Freudian Slips: Blog Simulcast

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

December 11, 2004

Blog Simulcast

Between “blocky” and “bloke” in the English language, the 2005 Merriam Webster Collegiate dictionary plans on inserting “blog”. While discussing the phenomenon known as Blogging with my friend Pax Romano, we decided to take our respective Blogs to an experimental level. I have only recently entered the ground floor of Blogging but Pax Romano is my Big Brother Blog. The idea of two Blogs mutually covering the same event may offer an interesting parallax view. We are calling it Blog Simulcast, although it may exist in the Blogger community by another dubious name.
Pax and I pick a moment in time when we know our lives will intersect. Deck the halls with boughs of holly; we pick a holiday work party for the simulcast reporting. To call it a party would be a misnomer. It is more like a midday meeting through lunch. Forty civil servants dine together at a South Jersey restaurant, a virtual no-mans land where town forgot to meet country. We have pre-paid $18.00 for our undeniable right to sit down and grub without a bar tab or belly dancer. A civil servant doesn’t receive patronage or a fat cat end of year bonus. You have to fill your own intrinsic Christmas basket with your own cheer. The ticket to ride is without a door prize to be preened, no gifts of almandine, not even an extra green bean for the almondeen.
The restaurant has designated our luncheon on a tilting porch with a wonderful lakeside view through broken glass. Swans and geese seem cued to swim on the lake giving the faithful something to admire on this otherwise rainy day. I find a half-empty middle table there for the taken and sit-down. A few of my friends are already seated at this table and we all cordially greet each other. I plop down with tables arranged both in front and behind me. I waste no time strapping on a cheesy white Santa Claus beard that is bound to catch a few morsels of food and attention. Considering the tilted floorboards, the co-workers who assumed the end seats look like midgets eating among giants. The conversation flows freely and we yuk it up at the slanted table. With a few heavy eaters gathered at my table, I expected the arriving loose rolls could produce a feeding frenzy. After a few minutes, I leave my seat to snap a few digital pictures. When I return, I notice my compatriot Blogger has chosen the seat next to me.
“How appropriate.” I whisper to Pax as I pass by his seat.
He smiles. I wanted to keep a detective's eye on him anyway. Pax wasn’t getting out of the restaurant alive with a scoop not of ice cream. Who was he kidding? Like a pair of houseflies, our many eyes work the room indiscriminately. I keep mental notes. Both our heads swivel when we hear a large crash behind us. The lone server’s third thumb got in the way, which made the salad served literally tossed salad. I hope she is okay because it is early in the meal and hired help seems scarce. Pax soon steps outside with co-hort L for a breath of fresh air and a cancer stick. Their salads are cold when they return because well…the salad was served that way.
“You missed the blessing. Pastor Joe Hornet offered touching words saying grace.” I teased.
Pax recognizes the anagram of my first and last name. He doesn't need to turn to his secret decoder ring. Clanging metal utensils replace most of the conversation. If I closed my eyes and stopped eating, the utensils would sound like an epic sword fight in Lord of the Rings. I see mouths chew food that is as mediocre as it was the year before here. The chef continues to mistake the microwave for a gas burner, children’s portions served to famished adults, and chicken florentine that Popeye stole the spinach from. Our matriarch presides over her flock but today she is as quiet as an inactive volcano. No sermon is delivered. In fact, I hardly hear her voice all day. Our matriarch is a tireless administrator with a keen memory and outstanding organizational skills. I respect her work ethic and enjoy working for her. If the matriarch has one fault, she is too bloody unforgiving of non-bloody mistakes. Here is one example. In twelve years of working two rungs under her as a social worker, I have forgotten to turn in my projected weekly schedule a grand total of once. She emailed me that following Monday to let me know of my dereliction of duties. So if a lectern was present, I am sure carry on my wayward sons would be her battle cry to rally the troops. However, the matriarch’s voice does not pay tribute today to the downtrodden dominion. It is just another long year coming to pass, a year groundhogs have unearthed higher moral. Despite exaggerated caseload sizes and no new personnel lined up for hire on the 2005 Calendar, nobody went postal and donnybrooks were kept to a bare-knuckles minimum. A holiday gift card from the matriarch given to each of us shows thoughtfulness and gratitude. Its acceptance, however, underlies that each of us are due back next year for more of the same. My side order of spaghetti slithers down my throat thinking about it.
Eight women at a table behind me provide a theatre in the round of laughter and cackles. Social workers are gregarious by nature, although I consider myself a slight exception to this rule. I rarely introduce topics of conversation and prefer to view the world not lead it by the hand. My comfort zone is to play off and build on what others say in conversation in a collective recall spun into puns. For every pro there is a con. I have the memory and appetite of an elephant.
