Friday, September 14, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 9: The Final Chapter

Dear Diary,

The police had just come charging into the cavernous basement office of our building’s technician where Dino, the technician, and Derek, the guy I hate the most at the office, were bruised, bloodied, and unconscious in a locked cage as I stood just outside of it, raising a large knife with my eyes bulging from fear, animal-like desperation and human-like insanity.

Detective Vuotto, the skinny, tall, female detective with a giraffe neck looked me in the eye as everyone from the force kept their guns trained at my head.

VUOTTO: Eric... please put down the knife.

ME: You don’t know what I’ve been through today. I could just kill someone right about now.

Detective Mallory, the squat, sweaty, male detective took a cautious step toward me.

MALLORY: Eric, you don’t have to kill anyone today. You can just relax now. It’s all over.

Tears pooled my eyes.

ME: Is it? Is it really over?

I closed my eyes then, as I cried like a baby. And swung my knife all over with each heaving sob.

ME: I just want it all to be over. I just want to end today. How do I end today?

MALLORY: Whoa! Whoa! Be careful!

I was stumbling aimlessly, as I continued to swing the knife all about.

ME: Where am I? Oh boy, I’m just a mess right now. Forgive me.

Next thing I knew, all twelve of the uniformed police officers had me pinned to the floor as Detective Mallory wrestled the knife away, and Detective Vuotto kicked me in the gut for good measure.

MALLORY: Eric, you are under arrest for the abduction of Derek Wellington.

ME: Whatever. Just get me out of here. It’s so damp.

Detective Vuotto kicked me in the face.

VUOTTO: Trust me, you'll never be back here again. You’re going away for a long, long time.

ME: Yipee.

Detective Vuotto slammed one of her knees down onto the side of my head.

DEREK: He didn’t do it.

I turned my aching head toward the cage where two officers were helping Derek up.

DEREK: Dino did.

Dino, our building technician, was just coming to.

DEREK: But it wasn’t really an abduction.

I couldn’t believe it. Derek was covering for Dino. He really had forgiven him.

DEREK: We were just goofing off.

Sheila, our boss, walked into the basement office then.

SHEILA: What happened?

MALLORY: Everything's just dandy. Looks like they were having some kind of fight club down here.

SHEILA: Fight club? Isn’t that against the law?

I jumped to my feet.

ME: No. It was a hug club.

I ran inside the cage and threw my arms around Derek, and then reached out to Dino, who immediately hugged us back.

ME: See. We were just hugging down here. In the basement. In this cage.

All three of us held each other tightly, while lovingly swaying back and forth.

ME: We weren’t doing anything wrong.

SHEILA: Then why are these two all banged up. And dripping blood?

ME: There was just too much hugging.

SHEILA: There’s something not quite right here.

VUOTTO: Actually, if more people hugged like the three of them, there’d be a lot less crime in this town.

MALLORY: She's right. These boys have been doing a lot of good down here.

Police officers started entering the cage then and surprising us by wrapping their arms around us and holding on tight. It felt wonderful.

VUOTTO: You know, every year the department raises money for children at risk. This year, we’d like to donate all of our money to this Hug Club. I think it would really help the community.

ME: We could use more cages. And with better locks. We could sure use this money.

And that’s how I started the Hug Club in the basement of our office building, with the guy I hate the most at the office and a psycho who despises hugs more than anything else, but is now forced, one night a week, to hug many men inside a locked cage.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 8

Dear Diary,

Derek, the guy I hate the most at the office, had just been imprisoned in a cage by Dino, our office building technician – all because an accountant that works in my office, Charisse, has a crush on Derek but could not care less for Dino, but would care even less if it was possible. You see, everyone in our office building already thinks Dino is a psycho, and now, Derek and I were about to confirm their suspicions. Inside Dino’s dark, vast, cavernous basement office, Derek and I had just managed to lock Dino up in his own cage.

ME: There’s some cops upstairs looking for me. Let’s get them down here so they can arrest Dino.

DEREK: I forgive him. He didn’t know what he was doing.

ME: Dino was my friend first. Don’t try to steal him from me.

DINO: I hate the both of you. When I get out of this cage, I’m strapping you two to a wheelbarrow and rolling it off the roof.

ME: I’m going in the cage. He needs an embrace from a man who cares.

DEREK: You’re absolutely right. I completely agree with you.

ME: Don’t copy me. He’s my friend so I’m the one who gets to hug him. And give him lots and lots of hugs if I feel like it.

DINO: If anyone tries to hug me, so help me God, I’ll tie their arms up in a knot through their nostrils like a nose ring.

I turned back to Derek.

ME: Why don’t you go in there and hold him down. And then I’ll hug him.

DEREK: That’s a great idea.

DINO: I swear… I’ll twist your head ‘round and ‘round ‘till it snaps right off.

Derek unlocked the cage then and stepped inside.

Dino lunged at him, and they proceeded to scuffle, both falling onto the cage floor. They continued to wrestle while grunting and then letting out terrifying yelps of pain.

ME: Derek, you let me know when you want me to go in there to hug him.

Dino now had Derek in a headlock. He rammed Derek’s head against the cage bars. Repeatedly.

ME: You just let me know when he’s ready. I got a really good hug building up inside me right now, so I think we should take advantage of that. I can’t wait to let it loose on him. Just to feel all that love flowing through our bodies, you know?

Derek now had Dino’s hair in his grip and slammed Dino’s face against the cage floor. These two were really busting each other up.

ME: I can’t wait to get in there. I care so much for that Dino.

Dino now kneed Derek in the head.

ME: The thought of putting my arms around Dino just makes me feel so vibrant.

Dino now head-butted Derek – so hard that both men fell to the floor, unconscious.

There was now only silence. No one moved.

ME: I guess that’s my cue to dispense some hugs.

I snatched Dino’s knife off the floor, just outside the cage. I needed a weapon in the event Dino suddenly came to.

ME: Ewwww…

Dino and Derek were all bloodied and bruised, and gross looking. I held on tight to the knife, scared that Dino might awaken any second. My eyes bulged in fear.

ME: Dino… I’m coming in. Get ready for my hug.

I raised the knife over my head as I prepared to enter the cage. I hadn’t even opened the cage door yet when, abruptly, the door to Dino’s office almost flew off its hinges and Detective Vuotto, Detective Mallory, and a dozen uniformed police officers came barrelling into the room, guns aimed straight at me.

VUOTTO: Sir, put the knife down!

MALLORY: Oh my God! Look at what he’s done to them!

ME: Don’t worry about me, everyone. I am not hurt. I was just going to get a hug from this guy. And if he didn’t comply, I was going to stab him.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 7

Dear Diary,

It was 1:50pm and I was inside our building handyman's vast, cavernous, basement office. I had just discovered that Dino, our gruff handyman, had Derek, the guy I hate the most in the office, gagged and imprisoned inside a large cage because Charisse was about to ask Derek out and Dino was jealous. What a joke. Charisse isn't even that hot. Anyway, after pretty much calling Dino pathetic but offering him lots of hugs, he came at me with a hunting knife.

DINO: I am not worthless.

He slashed his knife at me.

I moved off to one side, luckily avoiding the blade.

ME: I didn't mean it that way. And who cares, really? You have this job that is perfectly suited for you. You're hidden away down here for most of the day so no one really ever sees you, or sees what kind of person you are. You have it good, Dino.

Dino lunged forward too fast, clutching one of my wrists while slicing down at me. As the blade cut toward me, I gripped his knife-wielding wrist, trying to hold it away from my chest, but it was so difficult.

I looked over at Derek as he stared at us, gagged with a purple handkerchief and standing inside his cage.

ME: Do something!

Derek looked back at me with his wide, frightened eyes, and just shrugged his shoulders.

I turned back to Dino.

DINO: Tell me I'm not pathetic.

ME: Okay, but don't look at me straight in the eyes when I say it.

DINO: Say it!

I shut my eyes.

ME (as quickly as possible): You are not too pathetic! You are not too pathetic!

I opened my eyes.

Dino was still pressing the knife toward my chest, and I was holding him back as best as I could.

DINO: What do you do here?

ME: What?

DINO: What's your job here? Nobody has any clue what you do around here?

ME: I do lots of stuff. I'm really busy, you know.

DINO: What's your purpose?

I was now really confused.

ME: What? Purpose? What?

DINO: I was like you. A long time ago.

ME: I doubt that. Very much. I wouldn't work down here. Maybe someone would who's pathetic... Oh, sorry.

DINO: You've done absolutely nothing with your life.

Tears came gushing to my eyes then. I was so embarrassed.

ME: You're hurting my feelings.

DINO: Let me end your misery.

Dino's hand now possessed way more force as it pressed down with a strength I could no longer fight against.

I was going to die.

ME (screeching, and making my lungs almost bleed): NO! PLEASE! FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE! PLEASE!


Dino fell to the floor.

I looked up.

There was Derek, still gagged, but free from the cage, standing before me with an oversized rubber mallet. He had just knocked Dino unconscious.

He pulled down the handkerchief gagging him.

DEREK (catching his breath): I was able to grab his keys from his back pocket when he walked past a while ago. I just needed him to get distracted by something or someone so I could open up the cage.

ME: Just because I just saved your life doesn't mean you can just talk to me now. Or look at me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 6

Dear Diary,

It was 1:35pm and again I found myself dashing down a hallway in the building where I work, the two gold medals around my neck jingling and jangling. The small accounting firm I work at is on the eleventh floor. I was now on the tenth, having fallen through the ceiling with a bunch of smokers.

I burst into the stairwell and started racing and leaping down the stairs, almost tripping a few times. I finally made it to the basement. Derek, the guy I hate the most in the office, hadn't come in for work yet today and the cops wanted to throw me in the slammer for doing away with him, which I didn't recall ever doing. If anyone would know what was really going down, it was Dino, our building handyman. Hopefully, he was now in his vast, cavernous, basement office.

I knocked on the door. It opened a crack and there he was, peeking at me from the other side: Dino, 50s, gruff, and wearing his navy colored, building technician uniform.

DINO: I told you never to come back here again.

ME: Everyone's always warned me that you're a complete psycho and that you probably have dead bodies down here. But you're my Boo Radley, and I know I can come to you whenever I need someone to fix something, require information found only on our security cameras, or I want to give somebody a hug who desperately needs it.

