Poking Bears and Personal Evils

Bob’s chewing his cud today.

Do I have something in my teeth?

I’m not sure what it actually is, but it won’t go away and he’s grinding it down as we go through The List. It doesn’t look like gum, but when I hazard a guess my bastard of a brain offers up some horrible concepts:

It’s a fingernail, it’s a bit of a fingernail and he’s munching on himself. No, even better it’s a stubborn booger. Hey, you know, he might be sucking leftovers from his teeth for a midmorning snack. It could be bits of the infants he consumes as part of his pact with the Devil for unnaturally long life.

Kicking off the day with a wave of nausea, Bob follows it with a nice oomph of rage. “We need to figure out this morning traffic thing,” he says, all angry-like and using that fatherly admonishing tone that just pisses me off because 1) He’s not my Dad and 2) He’s always wrong.

It’s not like I planned on this.

“Bob, they shut down the damned road I live on, it was only one lane.”

“Well couldn’t you have started earlier?”

“I didn’t know they were doing it, the roadblock was just there this morning. It’s not like the City of Los Angeles gives any warning before they do roadwork.”

 

Ladies, I’m Bob, I’ve come for your ankles.

 

He’s getting angry too, making that squinty face he likes to make when he’s trying to think of something offensive to say that he thinks is right and the rest of the world thinks is beyond stupid. I call it Mole-Face, because it’s similar to the rodent squint one witnesses as a mole breaches the earth. When I think on it, Bob would make a good mole. Everyone would be much happier with him living underground and he could dig around in dirt and muck and destroy decent people’s days by creating mole holes in which they can trip and snap their ankles. Everyone’s happy but the ankles.

Look how scenic the side roads are!

“I just don’t see why YOU couldn’t have taken the SIDE ROADS.” He’s now emphasizing loudly on the phrase ‘side roads’ as if I haven’t lived in LA long enough to know that dipping into the neighborhood streets can sometimes turn a 5-hour commute into a 2-hour commute. Of course biking the three miles would leave you with a 15 minute commute.

No fucking side roads!!

 

“Bob, there aren’t any side roads, this is the side road going past my house and it is closed down.”

“No, you NEED to take the SIDE ROADS,” he’s starting the booming again, I’m starting to grind my teeth. It makes a horrific noise, but somehow that sounds better than unfiltered Bob. Kind of like trying to make the soundtrack of Jersey Shore better by adding in the loud ministrations of Dubstep…it’s not good in any way, but at least there’s less of the most offensive audio.

What’s important is that after you die, I’ll still be alive.

“THERE AREN’T ANY SIDE ROADS BOB!” Great, Ten-thirty and I’m already yelling. Ladies and gents, I think we have a record. “I pull right out on the road,” I say a little calmer, realizing that yelling a lot now will just make the rest of the day an angry mess, and I like to keep that vein on my forehead from pulsing…one day that sucker’s gonna pop and I don’t plan to go out like that: dead on Bob’s dandruff-dusted couch, the stink of him lingering in my clothes…death by frustration. I think if I have one goal left after the pure career atrophy I’m currently undergoing, it’s to outlive Bob. Small, attainable goal. I can do this.

Now if we can just get this cleaned up before 5pm rush…

“Then leave earlier,” Bob says, forgetting that I am not clairvoyant, that I couldn’t predict Los Angeles was going to make the astoundingly brilliant decision to minimize a roadway on the tail-end of rush hour that happens to feed directly into Santa Monica Community College. If I had, I would have called in sick with food poisoning for the second time this month, ninth time this year.

 

Bob must think I sit around the house eating rancid meat.

Bob, you are my Hiroshima.

There’s obviously no battle to be won here. The ground is razed, salted and nuclear. There are mutated baby birds heaving last breaths out of their irradiated lungs. The usual survivors of a fallout, the roaches, have even succumbed and litter the landscape of this conversation with their little brown disgustingly roachy bodies. I must let this go.

 

No, really, this is what I want.

“There was nothing I could do, BOB!” Why do I poke the bear? Do I just like getting bitten, or am I in some secretly suicidal way hoping to be consumed piece by piece via enraged charge and subsequent mauling? Am I a masochist of the worst kind in that I incite Bob each and every time he gets a reaction out of me?

I’m reminded of a time when my brother and I were fighting as kids. It’s amazing I remember a specific time, because we spent our childhood from his birth until our mutual graduation (me 18, him 15–that was also a fight) as uncontrollable harpy hellbeasts bent in battle until someone challenged us. Then it was kind of over for them.

I have seen the Devil, and he lives in the hearts of children.

We had such a name for ourselves that there wasn’t a single babysitter in Charlotte, North Carolina who would come to our house. Once we treated a sitter so badly that she ran screaming down our driveway as our parents returned from their date night. Into the night she fled, wailing, “El Diablo! El Diablo!” Dad was supposed to drive her to the bus stop three miles down the road, but I guess getting away from our satanic presences was more important than a long trek through the dark tree-line roads of the semi-rural Charlotte suburbs.

 

Dad’s theory that non-English speaking sitters would fare better was shattered that evening.

I was a charming child.

