Ah, the morning coffee break.
Is there any nicer gesture in the working world than a handful of minutes generously gifted to you by the "Man" where you can relax in molded-plastic sitting comfort with just enough time to go through the latest job postings on Indeed? Nope. Nope, there ain't.
In fact, it's sooo relaxing one might even mellow out to the point where the looming prospect of a random company drug search which could happen at any time has completely slipped the...
Oh, poopy. There's a dog in the break room.
When the boss stepped into the employee break room/ locker room/ meeting nook during first coffee, my first thought was to hiss like a vampire. Weird reflex, right? But it was just that. Weird. The boss never comes into the break room beyond the morning toolbox meeting. And he's an alright guy, really. It was just alien to have him enter our den, so to speak.
Guards automatically went up for everyone sitting, butt-holes puckered in yellow alert.
Following the boss was the company safety inspector. Also never a good sign. Following him was...a dog? And then another guy after that, holding the leash. Everyone was still weary, but many visibly relaxed at the sight of the animal. Pets tend to put people at ease. At least, until they realized what the animal's visit meant.
At first I thought maybe we were all supposed to bring something for show and tell or something. Shit! Was I supposed to bring my cat? What else could I show? Did one of my seat-mates bring a couple hamsters to boast about? Maybe I could borrow one...
And then I too, slower than most, picked up on the real reason for the dog coming into the gathering room: random drug search.
Pfff! That's all this is? No worries, then. I was more relaxed in the presence of the sniffer dog then when I was trying to figure out where I could find a spare hamster. If you know me personally, you'd know I'm probably one of the cleanest people around. Drugs? I've barely touched aspirin. Smoking? Never saw the appeal. And I'm too cheap. Same with tattoos. Too cheap. Some booze, yes, but never enough to embarrass myself. I'm just too cheap.
So, as the dog and his trainer went around the room, sniffing at everything (the dog, not the trainer), I watched with curious bemusement for a while as I munched on edibles from my lunch box. I expected a German Shepherd for drug busts, but it was instead a rather playful looking Golden Lab/Retriever sin mix. After about a minute, I grew bored (attention span of the 21st century, what can I say?) and turned back to my phone to check on my stocks which, surely by this point, will have torpedoed through the bottom of the performance charts and burrow into the ground beneath analysts' feet.
Apparently, while I was checking up on my misbehaving investments, preoccupied with trying to find a way to explain to my young children why daddy put their college funds into pork bellies instead of a sensible RESP, the sniffer dog was apparently going nuts in front of my locker. And, since no one cares about anyone else these days, let alone are aware of which lockers belong to whom, no one watching the event taking place could identify the locker's owner, which was, of course, little ol' me.
It was only when my supervisor was on his phone with his boss and said "Yeah, looks like the dog zoned in on a locker. Number 16...No, don't know whose it is yet..." that I clued in.
Now, I'm a dork most of the time as it is. It comes easily to me. But I'm sure I reached a whole new level of bow-tie affinity that day, even for me. My brain, only half paying attention to the goings-on around me, misfired a signal to my mouth before it could even contemplate what an inadequate zombie snack it would make.
"Sixteen? That's MY locker!"
Everyone turned to face me, staring blankly at the source of vapid stupidity which had just laid siege upon their ears. Even the dog was looking around as if thinking Did he just say what I think he said?
"Mezzer, this is your locker?" the boss man eventually said.
The room cleared out, co-workers scurrying like rats abandoning a doomed dingy, leaving me the sole lucky recipient of an invasive locker search.
You see, any sensible human with a modicum of street smarts would have known better than to admit being the proud owner of a locker which, mere moments before, had been ousted by a narcotic sniffing drug hound. Yessiree, a socially well-adjusted patron of the planet would have denied any ties to that locker with Judas-like gusto.
"Sixteen? Sixteen? Nah, doesn't ring a bell. In fact, the whole number sounds made-up, y'know? Sounds a bit fishy if you ask me. I think that's actually Jason's locker, now that I think of it..."