DINO: I'll slice you up.

ME: Listen to me: people have been talking about your attitude ever since I started working here. You should know that. They're scared of you. They're scared you're going to saw them in half and it won't be part of a magic show, and there won't be any magic. But I know you better than that. You've helped me in the past, and I know that deep down you are a caring, loving, completely gorgeous man. I'm married and straight so it's okay if I call another man completely gorgeous, because I mean that they're gorgeous on the inside. Where it counts. Just let me put my arms around you. Please. It'll feel good once I squeeze and rub my hands all over.

DINO: I'll burn you in the incinerator, like a marshmallow.

ME: Or a weiner. You need to know... that someone cares, Dino. I have never kissed a man before, but I will peck you on the cheek if need be.

DINO: With my bare hands, I'll rip your face, right off.

ME: Why do you push everyone away? Why? Be honest for once in your life. Let's be friends and we'll just hold each other. That sounds really nice to me.

I saw something behind him.

ME: Hey... is that a cage? Is that Derek?

Dino grabbed me by the arm then and yanked me inside the room.

ME: What's going on here?

Inside Dino's dark, cavernous office, Derek stood inside a large cage, gagged and gripping the bars while staring pleadingly into my eyes.

DINO: Now I'll have to imprison you both. You know my secret.

I turned and saw Dino holding up a large hunting knife toward my neck.

ME: Trust me, your secret is safe with me.

DINO: I don't trust you. You're too lovey dovey.

ME: That's just because no one cares about you, and I do. Because I know the real you. And the more I get to know you, the more I love you, Dino.

DINO: Shut up!

ME: Are you telling me to shut up, or your heart to shut up, as it's telling you to reach out to me and show me how you really feel?

Dino violently waved his knife around.

DINO: You! You shut up! I'll disembowel you!

ME: All right...

I made a zipping motion across my lips, and then locked them with an imaginary key. I then grabbed Dino's free hand, placed the imaginary key into his palm and lovingly closed his fingers onto it.

I smiled at him then, silent for a moment.

ME: Now what?

DINO: I thought I told you to shut up.

ME: You didn't say anything about being curious.

DINO: I'm putting in the cage.

ME: I don't want to be in there with him. I really don't like him.

DINO: Join the club.

ME: Really? You don't like him either?

Somebody else didn't like Derek? This was unusual.

ME: How come?

DINO: Because he's perfect.

I knew I liked Dino.

ME: I know. I totally hate that bastard.

DINO: And because Charisse was about to ask him out.

Charisse is another accountant in our office.

ME (excitedly): Oh my God! Charisse! I can't wait to start teasing her in front of everyone while she's trying to work. That's hilarious.

DINO: He thinks he can just steal her away from me.

ME (more excited): You like Charisse! Oh my God! I can't wait to start teasing you in front of everyone while you're trying to work. What a laugh that's going to be!

DINO: Well, let's see how everyone feels when he's not around. Let's see if everyone still loves him then.

ME: They'll love the memory, Dino. You're just making him a martyr right now. It's like Obi Wan Kenobi. By getting rid of him, you're just making him stronger. He'll actually become better looking in their minds. And by comparison, you'll get uglier. It's sick, I know. People like you and me, we're not the same as people like him. We're small. Invisible. Worthless. Dino, you're pathetic, ugly and worthless. You should be the one in that cage, really. Like a freak. The world would be a much better place without you.

And that's when Dino charged at me with the knife.

DINO (battle cry): Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!

I was petrified, as I tried to move out of his way.

ME: Miss me, miss me. Now you have to kiss me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 5

Dear Diary,

It was 1:10pm as I ran down the main hallway of our building's eleventh floor, fleeing from the accounting firm where I work at. Two police detectives chased after me, most likely trying to recover the two gold medals everyone thought I stole from Derek. Derek still hadn't shown for work yet.

I could hear the two cops sprinting behind me: the female Detective Vuotto who resembled a skinny giant, and the male Detective Mallory who resembled a squat tomato. I turned a corner, yanked a ventilation grate off the wall and hopped inside the duct, quickly positioning the grate back into place. Crouched down on all fours in the low space, I spied through the grate's slats and saw the detectives race past, ignorant of where I had just disappeared to.

I had to get out of this building. They would have it surrounded any minute now. Maybe I could find a way out through an unseen ventilation duct. I crawled forward in the silver duct tunnel. Suddenly, I smelled smoke. Were they trying to smoke me out? I turned a corner and was surprised to come across Charisse, an accountant from my office, sitting and hauling on a cigarette beside a grate.

CHARISSE: Eric... What are you doing in here?

ME: I'm on the run from the cops. But better yet, what are you doing here?

CHARISSE: That's my cubicle down there.

Charisse pointed at the grate beside her.

CHARISSE: I just come up here for my smoke break since we can't smoke inside or anywhere near the building anymore.

ME: That's crazy.

Charisse pointed ahead, down the tunnel. I saw grizzled, grumpy Howard by another grate, Don by another, and Dot by yet another, and all were smoking. They all waved at me. I waved back, coughing.

ME: Damn, no wonder it's always smoky around my cubicle. It's like a bingo hall some mornings.

CHARISSE: All the smokers come up here. Even Sheila.

ME: But she's our boss. And this ventilation shaft is supposed to provide us with fresh air. Not give us lung cancer!

Charisse nonchalantly pulled another drag from her cigarette. I have to admit: she never looked cooler.


ME: Well, I don't have time. The cops are all after me. Get out of my way, please. They want to take my gold medals away.

I clutched the two gold medals around my neck.

ME: And I'll give up my own freedom and basic human rights before I let that happen.

CHARISSE: The cops aren't after you because of the medals. They think you did something to Derek.

ME: What?

I stopped and turned back to her.

ME: I may want him to be really sad and all alone for the rest of his life, or abducted, or pay someone to...

I made quotation marks with my fingers here.

ME: "get rid of him for good"

I winked at Charisse twice, very quickly, so she'd catch my drift.

ME: for no better reason than I don't like how everyone likes him and he's perfect, but that doesn't make me a bad person.

CHARISSE: I didn't say you were a bad person.

ME: You just make it sound like I'm jealous of him or something.

CHARISSE: You didn't do something to him, did you?

ME: Where would I find the time? I'm too busy thinking about him all the time.

CHARISSE: Really? You didn't hurt him?

ME: Why are you so worried? Who cares?

CHARISSE: Everyone does. That's why I needed a cigarette. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to Derek.

ME: I hate Derek. I despise him from the bottom of my very being.

CHARISSE: What does that mean?

ME: Means I wish he was dead. But I'm not going to jail for something I didn't do. Nor am I giving up my medals. I'm going to find out what really happened to Derek and clear my name, and save my medals.

I crawled away, through the thick smoke, coughing a few more times. Past Howard, Don and Dot, more people climbed into the duct from other offices, lighting their cigarettes.

ME: Can you guys stop puffing for a minute? Jeeze, I can barely see where I'm going.

The duct started to wobble, as even more people climbed aboard.

ME: Guys, I think there's too many people up in here.

SOME ANGRY SMOKER: This is what we all have to live with now, so shut your mouth!

ANOTHER SMOKER: Yeah, shut it!

I couldn't see anymore. All I saw was smoke. Then I couldn't breathe.

HOWARD: This is paradise, ain't it guys? Like the staff lounge back in the seventies.

ME: Everybody, please, put your cigarettes out! I'm think I'm dying!

Everyone laughed at me.

And that's when the ventilation duct collapsed, and everyone screamed at the top of their lungs.

My head bounced on something hard on my way down. I think it was a toilet, because I heard someone screaming below me a split second before, and then flushing.

I looked up as the debris and dust settled. I was in the women's washroom. There was now a huge hole in the ceiling, and a woman unconscious under me. I jumped up and ran out, as smokers everywhere dusted themselves off.

HOWARD (angry): Great, now I guess it's back to the patch!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 4

Dear Diary,

It was 1:00pm in the small accounting firm I work at and Derek, the person I hate the most in our office, still hadn’t come in to work. As everyone walked out of the lunch room, we were all greeted by a short, squat man and a towering, thin woman with a long face. Both were wearing cheap blazers and standing by our cubicles with Sheila, our boss. Sheila looked very miffed.

SHEILA: Everyone, this is Detective Mallory and Detective Vuotto. They were called in here today by Eric.

ME: You guys sure took your time getting here. Sheesh.

The squat, round-ish male detective spoke first.

MALLORY: What’s this about a missing person?

ME: Forget about it. You’re too late. His trail is long gone by now.

The tall, skinny female detective spoke next.

VUOTTO: We take calls regarding missing persons very seriously.

ME: Well, don’t worry about this one, because he’s probably dead by now.

Vuotto squinted a little, appraising me.

VUOTTO: Why would you say that?

ME: Because everybody hated that jerk. For sure someone did him in.

MALLORY: Really? Everybody hated him?

ME: Listen, you can trust me on that being a fact ‘cause I’m probably the one who hated him the most. I have dreams at night about how much I hate him, and what I want to do to him.

Don from our office interjected then.

DON: It’s true. He wore a T-shirt last week that he made himself and it said I hate Derek.

I turned, smiling and nodding proudly at the cops.

ME: That's right. And see these two gold medals?

I clutched the two gold medals around my neck.

ME: I stole one from him the other week. And this one just this morning from his desk. I hated that bastard. So, so much. You can’t even begin to imagine. So take it from me, that guy’s a corpse.

MALLORY: We’ve been informed that this morning, you contacted several members of Derek’s family and informed them of his supposed death.

I glanced guiltily at Sheila, my boss.

ME: Not during work hours, but yeah, I did let them know not to keep their hopes up too much. Being as I’m certain someone rubbed out my all-time worst enemy ever. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to assist you on this case.

VUOTTO: And how would you help us exactly?

ME: Well, you see, I’m kind of an expert on wanting this guy off the planet. I could provide you with some insight into the killer’s mind. I most likely have the same wants, same needs, same murderous instincts. What do you say?

Mallory nodded his head briefly then.

MALLORY: I’d like to continue this conversation downtown. Why don’t we give you a ride?

