Author: Miss Dolly PM
A hyper-energentic glamazon has a penchant for Elmer's glue and glitter. A young hoarder barricades himself in his bedroom with soup cans and trading cards. His sister escapes the mess via compulsive shopping, while her best friend takes in sleazy guys as roommates. And the boss of a marketing company reads and drinks too much wine. A river of sticky wax (aka a plot) connects them.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Chapters: 4 - Words: 10,254 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-07-13 - Published: 01-19-13 - id: 3093547
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There was nothing quite as delightful as waxing one's legs at work – at least that's what Laurie thought.
She currently had her right leg propped up on the desk of her office cubicle and she was slowly applying a thin layer of warm, honey-colored wax. Laurie was always meticulous about not putting too little or too much wax on her skin to ensure perfect hair removal for each strip of her hirsute calf. Once she was done applying the wax this round, she set the sticky popsicle stick back in the wax container – sitting next to her keyboard on a paper towel – and then laid a small, rectangular cloth along the wax on her leg. She used her fingers to massage the wax underneath the cloth, kneading it like dough all the way down, and then took a deep breath. She gripped the edge of the cloth, eyes squeezed shut in anticipation. Then, angling toward herself, she pulled back and ripped the cloth from her skin.
"Ungh!" she groaned, holding the dangling, sticky cloth away from herself. Where the wax had formerly been on her leg, it was now all glued to the cloth and embedded in it were hundreds of tiny, dark hairs.
Laurie looked down at her leg. The skin was slightly pink and she could feel a tingling in the freshly exposed part of her flesh, but otherwise all looked smooth and clear of ugly hair. She touched the skin, feeling the smoothness, and satisfied with her work, threw the strip of used cloth away in the garbage can underneath her desk. She then began prepping another part of her leg for the same procedure.
"Oh God, Laurie… not again!"
Laurie looked up, anxiously at first for fear of being caught by her supervisor, but then relaxed and resumed ladling wax onto the Popsicle stick when she saw a dark-haired man with glasses settling into the cubicle next to hers.
"Hey Terri? How you doin?"
"Seriously! Seriously! Are you doing this again?" Terri could barely set his briefcase down or take his coat off without gaping at her.
"What?" Laurie asked innocently. She didn't even look up at Terri; she just began applying fresh wax to her leg, once again spreading the goop in a careful, even layer.
"You are waxing your legs in the office," Terri said. He would have shouted, but instead, to adequately express how egregious he considered this behavior, he whispered and gesticulated wildly toward the other end of the office. "Do you not realize Sandra's office is like less than forty feet away? Do you want to get fired?"
Laurie pursed her lip and gave Terri a skeptical look before setting down another cloth rectangle. "That loony? You know she never comes down here to check on any of us. The only places she ever goes are to Dressbarn and the bathroom."
Laurie sniggered to herself. Sandra was an odd, flamboyant woman who talked in metaphors and riddles, but instead of working as an English professor she served as a high-level director for their marketing company. She wore glasses as round as owl's eyes with frames as thick as earthworms, and accessorized with scarves decorated in gaudy flowery prints. While she excelled at her job, Laurie was right when she said that the old woman almost never made rounds about the office and, more often than not, could be observed sneaking out to take inordinately long trips to the restroom.
Terri was still not amused.
"I don't even understand why you do that here anyway," he muttered, shaking his head. "Don't most girls prefer – I dunno—some privacy?"
Laurie ripped off the second strip and hissed. She looked at Terri while sucking in a crisp, cool breath of air, and then released it slowly.
"Not me. Hell, if this company expects me to shave my legs when I come to work, then I consider it to be a work-related activity. Anything that takes more than 10 minutes in the morning and involves more than a toothbrush or a comb is going to cost me money. So, frankly, I think it's the company's responsibility to compensate me for it – and that's coming either through my paycheck or off my time card. That's a fact, Jack!"
"Whatever." Terri rolled his eyes as he finally sat down at his desk. He shook the mouse at his computer. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
Laurie measured him with her eyes for a moment, contemplating a sarcastic remark for his lack of confidence in her ability to secretly continue her work-prohibited beauty routine, then suddenly smiled and leapt over to his cubicle to embrace him.
"What the –" Terri's cries were muffled in Laurie's strangling hug. She squealed.
"Aww, you can't fool me buddy! You just love me so much you don't' want to see me get the boot! You're so sweet!"
"You're the best coworker a gal could ever have. Love you, Terri!" With this, Laurie just as suddenly released Terri from her grip and skipped back to her own chair. Terri gasped for air. He retaliated as soon as he recovered.