And, just for good measure, someone with a lick of sense would then distract the accusers by feigning a sudden case of IBS and rushing to the bathroom, pulling the smoke alarm in the hallway, thus causing a mass, chaotic personnel exodus as people fled for their lives. Such a resourceful and forward-thinking individual would then douse the entire locker room in gasoline, setting a match to it, then fleeing immediately to Rio, where extradition doesn't exist.
But I don't tend to think very far into the future. And such a fine quality of non-planning got me nothing less then the entire contents of my locker spread out across a table, airport security style.
Before doing so, however, the drug dog's handler informed me, oh so seriously, about how frighteningly accurate these dogs were at identifying various narcotics, and offered me a chance to declare any unlawful substances I may have stashed in my locker. I denied possessing any such bad juju, and cordially invited him to explore the inner workings of my locker with wild abandon, but that I would not be held responsible should anything in there bite him.
As they searched through my locker's contents, the dog sniffing at each item one by one, I couldn't help but chuckle at the situation. I'm about the cleanest, lamest person you'd ever meet. For a drug dog to have singled me out in a random drug search is, really, completely ridicul-
"We found something," the dog whisperer said.
They found my stash. How was I going to explain this?
The inspector reached into my locker, waaay at the back of the top shelf, and pulled out a nondescript plastic grocery bag, filled with something substantial. The dog was whimpering loudly at the sight of the bag, shuffling quickly back and forth as if to say Ayuh, that's it! That's it, alright! I smelt it a mile away, I did! Oh boy oh boy, that's it! Ayuh!
Out on the table, the narcotics guy opened the white plastic bag, peered at it for a few seconds, then grimaced in confusion. He tilted the open maw of the bag towards my boss so he could see the contents, then they both looked at me like I was something altogether alien to them.
"Umm, okay," said the big cheese. "Why, uh, do you have so many... what is this?"
"Oh, that?" I said coyly. (I love being coy. Doesn't happen very often, but when it does, hooo baby!) "Those are called pens. You use them to write on paper and your friends faces when they're passed out drunk on the couch."
Dog-man rolled his eyes at that one. F-ing A.
"I mean, why do you have a bag full of, what, two hundred pens in here?"
"Ha! Yeah, that's a funny story." Though it wasn't, really. I just said that to try and break the ice a bit. He seemed tense.
There are never, never, any gad-dang pens at work. The supply vending machines will only issue you one a month (I know, right??), and so pens are valued above anything else out there. He who wields a pen will, if he is a kind-hearted soul, lend it benevolently to those in need, basking in the King-like stature which it affords him. Pens out there are like Precious' to their Golums, corrupting men as they move from owner to owner. So I sought to reset the balance. At home was a junk cabinet full of pens which I'd been meaning to clean every time we've moved for the last ten years. One evening, I sifted through the lot of 'em, making piles. Smooth, enjoyable pens would remain at home to enjoy the comforts of forced air heating and occasional Netflix. Mediocre yet functional pens would be brought to work and distributed Robin Hood style among the working peasants, to be used as single-use writing implements and coffee stir sticks. The lazy, good for nothing dried-ink tubes of false hope were to be loaded into a rocket and launched into space on a collision course with the sun.
The dog handler informs me pens can set off a dog's sniffer for a number of drug related reasons, one of them being that people will use the hollowed-out pen tubes as straws for cocaine and such. Not to mention that pens pass between people like pocket change, and that even trace amounts found on pens from a drug user just handling them is plenty to set off the dog's nose.
It made for a good story, at any rate. And it was actually quite funny, at least from my perspective. Who would have thought you could get busted for carrying pens? Say no to ink, kids.
Oh, and I got to keep the pens. Score!
Feel free to write to Biography of a Nobody while Mezzer is in the Pen' for holding! Ha! Get it?? Soo, funny, I know.
2: 37 am
..."When did she eat last?"
"Hmm, 'bout three hours ago. There ya go, sweetie."
"Ugh. Really? I feel like I finally just fell back asleep. Feels like only an hour. Maybe half that."
