Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just a Trim

I’m concerned about my yard. “It needs a haircut” I think to myself, as I give a lazy gaze from my living room window on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not delaying the actual chore, just viewing the situation in a whole new way. “It’s bushy and tousled” I continue to myself. “It looks like a freshly wakened head of hair.”

Maybe I should call a local barber. It’s not too long really, just needs a little off the top and a trim around the edges. A basic cut should do it. You know, to make it clean and presentable. It suffers from a severe cowlick though. Just in front of the flower bed there is an unruly tuft of weeds that may require further attention. It sprouts there regularly, and grows much faster than the rest of the yard.

There’s a bald spot too, off lonely in one corner of the yard. What a sad little brown patch. Upon closer inspection, I notice split ends creeping up here and there. These blades are slender, much finer than the rest of the lawn, and grow in small bunches. What’s a good shampoo for slit ends, I wonder? My girlfriend probably knows, but I won’t ask because I don’t want to see the rolling eyes again;

I’m growing more worried now as I notice long defiant strands that sprawl out unattractively, encroaching the curb and driveway. These slender knotted braids are a real eyesore; and bold little things! How bombastic!. This yard is completely rebellious. Now I know it needs a good stylist, and not just a generic cut.

I reach for the phone book to find the best salon for the job when my girlfriend hollers out “Haven’t you started the yard yet?” I give a deep sigh, then reply, “Okay dear, I’m on my way.” I’m not properly trained to cut hair, I think to myself, as I head for the garage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fat Ass?

I recently re-connected with an old friend. We had stopped talking initially, as I recall, because I had said something foolish, or cruel, perhaps both. We decided to let bygones be bygones and to remain friends. This gets me thinking though, about an argument that I had some years ago with an ex-girlfriend. Gets me thinking about the things we say when we’re mad, and why we say them.

During the beginning of the relationship she adored me (isn’t this always the case in the beginning?) She told me how handsome she thought I was. I reciprocated the sentiment and we would spend hours staring into each others eyes. I know this is getting sappy but bear with me. I’m reaching a point, sort of.

Towards the end of the relationship things changed (don’t they always change towards the end?) We were having a little tiff about something or other and, out of God’s own, wide clear blue sky, she hollers out:

“Fat Ass!”

The argument was not a severe one. Certainly we had not reached the point of name calling. Yet she drew first blood. And boy what a stinger! I had been working out, mind you. She met me initially, a little heavy. She knew me about the time I first drafted “Making Gains” down the page a bit. But I had dropped some weight during our relationship and was sporting a pretty decent build. Had she been harboring this sentiment for over 2 years? I’m not a bright man, so you can imagine that I was confused; a little lost.

“Fat Ass?” I questioned. “What is that? I mean, I don’t even get where… What are you trying to… fat ass?

She could have called me insensitive, or crude, or any number of things. “Jerk” comes to mind. But FAT (space) ASS? My girlfriend was a smallish woman; petite and attractive. She was lucky to be 5 foot even. Weighed maybe 100 pounds. Still, I had to say something:

“Midget!” I hollered back.

She laughed out loud. It was the beginning of the making up, for the time being anyway. I had caught her in a senseless act and I responded appropriately, I thought, given the circumstances ;)

{There is a better ending to this little piece. I just can't find it yet!}

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Soon We Forget

They were doing some work on my computer today at the office. I had to get up from my seat to make room for the “IT Guy,” a nice guy named Jonathon. As I eyed the room, I saw several available chairs in which to sit. I saw a spot recently vacated by Amanda. Amanda had been at the company for about 6 months, and left on short notice. I thought I’d go sit at her spot and absorb some of her energy, maybe remember her for a while. I had helped train her when she started. She had been a nice girl, though a little hard to get to know.

