The day had drug on in the excruciating way Thursdays do. The sweet aroma of Friday slipped through the cracks of my once focused brain, and visions of Crown and Cokes danced like fairies on my thoughts. Friday. In my work induced stupor I wasn’t sure if Friday was a real entity, or a dream I had created to help me wade through cell after cell of this spreadsheet. I was drowning, and no amount of formatting could make those columns small enough to hold on to. The 2:42 blues. Lunch was gone, long gone. 5 o’clock wasn’t in sight yet, though the shuffling and mulling about by the cohabitants hinted that 5 o’clock had called ahead to assure its arrival. I shared no such optimism.
My body had given up an hour earlier. Angry with a lunch of cold-meat sandwiches and popcorn, it had mutinied. I found myself sluggish and incoherent. My motivation had left long before the death of my body. I wish I could say it fought the good fight, but the mere hint of Myspace had swept it from me. As if boarding a moving train, I could only watch it wave goodbye as it shrank against the horizon of Youtube and ESPN.com. I was alone. Alone in a sense. Alone in the sense that invoices and time sheets provide little company. No, I was smothered. I decided to act quickly, before it was too late and I missed the sweet taste of Friday.
To the popcorn maker. Oh god, the sweet embrace of its salty goodness would save me, if only for a minute. Sure, I had eaten popcorn for lunch, but these were desperate times. My motivation returned, if only to convince my body to move. I made the slow walk to the kitchen. Avoid eye-contact. No delays, no small-talk, no quick questions or favors. The kitchen neared and my taste buds tensed like the first brush of a virgin’s thigh. Even this awkward sexual reference couldn’t distract me from my goal. To the popcorn maker.
I wielded my cup like a weapon, and as the great gate of the popcorn machine was lowered my heart leapt from my chest. It couldn’t bear to be part of this defeat. Worse. To be defeated is to have fought. The popcorn machine was empty. I stood, ready for battle, but having forgotten to put the war on my adversary’s calendar. I was ruined. I stumbled to the vending machine, like a drunken call to an ex-lover, it was my last hope. Chocolate? No. My diet. I couldn’t cheat now. Wait - avoiding chocolate? Has anyone seen my testicles? Stay focused. I scan the delicacies as if they were a death sentence. HH for lethal injection. Too hungry to be witty. I am doomed. The day, nay, the weekend is ruined.
Wait. It can’t be. I look away. Someone is walking through. I speak in office tongues. “How’s it going? Yeah, this weather is terrible – typical Cleveland though!” What does that even mean? I look back. It is still there. The Bugles are still there. It can’t be. One red beacon of hope among a sea of sky-blue cool ranch. I must have you. Autopilot. Wallet is out, I have one dollar. Change machine. Why have there never been Bugles in the machine before? In a life of miserable irony where does this delicious surprise… OH MY GOD TAKE MY DOLLAR CHANGE MACHINE OR I WILL THROW YOU OUT OF THE FUCKING WINDOW! Finally the coins spill out. All nickels…good to see life is still having a good chuckle at my expense. All is well.
I scrape the nickels from the floor like Carson Daly scheduling guests for his show. They slide into the machine with a metal gurgle. Bugles are moments away. My fingers twitch in anticipation. Settle boys, you’ll have your big, beautiful, fake-witch-fingernail Bugles soon. The button is pushed. The circular device spins slowly, teasing me, taunting me. Finally the bag shifts and slides. It sticks. A moment frozen in time, the battle of excitement and fear reaches its climax in my head. Someone better get a towel. I hear the slow-motion click of the oversized clock on the wall. My face is twisted, my hands clenched around the metal prison. How do I feel trapped on the outside?
Another click, the bag shifts again. It pirouettes left, then right, and finally…
Please realize there is a little exaggeration going on here. I'm really only about half this boring.