June 25, 2008

In The Weeds

There was a time when they reveled in their secret world. It was their happy place. It didn’t matter what was going on in the outside world because they could always find solace and comfort in each other and their world.

For a long time Johnny held a secret fear that this island of hope was a figment of his imagination and that even if it was real, it wouldn’t last. His prior experience had taught him that you couldn’t rely upon that overwhelming feeling of being in love to last.

Sooner or later it would fade and reality would hit and the bright hues would be replaced by more somber and serious colors. Occasionally those happier shades would reappear, but just for brief moments in time.

For a long while Johnny waited for that moment to come, but it never did. Each day he woke up with a smile knowing that June was going to be there smiling back at him. After a while he began to relax and he bought into the possibility that maybe that this time really was different.

For a long while things were really good and life went swimmingly along and then it happened that Johnny and June found themselves in the weeds. At least that is how Johnny saw it. Inside his mind instead of holding hands and walking through lush, verdant green hills they were in the weeds.

A host of little things had crept up and tarnished some of their shine. June apologized over and over for it. She told him that she hoped that she wasn’t a disappointment and said that she was in a funk and she wasn’t sure when it would pass.

Johnny knew what it meant to be in a funk. Truth is that June had helped to pull him out of an extended funk. So he figured that he would do what he could to stand by her and help pull her out. And he tried, oh yes, he tried.

But being in a funk was new to June and she pulled back from him. Where she had always looked to him for help, now she found herself holding him at arm’s length and refusing to let him in to her heart. To be clear, she hadn’t really banished him. Her feelings for him hadn’t changed, she just couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with her funk.

And so Johnny found he and June wandering through the weeds. Those lush green hills were now pockmarked with brown patches and the path to the top of the hill no longer went straight up. Instead it snaked around and was peppered with rocks and thorny bushes.

Still, this wasn’t enough to make Johnny walk away. He wasn’t afraid of being cut and bruised. He didn’t fear having to work a little bit harder for her. He had long since decided that she was a part of his life that he never wanted to say goodbye to.
Inside a small office Johnny stared at a computer screen that was decorated in small yellow post-it notes. He was a technical writer who spent large chunks of his day translating the words of engineers into terms that laypeople could understand and then apply courtesy of the user manuals he wrote.

The work wasn’t especially exciting. There weren’t too many ways that you could describe how to correctly insert a widget into the skeezit without over-torqing the solenoid valve.

The thought made him snort out loud. Every now and then he considered ways to make it more interesting. He used to wonder if people would take the directions literally and whether he could use the manual to make them play Twister. A couple of words to encourage them to do their best to imitate the people in figure one and who knows what could happen.

Maybe, just maybe he could adapt the positions from the Kama Sutra and adjust them a bit. Some people were so gullible he was sure that it would work. The hardest part was not being able to film the end users because unless you did you’d never really know if they correctly followed the directions given in the guide.

Even that could be overcome. Thanks to the wonders of technology he could install nano-cameras in each guide that would automatically turn on and record all that happened around them.

The thought made him giggle, even though it was ridiculously impossible to execute. Ignore the creepy peeping Tom aspect of the cameras and the gazillion dollar lawsuit that would inevitably follow it, there was just no way not to laugh at the idea.

A loud knock on the door interrupted his daydream. His boss was standing in the doorway. He tried not to roll his eyes. As her short stubby legs propelled her forward into his office Johnny hoped that she hadn’t magically gained the ability to read minds or any other sort of psychic gifts.

Shelly was 45 years-old and in desperate need of a fashion makeover. Someone needed to tell her that tight jeans were the province of teenagers and women who were not more than 40 pounds overweight.

Ok, that wasn’t entirely fair. Some women could get away with that, but usually they were taller than her. At 5’4 she just didn’t have the height or the long legs to disguise the extra luggage she was hauling around.

Nor did it help to have a hairstyle that could be best described as resembling something a rat would live in.

Add the sweet scent of 30 packs a day and a guarantee that she’d wear a top that looked like a refugee from the kitchen curtain factory and you had a recipe for disaster.

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