When I sat down at her desk, among the disconnected computer wires and the dust, I saw a notepad and a pen. I began to read her notes. She’s like me, can’t break the habit of pen and paper, little tangible reminders. The notes on the pages of the pad, as I flipped them back, went on for months. One of the little lists had the following:

*Ask Ryota about the Adwords macro
*Do my budget tracker
*Do research for creative call with client
*Bring Thanksgiving food for the party

Certain things were highlighted, checked off, scratched through; Something that I would, that most of us, might do. Upon reading the list and thinking of the human, yet mundane, reality of it all, especially the last note, a tear came to my eye. No, Thanksgiving food doesn’t usually make me cry, but what did I really know about this girl? What did any of us? We had worked with her daily for many months, interacting. Now she’s off to Dallas, or wherever she said…

Now Jonathon, the “IT Guy,” he’s a real nice guy, he’s asking me a question:

“Do I know, what is it you say, the path I had taken to retrieve the file?” That was my reply, in the form of a question.

“No, John, I just know that my shit’s gone. All the stuff, my desktop, it’s missing.” That was my answer. I added it for emphasis, for clarification.

The notes on Amandas checklist had hit home with me. Item #1, we all do that. Ryota is a genius in his own right and we all ask him for things. Item #2, as a marketing specialist, I do this regularly. Same with #3. Now #4, all Americans who have ever attended a work related Holiday function, have penciled such notes to themselves.

I thought of what it must have been like for Amanda when she started working with us. Had she learned all she needed about the job? Had we made her feel comfortable, made her feel “at home?” She’s gone now, so who knows. I thought of all the others who had recently left our little, rapidly growing company. I have reminders of each one.

“Charles, I have your expensive and fancy desk clock, that to this day doesn’t work.”

“Marie, I have the Cookie jar, keeping it safe. No cookies in it STILL!”

“Bianca, I have a little stuffed, quite dusty, dog.”

“Karen, I have a couple of your clients, just launched the campaigns; Doing Great!”

“Christina, I have the big gold letters the client sent you. I kept the ‘O’ and the ‘K’, hoping everything is OK with you.”

There are others who have left us, job-wise anyway, and I have little things I inherited from them too, or otherwise pilfered from their desks. Hee-hee. But to Amanda, I say

“I have your notepad. I started scrawling out this little essay, while sitting at your desk. I’m transcribing from it now. I’ll keep it safe and, believe me, well used.”

Take care, all of you. Stay in touch. Facebook, Twitter, whatever. See you on the Net.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bad Haircuts

Have you ever had a bad haircut? Me too. Apparently they're fairly common. The problem is that you have no control over it. You tend to believe in this person and their abilities. You want to believe in them. You kind of have to believe in them. So when it happens, it's like being stabbed in the back. There's not quite the betrayal aspect, but certainly you never see it coming. You're just sitting there, believing in them, enjoying the haircut... Do you know that I heard lonely people go to the stylist for that very reason? A little pampering, a little of the human touch? That's odd because there are other things you can pay for that, well... That's another post entirely.

So you're sitting there, enjoying the haircut. You don't know what she's doing back there. Maybe she's looking at the picture you gave her to work from. She's looking at the picture and clipping away. You feel good because it sounds productive. There seems to be a lot of snipping and clipping and combing. Then you see the finished product and it's clear that she wasn't looking at the same picture you gave her initially. You think:

"What is this that you've done to me? What did I ever do to you? This is not just a bad haircut, this is cruelty, making me look like this!"

You feel violated in some way, and very vulnerable. The first thing you do is go straight home to wash the hair to see what you can do with it. The hair cutting professional wasn't up for the task at hand, but you can certainly salvage things. So you wash it and get out combs and gel and blow dryers and implements of all sorts. If nothing works, then there is at least the comfort that it will grow back, some day.

It's worse for women too. For a guy, no matter how bad they mess it up, it can be cut shorter. The bald look is even in for guys now. Girls don't have this option, not here in the States anyway. When a girl gets a messed up Do, it's a 6 month curse, minimum, because the hair has to grow back, and then be re-styled.

Another problem is what to say to the stylist. What do you say to them, after the smoke has cleared?

"Oh wow, thanks so much. This is just the look I was going for; a bald spot!"

You can always ask them to please clip a little shorter here, or blend a little more there. Meanwhile, it keeps getting shorter and shorter. It's a case of diminishing returns.

Usually you don't notice the problem till' it's over and done. You stifle a scream, force a smile and tell them it looks great. You probably tip them, because that's what you always do, then you leave, go to a quite place, and cry. Face it, you're screwed.