Thursday, April 10, 2008

quit bugging me

Last week, I swear the stars were aligned in the shape of a hand with the middle finger pointing right at me.

It all began on Monday afternoon. I had the day off, and after spending most of it sprawled out on my couch reading magazines of little to no intellectual value, I decided to get off my ass and clean. I cued up iTunes, tied my hair back, and opened the living room closet to get out the vacuum cleaner.

Um…what the hell?

That particular closet is filled with a ton of boxes holding everything from old love letters to pornographic comics. On top of one of the boxes was a scattering of tiny brown dots that I couldn’t identify. With an intense feeling of dread, I retrieved the tiny magnifying glass that came with my glasses repair kit and took a closer look. They didn’t appear to be moving, thank sweet baby Jesus, but I still couldn’t figure out what they WERE. They almost looked like little seeds, but since there’s no plant matter anywhere in my apartment, much less the closet, that couldn’t be the case. I looked up at the ceiling and saw nothing strange. I shrugged, unhooked the vacuum hose, and sucked them up before returning to the task at hand.

On Thursday afternoon, I was working when a claim processor I’ll call Bitchass McWhoreface came stomping over. “Did you take checks off the printer just now?” she huffed.

“Yes, I did.”

“I screwed up. One of them can’t go out, so where ARE they?”

“On the outgoing mail shelf,” I said.


I stood up and pointed towards the shelf. “Right th---”

Bitchass gave me a look that could freeze lava. “Gee, no KIDDING. I KNOW where the mail shelf is, I mean where ON the shelf? Is it near the front or the back?”

Okay, first of all, the shelf in question is about two feet long. At the time of her pissy query, there were maybe twenty envelopes on the shelf. And since I didn’t even know what particular check she was referring to, how the hell was I supposed to know where it was? And it’s not my personal mail shelf, either; anyone can use it. I wanted to say, “Gosh, Bitchass McWhoreface, since I’m not psychic, I don’t know where your stupid check is. Try looking up your ass.”

Instead, I said, “I don’t know.”

She clicked her tongue between her teeth in exasperation and began flipping through the envelopes. It took her all of thirty seconds to find the check, and she went stomping away again.

That’s one of the things I hate most about this job: no fuckin’ respect. For every person who domo arigato’s my Mr. Roboto for doing their grunt work so they don’t have to, there’s at least five who look down on me because of it. No, it’s not brain surgery. Yes, I should be doing something more fulfilling with my life. But you know what, Bitchass McWhoreface? If something that paid more/was more intellectually stimulating came along, I’d leap on it. But for now, I’m paying my bills, I’m padding my 401k, and unlike a lot of Americans, I have decent health insurance. I ain’t asking you to kiss my ass, nor would I want your mouth (which frankly looks like a cat’s asshole) anywhere near my lovely rump, but you better fucking RECOGNIZE. Otherwise, you can suck the dick I don’t have. Got it?


Anyway, so when I got home on Thursday night, I was still steaming. Eventually I calmed down and thought, Okay, she’s a bitch. But you know what? Leave her at work where she belongs. This is your sanctuary, and she doesn’t belong here. Now go take a hot bubble bath and watch CSI. Oh, speaking of CSI, better check the closet again.

The mystery specks were back with a vengeance.

Groaning, I grabbed a wet paper towel and swiped it over the top of the box. I crumpled the towel in my fist, and then I nervously inspected the contents. The specks appeared to be intact, and I still had absolutely no idea what the fuck they were. Instead of a hot bath, I took a hasty, surly shower and then called G to see if he had any ideas. He listened to my story, and then he sucked in his breath and said, “Oh, man, I hate to tell you this, but they sound like insect eggs. You said they’re only on one side of the closet?”


“Well, maybe there’s something in, or maybe even ON, those boxes that they’re attracted to. I’d say you should get some plastic bins at Target and move everything into those.”

The next day, I woke up feeling like shit, but I forced myself to go to work anyway because I was supposed to cover a coworker’s desk while she was out. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but this particular coworker sits down, shuts up, and gets her shit done, and she’s helped me out when I was in a bind, so I wanted to do right by her.

The day was going by pretty quickly, because she has such a heavy workload that it kept me from clockwatching, and then a claim rep came over and started getting up in my face. I’d made a mistake, but that was because a different claim rep had given me faulty instructions. When she finally left my desk, I went to the bathroom and sat there feeling like a washcloth that had been wrung out and thrown into a corner. I was upset that people were treating me like crap, I was upset that my apartment was infested with god knows what, and I just didn’t feel good.

On the way back to my desk, I ran into S, my boss, who took one look at me and said, “Hey, do you feel okay? You don’t look so hot, if you don’t mind me saying.”

“I don’t feel so hot, to be honest,” I said.

“Then you should go home.”

“But L’s out and I’m covering her desk.”

