We were sitting around the conference table down at the NWR office a few months back. Tommy was picking through a carton of Chinese take-out from the joint downstairs, frowning at the lack of recognizable proteins. I had my hand-out and pen in front of me, trying to look businesslike, despite the fact that the page was covered in doodles of dragsters and robots.
Down at the other end of the table past F-Borne and Molly, our two big-deal free agent acquisitions were holding court; Peg tried to pretend that she couldn’t recall exactly how many times she’d been Freshly Pressed. Darla stated that she was Freshly Pegged once, and that was a bigger accomplishment in her eyes. They took turns complimenting each other and lamenting about dud posts they’d written which had less than 1000 hits.
I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to the boss-lady, Blogdramedy. She was alternately shuffling papers and consulting her tablet. As usual, she was dressed to the nines. There is a fine line between business formal and dominatrix, and BD straddled it like a champ. She’d flash an icy stare from across the table and you couldn’t be sure if she was going to transfer you to the Des Moines office or get out the cat o’ nine tails.
In truth, we only had one office and we were sitting in it. If she owned any sort of whips, I sure as hell didn’t know about them. Still, she’s gorgeous and more than a little intimidating. I’m certainly not the first guy to daydream in business meetings, forgive me if my mind wanders down some of the darker avenues.
Just then BD tossed her papers aside and looked up at us. Everyone sat up a little taller and gave her their attention. She welcomed us all and made another special acknowledgment to Peg and Darla even though we had already officially welcomed them with a big buffet and cocktail hour down at the VFW months earlier. I caught Tommy T. grimacing. He and I had spent that reception drinking too much and whining about how the two superstars arriving had actually moved each of us even further down in the pecking order.
“Please take note of your handouts, the schedule for the next few months is on it. If there are conflicts you people need to work them out in advance. This isn’t a freaking daycare, people. You’re bloggers and as such, you’re expected to blog when you’re given the opportunity.”
BD put a spin on her demands to make it seem like she was doing us a favor. She could sell sand in the Sahara. That analogy might have been problematic, as I briefly envisioned her dressed up like Barbra Eden and living in a bottle. I was jerked back to earth when she spoke again.
I looked down at the schedule to find my name amidst the laser beam-eyed robots and nitro-burning funny car doodles. I noticed Oma’s name. He was the original superstar of the team, but lately he was on thin ice, both figuratively and literally. He’d shown a blatant disregard for his duties, routinely blowing off deadlines and seldom attending meetings. His seat to BD’s right was empty yet again. The last we’d heard from him, he was training sled dogs in preparation for the Iditarod.
I found my name next to 10/3/2015, then 11/14/2015…okay, no big deal. Then I saw it: 12/26/2015. December-freaking-26th!? The day after Christmas?! Me?!? Seriously?!! I looked up in disbelief to meet BD’s cool gaze.
“You know Dave, that’s a prime assignment. I’m sure you’re the envy of even our most accomplished bloggers getting the post-Christmas spot.”
Darla and Peg, as if on cue, smiled politely and nodded from their end of the conference room. I was fairly sure they were kicking each other under the table and trying not to laugh. BD held her icy stare as if daring me to complain. Tommy T. sniffed cautiously at his carton General Tso’s Szechuan Tabby and did not look up.
“Oh yeah, I know Ms. Dramedy, this is great” I stammered, trying to sound enthused. “I’ll get working on it right away.”
“Don’t get started too early, Dave” she dead-panned, “You still have your October and November pieces to write.” As if I didn’t know how a calendar worked! I felt my cheeks getting redder.
After a few housekeeping announcements, the meeting broke up. Darla came over and pinched my arm. She congratulated me for having snagged the day after Christmas. “Enjoy your holidays, Dave” she chirped as she turned and walked over to a beaming BD.
I turned to Tommy for support. He’d just given up on the last of his lunch and stuck the chop sticks in it with the flourish of a toreador stabbing a bleeding bull in the ass.
“Tough break, man” he said. “Guess this’ll put a little damper on your plans for this year’s office holiday party.”
I’d forgotten that the annual holiday party was scheduled for the evening of December 26th. Office speculation was that BD had been able to save a few bucks by waiting to rent the back bar at the bowling alley until after Christmas.
I was going to ask Mu Ping from the restaurant downstairs to be my date to the party. She’s kind of cute and her one crossed eye was almost unnoticeable unless she took her thick glasses off. I had some schoolboy notion that seeing me with Mu on my arm would spark some sort of jealousy in BD. Now the whole evening would be over-shadowed by the success or failure of my post earlier that day.
Mu can go on blissfully unaware of my plans. She’ll likely to be working the register tonight, keeping an eye on the bottom line.
I had to come up with an incredible post if I was going to have any chance of getting BD anywhere near the mistletoe which was traditionally hung near the rental lockers at the alley.