The 2006 History Carnival Happy Holidays Party started with a bang. Someone had circled the twenty-third on the dry erase board and scribbled "Scott's B-Day!" underneath it. Then David Parker informed me of how special I could have been. "Should held out for two more days."
I slammed down my spoon and asked him whether he wanted to take it outside. He's lucky Donny and the warehouse crew held me back. Had they held out for two more minutes, I could have killed him. Instead, I brushed the cake from my lap and walked away. I spied Nathanael from accounts receivable in the corner chatting up one of the temps about the origins of French nationalism.
"Origins schmorigins," I said, "American nationalism rules! Every elementary student knows that!"
They looked at me funny and muttered something about "exports" and "pinochle" while I went to get Donny to hold me back again. I couldn't find him, though, so I let the matter drop and mingled.
In the copy room, I ran into Mr. Salesperson-of-the-Year himself, Tim Abbott, who was trying to convince H.R. people to trade short snorters with him. He may even have been successful. Last I saw, he was in his cubicle carefully explaining to the new girl from Duluth how snort shorters, he mean shot snooters, check, that's snot shooters—last I saw, he'd obviously convinced someone to play along.
I thought Gavin from marketing might have gotten in on Tim's fun, what with all the Bing-Bong-this and Bing-Bong-that, but Jenny from reception told me it was all about his great-grandfather. I don't know. I think he was tipping back the applejack with Lars Smith and the creepy guy stalking the planters. (Someone should tell that fellow about the miracle of modern chemistry. The styrofoam bits in the "dirt" seemed to confuse him.)
On my way to the conference room, I overhead Natalie Bennett and some women I didn't recognize discussing something in the hall. One of them asked in fawning disbelief: "Really? A new hymnographer?"
"Surprise, surprise," I said, "Oprah and her minions 'discovered' a genius new poetess no one cares about."
I waited for them to laugh, but they just stared at me like I hadn't made quotation marks in the air. (Remember that joke about feminists not having a sense of humor? It's no joke. You really do need a penis. If only there were some book I could read to understand how feminazis think. What? Thanks! Wait, I said feminazi. This one won't do me any good.)
Over in the conference room, Zendo tried to convince me that the South lost the Civil War for tactical reasons. As if. Zendo (or, as I like to call him, "The Zen Meister") might have been more convincing if I hadn't seen the bong-snorters in there with him and Richard Baker earlier. Not that I dislike Richard. The man can teach anything to anyone like snap. The other day I learned everything worth knowing about Ancient Egypt in ten minutes. Who needs college?
Certainly not me. Not that you could convince Abu Sahajj of that. I bumped into Mr. I-didn't-enter-a-Substance-Abuse- Program-a-week-into-my-First-Semester in the corner prattling on about "American imperalism."
"Sure, Abu, whatever," I thought to myself, "If America's really an empire, why didn't we fight any expansionist wars?" Next thing I know, him and Joshua Landis are in my grill "educating" me about Hittites and Sunnis or something. (I stopped paying attention when "-ofascism" didn't follow "Islam." What's the point of even having prefixes if no one uses them?)
"Bill thinks we'll never pay the national debt. Like American Express would ever let that happen."
Sahajj walked away shaking his head. See what kind of stupid college turns people?
Kristen from the Seattle office evidently didn't appreciate the cheap shot at American Express. (Wonder what she did after high school.) Started saying something about "fugitive slaves." I decided to show her up too:
"Baby, we're all fugitive slaves, all of us."
"You want some dark ages? Hold me back, Donny, hold me back!" Only Donny was no where to found, so I backed off on my own.
"You're on my list," I said walking away backwards, menacing, and right into the policy wonks who, it seems, even talk about politics that don't matter to anyone anymore:
"Why does so-and-so think the Roman Empire fell?"
"I just read the funniest thing about Roman politics!"
"Who loves spelling?"
"I love pencils!"
"The regular kind. Jerk!" You should've seen the look on his face.
After a quick pit stop, I found my way into the break room, where Alvaro Fernandez was chatting up the "Brain and Workplace Productivity Enhancer Expert" the suits flew in about, about, about—I'm not sure what they were talking about, but it must've been pretty dry.
"No one remembers Illyria," I overheard Fernandez say. The Mind Guru responded something to the effect of "I love irony."
Betty from accounts payable rolled her eyes back and almost out her head: "Don't they know better than to talk shop at the Christmas Party?"
"What? Shut up. Do you even work here anymore?"
Three rejections and two flagons of "holiday cheer" later, I let the people from archives have it with an overloud "I've had it up to here with your arbitrary Deweys and decimals!" (Hallmark sells a "Sorry I Exploded at You for Doing Your Job Conscientiously" card, right? Does it come with a picture of a kitten in it or am I going to have to bust out the glue stick?)
"It can be very short indeed," I half-remember shouting, "Especially when you're so 'clever'!"
I'm not sure what happened next, and all anyone'll tell me is that the party concluded, quote, "most gratifyingly."
(The morning after the History Carnival's Annual Happy Holidays Party will be investigated by a dog.)