Back to this particular fight. It was occurring in a therapists’ office because my parents had given up and decided that maybe family therapy would end the WWIII going on in their household. My brother and I had taken the short time in which my parents had their private conversation with the therapist to demolish the waiting room. After lobbing the magazines at one another across the carpeted strand of battleground, we had moved on to the couch throw pillows and were currently shifting the couches themselves in order to make substantial barriers against each others business card assault.

You’re here for our entertainment.

Likely horrified, the therapist sat us down and asked us WHY? Why do we fight? What reason do we have for the endless Battle of the Siblings?

We knew. Each of us gave half of the answer, as if it needed no explanation. It should have been a given.

“Because we’re bored,” my brother said, as matter-of-factly as if he was ordering a cheese sandwich.

Do Not Poke!!

“And because it’s fun,” I finished, probably adding the kind of Cheshire grin one expects to see on goblins, or hellspawn, or children who destroy and squabble and run off perfectly decent middle aged Mexican babysitters.

And that’s the root of it. I poke the bear because it is somehow fun. Maybe because this job would be mind-numbingly boring without the occasional Richter spikes of a Bob-splosion. Maybe because pushing Bob to the limit is entertaining at least. Maybe because I need more material for the blog. Or maybe because I secretly want to get fired and return to the fun of unemployment.

 

This definitely won’t end in bloodshed.

I know it’s wrong, and that simply saying, “Sorry, Bob, I’ll be on time tomorrow,” would solve everything. It would tie the matter off with a nice neat bow. But there’s this constant urge, the devil inside me that just wants to reach out and poke that motherfucking bear.

So I do.

 

Bitch, I’m getting away with murder.

 

Worst of all, Bob in this case is absolutely right. I can leave earlier. In fact, I should. After all, he thinks my start time is 10 am. In actuality, it was 9:30 am, it just so happens I came in late enough so many times in a row that his addled mind decided to believe my workday started at 10.

I’m getting away with murder. I really should stop with the poke-age.

Defining Insanity: Bob and The Great Unemployment Debacle of 2012

Bob is a master at defining insanity.

Granted, it’s the popular definition: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Still, it’s insanity and he performs it often. Whether he has me once again search Google for bananas or for a cure to insomnia, and never realizes he’s still getting the same results he received the day before; or if he sends out the same package to the same investor who rejected him last time, he constantly leans on repetitive action as a way of getting things done.

I’m sure in his head there’s the old fashioned rude businessman concept of We’ll just wear them down. 

While bullheaded, it might have worked years ago. But in this day and age we have something called ‘automated forms’ that no matter how many times you fill them out, if the information never alters, you will get the exact same response.

And no matter how many times you attempt to explain the concept of automated forms to Bob, you will never make any progress. One has more luck explaining quantum physics to a rhino. One has more luck attempting to fit said rhino up one’s own arse. One will have more fun shoving a full grown rhino into their anus than they would arguing with Bob about such things. Even if the rhino was on fire.

Bob’s insanity loop never became more clear than when Bob asked me to file him for unemployment.

You would think having your main source of income requesting unemployment would unnerve a person a bit. It didn’t unnerve me a bit…it freaked me out an entire shitload.

While charming, the tears of the innocent don’t actually taste great.

I went home and had myself a little cry shower, because the job I had (just recently) gotten was now descending into a holy hell of unemployment. A cry shower is when you lean in the shower repeatedly howling WHYYYYYYYYY?! as water streams down your face. It solves absolutely nothing, but in your mind you realize if there was a movie of your life, this would be an awesome and desperate scene hopefully played out by a very attractive actress (I’m thinking Anne Hathaway).

He’s got the crazy eyes.

After a while I realize no one will ever make a movie of my life because I’m crying in the shower about my crazy boss’ unemployment applications. And no one wants to watch Anne Hathaway apply for an aged Gary Busey’s (seems crazy enough to play Bob) unemployment.

This often leads to more WHYYYYY?!’s, more crying, and less hot water. In the end, I’m all pruny and Bob still wants unemployment.

Ah, but I was a young grasshopper at this point, and didn’t understand the root of why Bob would want unemployment. I had yet to truly see the dark underbelly of the beast named Bob. Without that knowledge, I spent a night in fear–formulating my plan for confronting him on our impending financial doom.

“So, Bob,” I ask as we sit down to go through The List, as if nothing has happened, “Are you going to be letting me go.”

“Why would I let you go?” He blusters, with usual Bob-ishness.

We have potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes.

“Because you need unemployment,” I say. I mean the unemployed don’t get employees.They may get food stamps, they might get evicted, but they certainly don’t get employees. Unemployed with employees is like Communist Russia with non-potato-based foods–it makes no sense.

“Oh, I don’t need it, I just think that if there’s all that money sitting there that I paid into, I should have it, right?”

I don’t think I have ever been so excited to hear that Bob’s greed exceeded his good sense. He may have a black black heart, but that crusty rotted thing is a soulless heart with money that will eventually find its way to my landlord.

That was my cracker, Bob, not yours.