S smiled and put her hand on my shoulder. “You know, that stuff can wait. Taking care of yourself can’t. So go home. I’ll change your timecard for you.”

I thanked her, shut down my computer, and drove straight to Target, where I purchased several plastic bins, a pair of rubber gloves, and a stack of magazines. Then I went home and switched everything from cardboard boxes to the bins. I put the bins in the corner of the living room, vacuumed the everlovin’ shit out of the closet, covered the floor with white paper towels, took the old cardboard boxes out to the dumpster, and came back inside, where I took a hot shower and then crawled into bed without even blowdrying my hair.

Two hours later, I woke up, staggered to the bathroom, and puked. I went back to bed (pausing a second to stare at the amazing halo of frizz my hair had worked itself into) and slept for another four hours. Then I got up, puked again, read my stack of magazines, and fell asleep without further incident.

On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling much better physically. I peeked in the closet, and sure enough, those paper towels were covered with little specks. Not only that, they were forming strange patterns, almost like crop circles! I seriously thought I was losing my mind for a moment. Then I remembered that the paper towels had an embossed pattern of spirals and circles, which the specks were falling into, and I groaned.

Get a grip on yourself, or you’re going to wind up in the funny farm, writing with crayons on butcher block paper about how the government is tracking you with the fillings in your teeth.

I showered, wrote a letter to my landlady that began “This is going to sound crazy…”, threw it in the office mail slot, and left for G’s. When he let me in, he said, “Hey, whatever happened with those weird things in your closet?” I filled him in, and he shook his head. “I just don’t know what to tell you. That’s really bizarre. If you want, we can go over there later tonight and I’ll look at it for you. I’m no entomologist, but if nothing else, I can Raid the shit out of the closet!”

“That would be awesome, thanks,” I said.

We watched a couple of episodes of Anthony Bourdain, but then we both began nodding off, so we went upstairs for a nap. When the alarm went off, we were just lying there talking, and suddenly it was like the little Dutch boy had taken his finger out of the dike of my emotions, and I freaked the fuck out.

I am not a pretty crier. My entire face squinches up, I turn bright red, and I make gut wrenching noises. I didn’t want G to see me like that, so I got up and went in the bathroom until I was calm enough to face him again. I splashed cold water on my face, and then I opened the door to find him sitting on the floor, looking worried and confused.

This set me off again.

“I live in a den of FILTH,” I sobbed.

Yes, I really said that.

No, I wasn’t trying to be funny.

“No you don’t!” G said, standing up and embracing me. “This sucks, but everyone has bugs. We’ll go over there and I’ll do what I can, and I’m sure your landlady will do what she can too. You said she’s been good about maintenance problems, right?”

“Yes,” I whimpered, drenching the shoulder of his Giants shirt in snot and tears.

“It’ll be okay, I promise.”

I don’t cry very often. Oh sure, I mist up over commercials and things like that, but actual crying? Not so much. This means that when I DO cry, it goes on forever because, in addition to whatever set me off in the first place, I begin crying over everything from something sad on the news to Sprite, the cat I had to have put to sleep ten years ago. G handled my meltdown perfectly and has earned the right to Fuddrucker’s whenever he wants it.

Catharsis achieved, we got dressed and were about to head out for my apartment when I looked at my cell phone and realized that I’d missed a call from my landlady while we were napping. I listened to the message, and she said that she’d looked at my closet and knew exactly what the deal was. Turns out that I have boring beetles in my ceiling, and those little specks are bits of wood. She said that she has them in her kitchen, so she’d already called an exterminator and she’d tell him to do my place as well. When I hung up, I filled G in on the situation, and he said, “Wow! Okay, so I guess Raid wouldn’t help. At least she sounds like she’s got it under control.”

“Yeah, and at least if I have to have these stupid things, they’re in my CLOSET!”

We went to a local deli for dinner, and while we were sitting at our table, I heard someone very clearly and loudly say the N-word. Shocked as hell, I looked in the direction of the slur and saw a teenage boy who was twitching and tapping his foot uncontrollably. His (I assume) mother leaned over to the table next to them and said, “I’m sorry, he can’t help what he says because he has Tourette’s.”

It reminded me of the time K and I were driving to Target, and I was upset because I’d discovered a couple of spider veins on my thigh. When we walked into Target, I shit you not, the VERY first person I saw was a woman in a wheelchair whose legs were missing above the knee. It was like the universe giving me a hard rap on the noggin: “Yeah, you think your spider veins are bad? At least you have LEGS, you whiny twat!” This time around, it was the universe saying “Hey, so you have harmless bugs living in your ceiling? At least you don’t have Tourette’s, you whiny twat! Not only that, you have a ceiling in the first place, and a wonderful family and friends, and a boyfriend who comforts you when you’re having a meltdown and then takes you for grilled cheese. So, seriously, simmer down.”

And the celestial hand unclenched and gave me an apologetic wave.