June 29, 2006

That’s How You Become Great, Man. Hang Your Balls Out There!

Posted in Lessons Learned, Office Hijinks at 5:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

There is a scene early on in Jerry Maguire, where Jerry has written his manifesto, woken up, realized it was a huge mistake, comes down to the lobby and is greeted by all his colleagues cheering for him, thanking him, telling him, “it is about time someone said it.”  Off in a corner, two of his co-workers are smiling and clapping and the one leans into the other and whispers, “How long till you think he is fired.”  Then they smile and wave and give Jerry two thumbs up. 

We had a similar scene here last week.  Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me was on vacation.  While he was away an associate, who will be known only as Ballsy Maguire and referred to with a masculine pronoun not necessarily because this associate is a man but because Ballsy sounds like a guy’s name, took it upon himself to make a sign indicating Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me’s mood.  It is a half circle, with an arrow that can be moved to point to Jovial, Patient, Indifferent, Testy and >@^*₣+<%)(*$&?!, which I think is suppose to represent an expletive or twenty.  

Upon seeing this sign there were a lot of “Woo-hoos!” and “Nice jobs”, and “It’s about time someone said it”; however I am pretty sure everyone was thinking, “How long until he gets fired.”  Well, okay, I was thinking it. Then a member of my editorial committee came up to me and asked if I saw the sign. I said yes and she asked me what I thought.  I could tell by her face that we were both thinking the same thing. 

Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me’s return was the anticipated event of the week, as clearly evidenced by everyone’s tone shifting from “That is hysterical, who made it?”  to “Has he seen it yet?  When’s he get back?”  In the same sick sad way you slow down to check out a car accident, we all wanted to be around when he first laid eyes on his new sign.

When he finally did show up, there was only his assistant and yours truly around for miles.  I half expected an empty bag of Doritos to tumble down the hallway as he stood, facing off his sign. 

He dropped his bag. I tried to ascertain if his face had made the switch from “Jovial I just returned from vacation with my family” to “What the >@^*₣+<%)(*$&?! is this >@^*₣+<%)(*$&?!”

“Heh, heh, heh. Who made this?” 

His assistant responded that she was unable to tell him, but that she was sure he or she would want to take credit for it.  While Ballsy may be brave and funny, he is not stupid.  He asked that we all keep the fact that he made the sign quiet; hence the great lengths I have taken in this blog to keep his real identity a secret.”

This was followed up by another sinister laugh, which I interpreted to either mean, “I am trying to be a cool guy here, so I am going to pretend this doesn’t bother me”  or “I am pretending this doesn’t bother me so that its creator will step forward and then I can have his heart with my Cheerios for breakfast.” 

Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me then remarked, “well these portions don’t need to be so big,” pointing to the first two sections. “And why indifferent? I am never indifferent.” 

By the time I finished writing this entry, Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me had figured out who made the sign, like I said, he is a very smart man, and maybe a bit cooler than I had originally thought.

Does he still scare the crap out of me? Absolutely. Will I ever make a similar sign? Absolutely not. Will I even venture to come into the office extra early and move the dial when no one is looking?

Are you out of your g-d mind? 

As for Ballsy, maybe there is a lesson to be learned from all of this. I know I learned that girl has a got a set the size of my fists, which if you had ever seen my hands you would know are really big.

June 22, 2006

It’s No Coincidence That Totti Rhymes with Hottie

Posted in Happy Hour, Lessons Learned at 5:11 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

The first time I faked it I was out with my first boss for a "get to know you" drink after work.  I was worried about ordering a cool, sophisticated, impressive drink and doing so while looking over 21, which I wouldn't be until August of that year.

My prior drinking experience was limited to whatever could be lifted from my friends parent's liquor cabinets without being missed, jungle juice straight from the bathtub at TKE and of course Milwaukee's Best, aptly called "The Beast," at crew parties.  I didn't know what sort of wine I liked, I didn't see jungle juice on the menu and I wasn't about to order a beer.

I continued to review the bar menu as my boss ordered a gimlet up. I looked at him and then the bartender, put on an air of indifference and said, "You know what, I'll have the same thing."

The gimlet would go on to become my signature cocktail; however that day I was shocked when it was served to me in a martini glass.

Since discovering the gimlet, I have faked my way through Super Bowl parties, only after a run down with my father as to what to yell when; Art Gallery openings, where I would spend the first fifteen minutes or so next to a guy who looked like he knew what he was talking about, then pass his comments off as my own; Phillies home openers, spent staring at Pat Burrell; several Olympic Games, after a lot of internet research and Today specials; and a rock concert, hint when lip synching to a song whose words you don't know watermelon fits in perfectly almost every time.  Faking it has become my most marketable quality, and yet I can't figure out how to add it to my resume.

So the other day when my lawyer friends L., Em and K2 invited me out to watch the USA and Italy in the World Cup, I replied in the affirmative with a huge amount of enthusiasm, despite having never had any interest in professional soccer.  Still, I knew the afternoon would be spent at an Irish pub surrounded by soccer fans, drinking beer and screaming at a TV; I was not going to let a little thing like not being a fan of the sport get in the way of my good time.

