says, "We... we meet Tuesday... nights... you know, in case..."

Francis(?) says, "Tuesday nights?! No shit! You're the guys that just about shot Robert's Monday night Scrabble work through the head, aren't you?"

Gully says, "... uhh... Robert...?"

Francis(?) says, "Oh, yeah... uhh, Greenfin."

I say, "Greenfin?!" Shit. And, I was doing so well at keeping quiet.

The woman says, "Oh, God. Greenfin. That guy is so intense."

Francis says, "He's been working on that Scrabble group for, like, a month.

Thomas says, "I hear he spends five hours a night putting that costume of his together."

The woman says, "I hear he got fired from his job!"

Thomas says, "Yeah, I heard that too. Poor guy's been tutoring one of those folks's kids in math for, like, two weeks."

Francis says, "And he says they're trying to kick him out of the meetup again now."

Sabina says, "Anyone here curious about underwater hockey?"

The woman says, "For the last time, no!"

Thomas says, "I'll bet you it won't be the last, Theresa."

Theresa mutters, "Yeah, probably not..."

There is a silence.

Gully says, "Wait... something still doesn't make sense."

Francis says, "Here it comes."

Gully says, "What-- here what comes?"

Francis says, "Your pitch."

Gully says, "But-"

Thomas says, "Oh, but it's not a pitch. I'm sure."

Theresa says, "Newbies give such elaborate pitches."

Gully says, "No, I-"

Thomas says, "Yeah, it gets so tiring."

Theresa says, "Oh, like your laser tag bit doesn't get old."

Thomas says, "Hey, laser tag is a blast!"

Gully says, "No, Listen!"

Theresa says, "Yeah, a blast of Ice Cold... Boredom!"

Gully says, "If no one here-"

Thomas says, "Boredom? You come laser tagging with me one time; I guarantee you'll be hooked!"

Gully says, "Then who-"

Theresa says, "Deal, if you give Bikram a real shot, without trying to sell laser tag while you're there."

It's at this point that we first hear the police sirens.

Nov. 09, 2009 →



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