An alarm went off distantly inside my head. I almost didn’t pay attention to it. My grandma Gertie once told me that if a cop ever asks you to “continue this conversation downtown” then you should always turn the other way and run for your life. Which is what I did, just at that moment. I flew out of our office, bursting through the doors to the main hallway. My grandma Gertie died in prison. I wasn’t about to let that happen to me. Even though I still didn’t know what those two detectives thought I was guilty of.

When I finally figured it out, I ran even harder. I wasn't about to give up my two gold medals to anyone, or for anything.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 3

Dear Diary,

It was 11:00am in our small accounting firm, and Derek, my all-time worst enemy in the office, still hadn't shown for work. My boss Sheila was so nonchalant about the whole thing (maybe she likes him more than an employee. Gross. Sheila might be pretty but now she disgusts me). I was incensed. Was Derek playing hooky, while I had to work? Or maybe something terrible had befallen him. I left the office for half an hour and when I came back, I dimmed the lights as I headed toward my cubicle.

HOWARD: What the hell?

Howard is a sixty-ish ex-army Sargent-turned-accountant.

ME: Everyone! Gather around!

SHEILA: Where have you been? You're supposed to be working.

I quickly unwrapped a game board and its pieces and placed everything on my desk.

ME: It's a Ouija board. We're going to have a séance. Maybe talk to Derek's spirit. Find out what really happened.

SHEILA: This is ridiculous. Someone turn the lights back up.

The lights went back to full.

ME: Fine.

I gathered up the board and pieces.

ME: I'm doing this in the lunch room. Come on everyone!

SHEILA: Oh no, you’re not. You’re getting back to work.

ME: Fine!

I slammed everything back down on my desk and sat down.

SHEILA: That goes for everyone. Back to work.

I dialed up a number on my phone.

ME (quietly into the phone): Hi. Yes, it's me again. I still haven't heard anything. Have you?

Charisse walked by my cubicle then.

ME (into the phone): I know. I really feel for you at this time. My prayers are with you and your family.

CHARISSE: Who are you on the phone with?

I covered the mouth piece with the palm of my hand.

ME (whispering): Derek's mother.


ME (back into the phone): Don't cry. Don't cry. I think the smart thing to do would be to brace yourself for the worst. Do you know of a funeral home?

CHARISSE: What are you doing?

I spent the next half hour talking with Derek's parents, consoling them, offering hope, and then asking for the telephone numbers of any siblings and immediately calling up his sister, and offering a shoulder.

At noon, while everyone in the office was enjoying their lunch in the lunch room, I walked in and turned off the lights.

HOWARD: What the?

I lit a candle and everyone turned and saw me seated alone at one table, conducting a séance before my Ouija board. I closed my eyes and placed the tips of my fingers on the movable Ouija board pointer which is called a planchette.

HOWARD: Could someone please turn the lights back on? I can’t see what I’m goddamn eating.

The lights went back on.

ME (in a deep, ominous voice): Derek. Derek. Can you hear me, Derek?

HOWARD: Could you keep your hooey down? We're trying to have our lunch here.

ME (ominous voice): Derek. Where are you right now, Derek?

The planchette moved, spelling out a word.

ME: H…E… L… L… Hell? You're in hell?

I looked around at everyone, eyes wide with shock.

ME: Derek is in hell.

Everyone stared back at me, blankly.

ME: Well, I suppose he did deserve it.

Sheila was now just outside the lunch room, staring in at me through the small window in the door. She shook her head to herself as I looked back down at the planchette.

ME: But I feel bad for his girlfriend though. And for Sheila. Now, they'll both have to find new boyfriends.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 2

Dear Diary,

It was 10:30am at our small accounting firm and Derek, the person I hate the most in our office, still hadn't shown for work. Meanwhile, our boss Sheila could not care less (I'm starting to think there's something going on between them). Meanwhile meanwhile, a million scenarios were running through my head. Where's Derek? Did something happen to him? Is he playing us all for fools and having a great time eating cotton candy on a Ferris wheel somewhere? I'd like to be on a Ferris wheel somewhere, perfecting an evil laugh. In my cubicle, I took matters into my own hands and called up his condo. A woman's voice picked up at the other end.

WOMAN: Hello?

ME: Who's this? What have you done to Derek?

WOMAN: Who is this?

ME: It's his work calling. Why? Did I interrupt something? Were you just chopping him up?

WOMAN: What?

ME: This is serious. This is his work calling. He could lose his job over this, and then be homeless and have no money to buy you presents and take you out to stuff your face. That's how serious this is, young lady. Now you tell me where he is.

WOMAN: Listen, he drove to work about two hours ago.

ME: Funny, 'cause he ain't here? How the hell are you, anyway?

WOMAN: What?

ME: And who the hell are you?

WOMAN: I'm his girlfriend. You're being rude.

ME: Girlfriend? What are you doing in his condo? Don't you have your own place? What are you? Some kind of girlfriend-slash-squatter hybrid?

WOMAN: We live together.

ME: Live together? But you're not married.

WOMAN: That's none of your business.

ME: Does your mother know about this? I have Derek's mother's number. I have a mind to call her up right now.

WOMAN: I'm hanging up.

ME: Just between you and me, I don't think Derek's been on the up and up with you. He's sleeping with our boss, Sheila. Keep that on the down low.

WOMAN: Sheila?

ME: Yep. Looks like you're not the only trollop in town.

WOMAN: What's your name?

ME: Uh... Edwardo.

WOMAN: Eduardo who?

ME: Mongooba. Eduardo Mongooba.

WOMAN: Eduardo, you are a despicable human being.

ME: I'm not really Eduardo Mongooba so I don't really care what you think.


ME: Wait... About Derek... Has he ever said anything about this guy he works with? This guy named Eric.

WOMAN: What?

ME: Like what he thinks of him?

WOMAN: Eric who?

ME: Eric the photocopy guy.

WOMAN: Never heard of him.

And with that, Derek's girlfriend hung up.

Sheila walked by my cubicle then, and I stared at my computer screen, pretending to work.

ME (chanting under my breath): Derek has a girlfriend... Derek has a girlfriend...

SHEILA: Did someone just say something?

I didn't acknowledge her.

ME (still chanting under my breath): And it's not Sheila... it's not Sheila... even though they're totally doing it... even though they love to do it... in all of our cubicles... wash your cubicles...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 1

Dear Diary,

I can barely breathe. First, let me start at the beginning. This morning... Sorry, I just puked into my trash can. All right, this morning, at around 9:01am, I noticed that Derek, the guy I hate the most at work, but whom everybody else absolutely adores because he's a jazz musician, works out and volunteers helping old people (whom I also hate) wasn't in his cubicle yet. It was empty. Everyone has to be here at 9:00am on the dot. I rushed over to my boss' office. Her name is Sheila and she runs the small accounting firm where I work as the photocopy guy.

ME: Derek's late.

Sheila glanced up at the clock on the wall.

SHEILA: One minute late.

ME: What are you going to do about it?

SHEILA: He's on time every day. I'm sure he'll be here any second. Do you have two of his gold medals now?

I clutched the two gold medals around my neck.

ME: These are mine. I trained really hard for these.

SHEILA: I already told you to give him back the one you took from him. How did you get the second one?

ME: You were at the Office Olympics. Didn't you see me win them?

SHEILA: No one did, because you didn't win them. I don't know how you stole this second one, but you are to leave both of those on his desk.

ME: Are you sleeping with him?

SHEILA: What did you just say?

ME: You like him more than everyone. That's why you're so easy on him.

SHEILA: He's one minute late. Get over it.

ME: If I was one minute late, you'd slit my throat, gouge out my eyes and then throw me out on the highway and run me over back and forth, and then for a week I'd never hear the end of it from you.

SHEILA: You wouldn't need to be one minute late for that.

ME: Open your eyes. This place is imploding with all your loose morals and your corrupted, decaying soul.

I went back to my cubicle, but was back in her office within the half hour.

ME: Derek's still not here.

SHEILA (annoyed): Jeez...

ME: Maybe you should call his home. See what's holding him up.

SHEILA: Whether Derek comes in late today is none of your concern. Now get back to work. And take off those gold medals.

ME: Then why do I have to be here, if Derek doesn't? I'm going home!

SHEILA: You get back to your cubicle now.

ME: This place is going to hell in a hand basket! And I'm the only one who seems to care!

I left her office then, but was back ten minutes later.

ME: I've just called the police to let them know about Derek.

SHEILA: Are you insane?

ME: He's been missing for quite some time. They should know.

SHEILA: But the police? And why do you care? He's your mortal enemy. You told me so.

ME: He should be at work! This is unacceptable! What's wrong with you?

SHEILA: Eric, if you do not stop obsessing about this, I will take action. And give me those gold medals.

ME: I found his parents' number on the Internet and gave them a shout, just to give them a heads up. They're looking for him too.

SHEILA: He's barely an hour late for work.

ME: We don't have much time, Sheila. Not if we want to find him alive.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Grandma Gertie and her best friend Marilla

Dear Diary,

I was ten years old when my grandmother Gertrude was eighty and she ran my school bus off the road by repeatedly smashing her Ford Pinto into our crowded, moving, yellow vehicle. She then burst from her car in her apron and flowered smock, sporting a short, white, old lady perm and a hand gun and forced the bus door open. She gave the frightened, shocked bus driver a dirty, hard look through her coke-bottle eyeglasses which magnified her eyes three times their regular size and which were fastened to a thin chain around her neck. All the children were petrified, frozen in their seats as she grabbed my hand and yanked me away.

Once we were both inside her car, she roared back onto the road, straight to her house. I didn't ask any questions. With Grandma Gertie, it was always best not to know too much.

"A bank was just robbed down the street from my house," she volunteered. "And I need you to be our alibi. The police have been hounding me for years regarding several hold-ups in the area."

"Where were you when the bank was robbed, Grandma?"

"Where do you think? You think banks rob themselves?"

"Was Marilla with you?"

Marilla was Grandma Gertie's best friend.

"Why do you think the police suspect us?" Grandma Gertie responded. "During the robbery, she was using her damn walker."

At her house, we quickly set up a game of bridge with Marilla, and my grandmother cheated. When the police finally showed, I told them we had been playing for hours. When the police detective asked if I was Eric, the little boy who had just been abducted by an armed elderly woman off a school bus, we all made a run for it, but didn't make it very far as Grandma and I had to wait for Marilla to find her glasses.

