Words and Thoughts — August 31, 2023

Hello again, alleged readers! I have been unable to concentrate this week. Whether I’m at work, or at home, or my neighbor’s shed, or the other neighbor’s garage, or any one of the various aisles of the at least three supermarkets near my house, or even a different part of my house than I was when I first said “or at home,” I’ve just been completely preoccupied. Last week, in the newly re-opened breakroom kitchen at work, one of my coworkers said, “You’ll never guess what I thought of to celebrate Bill’s birthday!” I didn’t really care what my coworker had thought of. I don’t like Bill all that much. Rather, I suppose I’m jealous of Bill. Bill always has the coolest pens, in that they work. He must bring them from home, because the pens I keep taking from the breakroom kitchen are absolute crap. They hardly write. I don’t know what brand they are, but they come in pairs, and have Chinese characters all over the packaging. Nothing against Chinese craftsmanship of course, but if you see these wooden pens in their little red paper sleeves for sale anywhere, I advise you, alleged reader, to steer clear!

Also, next to the forks is not a good place to keep pens.

What began to distract me though was the thought of somehow accurately guessing what my coworker had thought of for Bill’s birthday. What a feat that would be. “Bag of eggs!” I hastily blurted out. Alas, she had not thought of a bag of eggs to celebrate Bill’s birthday. Instead, it was a cake shaped like Bill’s car.  But what a thrill it had been to guess. I hustled out of the breakroom, without even pausing to take my breakfast out of the microwave, and asked the next person I saw, “Are you thinking about…” I paused to put a bit more effort into this guess than my last, “…what paperclips taste like?” Again, no luck, but this was enthralling! With enough practice, perhaps I’d begin to guess correctly. That was last week. This is this week. But I can barely tell what day is which anymore. My waking hours have simply been an unceasing stream of guesses as to the current ponderings and inner machinations of those around me.

Anyway, yesterday, I decided that I’d have to at least try to focus on something other than attempting to force clairvoyance upon myself. Yesterday was the day of Bill’s birthday party at work, and I was tasked with bringing confetti. Some of the best confetti material I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with is the backing to “I Voted” stickers. It’s the perfect thickness, the perfect combination of gloss and matte materials. It’s durable yet pliable, smooth yet not slippery, it cuts well, and flutters superbly. There simply is no substitute when it comes to high quality confetti.

The first thing yesterday morning I showed up to my old high school and waltzed right into the gym, ready to collect several pounds of sticker backing. However, I was absolutely dismayed by what I saw. The last time I was there a few years ago, there were voting machines everywhere, and obviously so too were the “I Voted” stickers I so desperately needed the backing from. But where the hell were the polling machines? Instead, I was met with some kind of student health fair. When did they stop doing voting and start up all of this health nonsense? There were high school kids everywhere, some guy was doing pullups, it was chaos! Thanks entirely to this horrible rebranding decision, Bill’s birthday party was going to be ruined. But wait! A glimmer of optimism struck me like a sparkle of hope. Right in front of me was the Parks and Outdoor Department booth. The lady working the booth was distracted by the STD prevention poster the guy at the booth next to hers was putting up. And there, momentarily unguarded, was an entire basket of rabies awareness pens. Forget confetti, Bill’s a pen guy. He’d be ecstatic! I grabbed the entire basket and sprinted out of there.

Still out of breath as I got to the office. I burst into the breakroom kitchen. “You’ll never guess what I thought of to celebrate Bill’s birthday!”