Eligible Men

Ever since she began craving grandbabies, my mother has been taking annual inventory of the eligible men in my life. I tolerate this fruitless exercise only because some part of me appreciates the reminder that there are, in fact, eligible men in my life. Unfortunately, my mother hasn't accepted that I'm not yet desperate enough to settle for any of them. When I say settle, I'm not implying that they're not good enough for me. I consider myself quite blessed by the high caliber friendtele in my life, male or otherwise. But you can't force the heart. (Believe me, I've tried.)

"I know Tom likes you," my mother insists about my long-time best friend.

"Mother, please. That's practically illegal."

"What about what's-his-name, that worked with you...?"

"You mean Andre? The ex-drug dealer?" I try to convince her on the basis of his grammatically incorrect tattoo alone that we are not a good match. She is more concerned about his criminal resume.

"Who else do you know?"

"Let's see, there's Grant, the heathen; Brian, Tom's east coast counterpart; Jason-- oh, he has a girlfriend now..." I offer, thoroughly enjoying the futility of this exchange.

"Well, what about Mario?"

They say a picture is a thousand words. I'm no mathicist, but I figure a 3-D sentient talking picture is worth at least ten thousand. My mother knows Mario very well, so if she doesn't get it, there is no point in me even attempting to explain this one to her.

I met Mario when I worked at the warehouse. The next time I saw him was a couple weeks later during break. He walked right over to where I was napping, woke me up, and confidently asked in his Salvadoran accent, "Would you like to go on a date wit me?"

I was still kind of asleep, so I don't remember exactly what I responded, but I think it was along the lines of "NO." I could be wrong, though, because later he showed up at my house for dinner.

When Mario's car pulled up to my house, I caught him spraying cologne on a huge white teddy bear. He then presented this bear to me. I was a little embarrassed that I had nothing to give him in return; how could I have forgotten that it was National Inappropriate Gifts Day? I named the bear Luigi and gave him to my mom along with some baby clothes, to tide her over.

We've remained friends for years, Mario and I, but every few months I have to remind him that it's never going to happen. Last Valentine's Day was the last such opportunity for "the talk." He tried to give me a heart necklace and a Valentine card with a pre-written message including the line, "all the movies with all the lovers that say they're going to meet in Paris are not as romantic as just holding your hand." He claimed it was out of friendship. If I didn't know better, I would have thought he just didn't read it.

Mario was extreme all right, but he was not nearly as funny as Berto, the lead in my department. Mario at least had the nerve to straight up ask me on a date. Berto's version was as follows:

"So, I was thinking to maybe ask you to dinner."

"Oh, really?"

And that's as far as that went. Poor Berto.

Sometimes Berto would consult me about proper English. "Is it, 'one eye, two eyes,' or 'one eyes, two eyeses?'" he asked.

"It's, 'one eye, two eyes,' Berto."

"Oh. Your eyes is like stars."

Berto played drums in a salsa band. I must have shown too much interest in this, because one day he brought in a tape recorder, mumbling something about how he was practicing the night before and "accidentally" hit the record button. I suppose it was also on accident that he placed it in his bag, and similarly happenstance when he set it next to me, pushed play, and walked away. Boppity-bop-bop-boppity-bop-badubop-badubadubop... I just sat there in bewilderment at what just happened, wondering when the soundtrack of my life became all rhythm and no melody.

At least Mom and Luigi are living happily ever after.


Knock Knock

One of my duties at the store is to check the four fitting rooms, every half hour. In doing this, I become aware of society's lack of an established greeting for fitting room interruptions. After knocking on the door, I get everything from "Hello?" (are we on the phone?) to "I'm in here!" (don't worry, help is on the way) to "Who's there?" (to which I am strongly tempted to reply, "Interrupting cow"). Somebody needs to figure this out.


Stripper Name

My first day on the new job, I take inventory of my coworkers (not to mention 500 pair youth baseball pants that are impossible to fit properly on the hangers). Being here is a little like being in prison. We all ask each other what we're in for: "So, what were you doing before this?" Some of these people were doing high school before this.

The next getting-to-know-you inquiry I receive is in regard to my hypothetical stripper name (more critical than my actual name, apparently). At the rate my career is going, I'm going to need one. I choose Barbie. Later I learn that the girl who asked is, in fact, a stripper. (Must remember not to tell people that I work with a stripper - what would that make me?!)

The rest of the conversation revolves around art ("my new tattoo is gonna be, like, so rad"), local happenings ("...that fool come out of the club and be all trippin, sayin he gonna kill my boyfriend..."), sports ("...an later on I-84 those crazy @#$% tried to run us off the road), and family values ("family is overrated - that's how come I don't let my kids have a dad!"). I begin to wonder whether it is possible to get stupider just by hearing people talk. Babies get smarter listening to Mozart, right? I believe my concern is legitimate. Worker's comp?

Yes, at age 26, I have finally proven myself worthy of putting anti-theft devices on overpriced golf shirts. One day, while steadfastly doing this task for nine dollars an hour, my mind drifts back to the old warehouse and it occurs to me: There are illegal immigrants making more money than me.

I mentally cross out my name on my college degree and write in Barbie.