In Which The Samhain Grinch’s Small Heart Grows Three Sizes

Customer: “Hi. I’m looking for a harness.”

Me: “I’d be happy to help with that. Do you have a particular style in mind?”

Customer: “Not really. I’m just looking for a sturdy one. It’s for a Halloween costume.”

Me: “… Oh. Okay.”

Customer: “I’m going to attach giant fairy wings to it.”

Me: “Giant fairy wings.”

Customer: “Yeah.”

Me: [long stare]

Customer: “…”

Me: [nod of approval] “Let’s find you a harness.”

And so we did.

Happy Halloween, Whoville.

It’s when you can’t hear the wombats. That’s when you know the wombats are coming.

So this past Saturday, Robert texted me all, “I’m activating the Facets phone tree!” Apparently, the show’s regular 4th-Saturday crew had cancelled unexpectedly, and our producer was hoping we could come fill in for them. I didn’t have anything on my agenda (other than sleep), so I threw a Halloween-themed playlist together and headed down to the station for some laid-back, gay talk radio. And then suddenly there were all these Australians, and everyone was yelling about pink camouflage onesies, and I don’t remember the rest.

But yeah, give it a listen. The segment on drop bears is very educational.

I normally vet song lyrics pretty meticulously, but the following track somehow slipped past my radar. Fortunately, I was listening to it in the car on the way into town and caught the uncensored ‘fuckboy’ that would’ve brought the FCC raging down upon us. You’re welcome, people who put me in charge of things.

You Say Po-tay-to, I Say Corporate Stockholm Syndrome

New Day Job Co-Worker: “Hey, I just wanted to apologize.”

Me: “For what?”

NDJCW: “For what happened in the team meeting this afternoon. It got pretty heated. We shouldn’t have let it get so out of control.”

Me: “That was heated?”

NDJCW: “It’s never like that around here, I promise.”

Me: “At my last job, half the staff once quit in the middle of a meeting.”

NDJCW: “Wait… seriously?”

Me: “Managers were writing their two-week notices on sheets of scrap paper and sliding them across the conference table at our boss while she yelled at us.”

NDJCW: “…”

Me: “And then everyone started crying.”

NDJCW: “I… have an entirely new appreciation for this place.”

Less than a month in, and already making a difference in the lives of the people around me. I may be more of a saint than I give myself credit for.

Because “Shameless Self-Promotion Dot Biz” was a little too on-the-nose.

It’s probably because of yesterday’s food pun blitz, but this morning I decided to rename my Zazzle shop:

Apothnotary

I haven’t bought the domain yet, but I’m definitely going to need the DBA once our fantasy café expands, and we have the space to open a curiosity/notary service emporium.

In the meantime, I can tell you that a commemorative Mr. Firedancer Notary Seal hockey puck is the ideal gift for any occasion. Plus you can use it to take out an aggressor, either up close or at a distance (aim for the face). It’s like a Canadian manifestation of the Self-Defense Buddha Beads. I am storyboarding the infomercial as we speak.

And a naked beef toasty called the Ralph Bruneau. We should probably start taking reservations now.

Ben: “Guacamoldie Hawn.”

Me: “Is that your Sisters name?”

Ben: “It was the daily special at a pizzeria in Brooklyn. It accompanied the Death Becrumbs Her.”

Me: “Wow. It’s like my brain opened a restaurant. We should totally get to eat there for free because of that.”

Ben: “We should open something similar.”

Me: “I was thinking the same thing. Should it be kink-themed? Or just terribly gay?”

Ben: “Both. Not gonna lie, I have always wanted to run a café/bakery. And also a restaurant called Fried Stuff in a Sauce.”

Me: “I’ve always wanted to run a coffee shop called King’s Corner, named after the card game some friends and I used to play in college. We added a rule that you could say whatever you wanted to the other players without repercussion. We worked out a lot of resentments that way.”

Ben: “Yes! Can we? Let’s do that.”

Me: “You bet. there will be little game tables and nooks and what-not, and then a back room for the more… flavorful games of chance.”

Ben: “Ooh! Good idea. Coffee. Baked goods. Maybe some sandwiches?”

Me: “Yes. Noshy things. Definitely scones. and a St. Andrew’s Croissant. And Spencer Spanking Plancakes.”

Ben: “Stop.”

Me: “I am so proud of the pancake name, I can’t even see straight.”

Ben: “I’ll make a cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich and call it the CBT. Or a bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato.”

Me: “Daddy’s BeLT?”

Ben: “Yup!”

Me: “We are frighteningly good at this.”

Ben: “Well, duh.”

Me: “And for Sunday brunch, Lonely Top Mimosas… because they’re bottomless.”

Ben: “Sold. And Beat Me Bloody Marys.”

Me: “10/10 Fuck yes. And melted white cheese with black beans and red bell peppers over blue corn tortillas. Leather Pride Flameado.”

Ben: “Nacho Pride Flag.”