In the police station, as we waited to be interrogated, Grandma fell to the floor, in convulsions. I screamed for help. My grandmother was dying right before my young, innocent eyes. Marilla was soon on the floor as well, also in convulsions. When they both lay motionless, they were loaded onto an ambulance. I bawled as I waited for my parents. My two best friends in the world were dead.

That's when I heard an ambulance siren approaching. I ran outside as the ambulance from before barrelled onto the police station parking lot, colliding with police cruisers. The back door flew open, as Grandma Gertie reached out to me from inside. I latched onto her hand and she pulled me in. Marilla was at the wheel, scraping past electrical polls, trees and more vehicles. At the hospital, once the paramedics had exited the ambulance, the two had commandeered the vehicle and rushed back to scoop me. We were now heading to where the money was hidden.

We parked the ambulance at the mall and my grandmother and Marilla spent their newfound booty on things such as hard candy, salted black licorice, Bengay, denture cream, lottery scratch cards and both signed up for a Readers Digest subscription. They bought me things as well, mostly socks, before speeding back to Grandma Gertie's house where both ladies baked me some rock hard bran muffins and then torched the place, to get rid of all the evidence they said. They left me on the front lawn for my parents to pick up as they both drove away in the ambulance, the siren still blaring. I miss my Grandma Gertie every day.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Grandma Gertie

Dear Diary,

When I was a little boy, my parents used to drop me off some afternoons at my grandmother Gertrude's. Before they would leave, my father would always eye my mother's mother suspiciously, even though Grandma Gertie was just a diminutive eighty-year-old woman wearing an apron over a faded flowered smock and sporting a short, white-gray, old lady perm. Supposedly back in the 1920s, my Grandma Gertie had been a notoriously wild flapper, dancing in all the big nightclubs of the time. But in front of my father, she now moved very slowly, and smiled, offering half-baked, salted, black licorice cookies which tasted oddly like sweat-soaked running shoes.

As soon as my parents were gone, my grandmother would quickly throw on some satin number while downing shots of gin, and then would invite the mail man in. Soon her street would be clogged with two dozen postal trucks, the stereo in her house would be blaring disco music and my Grandma Gertie would be dirty dancing with all the city postal workers. I'd cry then, scared out of my mind, as my grandmother would throw herself from the chandelier into the waiting arms of her mail men, screaming, "Special Delivery!" She'd usually try to kiss someone on the mouth then, before kicking everyone out, and consoling me with one of her stinky black licorice cookies as she made sure her dress was still covering her in all the right places. I miss her.

When my parents would pick me up at the end of the day, my grandmother would always be back in her flowered smock and apron, moving about the house ever so slowly. As we would leave, my father would never stop eyeing her suspiciously, especially if a pair of panties suddenly fell from the chandelier. Grandma Gertie would usually offer a small laugh then, adding, "I haven't seen these in years."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Under-Appreciated at Work

Dear Diary,

I am steaming right now in my cubicle. You see, I am the photocopy guy in a small accounting firm and I have an extremely unique problem: I am under-appreciated. No one here works like I do, or provides the office with all that I offer. I’m terrified to think what would happen if ever I were to leave. This place would crumble. Seriously. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to be here if I left here.

I’ve made a list of at least 5 things no one appreciates about me at work:

5. I make a lot of promises

Most people are afraid of making a commitment to a project. Or announcing that they will take full responsibility for a major undertaking in the office, such as building an addition or a sun deck. Not me. I make grandiose statements about what I’ll do with wild abandon. And if I don’t completely forget about them later, I’ll cancel entire projects if they no longer excite me or I feel like they’re weighing me down. That way, I save everyone the trouble of a grumpy Eric who’s prone to vandalism.

4. I give bad people the silent treatment

No one doles out office justice quite like me. Out of the twenty-four employees in our office, I’m now only speaking to two, and that’s including myself. Last month it was zero. I was like Helen Keller without the sign language.

3. Every day, starting at 3:45pm, I cook my dinner on a hot plate in my cubicle

Leaving the office with my dinner for the evening already prepared keeps me from rushing to get out of the office right at 5pm or attempting to leave early. This week alone, I’ve made jambalaya, curried goat and trout risotto.

2. I re-decorate the office with recycled garbage

Abandoned mattresses make great couches if you can bend them. Just this morning, at 6am, I picked out twenty-four tires from the junk yard, filled them with dirt and planted one daisy in each, and then placed one “tire flower” on every desk.

1. I build and maintain office morale with a show every Friday

Every Friday, right after lunch, I set up my ghetto blaster and wireless microphone and walk around the office, making jokes, Don Rickles-style, ridiculing everyone in the office while pointing out their shortcomings. The jokes just write themselves, really.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Inappropriately Dressed for Work

Dear Diary,

Yesterday, at 4:31pm, I got called into my boss Sheila's office. I sat across from her as she stared at me from behind her desk.

SHEILA: What you're wearing today might be considered inappropriate.

ME: Really? What's wrong with it?

SHEILA: Well, for starters, you're wearing a T-shirt. You should be wearing a shirt and tie.

ME: My bad.

SHEILA: And what's written on your T-shirt... it's upsetting people.

ME: Oh. I wasn't aware. This T-shirt was given to me as a Christmas present.

SHEILA: It says I hate Derek. Derek... doesn't really know what to make of it.

ME: Must be a popular T-shirt. Big seller, I guess.

SHEILA: It's handwritten in black marker. And Derek is spelled wrong. You have two K's and three R's.

ME: It was given to me that way. Probably an import.

SHEILA: Who gave it to you?

ME: Secret Santa. We pick names from a hat every year in my wife's family. So really, I have no way of knowing who wanted to upset Derek.

SHEILA: Eric... do you hate Derek?

I paused then, as Sheila stared straight into my eyes. I felt stuck. Cornered.

SHEILA: Do you?

ME: How I feel about Derek and what's written on my T-shirt are two completely different things. Really, I don't know why Derek is making such a big stink. I really don't like that guy.

SHEILA: I'll say a word. And then you tell me the first word that comes to mind.

ME: Shoot.

SHEILA: Derek.

ME: Scumbag.

SHEILA: I want you to go home now. And I never want to see that T-shirt again.

ME: What? You don't like the color? Too much maroon?

SHEILA: And that gold medal you're wearing. Derek won that at the Company Olympics. I want you to return it to him.

I clutched my gold medal.

ME: This is the only thing I've ever won in my life.

SHEILA: You return it, and then go home.

ME: Can I ask you a question? Do you hate me?


ME: Be honest. Who would you marry? Me or Derek?

SHEILA: Get out.

ME: Would you have Derek's baby?

SHEILA: Get...

ME: Are you and Derek having dinner tonight, and then laughing behind my back?

SHEILA: I'm married. Get out. Now.

ME: Fine. Say hi to Derek for me, when you see him tonight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How to Get Love

Dear Diary,

I have been married for almost two years now and that makes me a bit of an expert with women. I sometimes like to dispense my knowledge to other males who are still single because they don't truly understand the feminine mystique and can't get any ladies to ask them to marry them. The following are my top five tips on how to land yourself a lady and make her want to stay with you. At least for two years.

5. Be fancy

Women love fancy things, like fancy jewellery and fancy skirts. Buy yourself fancy jeans, or fancy gym shorts, and have your mom sew frilly things and lace onto them.

4. Open doors

When I first dated my wife, I'd open the door for her, and for those behind her as well. At concerts and busy restaurants, she'd sometimes have to wait while I held the door open for the groups of people behind us. Sometimes, I'd be holding the door a good few hours, our date long over. When she'd finally drive me home, I'd be exhausted just from smiling for everyone, and saying hello, and then later, saying goodnight.

3. Be charming

On the first date, don't yell at her. As well, don't swear at people she introduces you to, or try to give them open mouth kisses. Had I known this, I would have been married ten years ago, and many times.

2. Give

Give her something once in a while. There are lots of things women like. If you're not using that garden hose with the massive hole in it anymore, somebody else might like it. And a cracked drinking glass isn't garbage until your floors are so sticky with juice, small objects get stuck for weeks.

1. Be yourself

On the first date, if you're cheap, rifle through her purse in front of her and grab a few bills for yourself while shouting, "Jackpot!" If you're a workaholic, bring your entire office with you and pull an intense all-nighter putting a deal together, shushing her whenever she tries to talk to you. If you have trouble expressing your emotions, when she tries to be funny, cry uncontrollably, or when she confesses to you a tragic part of her life, laugh hysterically. Or face her with the back of your head the entire night and never acknowledge her. If she's the one, she'll love you for it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Late For Work

Dear Diary,

At the bus stop, the other morning, on my way to work, I remembered that I had forgotten my lunch, so I walked all the way back to my apartment building, but then remembered that I had left my briefcase with my keys inside it at the bus stop, so I walked all the way back to the bus stop. As I finally walked to my apartment with my briefcase and keys, I remembered that I had left my umbrella at the bus stop, and the sky was overcast so I walked again to the bus stop.

When I finally got on the bus with everything I needed for the day, I rang the bell to get off at the next stop, remembering that I had left the tea kettle boiling at home. Then, one after the other, and during more back-and-forths between my apartment and the bus stop, more things came to mind that I had forgotten, including leaving the blender running with blueberries inside and no lid. Long story short, I was late for work.

When I finally entered the small accounting office I work at, on my tippy toes, and hoping no one would notice, I bumped into Sheila, my boss.

SHEILA: Are you just getting in?

ME: Yeah. I missed my bus this morning, and then left the tea kettle on.

SHEILA: It’s four forty-five in the afternoon. Everyone is packing up for the day.

ME: Oh good, I won’t need to open up my briefcase. I can just turn around and walk right on out. I tell you, I’m glad this day’s finally over.

SHEILA: Whoa, whoa, hold on a minute. This is unacceptable. You missed an entire day of work.

ME: Haven’t you ever missed the bus before?

SHEILA: You’re seven and a half hours late.