On the other hand, I realize Bob is also the reason why children are starving in Africa. I mean, sure, he’s not wandering over to snatch food from the hands of African babies…but I bet if it turned him a profit he might. No, Bob is just another in the long line of rich people that think everything they own and earn should be only theirs–that all things given out must turn a profit. Charity is designed for evading taxes and making one’s public profile look good. Why give to public programs if public programs aren’t giving to you? I’m not a political person, but this attitude goes beyond the political and into basic human greed.

 

And now for a real opponent!

It is also a flawed logic on his part. Bob is wealthy because his parents were wealthy, he was given everything he has. It was all a big gift. He has never actually needed to work, never needed to do anything other than manage the wealth his family funneled into his accounts. Instead he’s dumped it all into failed start-ups and tickets to Man of La Mancha.

(I also find it ironic that one of the most foolish and lost men I have ever met is truly infatuated with Man of La Mancha. One day I will find him fighting windmills.)

All unpleasant facts aside, Bob believes he is due unemployment checks. “So push the button,” he says grinning at me as if he’s located a damned leprechaun to chase to a pot of gold,”and make it happen.”

Oh, THERE’S that unemployment button!

Bob also thinks that there is a random button marked ‘unemployment’ in the nether regions of the computer, and by pushing it I can magically send him checks in the mail.

“Bob, applying for Unemployment is a long process, and I don’t believe you’re applicable.”

“Why not?!” He says, starting to get angry. Remember, I’m no master at Bob-ism yet and I’m a little scared at this display of agression.

“Well, you were fired from your last position, correct?”

After running a company into bankruptcy, Bob was shitcanned as CEO and CFO. He fought it tooth and nail.

“I resigned before I was fired,” he snaps back.

He resigned the same day they fired him. A tactic that I don’t really comprehend. The professional equivalent of sour grapes. About as effective as telling a broken down car that  you were taking it to the junkyard anyways.

“Well if you resign, you don’t get unemployment.”

“Why not?”

WHYYYYYYY?!

It’s like dealing with a two year old. How can he not see the issue at hand? How can I not beat him to death for constantly questioning sound information? How on Mother Mary’s Tit did six years of education lead to me explaining the finer points of unemployment applications to my boss?

I use my best calm voice, pretend I’m talking to a three-year-old, or perhaps a teenager that thinks they’re right and is willing to throw a tantrum if you take the wrong step. Come to think of it, three year-olds and teenagers are a lot alike. They leave food all over your car, disrupt your sleep, and generally irritate the hell out of you. At least teenagers don’t pull off their underthings and poop on the floor.

And now for my free money!

Anyways, I approach the unemployment explanation carefully: “Bob, if you could get unemployment after resigning, then most everyone would just resign and collect their checks. The system wouldn’t work.”

“Then I was fired, put that on the form.”

 

Check the map, I swear it’s a right after the Red Sea.

I sigh the kind of deep sorrowful sigh the Jews must have when realizing they probably took another wrong turn in the desert and likely someone was sinning so some of them were going to get smoted before they made it to the freakin’ promised land.

“I can’t lie on a government form, Bob.”

“You won’t be lying, it’s my form,” he said, essentially green-lighting me to assist him in Federal fraud. Did I mention how much I love this job?

“I don’t feel comfortable with this, Bob. Plus, they don’t give you unemployment if you’re fired. Then everybody would be getting themselves fired and live off the government.”

“I’m not asking you to do anything illegal.” Yes he is.

Not a one of these given.

“And I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.” Like he could give a flying monkey’s fuck.

“But push. the. button.”

This last phrase is enunciated as if my English wasn’t quite good enough for me to understand the first time that it was the moment to hit a magical computer key and send free money his way. It was also the end of the conversation. The first of many conversations on unemployment that would prove his insanity and become the final breaking point for my professionalism.

I completed the form, saying he was fired, which in reality he was, so I guess the fraud charges aren’t pending just yet. And sure enough a month later he gets a letter saying he is not eligible for unemployment.

“This can’t be right,” he says, waving the official letter in my face, “Get them on the phone.”

The epicenter of the Unemployment Department.

I once was on unemployment. I don’t believe they actually have phones. I think they have an intricately connected system of automated answering machines stocked with endless loops of bad wait music. I think that there are only five employees in the entire Unemployment branch of the government and not a single one has a fuck to give to anyone else.

“Bob, I will never get through to them, those phone lines are always tied up,” I protest. But as we know, me protesting is my own display of insanity. I mean, over and over I try to feed him good common sense expecting a favorable and different outcome and every time he responds with the idiocratic crapola that he thinks is better than God’s word. I am insane, because the outcome will never differ, unless I change the approach. See: GIVING IN. See: GIVING UP. See: QUITTING YOUR FREAKING JOB AND GETTING A LIFE WITHOUT BOB.

Hah, he pays me too much for me to change that pattern just yet. Guess I’ll wallow in my own constant definition of insanity.

And that’s another call for Unemployment I won’t be answering today.

“I don’t care,” he says to my argument about the endless hours I will spend on the phone with Unemployment’s selection of muzak, “This is what I pay your for.”

I wonder if he ever received unemployment whether or not he could continue using that phrase. Perhaps I could point out that, No, Bob, you are not paying me to do this. Currently the United States government is paying me to research Human Growth Hormone and its possible uses for immortality.

Even if I did say that, nothing would come of it, and I’d still be Googling the fountain of youth at the end of the day.

