by Marcus Jonathan Chapman
“I wanted you to be the first to know,” Rowan confided in me. I think. Was Rowan his name? I’m not sure. I just walked into the break room and popped open a Fresca. Now this Rowan character, whom I’ve only ever seen in office meetings and the restroom is confiding in me. Was his name Jeremy?
He seems nervous. I sense he wants to tell me something weighty and I can’t even remember his name.
While sipping my soda, he continues. “The thing is, I’ve only ever wanted you to know.” I try not to let the bubbles tickle out a swampy belch as he continues. “But I know that eventually everyone will find out, so I’m telling you now,” Jeremy said? Was his name Jeremy Rowan? Or Rowan Jeremy?
Something like thirty cubicles span the space between me and this RJ character, so why is he unloading his life on me? His badge! I can glance at the name on his employee badge. I look down at the usual badge holding locations. Shirt pocket. Damn. Belt loop. Shit.
His eyes are staring blankly into mine. I’m only half paying attention to what he is saying but I understand from over thirty years of social cues that it is my turn to respond.
“That’s cool, man.” Balls. I think that was too casual. Maybe I don’t understand. I’ll nod a few times, press my lips together and blink slowly. That looks sincere, almost brotherly. Now he’s squinting and crossing his arms. Reremy Jowan is crossing his arms?
“I’m busting out of here.” Jowan Reremy laughs and lets his face relax into a smile.
Thank the gods of social situations, Wojarn Reemy is being facetious. This isn’t a serious conversation. I’m saved. I can call him ‘buddy’, or ‘chief’, maybe even ‘sport’. The point is, I’m free.
“Good for you, man.” I go with ‘man’, it’s utilitarian.
“Excuse me?” Merry Najowe says, lifting his eyelids up and jutting his chin towards me. He presses a finger to his right ear and says, “No, sorry, someone in the break room is talking to me.”
Sipping from the can of Fresca in my right hand, I use my left to try waving Jarme Yerwo off with the old I-had-this-running-conversation-in-my-mind-and-at-the-same-time-I-was-trying-to-figure-out-your-name-while-trying-to-appear-sincere-because-you-sounded-serious-but-were-just-being-facetious-so-now-I’m-processing-all-that-and-casually-waving-you-off look.
I’m not pulling it off.
“I’ll call you back,” says Jeemy Roranw (maybe the “w” is silent?). Wanjo yemerr pulls his finger from his ear and focuses on me. Then the words that change my life forever, come forth from his mouth. “I’m sorry, I was on the phone. You probably thought I was talking to you. What’s your name again? I’ve seen you around, but I can’t remember it.”
So confident, straightforward and kind, he asked for my name with no excuses. Wenermy Jr. shows me a level of class my introverted mind has never fathomed before this moment. Aoeey Wjrrm blows my mind. He is a social genius. I take a loud sip of my Fresca trying to find the words.
With the bubbles still burning my throat, I force out a raspy whisper, “It’s Simon.”
“Well Simon, it’s nice to meet you. I’ll see you around.” He claps me on the shoulder and walks out of the room. Wanormy Reej leaves me with a foundational building block for constructing my retarded-above-average social IQ and my Grapefruit with Lime soda.
I think about how I’ll never forget Wanjo Yererm, or whatever his name is.