ME: While I’d love to chat more about this, I’ve got to head back home. During my many visits to my apartment today, I ran a garden hose from the back deck to our bathtub and I think I may have left the water running.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Booklet Titled Life

Dear Diary,

I am sitting in my cubicle this morning, thinking about what makes this world so wondrous. It really is. This world is wondrous. So wondrous. Does wondrous mean ‘a lot of wonder’? Or that something is ‘chock of full of wonder’? What does that mean exactly? Does that mean everyone is always wondering about everything and they’re not sure of anything? If so, then I truly believe that this world is wondrous, because I have no clue what is going on in my life, nor do I understand what anything is anymore, or what people actually mean when they say, “You need to calm down, turn around and get out of my life.”

I guess I began to lose my bearings at around age ten when I fell in love with Marie McBarrel. I sent her a note in class asking, “If you like me, as much as I like you, please draw a circle around your desk with white chalk. That way, I will get the hint and will take things to the next level.” She wrote me back, writing, “Chalk around my desk? Are you preparing for a crime scene? Believe it or not, you’re creeping me out way more now than the time you sent flowers to my mother at her work with a note saying, ‘Soon, I’ll be calling you mommy too.’ Please, never attempt any contact with myself, or anyone in my family ever again. Ever. Do you hear me? Do you get the hint? I could not hate you more. And hate is the opposite of like. Do you get it? I DON’T LIKE you. Is that clear? I DON’T LIKE you. If you’re still confused, then this is what I actually mean: YOU are the person that I DON’T LIKE.”

The fact of the matter is, I was really more into Marie’s mother than Marie herself. But still, talk about mixed messages. I wish that when you were born, your parents would hand you an instruction manual that you could read at your own leisure to know how to live life right. Kind of like when you get a new electronic gadget and you get this little booklet in five different languages with diagrams about how to use your new piece of equipment. I don’t necessarily read it right away, preferring to play with my new toy for a bit to ‘figure it out’, and usually end up doing something wrong and causing irreparable damage to it, but still, with the booklet, you can then go back and see where you went wrong. When I look back on my life, I have no idea: where did I go wrong?

I know where I went right. I once saw a man drop a picture on the sidewalk ahead of me, and chased after him as he hopped into a taxi cab. I jumped into the next cab, and when he got out of his cab, I ran after him some more, and then we both got back into cabs, and then I sprinted after him as he entered a building, and I had to grab the next elevator after his because the line was so long, and then raced after him through hallways, and then back out of the building, past a demonstration by striking workers, through a restaurant, through a parade in Chinatown, through a police interrogation line-up, across the stage of some TV talk show, and then right into his house as he was sitting down with his family for dinner. As I handed him his long-lost photograph, panting, with sweat dripping from my forehead right into his salad, he looked up at me (as his wife was dialling the police) and told me that this wasn’t his photograph. It was just some useless flyer that he had thrown to the ground. I blushed, then exploded at him for polluting, and then yelled at his family, calling them all a bunch of polluters. That was the right thing to do.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Favorite Collections

Dear Diary,

I'm so into collecting. I love collecting stamps, but haven't for years. The stamp glue got all over my fingertips, and then my clothes and my face. Stamps suck. Anybody I meet that has a stamp collection, I tell them they're stupid.

I've also collected pictures of animals. If a friend had a picture of their pet, I'd ask if I could keep it. If they said no, I'd asked to borrow it and then never return it. If a friend refused to lend me their picture, I'd ask to borrow their pet, just until I was able to take a picture of it.

One night, I woke up from a nightmare where hundreds of dogs were barking and hundreds of cats were meowing and hundreds of hamsters were running on hundreds of hamster wheels. I screamed at the top of my lungs, and proceeded to throw all my pictures out into the backyard and then set fire to the hill of photos, still screaming and screeching. I was still half-asleep when the fire department showed up. When they accidentally hosed me down, I fully woke up, and cried and screamed and screeched all over again as I realized that all my pictures were gone.

I've collected other people's chipped dishes, blades of grass, string and left-over Chinese take-out. One common theme has run throughout my every collection: I have no clue what to do with all the junk once it blocks every exit of my house. I've just gotten rid of my hot water tank collection and want to try something new. I'm thinking apartment building incinerators.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Company Barbecue, Part 2

Dear Diary,

So the company barbecue was in full swing in our building parking lot. All the companies in the building were invited, and starved and sweaty after participating in the Office Olympics. Three long lines of famished office workers waited on me, as I was manning all three barbecues wearing my gold medal. They waited a full hour before the first burger was served. And that's when I got my first complaint.

"This meat is all red and mushy."

I stared down at this fellow and his half eaten burger. "It's a Sloppy Joe-style burger. It's supposed to be mushy. It keeps it sloppy."

"I'm not going to eat this," he replied, as everyone behind him kept shouting their orders.

"Fine," I said, and I clutched the half eaten burger and handed it to someone else who had just ordered a burger.

"This burger's half eaten," this new person said.

"Fine," I responded angrily, snatching the burger back. "Waste food!" I threw it on the ground. "And pollute! See if I care."

Another complaint. This time from a woman. "This chicken burger is still pink and frozen in the middle."

I was now frantically scrambling from one barbecue to the next, trying to keep up with all the orders. "Chew on it harder. I'm just grilling here. I'm not here to eat the stuff for you."

Then another. "This wiener still has ice covering it."

I rolled my eyes. "They're like corn dogs on a stick. Like a corn dog Popsicle. But without the breading or the stick. They're diet corn dog Popsicles."

People started throwing up, from salmonella, which made me puke uncontrollably on all three barbecues. I think I vomited for a whole five minutes, just retching. I leaned down, opening the soda cooler, and puked some more in there.

I stood back up, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. "Who's next?"

Everyone quietly dispersed, the barbecue officially over, and only two people served.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Company Barbecue, Part 1

Dear Diary,

Today was our company barbecue. It was held at lunchtime in our parking lot with all the combined companies from our building invited. For days now, I've begged Sheila, our boss, to let me man all three propane barbecues. I need to show to all the accountants in this office that I am way more than just the guy they hired to photocopy and collate. I am a man, not a boy, but no one seems to notice. Now they will. Another thing no one knows: I am a modified vegetarian and have not eaten red meat since 1993, and I've never prepared it.

The barbecue kicked off at 10am with office Olympics held between all the companies. The games included track and field, shot put and the javelin throw. I sat out the two-hour games, telling Sheila I needed to prepare for the barbecue. I got out a big jar of ketchup, then mustard and lastly relish and placed all three on the condiment table. I then sat in my lawn chair and took a breather as everyone continued their stupid games and Derek, the guy I hate the most in our office, won everything. Everyone was cheering, "Derek! Derek! Derek!" My eyes squinted in anger, increasing in squint as the Olympics wore on. When the games were finally over, my squint was pretty much just two opened slits that you could barely squeeze a dime through.

Everyone then gathered before a stage as Derek and his jazz quartet performed. Derek was all sweaty and gross, strumming a large bass and singing all the vocals while sporting all six of his office Olympic gold medals. All the women rushed up close and swooned over him. I grabbed three canned colas from one of the coolers, popping them open and downing them one after the other. I hate Derek. My squint came back.

In the middle of a song, Derek set up a hat and sign at the front of the stage. He was collecting donations for his favorite charity, "Old People Are People Too." I shoved my way through all the women, right up to the stage and booed through the entire next song. Charisse and her friends told me to shut it. I then yelled out to everyone, trying to get a chant going, "Old people are old and that's why we hate them! Old people are old and that's why we hate them! They smell like moth balls, and some like sardines! Old people are old..." That's when Sheila pulled me away.

"You should be barbecuing the burgers," she hissed. "Everyone's hungry."

"I'm on it," I replied, but on my way over to the three barbecues, I couldn't help but jump on stage and join Derek. I pulled one gold medal over his head and wore it myself, throwing my hands up high, running in circles and shouting, "Yeah! I'm number one!"

After one of Derek's quartet members pinned me down, I got up to my knees and begged Derek to let me wear the one medal for the rest of the day. "You have five others, for Pete's sake..." When he quickly nodded, I ran off stage, raising my arms again and hollering, "I'm the best! I'm the best!"

When everyone began to form three long lines toward the barbecues, I looked down intently at the three contraptions.

"What's wrong?" Sheila asked.

"How do you turn these things on?" I questioned her.

Shaking her head, Sheila turned on all three for me.

I pushed her out of the way then. This was now my show. And I looked awesome with my gold medal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I am here, somewhere in the past...

Dear Diary,

My eyes are closed and I am far away into the limitless, mountainous horizons of my mind. I hear wind blowing against branches and leaves, with the liquidity and substance of water moving underneath the surface of the ocean, and the winds breathing the most beautiful music my soul has ever heard. I feel a strange intimacy to this music, going back thousands of years. I am lost and fulfilled. I am home. Somewhere ahead, past many mountains, and intertwined within the wind, I hear a flute.

Who is playing this flute? Perhaps it is my grandmother who has finally come back to me. And she’s just made fresh pudding, with peanuts in the middle. Our little secret. But she never played the flute. She hated that racket. She once rushed at the TV with a baseball bat as Zamphir played the pan flute on PBS. That week, in church, she launched a campaign to stop everyone from donating to PBS. The campaign turned violent. My grandmother was run out of town, taking me with her across North America, living a life in constant disguise. Our most dependable costumes was my grandmother as a young Russian ballerina defector, and myself as the world’s first ten-year-old Hasidic rabbi.

We gave shows across the nation as Tatiyana and Shlomo the Lil’ Rabbi. We mostly did Cheap Trick covers and selections from The Starlight Express, but roller-skating is a tough gig in a long black robe. When we were finally discovered, it wasn’t because my grandmother was in her eighties, still dancing on the tips of her toes to Tchaikovsky in an attempt to fool tourists who thought they recognized her as the woman who once attempted to take Yanni hostage in an effort to snuff out PBS forever. It was because I froze as I was about to perform a Bris.

As the police pulled us apart, my grandmother in mid-twirl, a consummate pro 'till the very end, I cried to her, "I'm sorry, grandma. I'm so sorry." She reached for me then, trying to wrap her arms around me. "I'm the one," she said. "I'm the one who did this. Not you."