Look at all the work I’m doing.

So I tell Bob I’m calling Unemployment and I walk over to the bar and sit down and order a beer. The bartender asks me what I’m up to, and I say, “Calling Unemployment.”

“Where’s your phone?” she says, noticing a distinct lack of bluetooth ear.

“It’s much more effective to send out a wish and a prayer,” I say, downing the bottle, “I’m gonna write a request, stick it in this and toss it in the ocean. I expect I’ll hear back from them in due course.”

I think the bartender believes I’ve already gone mad. Perhaps I have.

Dear God, someone please answer!

Eventually Bob gets tired of hearing my statement that I can’t get through and he takes it a dangerous step into ‘my territory’ by insisting we call Unemployment together, sitting in the office listening to muzak. I have rarely had long stretches of torment. I remember my appendix exploding, the days in the hospital after my car wreck which left me with a shattered elbow, and one particularly long one-woman show that made no sense and included the kind of nudity no one wants to see. None of these excruciating moments could even compare to the Unemployment Muzak Incident of 2012.

I was left hanging out in the Bob-scented atmosphere, trying not to touch the pillows since he’d revealed he ‘likes to lay down’ on the couch I sit on daily, worried that unemployment would never pick up and all four hours left in the day would be in the Bob-aroma with his snorts and snuffles accompanying the image of him picking at his nose and shuffling papers back and forth, nothing ever really getting done.

No unemployment for you!

But sometimes God remembers me, sometimes He shines down His grace and mercy. Or He just feels really shitty that I somehow got stuck in the service of a lesser demon and gives me a goddamned (not sure if that phrase works here) break. Anyways, one of the five lone unemployment employees picked up, and explained to Bob that if he was fired or resigned, he is not eligible for unemployment.

Bob nods and agrees.

 

I smolder within, a volcano of boiling hot I-TOLD-YOU-SO anger.

But it’s done, we’ve applied, we’ve been rejected, we’ve had it explained so we can move on…right?

Just push the button!

Two weeks later Bob has me apply for Unemployment. “Push the button,” he says and when I bring up our phenomenal call, he doesn’t recall what she said to him. “Just try again,” he says, picking at a particularly stubborn booger, “You never know. They might just give it to us this time.”

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This, dear readers, is why I am scared.

Because every day I walk into work hoping it will be a steady, sensible, good day.

And these expectations are insane.

I am losing my mind.

My Vacation: An Unabashedly Bald Faced Lie

I just came back from ten days of vacation on the North Carolina coast and I missed Bob dearly. I longingly reflected on our days together and thought deep in my heart about how I would enjoy my homecoming and return to work. When I saw a bunch of bananas in a supermarket, I reminisced our time Googling bananas. Secretly, I went home and ran a search, just to keep his presence close.

Oh how hard the separation is!

Bob, the E-Harmony Reject

We do not want your kind here.

So I got Bob rejected from E-Harmony.

Initially it wasn’t a planned incident, just an everyday Tuesday task to set him up with yet another dating service. Somewhere, somehow, in some god-forsaken corner of the late-night television world, Bob had managed to see an E-Harmony ad.

And he started licking his chops.

I like long walks on the beach and pureed peas.

I always wonder what he envisions as his future dates on these sites. Does he believe one day they will burp up stunning silver-haired vixens ready to overlook his Bob-osity? Does he think that the women of the internet ignore charm and just cling to the first man who takes the time to send a private message? Does he really think that photo of him in a navy suit lecturing a bored-looking crowd is the best one to have online?

I think he believes that some sort of hottie is going to see past the age, the hubris and the tendency to act like an Alzheimer’s patient in a psychotic rage. She will be a good thirty years younger than him (still old enough to be my mom, shudder) and fit and love his potbelly and the jokes he makes that more creepify you into nervous laughter than create the real thing. This woman will become his bed-mate, his love slave and…ok now I feel like vomiting, so I’m going to stop with the whole guessing game.

Still, my bastard brain had to have one more comment: I wonder if Bob dreams of enacting the real-life ‘Fifty Shades of VERY Grey.’

Dom looking for Sub, D/D Free and Willing to Try Anything.

Ok, now I’m ill. Sick in the head, and ill.

Anyways, Bob sends me off to once again put his dating profile up on yet another website, and I get ready to do the old copy and paste job Sunny taught me from when he added LA Singles to JDate. But oh no, E-Harmony doesn’t play that way.

It really isn’t funny.

I am no rookie to internet dating. In fact, I’ve had an OkCupid profile for going on ten years now. It probably speaks worlds about the net dating scene that I’ve gotten three dates and all of them were creepers. It also probably says something about me that I’ve left a net dating profile up for ten years and only had three dates. I believe that’s because my profile makes jokes about clubbing baby seals and refers to the apocalypse at least once. This may be as bloodcurdling as a Bob joke, but I know my profile picture is better–even if I am wearing a goth-style trench coat.

I’m gonna find me the love of my life!