"OH! Oh my God, you gave me a scare."
"Huh?.. Oh, hey, bud. Watcha doing up? It's still sleepy time, kiddo-"
"Hun! He's bleeding! It's all over his face! Get the light!"
"W-what?" OH SHIT! Uh, uh...WHERE'S THE KLEENEX?!"
"Oops. Try again. C'mon, baby girl, you can do it."
"Kiddo, just hold your head back for a sec so I can go get-"
"-no no no NO NO DON'T SNEEZE-"
"Oh Jesus oh Jesus oh Jesus-"
"It's just a bit of blood, honey. Relax. Oo-owtch...'Kay, that's better. Really tender at first."
"It's all over the bed, honey...And me...And the floor!"
"It's hardwood, it'll clean up. Sweetie, tilt your head back for a minute until daddy gets a cloth."
"Where's the kleenex?!"
"Just grab a towel."
"A towel?? It'll get stained! No, I need to find -OH GAWD!! THE CARPET!"
* * *
Well, it finally happened.
Our family is symmetrical now. No OCD compulsions about needing a balanced family will be keeping us awake, no sirree; two cats, two kids, two sorry excuses for mature adults, boy/girl in each category. Besides, the kids will keep us awake just fine on their own, of that I have no doubt.
Nearly three months ago now, we brought a darling little baby girl home with us to call our own. We don't know who she belonged to, but she's ours now. There were a bunch of unguarded little babies at the hospital, it was easy. In and out in under three minutes. Oh! But don't worry, I'll be writing a stern letter to the hospital directors about the deplorable level of security over there. Oh, yes, a very stern letter. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my children in their innatentive care, just sayin'.
Luckily, I'm a nice guy. Who'se married to an even nicer lady. So the kid'll be fine with us, don't you fret.
Now, like I said, it's been just shy of three months since we got the little cupcake. And, you might be asking Why are you only writing about the birth of your daughter now, after months and months? First off, you shush. Second, only if you happened to be blessedly devoid of children in your place of residence, would you be asking that question. Which would make you an inconsiderate scallywag. Thirdly, however, if you, like me, have been manipulated and duped into possessing one or more of the sticky little gremlins OF YOUR OWN FREE WILL, you would not ask such a question. You would know. Oh, yes, you would know that accomplishing anything personal beyond getting yourself dressed within half a year of the birth of a child is nothing short of commendable, maybe even heroic. You scoff at my inability to organize myself long enough to write a simple blog submission post-children? Pshaw! I say, and give me the Purple Heart for my undeniable valour.
And while you're at it, give my wife an octopus' array of Purple Hearts for what she's had to endure. Between the incessant morning sickness and the bulging physique which pretty much dictated what she could and couldn't do for the better part of a year, my dearest spouse, my loving wife, suffered and endured through it all with a grace befitting royalty, all with the sole purpose of blessing us with another little soul we could claim monies for come tax time.
For that alone, she deserves the biggest medal on the planet. Made of chocolate. With coconut.
And as for me? What was my contribution to this whole venture, post-nookie? Shit, I was of no use to her at all. All I could muster were placating empathetic acknowledgments when she would lament morosely about the things she couldn't enjoy while pregnant. Heartburn from her favourite foods, ache and discomfort from her favourite activities; it must have been awful for her. "There, there," I would say. Like only a genuine lover would.
But sometimes I would try to let her live vicariously through my experiences to cheer her up, though she never seemed to appreciate my efforts.
"Hey, beautiful! By the way, I'm gonna go play some golf with some buddies tomorrow, y'know, at that golf course we both wanted to play?, then we might go for some wings and burgers afterwards, oh, hey! Mike got a new hot tub at his place, gonna enjoy a couple drinks over there before I come home, gorgeous. But don't worry, we can watch a movie when I get home if you want, Netflix is featuring the Jurassic Park series again! Aw, c'mon, they're not scary. I know you wanna! That's my girl. 'Night honey."
She spent a lot of time at the shooting range that month.