I open my eyes, as I wipe them. Those peanuts inside the pudding were never shelled. I miss that crunchy pudding.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Conflict Resolution with Derek

Dear Diary,

Derek, the guy I can't stand the most at work, cornered me this morning, sitting across from me in the lunch room as I was pouring chocolate syrup into my sippy cup filled with milk. I love my sippy cup. I once had to pry it from my mother as she was about to throw it out. The convenience of a covered cup cannot be overstated, plus I love sucking on it as I rock to and fro in my cubicle chair, humming Mary Had a Little Lamb.

DEREK: Is there something maybe we should talk about?

ME: What's your problem?

DEREK: You just seem to be short with me, a lot of the times. And you never say anything when I ask you how you are. You just mumble what sounds like threats mixed with multi-syllable swear words.

ME: You have a problem with me, just be man enough to come right out and say what it is exactly. I don't have time for this beating around the bush, and all this mumbling.

DEREK: I just wanted to know if I had done something to offend you.

ME: Well, if offending me is what you're trying to do, you're on the right track. Keep it up buddy, you're on a roll.

DEREK: I'm confused.

ME: Big surprise. Playing dumb and being dumb: same difference in my book.

DEREK: What are you talking about?

ME: Some people are just really smart. You're going to have to accept that. You're on the outside looking in, at all the people who are a lot smarter than you - people who think thoughts that are huge about the world and how to resolve things like peace, and make bridges and chairs. Some people might like you, Derek. But these are small, petty people of no consequence. And we'd all be better off if they didn't exist.

DEREK: I don't know what's happening.

ME: Derek, I'm probably the only one in the office who doesn't hold it against you that you probably don't tie your own shoes. I'm okay with people who aren't as intelligent as me. Honestly. As long as they don't talk to me and they act invisible when I'm around.

DEREK: Are we okay?

ME: Stop stalking me and I won't call the cops. Is that "okay" enough for you?

DEREK: All right.

He got up from the table then.

DEREK: I'll leave you alone.

ME: I'm just telling you this as a friend... but why don't you call in sick next week? Do us all a favor.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Derek is my all-time worst enemy

Dear Diary,

I'm just so angry and worked up about this guy in our office. His name is Derek.

I hate Derek because...

5. Everybody loves Derek

Women in this office are always talking about all the volunteering he does for people who are old and stuff, and probably have leprosy. If he brings leprosy in here, I swear...

4. Derek might have leprosy

Leprosy is contagious. My arm feels tingly. I think Derek brushed up against it this morning.

3. People love Derek

Derek lends a hand to anyone who needs help in the office. He's all so familiar with everyone, and friendly. It's creepy. I Google his name a dozen times a day, just in case something suspicious pops up. I once found an article about a drug dealer/multiple murderer named Derek(!!!) (Hello! Did no one run a check on this guy before he was hired?). I made several copies and anonymously posted this article all over our office, and the post office, and Craig's List, but no one made the connection between Derek and the vicious druggie killer. I gather this killer (from the article) went by a different last name, looked a little different (racially), and died in prison ten years ago.

2. Derek acts like he knows me

I have my own friends, thank you. I don't need you. In my entire life, I'm proud to say that I've only ever lost two friends, and made three (if I'm allowed to count cats).

1. Everyone is crazy about Derek

Don't know why. Derek is disgusting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Celebrity Celebration

Dear Diary,

I wonder what it would be like to be a celebrity. Do you get up in the morning? Or do you stay in bed and sleep until you're ready to go spend all that money? I wonder if you start drinking as soon as you're awake? Do you get wasted right away, and call people up for an all-day/all-night party? Sometimes I get mad that I have to go to work while there are people out there having an all-day/all-night party.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I waited for my wife to leave for work, and then proceeded to knock back a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream. I called everyone I knew and told them I was having a party all day until 6pm when I expected my wife home. I would have invited her as well, but when I made a suggestion the night before that I'd be staying home to drink and party, she told me to at least hold on to my job until they found a reason to fire me that has more to do with what I can't change about myself than just being stupid. I nodded my head, pretending to understand the difference.

At 10am, the party was hoppin' and boppin', and the music was blarin'. Everyone I called was at work and couldn't come. I called an exterminator in the yellow pages and when he arrived, I slurred and stumbled through some made-up story about some frogs near the stereo. I turned up the music real loud then and tried to make him dance, and partake in a little creme de menthe. He raised one eyebrow at me, like I was some crazy person, but still snatched the bottle and downed the entire thing in one gulp. We got really crazy then as he showed me some break dancing moves. The last thing I remember, I was spinning on my head, projectile-vomiting. When my wife arrived at six, she found us passed out in a bundle of arms and legs, the soundtrack to Beat Street on repeat.

I've been apologizing for the past twelve hours, assuring my wife that she only married some bozo who can barely hold down a job. By no means did she marry a celebrity.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Dear Diary,

I read on the Internet that aliens may not even exist after all. What?! Now, all I have to look forward to is spending the rest of my life with boring, judging, jealous humans. What's the point? All the promise of E.T., the Transformers, Alf - all spoiled by those shallow scientists who think they look cool in their lab coats. They're nothing special. I have my own lab coat that I wear to clubs and bars. When I accessorize with my chemistry set, no one knows the difference.

When work piles up at the office, I often pull out my 3-ring binder and continue my project of preparing for when I meet my first alien. I can't wait to reveal to them that I have been searching across this entire Universe for a friend who likes the same shows as me, and the same Bratz characters and the same liver-based, flavored snacks. Someone who wouldn't mind paying for dinner once in a while. Someone who isn't afraid to express how they feel about me. Aliens are much more advanced than we are, and probably have the same tastes and dislikes as me. I hope my alien likes the color periwinkle. I won't judge him, because that's my favorite color too.

I need an alien who won't talk crap behind my back, won't laugh at me while pointing in my face or have a fondness for wedgies in the office. I need an alien who does dishes, cleans the washroom and can travel through time for when I'm late for work. I need an alien who can take it when I project all my guilt, insecurity and inner rage onto him. I need an alien who'll forgive me when I embezzle from his account. Or who can go back to his planet when I'm sick of him, and then fly back at a moment's notice if I need to talk or ask a question about my VCR.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Make it POP!

Dear Diary,

I've launched a new business at work, right in my cubicle. Popcorn! Starting at 9:00am this morning, I started popping some fresh corn. I think everyone is excited. Sheila, our boss, is away at a meeting until later so I'm not sure yet how excited she'll be. I brought my own electric air popper from home, and I’ve also commandeered the microwave oven from the staff kitchen, and now my cubicle is hoppin’ poppin'. I've also fashioned a hat for my new venture. It’s a huge origami sailboat with my business name written across it: “Eric will POP you!”

My popcorn stand/cubicle features a square walk-thru window that I’ve chain-sawed out of my cubicle wall, so that as I’m serving people walking past, I don’t have to get up from my chair. This is very considerate of me since I am continuing to do my regular office work as all my clients' needs are also being met.

Some in the office have expressed concern that all the popping noise constantly sounding from my cubicle is breaking people’s concentration and "driving them up the wall". I have informed these "haters" that they’ve brought this inconsiderate attitude from home and if they like to practice communism behind their own closed doors, then that’s their business. Others have complained about the microwave missing from the staff kitchen. I’ve assured everyone that I will be returning the microwave during our regular lunch hour, when everyone SHOULD be using it. Otherwise no one should be using the microwave outside of lunch time anyway. They should be working, not playing with the microwave. And because I am returning the microwave during lunch, no one should be expecting fresh popcorn from noon to one, and the first person who asks me for corn during this time period, will get shouted at by me. The second person who asks, I am sequestering the microwave back for good and everyone can eat their lunch cold, but can now enjoy fresh popcorn from noon to one.

So far, the fire department has been called in this morning on three separate occasions. And that was only because I’m pouring regular kernels into brown paper bags, along with vegetable oil and placing my secret recipe inside the microwave, and the bag keeps erupting into flames as I go outside for a stroll and some fresh air. It's never too late to invest in R & D, as they say.

Sheila, our boss, just came back to the office from her morning meeting, and is appalled at all the piles of sawdust and what I've had done to my cubicle. She is shutting me down. No one has even had the chance to partake of my corn yet.

I just microwaved my hat, as a "goodbye to the business" gesture. Now the entire inside of the microwave oven is black, and my hat's staples have ruined it forever. So now we all have cold lunches to look forward to, and no popcorn. Thanks Sheila.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Doctor's Note

Dear Diary,

A few days ago, my boss, Sheila, called me into her office.

SHEILA: You were missing Thursday and Friday. Where were you?

ME: I had an emergency.

SHEILA: And you didn't feel like you had to call us to let us know?

ME: It was an emergency. How was I supposed to call you? It was urgent.

SHEILA: Most people would have called, Eric.

ME: Well, I guess most people don't take emergencies seriously. If they did, we wouldn't have all these world disasters like hurricanes and foggy marshes and stuff.

SHEILA: This had nothing to do with the last Harry Potter book coming out, did it?

I looked down at the floor then, blushing.

ME: This is a privacy issue.

I looked back up, avoiding Sheila's gaze.

ME: It's like if I had a private telephone number. I'd keep it private because I wouldn't people like you calling me.

SHEILA: Well, then, I'll need a doctor's note.

ME: That was the emergency. My doctor died. Who's going to write the note now? You tell me.

SHEILA: How close were you to your doctor?

ME: Not so much. I just wanted to hear the will being read. I followed his family all over, for two days, but they never read a thing. I'm owed my inheritance.

SHEILA: For what? You were just his patient.

ME: I'm the patient who asked the most questions. And I'd call him before every meal to tell him what I was about to eat and to ask if it was okay for me to eat it. That man owes me.

SHEILA: You can get back to your desk now.

ME: Sheila, my doctor didn't really die.

SHEILA: I know.

ME: But after talking to you, I'm hiring a lawyer and I'm suing my doctor for everything he's got.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm bored

Dear Diary,

Work is just piling up on my desk, but I'm bored. I'm just sitting in my cubicle, staring at my computer screen, unable to motivate myself to make the next move on Solitaire. I already ate my lunch, at 9:10am - not because I was hungry, but because I had nothing else fun to do.

I brought an origami book to the office this morning to spice up my hours here, but I just got so fed up with this bird mobile I was working on that I just tore everything up, letting out a loud, angry huff. Too many colors, too many species. It's all garbage anyway. Where was I going to put this 50-bird mobile? I wasn't even finished and it was already taking over my entire cubicle. How the heck am I supposed to work with all these paper birds in my way? I hate origami.