Still, there’s a few people I’ve known who have had success at dating on the interwebs. My darling sister met the love of her life on the web back when people had to pay per minute on AOL. I think when it was ten cents a minute to chat with your online paramour, people probably did less trolling and more plans to meet each other in central locations. It was also probably a nerd love-fest as signing on to chatrooms took a series of data inputs that nowadays are reserved for cracking spy computers and paying auto insurance bills online.

Never combine midget and clown, it upsets the balance of the universe.

Then there’s an old acquaintance of mine, we’ll call him Neat. Neat watched all sorts of gory horror movies, alien attacks, ghost stories, nothing fazed him except for midgets. Online dating allows for a certain, well, flexibility with one’s photos. I see Neat off to his date, looking rather dapper in a suit and tie, and really excited about his gorgeous-looking brunette.

An hour later, I get a call from Neat, who is whispering into the phone. “Hey, you there?”

“Yeah, what’s up? Aren’t you supposed to be on a date?”

“Yeah,” he says, “I am, but it’s no good.” The fear is now becoming evident in his voice.

“Republican or hairy pits?”

“Midget,” he says. At this point, I start laughing, because though I am not scared of midgets, I know even the sight of their hands terrifies Neat. Being a PC person, he has lived a life of avoidance, and manages to be polite even when slightly frozen in horror over an approaching midget, because if left alone they will almost always pass by.

These gals are gonna make somebody verrrrry happy.

“Where are you?”

“Bathroom,” he says in a hoarse whisper, “I think I can make it out of the window.”

Knowing this particular restaurant, I know Neat cannot escape. His ass was way too large, the window far too small, and the height of the drop pretty much assured to ruin the suit.

“You should tell her you’re leaving,” I say, more because I want to imagine his unnerved stuttering rather than feeling sorry for the gal, “It’s only decent to excuse yourself before running for the hills.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” he says.

Neat eventually dashed out through the kitchen. I’m sure the midget at some point met a lovely match, possibly someone with a few less irrational fears over small people. Neat went on to marry a stripper he met on OkCupid. I guess if you want to fall in love with a stripper, the current internet is the place to be.

Now my asshole brain is thinking about Bob finding a senior stripper. I wonder if aged strippers can still climb the pole, or just wander out and let drop their Maidenform. This is my karma for telling a midget story.

In my spare time I ride the pole.

Don’t get nervous, we’re just profiling your personality.

So back to E-Harmony, it is the long-term relationship of all dating sites. Know those horrific multiple choice questionnaires you get when applying to Home Depot or Taco Bell that are designed to weed out Serial Killers and Pedophiles? Well E-Harmony has the mother of all of them. It’s a beast and it takes forever, which is why most online daters won’t even bother going for the free trial when it takes three damned hours just to get past the censorship board.

The one thing I guess must be true about all E-Harmony users is they are very very very desperate to avoid any kind of real-world dating. That and they have three damned hours to spend proving they don’t mutilate, eat and clothe in clown make-up any of their dates.

With your questionnaires combined, I am KING OF MATCHMAKING!

So now I am faced with two options in signing Bob up for E-Harmony. I can either try and fill the form out with him, which means three hours of Bob leaning over my shoulder in the computer lab, taking long pauses to think, and creeping out the general public as I attempt not to stab him to death with an unraveled paperclip.

Then there’s Option B: I simply fill out the form with what I think Bob would say.

I decide on Option B, which is all good and well, but the Bob-eroni decides this is a perfect time to start yelling at me about an email. “I TOLD you to send it to GEORGE!” he yells, not realizing the future of his E-Harmony success is now in my hands, “NOT EDDIE!”

Eddie is his son, George is his brother, and Bob mixes their names up all the time and sends golf balls to his son and family heirlooms to his slightly estranged brother. I guess in the end his brother must be fond of him.

E-Harmony has made me so happy, I can’t help but cross my arms in frustration.

I let it pass and head downstairs for the E-Harmony questionnaire extraordinaire. It’s obnoxious, annoying, endless, and as I get to the fourth page of questions, I start thinking back to Bob yelling, his endless and flustered yelling.

#48: Do you react well to sudden changes in situation?

Looking at it, I think of Bob and any change he has ever faced. Then there’s the ‘Not at All’ option on the form. I click it.

#76: Do you get frustrated easily?

Oh boy, does he! I ‘Definitely Agree’.

#437: Would you consider yourself attractive?

No. Just. No.

I love your inability to control your temper…it’s so, cute!

Suddenly I’m whipping through these questions with a sense of glee, an air of euphoria. I am a truly unique experience at this time. I am answering a dating survey honestly. Never in the history of dating has anyone ever been so exactingly honest. And while I praise Bob’s strong points–because he certainly is a man of his convictions (#573)–I also allow transparency for his faults. I mean, he certainly has a hard time admitting he is wrong (#2332).

In the end, I finally click ‘submit’, whirl about in my chair and see the result of an open and honest evaluation of Bob’s date-ability.

“We are sorry, but you are considered incompatible with any of our matches.” E-Harmony rejection at its finest, followed by a personality profile that listed his ‘Stability’ factor as ‘Very Low’.

Are they deadly? Are they yellow? Can they make me live forever?

I printed it out, trying to think of anything to explain the rejection. Bob deals with rejection as well as he deals with bananas–he questions it endlessly. Unless I had printed evidence that E-Harmony would never-ever-ever want him for some sensible non-Bob reason, I would be calling E-Harmony and begging them for another go at the Questionnaire from Hell.