"That is not it, at all," he said adamantly. "It's no snot off my nose who sits next to me at work."
Laurie pouted and gave Terri the wide-eyed look of a puppy.
"You don't mean that," she said that in a sing song voice.
"Uh, yes I do. I come here for one thing and one thing only – to do my job and make money."
"That's two things," Laurie pointed out with a small groaned.
"Well, it is!" she giggled, while bouncing her partially waxed legs on the balls of her bare feet.
Terri rolled his eyes again. "I don't know why I don't just turn you in myself. It'd be nice to come into work for once without having my coworker waxing her legs or putting on nail polish or blow drying my hair—"
"Hey, I've never blow dried my hair here before. That's too noisy. I really would get caught then."
"Whatever. My point is you're distracting."
"Whaaaat?" Laurie feigned looking aghast.
"Yeah, and frankly if you think anybody at work would give two flying fudge burgers if you waxed your legs or not, you're wrong. It's just like you said. Sandra never walks down here anyway, or anybody else for that matter. And if they did – well, whatever. Wear a pantsuit. Or tights. That doesn't mean you have to come to work and torture yourself before you check your email."
"Ho-ho! That's where you're wrong, my friend." Laurie shook her mouse and tilted her computer screen toward Terri. "You see, I have already checked my emails this morning – before you even got in."
Terri rolled his chair over and glanced briefly at Laurie's inbox. He said, in a dull voice, "You have seventy-four unread messages."
"That's right!" Laurie beamed. "I checked my inbox, so I know they're there. Thanks for helping me stay on task, though. I wouldn't want any of them to get away while I was prioritizing other things. You've got to keep those suckers corralled, or else you'll be up past dark with the dogs trying to get them rounded up."
This being said, Laurie began to sing "Home on the Range" – in a painfully high-pitched voice that, in a single instant, in the vast, rich history of musical history, ruined the country genre. Terri groaned, wheeled his way back over to his desk, and resumed checking his own inbox.
As Laurie crooned though, she glanced at Terri out of the corner of her eye. When she saw he had stopped paying attention to her, she stopped singing. For a few dull moments, she watched him click on his mouse and begin storing his read messages. Since she was too far away to snoop on his emails, she examined his appearance instead. Terri was a clean-looking guy. He had told her once that his dad's side of the family was a European mix and his mom's side was Korean. He himself was average height, thin, with dark hair and a smooth-shaven face. Everyday he came to work wearing the same thing – a starched and pressed pair of khakis, a carefully polished pair of brown leather shoes, and a clean, ironed shirt, usually a pale blue, mustard, or gray, often checkered, striped, or plaid. On special occasions, he wore a black suit (and always the same black suit) with carefully polished black leather shoes and a gray silk tie. On casual Fridays, he wore hiking boots, jeans – starched and pressed as his khakis—and a polo, usually pale blue, mustard, or gray. And he always wore the same rectangular glasses with the sleek and slim silver frames.
"Oh my gosh!" Laurie suddenly said, tipping back in her chair, almost to the point of falling over. "I know why it bothers you so much that I wax my legs!"
Terri stopped typing momentarily, but he didn't look up. "I don't care that you wax your legs," he said. "I care that you wax your legs at nine in the morning while we're both at work and your cubicle is next to mine. It's distracting. And frankly," Terri decided at this point to turn around and look at Terri, "that stuff gets everywhere, no matter how careful you say you are. Every time you bring out that tub of goo, some of it – not necessarily a lot, but still – some of it gets on my desk. And that's disgusting."
"You know, the best way to get that stuff off is with a little baby powder," Laurie said with a cheesy grin. "Just sprinkle some on there and it will come right off – feels like cookie dough, actually."
"Not the point. I don't want it on my desk at all – and lest you accuse me of being intolerant or unreasonable, let me say right now that I don't want to be in contact with anything that's been designed to groom, trim, remove, straighten, cleanse, or style your dead skin cells."
"And I know why!" Laurie clapped her hands, clearly ready to burst if she didn't get it out of her at that moment.
Terri sighed and said, "What?" He knew instantly he would regret giving her this permission.
"Because you're a neat freak!" Laurie's giggled and her eyes twinkled.
Terri sighed again.