The key to faking it is to know at least a little bit going into the event.  I knew these girls were fans, so I checked out some websites, talked to some other soccer fans, even read a little bit about the World Cup in the newspaper.  By the time I arrived at the bar, I knew that the U.S. needed to win, not tie, to secure future play in this tournament, Brazil was expected to win the whole thing and that it was taking place in Germany.

However, no amount of research could have prepared me for the hotness that is the Italian team. The first close up of Francesco Totti, at about five minutes into play, and my knees went weak. A slight moan escaped from my lips and my cover was blown.  L. turned to me, looked at my face and just laughed.

As she yelled things like "corner" and "come on" waving her arms frantically and turning away in disgust, I just stood there, awestruck by the beautiful men on the field.  As the Italians near me screamed about the red card given to Daniele DeRossi for the elbow he threw at Brian McBride's face, I uttered a single, low "oh" when the camera cut to McBride shirtless on the sideline.

However, the crowning moment in my failure this weekend was at the end of the game, a close up of Fabio Cannavaro.

"Oh my god" were the words that escaped my lips.  L., laughing yelled "Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner."  The Italian gentleman, who was raised in England, whispered to me, "You should have seen him before he cut off all his hair."

I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said, "You have your reasons for watching, I have mine."

L. just shook her head at me.  What was I to do?  I was a girly, silly disappointment and much like our soccer team, powerless against Italians

June 15, 2006

Love In An Elevator or How Not to Ask Me Out

Posted in Office Hijinks at 6:43 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Everyone always says, “you’ll meet him when you stop looking.” And by “him” of course, they mean the One.  This is usually followed up by a story about meeting their significant other at a laundromat, grocery store or funeral parlor.  So a couple of years ago when an attractive gentleman took an interest in me in our building's elevator, I thought, why not. After all, people in movies and on television are always meeting people in elevators.  Heck, Jay-Z made a music video about it.  And it wasn’t as if he and I worked together, we just happened to work in the same building.  

Over the next year and a half our relationship progressed to a very normal and appropriate flirtation level; flattering and silly enough for me to comment on, but never disturbing.  Friends that knew about my Elevator Casanova sometimes asked when I was going to ask him out.  And while yes, I was attracted to this guy, he was good-looking, he dressed well, he was funny and out-going and had a job – I just wasn't sure how to make the leap from winks and smiles between floors to drinks after work. 

So, I was delighted the other day when the opportunity presented itself.  Casanova was getting off the elevator when I was getting on.  We exchanged hellos and as I stepped past him, he mentioned it was his birthday.  I wished him a happy birthday and he asked where his present was.  In a bold, daring, and looking back on it, very bad move I told him I had it at my desk.  The doors closed and I was overcome by fear for a moment that Casanova really would stop by my desk looking for a gift, but shook it off.  After all, there was no way he could actually get into my office, and he must have known that. 

Wrong.  Apparently post-9/11 security at my office is pretty lax as half an hour later Casanova was at my desk writing his phone number and email address down for me on a Post-It.  I returned the favor, giving him just my email address and again wished him a happy birthday. I could feel the eyes of all the girls around me staring at me; judging me. 

A week went by and when I saw him next, we were both on our way out to lunch, we smiled at each other, said hello and that was that. Maybe elevator love is supposed to stay in the elevator. A part of me felt relieved the other part was slightly disappointed. 

When I got back from lunch, there was an email from Casanova.  "Great whether today huh?  You are looking good and sexy girl.  Could I get you drunk and out of control tonight?" 

I suppose I should be grateful he didn't misuse the ellipse, still I couldn't get past that the whole thing read like a dirty third grade writing assignment.  As if it was originally written on three line paper and at the end his teacher asked, who would like to read their paragraph aloud for the class?  

However, for the moment I will pretend that verbal incontinence doesn't bother me.  That one’s ability to communicate and select the proper homophone isn’t something I value.  For now, I will just focus on the actual text – the proposition that I should go out with this near stranger, and let him get me uncontrollably drunk.  Then what?  We say good night, he puts me in a cab and I wake up with a bit of a headache.  For some reason I don't think that is how Casanova was envisioning our evening ending.  Sure most guys go out looking to get laid, but most of you also have the decency to pretend that that is not your intention, just a happy side effect of an evening spent feeding girls drinks. 

So I did what any self respecting woman would do — I forwarded the email on to all of my friends with a note, 'This is why I am still single." 

And, for the record, on a going forward basis, I will not date guys I meet in elevators.

June 8, 2006

Some Have Skeletons In Their Closets; Others Have Sex Toys

Posted in Office Hijinks at 7:31 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Occasionally, during our lunch hour, a friend and I will go to Love Park, sit with the Philadelphia Weekly open to the Anything Goes ads and try to determine who from our law office placed each ad.  Everyone has a secret life outside the office; it is a good way to waste an hour, imagining what each one’s is.  And yes, it is also funny to imagine that the quiet, reserved senior partner likes to dress up like a little girl and get spanked. 

