So this morning for some reason I get Madonna's song "Into The Groove" into my head and can't seem to stop singing it. So after listening to myself butcher the song, sounding like a skipping record because I'm forgeting every fourth word, I am forced to turn to my iTunes to listen to the real thing.
Now I am like ten songs into my Madonna 80's marathon and strangely feeling a little meloncholy for the glory days of yester-year. For some reason Madonna takes me back to my mid-teens, which where not glorious years by any stretch. I was pretty much a loner and going through that ugly duckling stage before I turned into the beautiful swan that you all know me as today. The weird thing is that I never bought a Madonna album or really even listened to music that much back then. But there is something about her music that makes me think of when I lived in the Bronx. Weird, huh?
The later Madonna stuff is starting now, which makes me think of being 19 and working at the art store A.I. Friedman. Why? Because my closest friend at work (and his sister) was a HUGE Madonna fan. Shout out to Eddie Rivera! I hope he is doing well and not accidentally dropping any more beepers into public toilets. Actually if he is still using beepers, he probably should drop it into a public toilet and go buy himself a friggin cell phone.
Anyway, I'm sure that was a horrifically boring trip down memory lane for you all (I still like to write as though there is actually an audience reading this crap). But before I give you the first half of chapter 4...
"Tropical the island breeze... All of nature wild and free...
This is where I long to be... La isla bonita"
Danny arrives at Mae Arden's desk while she is away taking a smoking break with some of the other marketing girls. She doesn't normally smoke, but often finds herself outside in the back of the building, puffing away with her cohorts. She uses the nicotine fit excuse so she can dodge work three times a day in an accepted company fashion. Most in the office are devout smokaholics, so these breaks are practically a company tradition.
Danny eyes the empty cubicle and briefly considers beginning his break/ fix investigation. He decides against it after mentally whipping up a healthy list of possible consequences that he deems unacceptable. This is a failsafe defense mechanism that has served him well throughout his life. By considering the worst possible consequences he manages to steer clear of trouble. Of course, by doing so he deprives himself of many risky but potentially rewarding opportunities. On two occasions in his life he acted without regard to his failsafe, and both times there were harsh consequences. He now pledges never to disregard his failsafe again. Ever.
He sifts through a slew of possible consequences, weighing risk versus reward. One of the more severe scenarios involves his unjust persecution for theft that results in a violation of his parole and a two year stretch in the slammer. Most of the other consequences involve some other type of sitcom style misunderstanding that leads to unjust persecution, so Danny wisely opts to wait patiently outside the cubicle, in full view of the chunky guy seated in the cubicle across the way.
Mae and Joan take the long saunter back through the Totally Toys offices, stopping frequently to engage in neighborly exchanges with the employees whose cubicles line the main thoroughfare. Joan fishes for the latest company gossip, but doesn't get a single bite that might prolong the procrastinator's march back to work.
As they make their final turn through the maze of cubbies, Joan spots Danny standing by Mae's desk. She has never seen him before, so her interest is piqued immediately. Joan takes a mental snapshot of him and begins processing the information. She dissects his outward appearance, weighing all the criteria necessary to consider him for future sexual relations. Using her own five star rating system, she grades him in several categories: scoring his features (three stars), his clothing style (three stars), his grooming (five stars), his physique (three stars), and his posture (three stars). Before a single word is spoken, Joan determines that his score of seventeen surpasses her minimum requirements for a casual sex partner or even an inter-office fling. Perhaps she will find all that she secretly desires in Danny Perrin.
Mae walks up to Danny and smiles. They make eye contact as he announces the nature of his visit, although he is sure she already assumes it correctly. Mae recognizes his face as one of the many company men that pass through the cafeteria from time to time. They have never spoken and she doesn't even know his name, but she remembers that he once poured a cup of coffee for her.
“Thanks for coming so quickly…”
“Danny. Danny Peril.”
After a prolonged exchange of even friendlier smiles, she allows him safe passage into her cubicle. She runs down the list of problems she is having with her crappy CPU, including her inability to even turn it on. Danny nods sympathetically, offers a few encouraging words, and then embarks upon an investigation that lasts six seconds. Still half checking him out, Joan watches alongside Mae as Danny solves the mystery of the nonfunctioning computer. From his knees, Danny brandishes the offending computer power cord, holding it up in the air for the girls to see. The computer is not plugged in.
Mae's face turns beet red. Joan, on the other hand, erupts into a loud, masculine belly laugh that is unmistakably hers and echoes throughout the office. Several heads turn, not to divine the source, everyone knows it belongs to Joan, but to discover what is the cause of her explosion of Santa Clausian laughter.
Edwin Rolle hears the unmistakable sound from his customary spot beside the coffee machine, where he prepares the first of many daily light and sweet decaf coffees. Although he is tardy as usual, having not even made it to his desk yet, he seizes the opportunity to put his new plan into action. He snatches up his coffee and makes his way to Joan's desk to enact Operation Easy Lay.