"Oh my gosh, yes!" Laurie positively squealed. She started babbling rapidly. "I don't think I've ever noticed before because I always assumed you were just a nerd because I saw that you wore those nerdy computer guy outfits – like the guy that pretends to be an IBM computer in the Mac commercials – but then I always wondered why I never saw you wear like a Star Wars t-shirt or something geeky – but then I thought you might be a Trekkie who was ashamed of his complete VHS collection and signed photograph of Nichelle Nichols taken at some scifi convention -"
"Laurie," Terri failed to intercede as Laurie steamrolled on.
"…But then I thought you might just be one of those really dependent guys who still lives with his mom, and I figured you were letting her buy all your clothes for you – and I thought about how Asian ladies like to be domestic and stuff by ironing and making their sushi lunch plates—I think they're called pinto boxes – anyway, they make all the seaweed and rice look like cartoon characters and flowers and stuff—"
"Wow, really?" Terri rubbed his temples in disbelief.
"But then I thought that was a little racist -"
"A little, huh?"
"Which then led me to think that your mom is actually a bit neglectful and you've grown up with a sense of detachment from the world so you compensate for that lack of affection in your life by perfecting your physical appearance, which you present to the world in hopes of securing true love – and then I was just like, 'nahhhh. He smiles too much for that.' Which is how I figured it out finally. You're just a neat freak!"
Laurie concluded this impromptu spiel with a clap of her hands and a big goofy smile plastered on her face. She watched Terri expectantly, as if waiting for him to spring forth from his chair, dance a merry jig, and shake her hand profusely for solving the mystery of his life's existence.
Instead, she was rewarded with a blank stare and several more of Terri's patented, sporadically timed blinks.
"This armchair psychology stuff isn't easy, you know? I could use a little positive reinforcement here." Impatiently, Laurie jiggled the armrests of her chair. "Terri, why are you looking at me like that?" She continued to smile at him, like a toddler proud of spilling a glass of milk.
"I-" Terri started, then stopped. He chuckled and shook his head. "Wow, I just don't even know… Have you really thought that much about me? And my family? And my life? Are you secretly stalking me too?"
"What? No! Don't be crazy! Why would you say that?" Laurie gaped at him.
Terri put his hand to his chin in mock-deep though. "Well, you just listed off like half a dozen explanations for why I must be the way I am, and all of them were oddly descriptive, although also pretty bizarre and wildly inaccurate. On the upside, I guess that means you're right. Anything so far off from the truth is reassurance that you're not stalking me."
"But you are a neat freak," Laurie persisted, still smiling her playful, devilish smile.
Terri raised his eyebrows with a great breath and said, very slowly, "Noooo… I am not a neat freak. Just because I do not want to see you spreading flubber on your naked legs in the morning doesn't mean I'm a 'neat freak.'"
"Yeah, but that's not it, though. You always do your hair the same way."
"Okay, big deal."
"And you wear the same thing to work."
"Professional appearance. Right?"
"And everything is always perfectly ironed."
"Yep. Because I'm not a slob."
"And look at your desk!" Laurie jumped from her chair again and smoothed her hands all over the surface of Terri's desk. "No clutter – ever! Always clean, clear space!" Laurie continued to smile, although her grin now resembled that of an advertising model in an infomercial.
"Yeah, because I don't clutter it up with my cosmetics in the morning," Terri said, his voice lilting with an edge of annoyance.
"Oh yeah? Well what about this" Laurie picked up Terri's stapler, which previously had been sitting at a perfect 90 degree angle to his cubicle wall. She set it back down at a random, obtuse one. "And this?" She reached to pick up his whole punch, which had also been in perfect alignment with the wall. This went down at an extremely acute angle. "And this!" Laurie grabbed a stack of Post-It notes, each one laying on top of the other in a perfect tower, organized by the colors of the rainbow from top to bottom. When Laurie plopped them back on the desk, they spilled and several fell to the floor.
"Laurie! Stop it!" Terri scrambled to pick up the sticky notes. "What are you doing?"
"Oh my gosh! Look at this too!" Laurie reached over Terri's hunched body and grabbed his pen holder, which was divided into three sections. Each one held exactly twelve pens, all the same brand, all with plastic caps neatly secured over the ink tips. Red, blue, and black they were, not a single one mixed with kin of any hue other than its own.
"How can you say you're not a neat freak?" Laurie said demandingly. "Look at this. Your pens are racist!" She shook the cup of pens at him as evidence, the utensils inside dancing.