Lunch time is only two hours away. But I have nothing to eat, nothing to look forward to. I think I might start my own business, in my cubicle. Maybe a consulting business. I can consult people on business and how they can start their own businesses, in their cubicles. Maybe I'll also start a sign-making business so people can put signs up over their cubicles, advertising what their businesses are all about, complete with flashing lights. I hope someone opens a dry-cleaning business, then I can just drop off my pants and things when I get in, and pick them up on my way out.

Maybe someone can open up a corner store, and I can do my groceries on my coffee break. I bet someone like Charisse will open up a flower shop and I can get my wife discounted flowers since I work with Charisse. She might even have some "day-olds" that I might be interested in. Wouldn't it be convenient if someone opened up a bar, and we can all jam into their cubicle for a drink when we're having a tough day, and at night, they could turn it into a dance club, with a long line-up and bouncers and stuff?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 3

Dear Diary,

It was last Friday, and I had already spent 2 nights and 2 days hanging around and inside Toys"R"Us so that on Saturday morning I could get a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before they sold out. I looked haggard, unwashed and bone-thin, with a fast growing, unkempt beard.

Friday afternoon arrived and I stationed myself outside the store with an empty hat in front of me, singing and tap dancing for money since I had none left. I needed to call my wife. Why hadn't she even come here to see if I was okay? Didn't she care that I was doing this for us to get our very own copy of Deathly Hallows. Well, actually, she'd have to get her own copy because I wasn't lending her mine. There are certain things I don't share with my wife, and those are: my favorite books, my razor, my TV, my computer, my desk, my snacks, my kitty litter, my dishes, my utensils, my liquid hand soap, my aspirin, my salt and pepper, and the kitchen sink.

As I finished my song and dance rendition of Lindsay Lohan's "Daughter to Father", some kid walking past poured the rest of his Slurpee into the empty hat lying at my feet. I reached out to grab him by the neck when suddenly, the store parking lot was overtaken by six police cruisers. I shot my hands up in the air and pleaded, "He started it! He started it!"

As the officers stepped out of their vehicles, one looked me straight in the eye.

OFFICER: Are you Eric?

ME: Oh God.

I got teary-eyed then.

ME: Yes, I am. Yes. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Will someone appoint a lawyer for me? I don't know any. Oh God.

OFFICER: Sir, you've been missing for almost forty-eight hours.

This was the worst news.

ME: Oh God. No. Did they find me?

My wife came out of one of the cruisers. She looked like she'd be crying for days, mascara running down her cheeks, and her hair all over the place, clumps of it defying gravity.

MY SWEET WIFE: Where have you been? I thought you were dead.

ME: Dead. Babe... I'm this close to getting Harry Potter. I just have, like, sixteen more hours of this pure hell I've created for myself. I'll see you soon, don't worry. You get back home now.

MY WIFE: Everyone has been looking for you. The police, both our entire families, our neighbors, some people from your office. I've even started funeral arrangements. And you were here... all this time... for a children's book?

ME: Harry Potter, baby. It's his last adventure.

OFFICER: Why didn't you just put five dollars down as a deposit and come back tomorrow for your copy, guaranteed to be here.

ME: What? How does that work?

MY WIFE: Have fun with your book, Eric. You know, you've probably lost your job since your office doesn't know where the hell you've been these past few days. Hope it was worth it.

ME: It was.

My wife went back inside the cruiser, as did all the police officers and everyone drove away.

ME: Wait... hey... I have no money...

I was alone again. I'd probably lost my job, and my marriage. But Harry was just another day away. But I was so tired and starved then, I couldn't remember who Harry was. All I knew was that I just had to go hungry and sleep amongst garbage for one more day. Not so bad. I still didn't have any money to buy the book though. Some customers were approaching so I went back to singing and dancing; this time bursting into an oversexed remix of Fergie's "London Bridge." I needed the money.

Friday, July 20, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Dear Diary,

Since my last entry, I have been at Toys"R"Us for over 30 hours, waiting here so that I can get my hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when it goes on sale in the store on Saturday morning. Yesterday afternoon, after being followed around by eight suspicious store staff members, we suddenly grew closer, and when their manager left on a coffee break, I organized a game of soccer. I pulled staff from other areas, including the cash registers until I pretty much had two teams I was happy with. I'm not crazy about soccer, nor do I know the rules, but I needed a distraction since I still had over forty hours of waiting for my book.

The store manager suddenly showed up, out of the blue, and yelled that no one was serving customers, and that people were walking out with toys without paying for them. I looked around. Everyone was looting and trashing the place. I think I may have even heard the sound of a gun going off coming from the baby section. The manager proceeded to fire all the present staff, after extinguishing three separate, dangerous fires himself. I nonchalantly walked out, shaking my head, pretending I was an unsatisfied customer.

As one female salesperson exited the store for her final time, she looked at me teary-eyed and revealed that she had never had this fun a shift at a job before. I gave her my number and told her to call me anytime and I'd show up at her new job and I'd make that place just as fun.

The manager called other staff to come to work, and an hour later, he re-opened the store, letting me back in. I stayed on the "down low" and took a much needed nap curled up in a ball on the change table in the washroom. I kept being woken, however, every time someone flushed, and had to move over a little when some father changed his baby's diaper. "Don't get any of it on me," I warned him. "Do you mind if I grab one of these wipes?" I continued. "I didn't get a chance to shower this morning. That tiny jar of mushed up carrots looks good. Your baby is lucky."

After closing time, I slept in the stinky, garbage-strewn alleyway. I look terrible this morning. I haven't shaved or showered or brushed my teeth in over 30 hours. And all I've eaten are mushed up carrots. I wish I could call home, but I packed so hastily, I didn't bring a mobile phone or any extra money (besides what I already gave the cab driver just to get here). I miss my wife. I miss my cat. I miss food. When are they going to sell that stupid book?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Dear Diary,

For the third night in a row, I didn't sleep a wink last night. I'm too excited for Harry's last book on Saturday. I was just lying in bed, eyes flickering nervously when suddenly, at approximately 2:30am, I was frenzied with panic as I thought: what if Harry's book sells out on Saturday and I don't get a copy. I shouted out then, "Why me!"

MY SLEEPY-EYED LOVELY WIFE: Eric, Eric... It's just a dream. You're just having a bad dream.

I turned to her, eyes wide open.

ME: I'm totally awake. What are you talking about?

MY STILL VERY SLEEPY WIFE: All right... good night...

ME: I'm taking a cab down to Toys"R"Us and camping outside their door until Saturday. That's it.


I hastily packed a bag, called a cab and was soon on my way across town to the toy store. I was getting myself a copy of Deathly Hallows on Saturday no matter what. I wondered how big the line was already going to be. Why didn't I think of lining up days ago, I thought, wiping the sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. Now all the decent spots are probably gone.

We finally arrived. It was pitch black. No one else was there yet.

ME (joyous): ALL RIGHT!!!

I handed the cab driver a twenty and told him to keep the change. I then sat by the entrance door, with a huge smile on my face. By the fourth hour, I was shivering, rocking back and forth, and lonely. By the seventh, I was hallucinatory, singing, talking and laughing to myself, and starving.

Finally, at 10:00am, some staff started showing up and one of the managers unlocked the door.

MANAGER (to his staff): It smells like pee over here.

I looked away, blushing.

ME: Open up already!

It's been now over three hours, and I've pretty much played with everything in the store. After the first hour, I noticed that I was being shadowed by a staff member, who was maintaining a fair distance, but not letting his eyes off me for one second, most likely thinking I was a shoplifter. He hid behind boxes and toys, and even went to the washroom in the urinal next to mine. At one point, he played PlayStation 3 Hockey against me, not speaking one word, except to tell me to stop swearing loudly every time he scored.

By the second hour, I had three staff members shadowing me. Now I have eight, and they're not even hiding anymore, but only keeping a few inches away. I kept tripping on one of them because he was so small. I affectionately called him Frodo, picking him up and hugging him and carrying him around, until a woman snatched him away from me and screamed that he was her little child. I angrily asked the staff members why they didn't tell me he was just a three-year-old and they all pointed at me and laughed. I really like it here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Top 5 Predictions

Dear Diary,

Harry's last act is only three days away! I didn't sleep again last night. I can't. I'm just sweating buckets, lying in soaked sheets, my eyes wide with anticipation and inexplicable horror. What could possibly happen to dear Harry in his very last book? I started this list at 3:00am this morning. It is now 8:00am and my hands are shaking. I can't believe I'm finally done. These are my top 5 predictions for what will take place in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

5. Harry Potter will graduate from Hogwarts:

This is Harry's final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He has been a good student so far, with some of his grades being better than average. Fingers crossed he keeps it up for this final stretch.

4. Snape does not have the appropriate qualifications to teach:

Snape just might get fired in this one. Not helping his case is the fact that everyone knows he murdered the headmaster.

3. Voldemort is a vegetarian:

J.K. has been hinting at this in every book. What would you serve the Dark Lord if he came over for dinner? Does he at least eat pork? Rowling has kept too mum on this one.

2. Harry is really a bastard:

Not in the sense that his parents weren't married when he was conceived, but more that he is just a bastard.

1. Harry is my father:

It's a long shot, but I'd love it if Harry was my dad. We're so much alike. Maybe we could move in together and that could be the new series: him teaching me some magic and just hanging out and stuff. As of last night, I have mailed J.K. Rowling a total of 25,567 letters requesting this since The Chamber of Secrets. Let's hope she appreciates her fans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows song

Dear Diary,

The new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out in just a few days so I wrote a song last night. I drank nineteen cups of coffee just so I could finish it before I had to go to work this morning. I never even went to bed. I felt so inspired! So, without further adieu, here is my new song: Happy with Harry!

So happy!
With Harry,
Harry, and me
So happy!
With Harry,
I didn't say Snape, no, not me
I'll beat you
If you don't like him too
I swear, you'll get such a beat down
I'm not kidding. They'll have to call the cops
They'll give me life, after I'm done with you
Your name Malfoy? Oh no, you di'n't!

Whack! Whack! Punch! Punch!
Spit in your face! I hate you!