Me: “Yesssss.”

Ben: “I want to figure out the perfect aftercare cake slice…”

Me: “Oh, shit. I’m about to drop the mic. Brace yourself.”

Ben: “…”

Me: “Whenever somebody orders a specialty coffee drink, we’ll ask them if they’d like it plain, or Drew Kramer.”

Ben: “What’s Drew Kramer?”

Me: “Topped with whip.”

Ben: “DONE. OVER AND OUT. WRAP IT UP AND MOVE IT ALONG. NO MORE TO SEE HERE.”

And then I was like, “I honestly don’t know if I’m shivering over this menu, or because I forgot to eat lunch,” and Ben was like, “Uh, go eat, dude,” which was quick thinking on his part. I mean, you can’t win James Beard and/or Pantheon of Leather Awards on an empty stomach. That’s just basic gastronomy.

Timepiece Bandit

Customer: “Is it okay to try a few things on?”

Me: “Of course!”

Customer: “Great! I’ve never worn leather before, but I’m starting over and reinventing myself.

Me: “I totally understand. Let me know if I can help with anything.”

Customer: “Actually, maybe you can help with something. You do leather repair, right?”

Me: “I don’t do it personally, but one our owners does do repair work.”

Customer: “Well, I’ve got this watch, and I need to add a couple of links to the band. Could you do that for me?”

Me: “If it’s a metal band, you’ll probably want to take it to a jeweler. I don’t think we have the tools to do that.”

Customer: “Could you at least try? I really want you to do it. What’s your name?”

Me: “My name is Thomas, but–”

Customer: “Let me go get the watch. It’s hidden behind a trash can.”

Me: “…”

[He scampers out and returns a few minutes later with a small, cloth bag.]

Customer: “Here it is! Can you add the extra links?”

Me: [pulling the watch out and reluctantly examining it] “Yeah, this is really going to require specific tools that we don’t have here.”

Customer: “Oh. That’s a shame. I really wanted to wear it tonight.”

Me: “You could always run by the main store in the morning and have Rok take a look at it, but it would probably be better to just–”

Customer: “I got out of prison two months ago.”

Me: “… Congratulations?”

Customer: “So now I’m reinventing myself, and wearing this watch is very important to me.” [He puts on the watch and, with much effort, snaps the clasp shut.] “Hey, it fits! Kind of!”

Tank ended up on the closing shift that evening, and the next day he was like, “Some guy came in last night, and he kept grinning and tapping the face of his watch and asking if I knew what time it was.” In retrospect, I should’ve left him instructions on how to properly handle the situation, which would’ve been to yell, “IT’S TIME TO REINVENT YOURSELF, FREEMAN,” followed by a hearty fist-bump. That would’ve been epic. I’ve really gotta work on playing the tape forward.

Hat Trick

Drunk Straight Dude: [pointing at a Nasty Pig baseball cap] “I like this hat!”

Gay Friend: “Ooh, you don’t want to wear that.”

DSD: “Why not?”

GF: “All the colors mean something.”

DSD: [to me] “So what is this?”

Me: “That’s a hat.”

DSD: “Um… yeah. But what does it mean?”

Me: “The only time color has a meaning is if you’re flagging a hanky. Hats don’t really mean anything on their own.”

DSD: “But if this hat meant something, what would it be?”

Me: “Well, it’s maroon, so if it were a hanky, it would mean blood.”

DSD: “…”

Me: “But it’s not a hanky.”

DSD: “So you’re saying if I buy it, I’ll have a chance?”

Me: “A… chance?”

DSD: “With the ladies.”

Me: [gesturing towards the bar] “If you can find a lady out there, I’m sure you’ll have a shot.”

He bought the hat. But you know what’s funny? A couple of weeks ago, I had the following conversation with a drunk straight girl on the very same subject…

Drunk Straight Girl: “What do you think of this hat?”

Me: “What do I think of the hat on you, or what do I think of it in general?”

DSG: “On me.”

Me: “It’s a good color on you. Do you like it?”

DSG: [staring intently at me] “You’re very genuine.”

Me: “I try.”

DSG: “Do you like the hat?”

Me: “I like the gray one better than the maroon one.”

[She pulls a gray cap off the shelf and hands it to me. I put it on.]

DSG: “God, you just… put it on so effortlessly.”

Me: “… Thank you?”

DSG: “Do you have anything girlier?”

Me: “We do not.”

DSG: “Why not?”

Me: “Because most of our customers are gay men.”

DSG: “Oh. Huh.”

She took a moment to digest that, then decided to try on a harness. Except she forgot to take it off of the hanger, so she ended up just quietly dangling from the display until some friends finally noticed and came running over to untangle her.

I can’t help but think how romantic it would’ve been if these two had wandered into the store at the same time and found each other. It would’ve been like a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. Or When a Man Loves a Woman, with Tom Hanks taking over Andy Garcia’s part. Or maybe just a lost episode of Jersey Shore. I kinda feel like that last one is the most feasible.