"My pens are not racist," Terri said, grabbing the container of pens back and putting it back on his desk, in the exact same location where Laurie had originally picked it up. He had also restacked his Post-It notes according to color and realigned them next to the hole puncher and the stapler. All again were at perfect 90 degree angles to the cubicle wall. "And don't ever touch my stuff again – seriously. Just because I like things a certain way doesn't mean I'm-"
"Here, look at a normal pen holder." Laurie grabbed an oversized coffee mug from her desk that she was using as a pen holder. The cup had the phrase, "I'm not really a bitch. I just play one in your life" printed on its side, and it contained a variety of things – from pens to straws to what appeared to be a dried out stick of licorice.
"See, my pens are part of a wonderfully diverse neighborhood. Please note my purple pen with the fluffy fluffs on top." Laurie wiggled this pen, a few of the purple 'fluffy fluffs' shaking off and floating to the floor. "And this awesome pencil I got from Dallas." Here, she held up a novelty pencil that was at least a foot long and an inch thick in diameter with the words "Everything's bigger in Texas" sprawling on the side. "And also this handy set of pens – check this out. When you turn them over, they turn into chopsticks!" She demonstrated these accordingly, using the tapered ends to pretend she was eating and then flipping them over to scribble on the paper towel (which her tub of wax was still sitting on, the wax inside stiffening).
Terri closed his eyes and took a deep breath. If one didn't know better, he might have been a young metropolitan monk practicing 21st century cubicle meditation. For a long pause, he sat still and silent, his shut eyes fluttering slightly at the lashes and his nostrils flaring with each measured breath he took. Laurie watched him, bemused. Then, without another word, he turned back to his desk and began checking his emails once again.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Laurie asked, leaning over to peer at him.
"Working," he snapped, clacking away at his keyboard. "Something you never do. Now leave me alone so I can get something done today."
Laurie tilted her head to the side and examined him from her seat, like a microbiologist examined amoebas or bacteria from under a microscope. She zoomed in and zoomed out with her pupils, squinted her eyes, tried craning her head at different angles. Whatever she did, her eyes were unequivocally on him.
This did not escape Terri's notice and as her unyielding gaze pierced him, his hands trembled at his keyboard, desperate for some kind of productivity or purpose. His inner monk could not retain his silence, though – at least in the face of the orthodontic nightmare that was likely to ensue if Terri continued to grit his teeth. He whipped around and shot Laurie a glare that rivaled that of even a sopping cat in a bath.
"Why are you staring at me?" he growled.
With a soft bat of her eyelashes, Laurie said, "You know I love you, even if you are a neat freak. You don't have to be ashamed around me."
"Ashamed?" Terri spat. "Wh-wha… ughhh." Terri uttered a strangled laugh. "N-never mind. Never mind. You just don't get it."
"Aww, Terri, do you need a hug?" Laurie leered at him, still smiling.
""No!" Terri finally exclaimed, drawing the attention of a few of the nearby cubicle workers. They quickly looked away when they saw the pinnacle of frustration contorted into the expression of his face. "Now leave. Me. Alone!"
"But I just –"
At that moment, Terri's phone started ringing – a soft, soothing ring since the office phones were designed to alert their local cubicle worker and not those around them. Laurie's mouth hung open as she tried to finish her statement, but Terri was like a mouse darting for its cubby hole in the attic. He grabbed the phone and spoke up immediately, his face washing with so much relief he might as well have been granted his halo, angel wings, and a permanent spot in the eternal paradise.
"It's a great day at Merrill Marketing Solutions. This is Terri. How can I assist you?" He rehashed this heavily rehearsed phrase with all the cheer of the actors in the original training video the company made all new employees sit through. "Oh, Mr. Wentworth? Helloooo… how are you? Such a delight to hear from you. I've been expecting your call. No, no – now's the perfect time to talk. My morning is completely free. What's on your mind?"
Terri gave a false, drawn out laugh, shot Laurie one last menacing glare, and then spun around in his chair toward his computer, turning his full attention to the call.
Laurie pouted and turned back to her own desk. The purple fluffy fluff pen, novelty Texas pencil, chopstick pens, and the tub of wax with the leftover Popsicle sticks and waxing cloths were still spread all over her desk. She tried to stir the wax a little, but it had cooled again and was too hard to use without reheating. Laurie didn't feel like getting up to go to the microwave in the tiny office kitchen though, nor did she feel like moving any of her stuff. Without further ado, she slouched in her seat, shook her mouse to wake up her monitor. Without Terri to annoy and her wax cold, there wasn't much to do at that point besides work. When her screen lit to life, her inbox showed ninety-two unread messages. She clicked reluctantly on the newest addition and began scrolling through them all, one by one.