Sarcasmo's Scribblings

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Feh

Today I was tired and cranky. Does it show?

Becky was tired; the kind of tired that overtook all else. She was too tired to eat, to think, to sleep. Her glassy eyes stared at her computer monitor, as she desperately struggled to look busy lest someone provide he with actual work to do. In her state, actual work was a disaster waiting to happen. Her eyes glanced around her austere desktop. A clean black radio; neatly-lined up, alphabetical file folders; a pen cup organized by pen type and ink color. Becky chewed on her thumb cuticle and silently cursed her anal-retentive ways. Organizing always looked liked industrious activity.

She alt-tabbed her open text document back to her browser – wondering with ire which co-worker was whistling loudly on the other side of the office. (Who could be happy enough to whistle in this desolate place?) Even the Internet, with it’s up-to-the-nanosecond news and things that went “flash” and “bing” couldn’t offer anything to focus her muddy brain.

She bent her head simultaneously lifted her glasses and rubbed her eyes with her thumb and forefinger. It was that damn anxiety dream. Could you call it an anxiety dream if it didn’t make you anxious? It had had all the classic hallmarks: an task of some importance she was expected to but entirely unprepared for (in this case a performance of the scene with an “acting partner” in an acting class); strange celebrity guests (including a television chef (who she believed was an imposter because he offered her sugar-free chocolate – as if), a British actor dressed as the character she most recently saw him play on TV, Donald Rumsfeld, and her boss (as “The Teacher’). In the dream she was pretty sure that she could cram-memorize her lines in the few moments before the performance – but she was entirely bewildered by her partner’s desire to obtain live worms for the scene.

In any case, she hadn’t been nervous about it – yet there she had lain in bed this morning, from 4AM onward, her brain adamantly denying her body’s desperate cries for sleep.

To sleep perchance, yadda yadda yadda. Becky wondered how many of her fellow cube-veal would notice if she found herself a duvet and crawled under her desk for a few hour power nap.

Not the whistler, at the very least. Stupid, bland, Snow White mimicking bastard.

Becky leaned back, yawned and stretched; pretending that the creaking noises came from the chair and not her joints. Almost everyone she knew seemed to be having anxiety dreams lately. Maybe there was something in the water, or something missing from it.

Oh, Christ, she mused. I hope my brain isn’t having some sort of high school graded crisis – generating sleeplessness just to be a joiner.

“Stupid, insecure brain,” she muttered, as she flipped through her still empty email box.

“You’re not stupid? Why would you say that?” The chipper voice Becky detested most in the world chriped from just behind her chair.

“Marcia,” she said as civilly as she could manage, barely turning her chair to face her office-arch-enemy; tall, slender, blonde, with a permanent and huge forced-smile that only Botox could stop from causing her face to become one giant wrinkle. “Oh, hi, nothing. It was nothing. I was just talking to myself. Rough night.” She turned back to her monitor and pretended to start writing a memo. Instead of going away as she had hoped, Marcia leaned her sat her tailored skirt on the edge of Becky’s desk. She made tutting noises and put a well-manicured hand on Becky’s shoulder.

“You know, Bethy, girls our age can’t be going out like we used to. It’s so bad for our complexion. And no-one promotes a woman with pasty skin.”

Becky took a deep breath and willed the growl that was growing in her throat to subside.

“It’s Becky actually, Marcia. Did you need something? ‘Cause I’m kind of in the middle of something here…”

“No…I just hate to hear you say you’re stupid. You’re not. Why don’t you come out to lunch with the girls and me today? Fresh air might wake you up.”

I’d rather skewer my own eyes out with a Number 2 pencil. “Oh, thanks. But I brought something in with me.”

Marcia’s mouth frowned - but her forehead resisted. “Well, ok,” she said in her best disappointed-voice. “You know where to find us if you change your mind.”

“Thanks. Really. I’ve got stuff to catch up on,” Becky waved her hand vaguely at her computer. She shrugged apologetically as she watched Marcia turn out of her cubicle.

“The girls” was the a tight-knit group of thirty-somethings who lunched together everyday – carefully crafting and enforcing the pigeonholing office hierarchy between bites of Caesar salad and TV sitcom recaps. She had a standing invitation to join them; they seemed to think that since she was in the same age range she was just like them, but after the first ten minutes of the first painful lunch she knew that wasn’t true.

For one thing, Becky’s voice couldn’t even produce that high-squealling sound they seemed to make when they were excited, her political views were all wrong, and she had a hard time keeping up with the conversation as they all seemed to be talking around one another rather than to one another.

And Becky always felt they were over-interested in the state of her ovaries. When Brenda (whose conversation usually consisted of reports of what she did with her church group that weekend) observed during the “why don’t you want to have kids” conversation for the third time in so many lunches that if Becky didn’t want to have kids, she must just want to have “lots and lots of fun sex” – (an observation based on no input from Becky herself, and one that Brenda seemed overly-eager to share anytime the words “Becky” and “babies” came up in the same conversation) that Becky decided brining her lunch in was a safer, saner option.

Becky pulled her blue, insulated lunch bag out from under her desk, and freed a peanut-butter sandwich from it’s plastic wrap. She pulled off a corner and chewed it absently.

At least that weird one who used to shadow them, Esmerelda, seemed to have gone away. She had been a piece of work, that one. She could barely manage to answer the phones effectively, and yet she always seemed to think she knew everyone else’s job better than they did.

Rumor was she was fired for being part of some subversive internet website. “The Girls” were insisting it was porn. Becky didn’t see how – Esmerelda had been so mousey – so poorly kempt; but then again – she supposed everyone was somebody’s porn idea. (What a great bumper sticker that would be, she grinned.)

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