So I went to the most reliable source I know: Google. I figured E-Harmony rejected gays and had that lawsuit, so some nutjob had to add Jews to it, and Bob claims to be a Jew and…Oh hey, lookit that, an article stating E-Harmony rejects Jews. Thank you Google gods, thank you for more unreliable info.

I print the article and that’s that. Until of course, E-Harmony charges Bob’s card.

“What are these E-Harmony charges?” Bob asks, “Are we on E-Harmony? Print me out the ladies on E-Harmony.”

A pox on you, E-Harmony!

“You aren’t on E-Harmony, Bob, they rejected you,” I say, suddenly wishing a plague on E-Harmony’s billing department. A particularly nasty one with snakes and roaches and seeping genital warts.

“I need you to get to the bottom of this,” Bob says. Little does he know I am the bottom of this. I am the Benedict Arnold to his online dating plans. I am the knife in the back. I am, Batman…wait, no, I’m not actually executing justice so I guess I am, Disgruntled Employee.

Liberal arts students in their natural habitat.

E-Harmony has all sorts of joy in hand for me when I call. See they can’t make anything simple or easy, even removing fraudulent charges. No, they have to be the turd in the gears of my whole vigilante/disgruntlement operation. “We’re going to need to speak to the person who is on the account,” the call center lady says. I plead a bit, but these twenty-somethings won’t risk a precious air-conditioned job that’s busy putting a dent in their liberal arts education loans. Especially with the new college graduates chomping at the bit for an entry-level gig at the hub of all online dating.

I realize I might actually lose my job over this. Especially if they get into specifics about his rejection. I mean, Bob will have it there on paper my evaluation of every part of his personality. I don’t feel guilty, but man do I feel caught.

Guess how I feel about that conversation?!

Bob is on the phone a long time and my stomach attempts to digest itself out of sheer fear of unemployment. He doesn’t seem upset, but then his face rarely shows emotion unless he yells. I try to read body language, but I get even more queasy from watching his body. Finally, I see a toothy grin and walk in to catch the last of his conversation.

“So we’ll just cancel out that charge,” he’s saying, leaning back and looking proud. He winks at me, and for a second I think my goose is still cooked, but he follows this up with, “And you’ll give me your number and we’ll be out on a date soon?”

Oh no, honey, no date for you.

Ah, Bob, hitting on the twenty-something E-Harmony gal. Will your awkward humor never cease? In that moment, I’m sure a stamp went on his file, “Permanent Reject”. The call center kid hung up on him, Bob looked back at me and said, ‘Well, I got my money back.”

At the end of the day, that really is all that matters to him. Hence why I put ‘Strongly Agree’ on #5369: Money is more important than family.

Now Kiss.

Bob-the-Avon-Lady

Today Bob is concerned about money, and when he gets concerned about money, he does very stupid things. This leads to me having to either argue or do even stupider things. Arguing has turned out to be a futile effort.

Hence why I am researching Avon for Bob.

 

Anyone can build it!

Somewhere in one of his magazines in the deep dark section of the classifieds that’s reserved for adverts for hovercraft construction plans and the way to stuff envelopes toward a six figure income, he came across Avon.

“I need you to Google this Avon,” Bob says. I’m still trying to get the Monday muster going, and honestly, I’m aching from the run this morning so my mood has turned from the general rating of ‘foul’ to ‘Fuck-with-me-anymore-and-I-will-stab-you-with-a-spoon’. This does not bode well for either of us.

“It’s make-up, Bob,” I say, figuring maybe this is the one golden time when God will shine down on me and angels will sing a rollicking tune and for some unknown and uber holy reason, Bob will fucking let this drop.

Seriously, one more word and this goes in your eye.

There is a reason why faith is sometimes hard to keep. I think God makes a point of never answering my Bob prayers. Maybe I’m doing penance for past sins, perhaps it’s the struggle I must endure to become the person I am meant to become, maybe he just figures starving children in Africa need a bit more attention than an executive assistant trying to keep from committing first degree murder in the Business Center of the Venetian.

Regardless, I have begun dulling my spoons in anticipation of my attack and hope that maybe God’s a little more responsive to jailhouse prayers.

“I don’t care,” Bob says, and I know he didn’t even hear the words ‘make up’ exit my mouth. He’s just decided I am wrong. Sammy the Always Wrong, Sammy the Error Girl, Sammy the Dunce, Just-Do-Your-Job Sammy. I wonder if he mouths off to his friends about my incompetence.

I just want to be beautiful, find me Avon!

Can’t even look up Avon without giving me trouble! I mean, can’t a secretary research the endless wealth that Avon might offer me as a 78-year-old man without giving lip?!

I’ve caught him before, mocking me. Sometimes he does it in front of me, blathering into the phone about how I can’t find a Bill without a number and all this other bullshit, seems like she should just be able to Google it.

I know I shouldn’t get offended because the person on the other line is more than likely thinking that a Google search won’t bring me any closer to H.R. 3999, the long-dead bill in question that requires a near forensic search to find without the correct numbering.

