Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An Apology to My Deceased Pet Eagle (or: a Typical Day at the Office)

Dear Uncle Jemimah,

I'm sorry I exploited your tragic death to get out of going to Subway with the new intern. I don’t know why I did it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the six-inch veggie max or the sixty-two-inch intern.

Sure, he’s got an incredible range of motion in his neck that makes sharing my doublewide cube rather uncomfortable. That’s why we call him The Owl.

But it’s not like it’s his fault my concentration is so easily shattered by the pulsating stares emanating from his backward-facing head. Clearly I’m the one with the problem.

I tend to get a little self-conscious when gazed upon for extended periods of time, wondering: Is the Bosley spray-on hair I applied before my morning pole-vaulting class dripping down my neck? Do I have the tissue of a long-dead twin affixed to my cranial region that I need to get burned off like my older brother 'Purt did in Jr. High? And why am I still caught in the crosshairs of The Owl’s occular combat? Is he plotting to stroke me with his filoplumes?

These are not questions one should be confronted with whilst attempting to work in a professional office setting.

So, yes. Yes, I did lose my temper this morning. I know I shouldn’t have screamed at him. I should have just enjoyed my finely aged Crystal Pepsi pre-lunch pallet cleanser and ignored his visual cavity search of my starboard ear canal. But instead, I shouted:

“I am two seconds away from tossing a Tootsie Roll Pop at your crazy swivel neck! That way, you could focus on lollipop-lick counting. Because everyone knows that's all owls are good for: applying their Rainman OCD skills to candy on sticks whilst wearing pseudo-intellectual graduation hats and monocles! Stop rotating, Owl!”

But The Owl was unfazed. He simply said I was weird and spun 172 degrees back toward his monitor to watch midget wrestling on YouTube, another of his talents, which just disproved my theory that owls are only good at one thing – goddammit he is ruining my LIFE!

That’s not fair. He’s not a bad person. He showers. He takes an interest in my needs. He even swiveled back around and, in what seemed to be his attempt to make sure we were cool, asked what I don’t want for my birthday.

He listened patiently from his perch as I explained there are many things I don’t want: I don’t want a lap dance from Sweaty Dwayne in Corporate Services; I don’t want pink eye in either one or all of my eyeball sockets; I don’t want to birth a miniature albino centaur swaddled in placenta juice; I don’t want to fall off a very tall building onto a pterodactyl that cranes his neck back to vomit on my face then drops me into the vat of napalm where Newt Gingrich skinny dips.

And after detailing a dozen more scenarios that involved carnivorous plant life with a penchant for human nipples, a sharp hatchet at the end of a mayonnaise-covered Slip ‘n Slide, and “The Human Centipede,” he simply inquired whether I scared mall Santas as a child. I found his concern tender – if not misguided.

What Santa asks what you don’t want? Clearly he’d endured his share of sadism as a boy, sitting on the lap of some white-bearded freak, probably in the back of a windowless van. The least I could’ve done is not reject his third lunch invitation this week.

Had I simply said yes, I never would’ve had to use your name in vain, Uncle Jemimah. But, and you know this after our years of candlelit dinners together, I can be socially awkward at times: the hives, the nervous tic, the inexplicable urge to discuss Mob Wives. I couldn’t do it. Not even for six inches of freshly microwaved tofu patty.

Not even with the star of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3-D.

I panicked, Uncle Jemimah. Before I knew it, I’d used your tragic passing to dodge basic sandwich consumption. I’m so sorry. If I could hold your talon right now and gaze into your beady eyes, I would. I can’t hide this secret from you any longer. So here, here’s everything. Please forgive me.

11:27 AM The Owl

what are you doing for lunch today

can u go 2 subway

11:28 AM Nikki Jacobs

Oh, I can’t today. I told Raul I’d go with him to Trader Joe’s for samples.

11:28 AM The Owl

yeah whatever just thought i would ask

11:29 AM Nikki Jacobs

So sassy!


I’m going to make you eat some leftover hummus with that attitude.

Look, I'd totally bring you but Raul hasn’t been himself for a while now.

He wears a falconer glove at all times.

It's just super embarrassing because our eagle died two years ago

in a freak garbage disposal accident.

11:30 AM The Owl

WHAT! is this a true story

11:30 AM Nikki Jacobs

Why do you think I never bring anyone with me when I leave for lunch?

It's humiliating!

11:31 AM The Owl

Wow. how did he die in a garbage disposal

11:31 AM Nikki Jacobs

We left him in the kitchen and didn’t realize there was some food in

the sink, like down in the drain. He stuck his little beak in there

and was trying to get a nibble, and he just had this incredible

wingspan, and his feathers brushed against the switch. Next thing we

knew he was caught in that goddamn Maytag death trap, spinning around

like an upside-down figure skater just twirling his little heart

out...quite literally I’m afraid.

11:33 AM The Owl

your a liar

11:33 AM Nikki Jacobs

I wish I were. Then I wouldn’t have to live with the thought of his

talons helicoptering, frantically clawing out, to grip a low-hanging

branch with no branch in reach. And the mess. It was a goddamn crime

scene, only without all the sperm. Can you even imagine coming home to

that? The sight of BBQ chicken still gives Raul a panic attack. He’s

convinced that if he hadn’t left those Saltines in the drain, Uncle

Jemimah would still be alive today.

11:35 AM The Owl

You named him Uncle Jemimah?

11:35 AM Nikki Jacobs

I don’t think that’s really at issues here, is it? No. No it’s not. And

anyway what would you deem acceptable, Mr. Buttersworth? Obviously

that would just be weird.

11:37 AM The Owl

it’s weird either way.

11:38 AM Nikki Jacobs

Your face is weird!

11:40 AM Nikki Jacobs

Look, I’m sorry. But naming a pet eagle after fictional spouses of

maple syrup mascots is only weird if you select the obvious wrong


11:41 AM The Owl

if you don’t want to go to subway with me you can just say no. i don’t

really care. i don’t even know what you’re talking about.

11:42 AM Nikki Jacobs

That’s because I’m not finished telling you the main problem.

Uncle Jemimah was the love of Raul’s life and he just never got over

the loss. The glove wouldn’t be a huge deal, but so much time has gone

by. It’s embarrassing that he can’t let go. I don’t really like to

have other people, especially coworkers, ask him questions. It brings

up all that raw emotion again and he starts sobbing, like almost

screaming sometimes once he gets going. it's dangerous.

not just because he swerves into oncoming traffic;

it's also very dehydrating.

11:45 AM The Owl

i’m sorry. that sounds terrible. i’m going to lunch now.

3:57 PM The Owl

i thought of what to get u for your bday. a glove that looks like a

regular arm that Raul can wear over his falcon glove. can you guys go to

lunch tomorrow?

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