But I was, like most husbands (I hope it wasn't just me), even more useless during the birth itself. Yes, I did have the previous experience of being at my wife's side during the birth of our debut gremlin three years ago, yet I was about as useful to her as honey-flavoured bear spray.
"I got a minute and twenty-seven seconds between contractions that time," said the competent nurse tending to my wife. "Is that what you got, Mr. Mezzer?"
"Uh, oh, YEAH! Same here, you betcha..." I confirmed, turning away inconspicuously to set my watch display to chronometer rather than altimeter, trying to shush the silly thing's relentless beeps. That nurse was simultaneously timing and measuring my wife's contractions, heart rate, breathing rates and stock options while I couldn't even get my shit organized enough to run a stopwatch. She was making me look bad.
"And at 3,291' above sea level," I added.
And so it went for hours. Me meddling alongide my wife's bedside, getting in the way of important people in scrubs, doing nothing more than murmuring little vocal memos of praise and support to the missus, something akin to what a parent might holler out to their kid on the soccer pitch if they were putting in some effort for the team, but not really trying to win the game. "Good job, honey. That's it, keep breathing. Remember to pass." Oh! And I rubbed her back once, too. And do you think she ever reciprocated that lil' gesture? Been three months; nothing. It's a two-way street, honey, just sayin'.
Anyway, at about 10pm I was about ready to give up and say we would try again in the morning but, as that silly Murphy and his law are very adept at doing, things took a turn. The baby poked through, all gooey and gross, the doctor making a stellar catch with her baseball mitt. The leather was surely ruined, but I'm sure she could afford another.
But everything went smoothly. As good as anyone could hope for. They placed my new little girl on my wife's chest, and even with the sickening grossness that is childbirth, what with all the blood and gory stuff I only want to see in the movies, there was tremendous beauty in it all the same. Through tears in my eyes I could see my loving wife smiling down at the teeny little miracle laying upon her, greeting her joyously in a mix of sheer elation and utter exhaustion. I felt priveleged to be there, to be with my wife of over a decade, to welcome our little daughter into the world.
I hope we never have to go through it again. Two kids was all we ever wanted. More as a war tactic than anything, to not let the enemy outnumber you. Yes, they are my children whom I love and cherish, not a direct enemy in the traditional sense, but they can also prove to be terrific little soldiers who will go to war with you if they so choose. Don't kid yourself. They - ...
Ha! Aha!...Get it? Don't kid yourself? Ha!...That just sorta happened..
Anyway, yes, do not underestimate them. They will wage war on you and your lifestyle whether you want it or not. They will lay siege to your privacy, no longer will you be able to go to the bathroom on your own. They will invade your bed, putting an end to any nocturnal activities, sleep or otherwise (sleep deprivation is a cruel war tactic generally used by extreme militants and the morally defunct, but children have learned to wield the craft expertly to their means, knowing full well that a tired parent is easily molded to their will. Ever let your kids watch Paw Patrol just so you could get a couple minutes rest? I know I have.) They continuously attack your meager possessions and maintain a state of dissarray within your home to continuously remind you that they could destroy you if they really wanted to. And let's not forget their uncanny ability to negotiate terms of battle as soon as they can form sentences.
"I will give you a gummy worm if you promise to get in the car right now, without screaming, and stay quiet all the way to Auntie Mildred's house. Okay?"
"Mmm...two gummy worms."
"Fine, two. Now get in the car, Daddy."
Om nom nom
So that's it. We've got two kids now. Our sleep is marginal at best, our house is a constant tribute to circa 1944 Normandy, and we've had to add extra numbers to the wall clocks to give us enough hours in a day; we're now up to 29. Sure, there's blood on the carpet, and I doubt if I'll ever get around to fixing the hole in the plaster I accidentally made one late night getting a sippy cup for the kid. But hey, that's the life we always dreamed of, my wife and I. Well, sort of. The kids, anyway. We love them, we will keep them safe from harm as best we can, and we will cherish the love they give us back in return.
Maybe it's just Stockholm syndrome setting in.
I'll still take it.