Next complaint, I set this bitch on fire.

They are probably slightly pitying me, kind of how you feel for a McDonald’s worker when you hear the manager splitting them a new one for leaving fries on too long. You still order your food, but you feel a little bad as you do.

Or, if they also think like Bob–that the best secrets of the internet can be located via broad spectrum Google search–they obviously have had a minor stroke at some point and should be pitied for their mental deficiencies.

Regardless, I am a little hurt when he mocks me for not being able to fulfill his wild requests. I am a person who thrives on positive feedback, loyal as a dog, and just as willing to get kicked. Why I care what he thinks, I don’t know, but lately I’ve noticed he’s starting to despise me some. We clash more.

I think back to Sunny, and how at the end it was just a yelling match between her and Bob, the only effective communication came through anger. I’m almost there and I haven’t even put in a year of the two-year stint she did with him.

It all started in boarding school…

Maybe Bob is telling others stories about me that he used to tell about Sunny. She yells at me, he will say (playing the sorry old man card) and she’s so rude. It must be because she was raised in a large family. Bob likes to decide that it’s raising that makes people angry, not his attitude. He used to tell me Sunny behaved how she did because she was sent to boarding school. All that time away from her parents, it taught her the wrong things. I’d nod because this man was going to give me a job.

Truth is, Sunny and I still hang out. She’s a kind and decent person and a good friend. Yet the way he presented her, I expected the spoiled brat child with the sociopathic tendencies one expects from a traumatic boarding school experience.

If I was fooled, what crocodile shit Story of Sam is he filling others’ heads with? How bad do I look?

Why did I ever think this was a good idea?

Sunny was covering a vacation day for me, and Kicked Dog Sam was thinking about trying to improve my image a bit, put something nice in Bob’s head. There’s only one solution in my head, because apparently crack-pot ideas are contagious and Bob’s given me the mother of all bugs.

“Hey, you think when you cover for me you can be super rude and shit?”

Sunny takes a sip of her drink and thinks for a moment, “Why the hell am I going to do that?”

“So I look extra good to Bob when I come back.” As the words drop out of my mouth, I realize what flaming turds they are. I’m becoming the asshole I never wanted this job to turn me into–a desperate foolish one.

“Suuuure,” she says, humoring me, “Want another beer there?”

Someone ask for the Googly Moogly?

Truth is, I’d give a shit what the Klingon Grand Googly Moogly thought of me. I’d care what opinion the VP of Clubbing Baby Seals had of me. It’s one of the worst parts of me, because more than often I end up becoming something else in order to be the person that people are going to like. In this case, I donned the asshole hat and gave up a touch of my decency. Gotta wonder what other things I’ve swapped for a positive judgment of my character…

God, how did I never realize this was my passion?

Back to now, Bob is still insisting that I hook him up with the lowdown on Avon. I take the paper from him and set it in my pile. I’ll look it up and he’ll glance at it, and then throw it away.

But wouldn’t it be glorious instead if he picked up that research and found his true calling? Bob could throw away the world of bridge testing and get to the complicated task of making women feel beautiful. He could pander his wares in glorious mimosa brunches and bloody mary makeup fests.

OMG Bob’s Coming!!!

Bob-the-Avon-Lady would appear in a pink chemise with tasteful pearls and the new shade of Alluring Rose on his cheeks, lips bright with Sultry Pink.

He’d open his case to the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ of the women of Westwood. Perhaps he’d wander the halls of the Venetian, selling to the stay-at-home moms and the med students without time to shop for make-up, and the occasional trannie. It could be a beautiful existence, and he’d make saleswoman of the year and I could shuffle off to a better existence as a lauded screenwriter since I met that producer at Bob’s ‘Fall Colors Salesfest and Champagne Party’. All would be well with the world.

So come on, God, have Bob take a second look at his Avon research. It’s so much more than lipstick. It’s a possible foundation.

Give a girl a break, let Avon shine her holy light to the Bobster.

Bob, Bills, and Bad Impressions

Vashe zdorovje!

Today I am sick. This would not be problematic as I could just call in sick, but I have taken waaay too many sick days and I’m fresh off two vacation days.

I was in Michigan, enjoying a Russian Jewish wedding (also known as vodka-palooza) when Bob calls me to let me know that he needs to find a bill.

“Hey, uhhhh, so I need a copy of the Transportation Act.”

“Which one, Bob?” I say, dumping Alka-Selzter into the glass, hoping the fizz will counteract the nausea of three days of fun and a ten am wake-up from the Boberoni.

“The Transportation Equity Act.”

A hearty breakfast makes everything better.

In situations where I foolishly pick up the phone during non-Bob-hours, it’s often easier to just take care of his request and be done with it. Bob was into his seventh call of the morning when I went into Dear-God-Make-It-Stop mode and clicked the answer button. If I can just find this act, then I can return to sitting on a couch and thinking wistfully of pancakes and bacon–you know, the basic hangover protocol.

“Bob, there are hundreds of these kinds of bills, do you have anything more definitive?”

“Uh, well it has the language we use in our handouts in it, just search for that.”

Oooh, that thing’s gonna pop!

