On our way out, she remarked, "I always see that poster of the cappuccino with whipped cream and it's tempting, but I never get it because, well, first it's not Italian" -- J had a couple of stints in Italy teaching English -- "and it's also really bad for you, and I wonder if it would be disgusting, but still ..."
"I guess there must be a reason people do it."
"Yeah, and at this cafe where I used to work, which was also a really nice bakery/patisserie type place, we would have whipped cream but it was meant for pastries. So when people asked for whipped cream we would go to the freezer in back and get this tub of thick, heavy whipped cream and put a dollop in, and it would usually sink to the bottom and make the coffee overflow, and we'd hand it to the customer like 'here you go, philistine. It's not Redi-Whip, okay?'"
"Teach them to order whipped cream on their coffee."
"Yeah. That was a great place to work. There was this guy, and his name as it turned out was T" -- J's husband is named T -- "who I had this crush on, and I think that was the beginning of my thinking that T was a great name. Anyway I remember this one time that I said 'Hey T, if I murdered the next person who asked me for an "expresso," would you stand up for me in court?' and he said, without a second thought, 'Shit yeah.' He was so cool."
WE HAD A going-away party for E this afternoon. Her last day is Friday; the new E starts tomorrow.
The conference room was decorated for the occasion: "Good Luck, E!" in big, bubble letters on the whiteboard, and a chair at the head of the table decorated in pink crepe paper -- not exactly festooned with elegant swags, and not exactly mummified with bands of pink, but somewhere in between.
E is moving her stuff back into her parents' house before taking a two-month vacation to Europe. She told M, "I called Diego, to help me move."
Diego is one of two sons of a friend of a friend of M's. They're Brazilian, I think, though I may be making that part up. Last time we got together for one of these parties, she mentioned that they were available to do odd jobs for $15/hour.
"Is he going to do it?" M asked.
"I dunno, I got his voice mail. He said, 'you know what to do' so I left a message."
"He's very attractive. Did I tell you that?"
"Yes, and actually I forgot that you had mentioned his attractiveness, if you can believe that. But I was disappointed, because the email said 'see attached photograph' and?" She held up her index finger and waved it slightly, the way she does when she negates something. "There was no photo."
"Well, you'll just have to take a picture of him and email it around, because now I'm sure we're all curious to see what he looks like," someone suggested.
"Yes, because that's not at all creepy." said R.
"Right, 'hold this box, will you?' Click."
"I'm sure you could come up with a way not to make it creepy. Like, 'It's moving day! We're taking pictures!' or something."
A asked if E was selling all her furniture. The reason she was wondering was because she had a friend who was moving this weekend, and hasn't gotten rid of any of his stuff. "He called me the other night to ask me if I would help him dump his mattress in a field."
We wondered, exactly, which field he might have in mind, and why he didn't just try leaving it out on the curb. If the garbage collectors didn't take it, chances are it'd disappear magically anyway.
"I've put out all sorts of weird stuff, thinking that either someone would take it or they'd pick it up with the garbage. And it always amazes me the stuff that people will take. Like a travel mug with no lid."
"I can just imagine someone thinking, 'Oh, perfect, just what I was looking for,'" said R. "'I mean, I've already got a lid, and now ...'"
"Did it still have the coffee in it? Because that might be worth it."
M broke in, "My house is off of a main street, where my friends now live. And they have all sorts of garbage pickers coming past that way. But just around the corner, where I am, I can leave something out that's perfectly good and no one will take it ..." She seemed a little hurt by the oversight.
"Maybe you should put out a sign, saying 'GOOD TRASH THIS WAY.'"
People reminisced about items they'd rescued from the side of the road, until someone mentioned a rocking chair as a particularly good find.
"I found a rocking chair once," M began, and then her face brightened. "Oh, this can be the disgusting story!"
Every social department gathering must eventually come around to a disgusting story, and this was it. M had found what looked like a rocking chair in good condition and brought it into her apartment. She was showing it off to her sister: it was white, with an upholstered seat and headrest. She was thinking she could repaint it to match her decor. "And I can replace these," M said of the cushions, ripping one of them off. Inside it was filled with roaches, now, in her living room. After they were done screaming, they managed to drag it out onto the porch and heave it over the side.
"Good thing you were on the first floor," E remarked.
"I wasn't," said M.
WE UNVEILED THE farewell card that we had put together for E. Each of us signed a Post-it note -- a copyeditor's best friend, and also a reference to one of E's favorite books -- and we put them together in a collage. L framed the whole thing with a border of small thumbnail covers of books that E had worked on while she was here (including the one about Columbus). As we passed it around, A said, "I would have written something less lame if I knew it was going to be framed."
A's message was: "Here's to the smell of popcorn at 9:30 a.m.!" A's cube and E's are the closest to the kitchen, and therefore to the microwave. "I'll have to keep you updated on how early it happens," A promised E.
"I only want to know if it's before 9:24 a.m. That's the earliest that it's ever been."
This prompted a whole conversation about popcorn, rumors that the packaging of microwave popcorn is supposed to be somehow toxic, not to mention the so-called butter flavor, and the virtues and techniques of stovetop preparation. E was perplexed at the idea of stovetop popcorn that wasn't Jiffy Pop -- her excuse was that they had an air popper when she was growing up.
J brought up the elaborate contraption her parents had in which you'd put the popcorn in a large tray, and the whole thing was covered with this '70s yellow plastic dome, and there was a slot where you'd put the butter so it would melt as the corn popped.
"Sounds like something you would find at a yard sale," someone said.
"Or left out on the sidewalk."
"Or in a field."
AS A FINAL ANECDOTE, E told us how at her sister's recent graduation, she'd ended up sitting behind Donald Trump, and in fact the whole Trump family. "How was his hair?" J asked immediately.
"You know, I'm sitting there behind this incredibly wealthy family, and all I can think of is how amazing their hair is. All of them. I mean, his hair is ridiculous, but the color is just unbelievable. It's like spun gold."
"So, good hair can be bought," mused R.
"Sure," said T. "Just google 'Trump hair.'"
AFTER THE PARTY, I emailed A to tell her I'm taking next Friday off. She wrote back, "I’ll put it on the vacation list, if you can put the Post-it in the log book. The Post-it really seals the deal." I never realized just how much power Post-its can have.
ON THE WAY HOME I stopped for gas near the train station. Usually I go to a gas station around the corner from my house, but it was on the section of street that was closed by the floods last week. Even after the street was re-opened, the station was roped off with a pool of stagnant water in its lot. Finally, yesterday I saw cars filling the place again, but D reckons they were all there for the attached Dunkin' Donuts, because the pumps are still off.
So, I ended up going to this other place on my way home. Does anyone read those messages that scroll by while you're filling the tank? At my usual gas station, they're the usual friendly consumerish content: "Thank you for choosing Mobil" and "Would you like one of our Quik-Pay dongles to facilitate the transfer of cash from you to us? Now you can use them to buy both gas and donuts!" and the like. They alternate to give some variety, with the Mobil pegasus in between as a sort of punctuation.
This station had just the one message repeating again and again, but because I can't resist reading words that someone puts before my eyes, I kept staring at it, the all-caps monotone moving at a slow and steady pace:
PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF ON STATIC ELECTRICITY IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE READ WARNING LABELS THANK YOU
Now that's inspiring stuff.
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