However, sometimes we are not left to our imaginations.  Sometimes co-workers bring their secret lives into the office.  People yelling at loved ones on the phone, sharing too much information on the elevator, or every now and again an office romance will boil over and we will all get to hear just why things aren’t working out. 

Still other times, beyond the telling about having an undisclosed number of shots in the backside for some unnamed ailment and past what some people deem acceptable on denim day is the moment that is just too good to have to wait until Anything Goes Lunch to share.  I was sitting at my desk, wondering how it is a guy friend of mine, who is touring Europe, managed to only make friends with females thus far, when my phone rang.  It was a member of my editorial committee commanding me to another member’s office immediately. 

When I got there, she handed me a business card.  It was that of a sales representative for adult toys, massage oils, edible lotions, books games, novelties and lingerie.    My face contorted to express shock, horror, disbelief and finally understanding.  “This is a joke right?”  I handed the card back to my co-worker. 

“No.”  She responded but didn’t take the card.

I looked at the card again.  It just didn’t make any sense.  Understand I see nothing wrong with being a sales representative for sex toys.  I have even been to a sex toy demonstration party, much like a Tupperware party, with friends.  What I couldn’t believe was that the name on the card.  This quiet, upright, church going, family activity endorsing co-worker organized sex toy parties in her spare time.  I couldn’t imagine handing this person a business card like the one I was holding; the knowledge that she handed it to my friend, I just couldn’t take it.

I felt woozy. 

Maybe I was jealous. 

I am only pretty sure that if our office was polled as to who was most likely to be a sex toys demonstrator, my name would be leading the pack.  Not that that is something to be proud of, or even something my mom and dad are going to enjoy reading (hi, mom and dad).  But this knowledge that my secret life outside the office was not nearly as interesting as this girl’s, well it just made me really glad my male friend was currently touring Europe.  It frees up my spare time, leaving me with plenty of opportunity to go out and do something scandalous – like volunteer at a soup kitchen.  The management committee won’t see that one coming.

June 5, 2006

We’ve Got Class, Now Give Us Some Action

Posted in Lessons Learned at 8:08 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

In school, I never liked field day.  I couldn't climb a pole, I would get hit in the face during tetherball and the obstacle course was more like a death trap for someone as klutzy as I; the only activities I was kinda good at were those that involved running.  And by "kinda good" understand I was still all arms and legs, no coordination, so events like the shuttle run were disastrous.  Still, I am happy that the adult version of field day equates to the charitable 5k foot race.

Two weekends ago was the Philadelphia Bar Association's 5k in Fairmount Park.  Just like many of the early mornings on field day, the pre-race area was filled with clumps of individuals in matching t-shirts talking and stretching and drinking water. The only thing that was missing was a group of senior associates running around tormenting a group of first years.

Trying to blend in, myself and a member of my editorial committee stood by in our own matching t-shirts with our firm's logos emblazoned on the front, commenting on how much worse they could be.

"Oh god, at least we don't have to wear a really awful color like Barney purple."  She pointed to a group about fifteen feet away from where we were standing.

"Or a cheesy catch phrase," I pointed to another group that past us by.  This lead into a conversation about what sort of really cheesy slogans we could have on our shirt.  A personal favorite was "We've got class now give us some action."  We were both laughing hysterically at the idea of putting our actual firm's slogan across the  back, lower half of our t-shirts when a co-worker joined our group.

Field day differed from a regular day in gym class by one substantial factor – you didn't pick teams on field day; teams were randomly assigned either by grade or homeroom so inevitably there was someone on your team you didn't want, possibly several people.  Our co-worker stood there wearing the required t-shirt and running shorts and by this fact he was a part of our team.  It didn't matter that my friend and I spent the better part of our days in the office making fun of him.  Nor did it matter that he had never said more than six words to either of us.  Go Team.

It was the worst possible example of forced team building/bonding.  We didn't have anything to say to each other, so once we were past the required comments about the t-shirts we were left with awkwardness, but only for a minute.  Soon, other team members joined our mini group and discussion turned to the race.  Jokes were made about who was going to run worse than whom and finally we all lined up.

At the line, just before the race, our co-worker remained by our side, engaging us in conversation until just before the race started when he wished us luck and moved to the front of the pack.

My friend and I looked at each other in bewilderment.  We didn't have much time to discuss the sudden humanity of the co-worker we had come to despise, we didn't hear a gun go off but we noted everyone around us started running.

At the end of the run, our "evil" co-worker came up to us, complimented us on our run and even introduced us to his fiancé.  I hate to admit when I am wrong, so I'm not going to.  I will say that perhaps I judged this particular individual too quickly and seeing that I would hate to make that same mistake twice, the jury is still out.

I will say that there could be something to these team building/bonding activities; especially if you are a fan of free, ugly t-shirts.