La la la la la la la la la la,
Whooaaaa, whooaaaa, Hoooooo, la la la Whoooooo!
Doo tee doo! Dum da dum dum

Whoooooooooo! Hooooooooooo! Mooooooooooooooo!
Bing! Bing! Bing!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! No! No! No!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Men who become "Friends" on Facebook

Dear Diary,

Why is it so hard for a man to ask another grown man to be his “Friend” on Facebook? Sure I can ask dozens of women whom I know to be my friend, but something about sending another man a note, asking to be friends… it's so “girly”.

Like most people, I’ve worked eight hours a day for years. But now, with Facebook, I get to really enjoy these eight hours, surfing through a maze-like Internet within the Internet, finding old friends from high school and college, but mostly finding people I wanted to be friends with in high school and college, and seeing if they’re fat now, or bald, or missing teeth, and generally look like they’re losers. I get really upset when I see someone who still looks good, or has a good job. I usually won’t eat my lunch then and I’ll look for a place to take a nap. That’s how down I’ll get.

I just joined a gym; so this morning, through Facebook, I asked this guy who goes to my gym if he wanted to be my Facebook friend and work out with me after work today. I barely know him. He’s just this guy who needed the treadmill yesterday while I was using it and the machine kept pausing because it thought I wasn’t doing anything, but I was. This guy, who I’d never seen before, told me that I was walking too slow. He added that I should at least be walking as fast as a normal person would on a sidewalk. I stopped then (stomach cramps), and as I stepped off the machine, the gym started spinning around me.

“Finally,” this guy said, and he got on the machine and started sprinting, and huffing and then going, “Ahhhhhhhh!” as he made the treadmill incline go higher and higher. It didn’t take long before he was running on an almost vertical surface. I was so impressed that I looked his name up on the treadmill reservation list. It was Paloo DeBuckachoo.

As soon as I got into the office this morning, I looked him up on Facebook and saw that he has 1002 friends! I summoned all my courage and sent him a message asking him to be my Facebook friend, and introducing myself as the guy who used the treadmill before him at the gym yesterday.

He sent me back this Facebook message:

Who the hell are you? And what are you doing creeping on my Facebook page? Weirdo! Did you think I’d start spotting you as you lifted your 3-pound dancer-cize weights, while telling you to be careful and not hurt yourself. Don’t even let me see you at the gym tonight, or I swear…

I wrote him back this message:

Dear Paloo,
I am not a weirdo, nor do I have any other intention in mind other than just to be friends with you. I hope I spelled your name right - it’s so exotic.
BTW, if you don’t want to spot me, that’s fine. I could spot you. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you already have a spotter, that’s cool. But I could be a better spotter, plus I’m really nice, and really, really want to spot you.

His reply:

I don’t know who the hell you are! Nor do I want to know you, creeper freak! Stop sending me messages.


What’s one more friend on Facebook? You have 1002! I only have 2: my wife and my cat. I’d just be one more name in your collection of over a thousand in your Friends Profile. You wouldn’t even know I was there, other than I change my status line every half hour (with things like “Eric is at work”, “Eric is enjoying a half-frozen éclair – Yuck!” and “Eric is not sure if he’s male, human, or a psycho!”). I also add and delete Facebook applications like I’m getting paid for it, post dozens of YouTube videos daily (sometimes the same one more than once if I think it’s funny), and send out invites to events such as “My Cat’s Cyber Birthday Parade – Please RSVP”. I have so much fun. You and I could really enjoy each other on Facebook.
Ta-ta for now,


Little lonely sad man,
Enough is enough. I’ve blocked you from my Facebook page and reported you. You’ll most likely lose your Facebook account.


Hi Paloo,
I am not Marsha the cat. I’m now actually writing you from my cat’s Facebook profile since Facebook has taken away all my Facebook privileges. I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you might be conceited (and in love with yourself and your over-treadmill-ized body). I just wanted to be your friend because you were so popular on Facebook, but I can see now that you are what is called a “Facebook Slut”. You don’t care who you sign up or ask to be your friend, as long as you keep collecting those little pictures of people pretending to be happy with their present state of affairs by having their photo taken while guzzling an alcoholic beverage, wearing an oversized funny hat and gigantic sunglasses, and hugging a whole bunch of other inebriated, sleepy-eyed, so-called friends. You love to see that Friends number go up, like your score on Mario Brothers. But do you really even have one friend? Do you? Let me tell you something. In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend (and let nice men spot you). You won’t hear from me again, or my cat. BTW, Walmart has a sale on man-leotards. Thought you might like to know.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 7: The Last Chapter

Dear Diary,

It was 4:59pm and our office and the police had just learned that the two 3-hole punches had never been stolen but that I had forgotten them in my desk drawer. I couldn't believe I had been put through such a crappy day, and demanded an apology from Sheila, our boss.

SHEILA: Here's something that might be better than an apology, and might save us the inconvenience of removing a dead body from this office: you're fired.

ME: You can't fire me.

Sheila glanced down at her watch.

SHEILA: I'm heading home. Officers, I apologize for calling you out here for... this.

ME: You're discriminating against me.

Howard huffed angrily, unable to hold back his annoyance.

HOWARD: How is she discriminating against you?

SHEILA: Howard, please, don't get him started.

ME: Well, for starters, I've always been told that I'm forgetful. That's why I forgot about the 3-hole punches. That's how you're discriminating against me. I'm remember-challenged.

SHEILA: You tried to Mace the entire office.

ME: I thought it was Febreze. I didn't remember it was Mace.

SHEILA: You are uncontrollable.

ME: I'm uncontrollable-challenged. You're still discriminating.

SHEILA: You are a volatile personality, Eric. And I can't jeopardize the safety of the rest of the people in this office.

ME: I'm volatile personality-challenged and jeopardize-the-safety-of-the-rest-of-the-people-challenged. I'm afraid I've got you in a corner there, Sheila.

Sheila sighed.

SHEILA: Will you promise to calm down, and think before you talk?

ME: You know... I have done nothing wrong here. If anything is wrong, it's you.

SHEILA: See what I mean?

ME: And all of you too!

I looked around angrily at everyone.

ME: Boy, if I had a can of Mace right now. I swear.

SHEILA: You're not helping your cause here.

ME: Howard, where did you put my Mace?


I shuddered, then took a deep breath.

ME: All right. I'm making a surprise. For tomorrow. How do you all like mayonnaise-iced tuna puffs? I'm making a whole bunch. For everyone. Is that good? All right.

When I showed up for work the next day, everyone asked about the mayonnaise-iced tuna puffs.

SHEILA: No one brought their lunches today, Eric. Where are the tuna puffs?

ME: You know, I came home, my wife told me about her day, and then I ran out and rode down the hill in my soapbox car for the rest of the night. There's only so many hours in a night, you know. You people are conceited. Anybody have ten bucks to spot me until next payday? I'm starved.

I changed the subject then. But it was official: I was back! Ready to work. My name back to being as good as gold.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 6

Dear Diary,

Charisse found me in the alleyway and we cried and hugged and reminisced for ten minutes, wasting valuable time since I now only had seventeen minutes to find the 3-hole punch before Sheila went home for the day, and I was fired and possibly jailed for attempting to Mace my entire office.

ME: Dino said find one, find them all.

CHARISSE: I wonder what he meant by that.

ME: I bet you he has security cameras. I bet you he knows where my 3-hole punch is, and who took it.

CHARISSE: When you handed it to Sheila, and she put it in her drawer, did anyone else see her put it in the drawer?

I gave Charisse the most detailed description of everything that went down between Sheila and I, right down to the plants in her office and who was in all the pictures on her desk. This took a while, but I took my time. I didn't want to miss anything that could help us. I now only had three minutes to save my job, and my freedom.

I continued to talk away, describing things, including the different shades of colors of all these things, when Charisse suddenly grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back toward our building. I had given her a clue. Next thing I knew, we were both bursting through the doorway of our office.

Inside, a dozen police officers all aimed their guns at me. Everyone else in the office gasped. Melanie, the receptionist, screamed.

COP #1: He's got a hostage!

COP #2: Sir, we are all putting down our guns now. Please, do not hurt the hostage.

ME: Put 'em all down and I won't.

CHARISSE: I am not his hostage. Please. Let me show you something.

Sheila looked at us with deep suspicion in her eyes, as Charisse walked over to my cubicle, looking back at me.

CHARISSE: Let's go over what we talked about, but without the plants and the pictures and colors and stuff.

SHEILA: What is this going to solve, Charisse? You're wasting our time here.

CHARISSE (to me): Who saw Sheila put the 3-hole punch in her drawer?

ME: I'm the one who put it in her drawer. She asked me to.

CHARISSE: Did anyone see you put it there?

ME: I don't remember. I was so steaming mad and upset and dizzy with blinding fury, I don't even remember putting it in her drawer. It's all a blur, really. When I think back, all I see is unadulterated rage.

Charisse opened my top drawer... and pulled out my 3-hole punch! Everyone gasped.

ME: Who the hell put it in there!

CHARISSE: You never put it in Sheila's desk. You were too busy shouting.

I slapped my forehead.

ME: I forgot? I guess I did.

SHEILA (to the cops): Shoot him.

Everyone began to murmur amongst themselves.

CHARISSE: Dino told you to start at the beginning. I'm thinking he meant the beginning to be this morning. What was the first thing you did this morning?

ME: I was really tired. I couldn't fall asleep last night so I came to work early.

CHARISSE: At what time?

ME: Two-thirty AM.

SHEILA: Jesus...

CHARISSE: What did you do?

ME: What I always do when I come in early. I ran tests on both our punches. Which one is sharper. Which one is faster. Which one does more paper. Standard stuff. And I'm proud to say my 3-hole punch won every test.

I looked around at everyone, extremely proud of myself.

Charisse reached into my desk drawer again... and pulled out another 3-hole punch! Her green, metallic one! Everyone gasped.

ME: How the hell did that get in there?

Charisse raised an eyebrow at me. I slapped my forehead again.

ME: I forgot that one too? I guess I did.

SHEILA (to one cop): Give me your gun.

I was still confused.

ME: So no one stole anything?

CHARISSE: You just forgot.

ME: You mean I was put through this entire nightmare of a day by all of you for nothing!

I turned to Sheila then.

ME: You owe me one hell of an apology.