Home is where the crap is. This is my office. I’m not a fan of the orange wall (I’m not much of a fan of anything orange, except the juice), but I love the way the space has managed to decorate itself. There’s an uncomfortable purple velvet sectional couch behind my chair that is used 99% of the time as a credenza. Over the couch is a fishing decoration from a discount store, a map so old it has two Germanies and a toilet-paper dispenser shaped like a bulldog. Hanging from the ceiling is a fluff-ball room divider from Thailand. Or Taiwan. I forget which. (Which makes me sound like an arrogant, America-centrist pig. Go Bush!) And on the front of my desk (which I think looks like my grandma’s deep freezer), there’s a picture of a guy in a banana suit kicking a guy in a cow suit (that’s where that expression comes from) next to a sign somebody found that says RESPECT: Have I preserved your sense of personal worth?
The front corner of my desk—right behind my computer—is where I keep a revolving display of things I find timely or amusing. The current collection: A squishy eyeball filled with gradually escaping red liquid and smaller squishy eyeballs (on sale after Halloween for only 99¢ last year). A jar of kisses I got for my birthday. A ceramic smoking baby in its original packaging (“REAL babies should NEVER smoke!”). A New Yorker cartoon my friend Margaret (Hi, Margaret!) customized probably 15 years ago for me so it reads “Jake’s Grammar Shop” with signs in the window proclaiming “Gerunds in stock” and “Sentence fragments removed while-U-wait.” (It also says “Ask about our comma splicing rates,” which must be a test to weed out the semi-literate writers in the office.) And finally, there’s a small sign that, for reasons too boring and complicated to explain here, simply reads Pays with goats.
I think this sums up pretty much everything you need to know about me.
But if not, here’s a closeup of the crap on the wall above my computer: An official-looking diploma from my first skydive. A sign involving trains and toilets. I found it in my house one day about 10 years ago. And I have no idea how it got there. A funky monkey picture a friend got in China to celebrate the year I was born. A tissue dispenser shaped like an Easter Island head. And an Easter (motif! motif!) Barbie wearing a Craftsman pocket screwdriver around her neck and a Kleenex turban with a truck sticker on it.
Can you stand one more closeup of the crap in my office? (As if you have a choice. Nice try.) This pile is more random, but it does include a few things worth explaining:’80s Prom Slut Barbie (I did her makeup with common, everyday magic markers—there is NO end to my talents) riding an Impressionist cow (I know—it’s such an office cliché). A bowling pin I “stole” to outdo some friends who stole some bowling shoes for real in college. (I really bought it for 10¢ out of a box of broken pins, but to this day my friends think I ran down a bowling lane and actually stole a bowling pin without anyone noticing. These thieving friends are also kind of slow.) A pearlescent duck wearing a cowboy ensemble from Anders draped in Mardi Gras beads from a local Cajun restaurant. And—my most prized possession—a trophy I earned in 1983 when I was named Honor Carrier for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. If I’m doing the math right, that fluffy Scott Baio hair graced my head when I was a sophomore in high school. Hel-loooo, Lay-dees!
And now for some of the stuff outside my
This is a little filing cabinet outside the fourth-floor bathrooms. People often leave things here temporarily—folders, date books, client samples, etc.—as if to say Hey, everybody! I’m going into the bathroom now, and I’ll be doing something that will probably require the use of both of my hands. Never mind why. So I’m just gonna leave my stuff here for a second, OK?
I never stop finding this funny.
Our bathrooms have this dark purple tile where the little stall dividers are attached to the walls. The purple is dark enough that the light reflecting off its shiny ceramic surface creates a pretty good mirror. And since the stall dividers don’t actually touch the walls, the mirror gives you a perfect view of what’s going on over the bowl in the stall next to you. Which is no big deal, unless you’re doing bathroom things that involve standing up and facing the wall. Which is what guys do about 80% of the time they’re in the john.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to watch my co-workers go to the bathroom—from the front OR the back. (And I made sure the stall next to me was empty when I took this picture, just for the record. My PhotoShop skills are so lame, though, that I couldn’t make a very thick oval to show you where to look. The camera flash made the bowl reflection really hard to see here anyway. But I had to try.)
So that’s the tour! Come back next time—when I’ll show you pictures of the inside of my CAR!