This is where my headache kicks in. Adding sheer frustration to a hangover is always sure to create headaches. And pulsing veins. One day the one on my forehead is going to pop. Bob’s going to push me too far, and boom goes the dynamite, my forehead will look like a killing field in the Sudan.

“Bob, these documents are thousands of pages long, there’s nowhere to search for the words, I’d have to read them page by page and that could take…weeks.”

“Well, uhhh, we might want to…”

“Bob, do you have the bill number? It’s going to have an HR before it, then I might be able to search it.”

It’s somewhere in here…

I am not a researcher, it’s not my forte, but I spent six years in college and grad school and if finding this bill means I can take the rest of my day off without phone calls from the Bob-i-verse, for all that is holy and contains goodness in this world, I will find that bill.

“It’s 3999.” Now we’re getting somewhere. I run it through GovTracks and get a finance bill for taxation.

“That’s not it, Bob.”

“Try 4948.” Now we’re in something ecological.

Let me guess, the bill is bigger than a breadbox.

“Bob, are you just giving me numbers you think are right?”

“Uhhhh, yes,” he says, “try 5348.”

“Bob, I’m not doing this. I offered to bring in an assistant to take over for me, but this is a vacation day and I need to get back to the wedding.”

“Well, uh, can you just Google it.”

“No, Bob, there is no Googling today.”

Finally getting him off the line, I realize when I get in the next day, work will be a holy hell of explaining search parameters in government documents. At least I’ll have a long weekend of vacation behind me.

I should not be at work. I need spoonfuls of sugar.

But come the next morning, I’m short on sleep and the hangover has turned out to be the beginning of a nice flu. I get in and Bob has found a Bill, Bill Bergman, one of the poor people attached to this sinkhole of a business. Bill is throwing random documents at Bob, and Bob is having me print them out and neither of us really know what Bob actually wants.

He is a man of undefinable needs, a person who expects you to read his mind, and if you can’t God forbid he will yell at you for no apparent reason than he’s frustrated. Right now, he’s yelling at me about the bill. “The language is right here, see?! It says that 90 percent of cracks are missed, just search for that! It’s your job.”

I’m so strong I can fly!

That phrase has become a regular these days. It’s like Bob’s brain has stuck itself in some repetition of it, like when people really fuck up and say I’msorry I’msorry I’msorry or when my running buddy after the sixth mile keeps saying We’re getting stronger repeatedly, as though it’s actually putting strength back into our muscles.

In her defense, it sometimes works.

Next buggy that cuts me off is gonna get cut!

But his current verbal tic of It’s your job is not working as any kind of motivational tool. Instead it unearths a kind of primal rage, a seething anger that one might find in the pits of a hell planet, or roiling in Cthulu’s psyche, or the collective anger one can find during rush hour on the 405. It makes me want to lose things instead of find things.

I honestly have no idea what I’m doing.

My only way to fight this phrase is to become more and more inept. I pretend to misunderstand, to work more slowly, to creep at the mental pace of a Goodwill employee. I am snail woman, hear me fail.

Currently I am printing out 500 pages of documents while dying of some unknown illness. I am pretending that the answer to Bob’s bill debacle is  in them, when I know full well it’s all financing documents. I plan to spend the next three weeks ‘reading’ the document for the language he wants only to find it absent. I actually plan to spend the time earmarked for ‘reading’ to finish my query letter and submit it to agents.

Death here…wanna hang out?

However today no productivity will occur as I am attempting to cough up what is either a third lung or a fetus made entirely of mucous. If there is an outbreak of plague in the Westwood area, I am source monkey. I am black death wandering around UCLA.

The cold has also hit my head, and I’m a bit disheveled. Without the brain thinking too well, I am not prepared for simple tasks such as sneezing. At one point mid-sneeze, I manage to poke myself in the eyeball. Now I am tearing up, one eye blood red and streaming tears, sniffling, coughing like tuberculosis is making a comeback and I’m sure my hair is headed toward either cat-lady chic or full-on Jewfro.

This is a great time to take lunch. The plan is simple. I go to the grocery, buy a warm cup of soup, a few cans for later tonight, and some orange juice. Sick brain sees the orange juice on sale, and figures, why not carry about a whole gallon? And since the warm soup station is down, why not head to the Market Cafe and get soup there? And while I’m there, why not open up the gallon of orange juice and drink it? It only makes sense.

I could use some orange juice.

On my way back, I stop in at CVS to pick up some folders for Bob’s new collection of 2,000 pages of bills and catch myself in the window’s reflection. There I am in my ‘You have died of dysentery’ t-shirt and travel-dirty jeans. I am frizzy-headed, sniffling, openly crying from one bloodshot eye, and carrying a half-drunk gallon of orange juice.

I am crazy, hear me babble.

Passing a homeless lady who frequents Westwood, I realize that she looks a bit better than me today.

This is one of those moments, one of those take stock moments when a person needs to think about their life. I need to deeply reconsider a job where I manage to have become one of the crazies of Los Angeles. Because if things don’t change, I might end up the Orange Juice Lady of West LA.

On the upside, my research has found the bill, and according to GovTracks, it’s dead. Never got voted in by Congress. It’ll be interesting explaining this to Bob. Perhaps the Schoolhouse Rock video is still around.