“You must have accidentally kicked it out.” Danny offers to an obviously embarrassed Mae. His manner not sarcastic or cruel, and laced with genuine empathy. “It happens all the time with these models. ”
Joan looks at the plug in his hand, at her shamed friend and laughs again. Mae cuts Joan an icy glare, ending the robust laughter prematurely .
“Quit it. You're gonna get me busted.”
“Sorry. But it's just too funny. You haven't done any work in two days because…”
Joan stops suddenly, realizing that the fast approaching Edwin constitutes a potential breach in security that could lead to Allan Poole learning of Mae's careless mistake. Edwin, an unabashed gossiper, would think nothing of relaying the amusing little plug story to someone who may tell someone who may tell Mr. Poole. And Joan is savvy enough not to risk getting Mae in trouble because of the loose lips attached to Mr. Edwin Rolle.
Edwin finally arrives. He notices the abrupt stop in conversation and glances quizzically between the girls. It is apparent to all that his presence is the cause of the silence. Joan, not wanting to risk investigation, waves her hand back in forth through the air as if clearing away smoke.
“What's going on?” Edwin asks.
“Jesus Christ, Mae”, Joan blurts out. “What in the name of the holy mother did you have for breakfast?” She grabs her nose, forcing her nostrils closed.
“Sorry. It must have been that breakfast burrito.” Mae forces a guilty smile.
Edwin eyes the girls, unsure of what to make of the situation. He glances at Danny, awaiting his testimonial. Danny obliges him.
“It didn't smell that bad. All bark and no bite, really.”
“Harmless” adds Mae.
Edwin's eyes widen with the shock that a woman as attractive as Mae can not only pass gas in the workplace, but can also cop to it without a second thought. The idea of such a thing, almost beyond his comprehension, threatens the granite foundation that makes up his narrow-minded view of women. He takes in a covert whiff, looking for any evidence to substantiate the extraordinary claim. Somehow his mind registers the faint essence of roses in the air, although there is nothing even remotely floral scented within twenty yards of him. For some inexplicable reason, he attributes the imaginary rose smell to Mae's phantom flatulence, taking a perverse delight in her ability to pass gas that smells so nice. His mind takes the ridiculous concept and runs with it. A feint swelling in his pants takes place, as he finds Mae's rosy flatulence strangely erotic. This makes him reconsider Operation Bag Joan. With the possibility of greener pastures for him to frolic in, manifest so clearly through his slight but meaningful erection, Edwin sees no other alternative. He must commence with Operation Bag Mae.
He not-so-discreetly looks Mae up and down, contemplating this new mission. He previously discounted her as being too snobby and unapproachable for office sex, but in light of his new evidence, however unsubstantiated, he decides that pursuing Mae is his best option. Besides, he suspects that she even has a decent rack. His new mission is clear; he will be the first company man to climb (on top of) Mount Mae! It is that thought that sends his erection from partial to full mast. Of course no one notices this breach of company protocol because, in spite of his boasting, he does not pack a monster in his trousers. Little Edwin is on the smallish side; a fact lost on big Edwin ever since that fateful day a teenage Edwin mistakenly measured his penis with the centimeters side of the ruler.
“So, anyway. I just dropped by to invite you ladies to Hardballs tonight. Everyone is going.” Edwin quickly realizes that he has rudely excluded Danny, which might diminish him in Mae's eyes. He makes amends. “You should come too, Danny.”
“What time?” Joan casts a seductive gaze upon Danny, who doesn't notice because Mae suddenly commands his attention. His eyes are drawn to her eyes, which seems to reflect the fluorescent light like crystal.
“After work. It'll be fun.”
“Sounds good.” Joan nods in agreement, as she considers the possibility of seducing Danny at the gathering. Danny, mesmerized by Mae, briefly allows his mind to entertain the idea of engaging in a steamy lovemaking episode with Mae, who is incredibly sexy in his estimation. But the erotic moment is blown apart by his fail-safe, which quickly puts together another list of consequences, this time including some from actual events in his life.
“I don't think I can.” Danny says. “I've got a previous appointment.”
“Likewise,” adds Mae.
“So go after. We're going to be there a while.”
“We'll see.” Mae concedes.
“That's cool. Anyway, back to the grind.” Edwin struts away, looking back to steal one final glimpse of the newfound object of his desire. How sweet it will be to sample the fruits of Mae, a woman so sweet that she shits roses. Turning the corner, he spies what he believes to be Mae throwing a sexually charged glare at Danny. Edwin curses himself for the moment of weakness in which he invited another rooster into the hen house, a cardinal sin in the business of carousing. Thankfully, the thirty second walk to his desk is long enough to convince himself that the alleged sexual vibe was only a manifestation of paranoia. He tells himself that there is no possible way a woman could be throwing sexual vibes at another man while he is around. After all, he is the hottest commodity at Totally Toys. Just the same, Edwin hedges, assuring himself that if Mae doesn't go to the sports bar, or if the unthinkable happens and, by some flaw in her character she hooks up with Danny, Joan will be his safety. Either way, by the end of the night another chapter will be added to the legend of Edwin Rolle. He is sure of this.