Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the softer side

Sunday after church, several of us went to lunch. Before too long, the conversation turned to television shows, and favorites thereof. Of course I made the obligatory proclamations of my undying affection for LOST, as well as my second-tier affinity for 24 and The Office.

Jamie was in town, and since she is a fellow white-collar underling, we both raved about The Office and how it speaks to our very souls. I even recounted how the office where I "work" did until recently employ a socially awkward volunteer sheriff's officer who would openly discuss his collection of weapons and body armor. Yet one of our lunch-mates expressed a general disregard for The Office, alleging that it "isn't believable."

I queried as to whether he had ever actually worked in an office, and when he admitted that he had not, I informed him that if he had, he would find The Office not only believable, but disturbingly accurate. Then I shunned him.

That being said, I would now like to propose a plot-line for The Office - to suggest an as-of-yet unmined reality in the world of Oxfords and half-Windsors.

The pregnant coworker.

When a coworker is diagnosed with pregnancy, especially a female coworker, all other topics of conversation are immediately subject to a 9-month hiatus. No other conversation is allowed besides your coworker's uterine parasite. By implication, conversation about the prior pregnancies of the other female coworkers is allowed, but only as a means of dispensing advice to the current pregnantee and increasing the substance abuse rate among male coworkers.

Lord help you if you there is an office "party" scheduled during an office pregnancy. It doesn't matter what you and and your fellow employees are ostensibly celebrating - you're not allowed to talk about anything else besides babies, bellies, and the impending egress of the former from the latter.

Case in point: A few weeks ago, we were having a going-away party for a male employee. We were discussing outlandish things such as where he was going (oh yes, good for you) what he would be doing (mm-hmm, sounds interesting) and how he could always come back (ha ha! no, seriously - the new guy listens to his iPod so loud that I can hear the subliminal messages from across the hall).

Our resident pregnant person arrived and informed us that this would not be tolerated and it was now time to discuss designer diaper bags. Louis Vuitton makes a cute one, but the Burberry one is so much more practical what with all the little compartments. Oh yeah - pregnant rich folks.

Since I am a rookie, I made two mistakes at this point: I offered an opinion, and I was born a man. This combination will get you killed. I just did not see the merit in paying $5-honey for a diaper bag. Seriously - it's a diaper. Think for a moment: What is the exact purpose of a diaper? Is that the sort of device that needs to be swaddled in name-brand luxury? How about a Swarovki crystal toilet paper roll? Or a Monte Blanc plunger?

Anyway, so in my abject insolence, I chimed in:

"I'm pretty sure I could just use a backpack or a duffel bag."

I got a look. A look much like one might get from a NASA engineer, immediately after suggesting that you could get to the moon in a magic sailboat propelled by Unicorn giggles. Or a Jetta.

"Ugh. No. Those wouldn't have enough compartments."

Now the conversation turns to designer baby clothes. Specifically, designer labels that make matching adult and baby clothes. Blah blah Saks, blah blah Hugo Boss, blah blah Hermes. I got confused and delirious, and again I open my big dumb man-mouth:

"I got this sweater at Sears."

Dead silence. Sweet. Peaceful. Beloved. Silence. And blank stares.

"I got six of 'em."


"Different colors."


"After-Thanksgiving sale."

At this point they probably would have killed me. But I think that in their maternal mercy, they realized that reproduction was obviously not an issue with which I would ever be concerned, and that I could therefore take my duffel bag full of Craftsman sweaters and proceed unharmed until my eventual death, thereby ending my genetic lineage of idiocy, having never experienced the joy of caressing a newborn Burberry diaper bag.

It really was a hopeless situation for me. I can't even manage basic human interaction with some random girl at the mall - can you imagine if I were to take a wife and subsequently breed?

"Hoov, you should buy me this Gucci diaper bag."

"Naw, baby - Sport Chalet's got duffel bags on sale."

See? That would be the end of me anyway.