My friend D reiterates his nickname for me after a ba-doom-chick joke. “Joe is our Henny Youngman.”
After we all finish our meals, it is time for the Cheapskate Pollyanna. Corporate America should adopt this cheesy merry go round of gift giving. It breaks nobody’s bank and it is done in the spirit of giving. Creative minds jockey over who can engineer the most useless gift purchased at a Dollar Store. I thought to myself. Two decades of dedicated Civil Service and my career parks me in front of this hokey pokey show. The brainchild of this time honored tradition falls to my friend Pax Romano. Noteworthy, the etiology of the word Pollyanna roots come from the heroine in an Eleanor Porter novel. Besides a gift-go-round, Pollyanna means a foolishly optimistic person. There exists too much pessimistic poisoning in our workplace to do Pollyanna more than once a year. Somehow Pax must have known our limitations.
Truthfully, there isn’t a gift here worth roasting chestnuts in an open fire. The crinkled wrapping paper could be sold on Ebay for more than the gargoyle gifts themselves. I even see a few recylced gift bags from last year. Consequently, the Pollyanna yields yarborough gifts like socks, a thong gone wrong,a toothbrush holder, a rubber mouse, brake fluid, not one but two sets of handcuffs, to a can of coffee so old I recognize the former label. When it is my turn to choose a gift to open, I purposely choose the one Pax Romano brought. I memorized the wrapping paper design of the gift Pax carried into the restaurant. If Pax was about to make a scene with his creativeness, I plotted to be on the receiving end getting free press. The gift is a frame, which leaves me wondering who framed who?
In preparation for the Pollyanna and in the spirit of la-teh-dud gift giving, I have inserted my own personal picture on a refigerator magnet. The ghastly picture is my statue in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Creative crafting that would make Martha Stewart proud, the Ripley’s logo overlays the photo and assigns its fate a fake refrigerator magnet commercial enterprise. I attach a gift tag with a handwritten advisory, “Run as fast and as far as you can from this gift.” I am curious as to which staff will get stuck with an audacious photo of a medically involved colleague wearing a beekeeper’s suit. It ends up in the hands of a new hire, a disbelieving secretary who has doubted my woeful tale from day one. She is the “Or Not” in Ripley’s Believe It or Not terminology. She looks at the refrigerator magnet quizzically and my immediate supervisor must explain to her my pathetic wardrobe from 2001-2003. Some people laugh at me, most with me. If I am able to laugh at myself in public, this is a welcomed sign of full recovery. To all others, it is a deaf ear.
After a nice dessert tray and two cups of coffee, I momentarily loose sight of Pax Romano. He does not like crowds so I wonder if he has grown uncomfortable. On my way to the restroom, I find the Smooth Talker at the bar sitting with a couple of Whatshername women. Nobody dares to drink at this luncheon but cigarette smoke sure fills the airways. A thick cloud of smoke buffets the air. A cigarette smoking woman, wearing an outrageous Hanukkah candle hat, appears to be lighting her own fabric candles ablaze.
I empty the coffee into a urinal then return tableside. I find D2 talking for a second time to D1 and B1 about 5 cent coffee offered at a nearby restaurant in the late 1970’s. The historical reference makes me take a harder look around the front delapidated porch. What I observe is a collectively tired staff. I have my doubts whether we could all make it out alive in a fire. The best days may behind many of the people presiding. Among the throng, the end of the calendar year seems to bring the strange bedfellows of reticence and sense of accomplishment. Overseeing the lives of human beings is tremendous responsibility. I often ask myself how many human beings I can be responsible for before my silicon chip starts its meltdown? The work is survival of the fittest in a pressure cooker milieu, where the unwritten mission statement is to escape with health, sanity, and humor. We are a resilient bunch inching to that Golden Parachute called retirement. It is evident that some workers have burned out like black-eyed palookas, who refuse to hang up their boxing gloves. For me, this fight must rage on at least another ten years before The Great Escape. I will take one day at a time. For now, I box myself out of the corner and digest the soggy bread pudding I shoveled with my hands thinking it was apple cake. My eyes aren't what they used to be but I can clearly see objects in the rearview mirror. So deck those halls and trim those trees, this is the time for holiday.
For the parallex viewer, read how Pax Romano reported on the same event:

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3 Comments:

Blogger PaxRomano said...

BRAVO! BRAVO! Sound's like a fun time, where the hell was I?

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read both blogs, your's and Pax's, and came away with the impression that each of you went to the same party on different days. Post by ET

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ET, please excuse a writer for being philosophical.
--the host

12:56 AM  

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