Text Me in the Morning, and Then Just Walk into a Plate Glass Window

So the other day my IML brother Ben and I decided to have a contest to see who was the worst at sexting, because that’s the kind of thing that happens when leatherpeople get bored. The battle was short-lived but inglorious:

“I’m glad our man regions get on so well.”

“Me too. I am super moist in my privates now.”

“Your damp nethers make me tingle in the bad place.”

“You have no idea how badly I want to get caught shamefully touching myself over that.”

“And when I catch you, I will punish you with mops and water balloons and things.”

“So hot. I love misunderstanding watersports.”

“I’m going to claim you like an indigenous land by Europeans.”

“PUT IT ON A HALLMARK CARD, NATIVE.”

“Wait. Terrible sexting is one thing, but terrible race play is not so appealing.”

“It’s not race play if you’re dominating my white male privilege with your white male privilege.”

“Oh. Okay, sweet.”

“Like John Mayer and Ed Sheeran wrestling over a Fleshlight.”

“…”

Conclusion: There are no victors in war. Only casualties.

The door didn’t even hit me in the ass on the way out. I blame pneumatics.

The HOA management company I’m always kvetching about employees a part-time file clerk, a sweet little old Southern lady a few years shy of 90. She’s been there forever, and everyone adores her, and personally, I trust the bitch about as far as I can throw her (which really isn’t that far, since I haven’t been going to the gym lately). She’s always just struck me as a wee bit too sweet and Southern — it’s like, “Oops, I opened your personal mail again! Oh, dearie me, I’m such a bumble-thumb! Tee hee!” Basically, she’s the kind of person who seems almost comically intimidated by modern technology, yet somehow knows everything in your browser history.

A month or so ago, the owner of the company told me he wanted to make sure the file clerk was getting enough hours and asked me to train her to handle the phones whenever I’m on an errand or sobbing in the kitchenette or whatever. So I printed out every office extension in a nice, giant font and gently went over the operating instructions with her, until I was 100% confident that she could answer the phone, press three buttons, and put the phone back down without starting a fire or breaking a hip.

On her first shift, she accidentally hung up on someone. Since that day, I’ve found her:

asleep.

reading a book.

asleep with an open book in her lap.

reading a book while patiently waiting for the caller she put on hold to give up and disconnect.

Most recently, I returned from a break to discover her in the middle of a full-blown tizzy. She’d tried to transfer a call to a manager who was not in her office, and she was at a panicky loss as to how to deal with the situation – like, she was literally wringing her hands. I did my best to calm her down and told her I’d sort it out, and she thanked me profusely before tottering away at top speed. I sat down and reached for the phone, and that’s when I noticed the forget-me-not she’d left in the middle of my desk:

kleenex

… at which point my last fuck wheezed and faded from existence.

I’m happy to say I left on good terms. I did the whole official two-weeks notice thing, and I cheerfully trained the girl who’d been brought in to replace me. (She’d actually been hired the week before, so I was already fully aware that the countdown to unemployment had begun.) It’s a tricky thing to actively search for a job when you already have one, but I managed to sneak in a couple of long lunches for clandestine interviews, and our IT department (bless them) did not rat me out for all the time I spent posting résumés online. Eventually, I was able to put in notice with a devil-may-care self-assurance that came from knowing I had somewhere better to go.

As of last Wednesday, I am a scheduler for a financial advisory firm; the responsibilities are eerily similar to what I was doing at the HOA company, except nobody calls and yells at me just because I happen to be the one to answer the phone. And I’ve taken on some contract projects that I’m not quite ready to talk about, but that could potentially lead to the happiest occupational outcome I could ever predict for myself. So, y’know, shit is about to get merrily real. Stay tuned.

All that said, I am not leaving the Forge, because a) money, and b) there is very little sarcasm to be found in long-term financial investing, and therefore no decent topics to harvest, so I will be blogging away well into the foreseeable future. But I will say this about the new job: right after I started, my boss walked past my desk and noticed my notary name plate. I’d stuck it behind some random stuff so that I could look at it (it makes me happy), but so that it wouldn’t draw any undue attention.

My boss felt differently about it.

“You’re a notary? That’s important! Give me that sign. People need to know this.”

And he put the plate where it could be seen, which, more than anything else, is why I think I’m going to like it here — it is very nice to finally feel seen.

deskplate

Sound Off

Customer: “So I was just looking at your urethral invasion kit.”

Me: “Um… yes, the sounding rods.”

Customer: “Yeah, those. Are they available individually?”

Me: “I’m afraid not. We only sell them as a set.”

Customer: “Ah, okay. I bought a rod at a different shop, and it looked smooth, but it actually turned out to be pretty abrasive…”

I’m sure there’s more to this conversation, but there seems to be a gap in my memory. Maybe it’ll all come back to me once I stop screaming.