Like most of our ideas lately, the decision to utilize an antique “partner desk” in our office area seemed like a good one – at the time.
A “partner desk” is one huge desktop – the spatial equivalent of two desktops – with opposing spaces for chairs. Each side has its own set of drawers and ample space for a computer, coffee cup and associated clutter. With space around here at a premium, it seemed the obvious choice over two separate work stations. So what if there was only three feet between us?
The first sign of trouble came when Dirtman placed a small television on a side table. He didn’t wait for me to whine; just looked at me defiantly and said, “I’ll keep it low.”
Dirtman likes to have news running all day, a practice I find not only annoying, but stressful; because to me “breaking news” is a major catastrophe; to an all-news station it’s a bagel shortage in Brooklyn. So we had to come to an agreement about the amount of time the television natters at us. Frankly, I think I made the biggest concession by enduring Imus in the Morning, along with the accompanying commercials so. . . um. . . special . . . to RFDTV. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Big Joe’s Polka Show this Saturday.
So we’ve settled into a semblance of a routine. Technically, we’re facing each other as we work, but our computer screens shield our view. So at any given time I will look up to find Dirtman peering at me around or over our screens, a disconcerting sight when you’ve been focusing on reading something online or deep in thought about what sparkling prose is just about to flow out of your fingers onto the screen.
“What are you doing now?” he’ll ask, the implication being that, since he hasn’t heard any tapping of keys, I must be back here dozing off.
“Thinking,” I answer.
“Hey! I know what you should write about!” What will follow is a tirade about some obscure decision by some sports decision-making body with a name like “The ACLU East” or “The Big Four” and what it means in terms of next season in (insert name of some type of ball). Because you know when it comes to sports, I’m so the woman to write about it.
I’m just starting to get used to the fact that Dirtman screaming, “OH MY GOD!” does not constitute an emergency. It just means that the Nationals dropped in the National League East Division. Or there’s a new flavor of Pop Tarts.
Then there’s the dopey music. Because while Dirtman is concerned that I’m napping on the job, apparently Yahoo Games is an essential part of the soils business. And every game is accompanied by ear worm music that gets into your head. Even I’ve learned to turn off the sound when I play Spider Solitaire. Besides, when I play Spider Solitaire, I’m thinking.
Around 3 p.m. Dirtman starts getting antsy. I’m just about to have an idea to write. . .
“Guess who pays the vice president!”
“Go on – guess!”
“I don’t know. . . We do?”
“Well, obviously,” he scoffs. “But guess who actually pays him.”
“Just tell me.”
“I don’t know. For the love of God, just tell me.”
“The Senate!” he exclaims like he’d told me something far fetched like laboratory chimpanzees had been taught to do vice presidential payroll.
“Hey! Look at this!”
“I’m in the middle of something,” I snap.
“I’m sending you a URL. You gotta see this! Did you get it? Did you get it? Check your e-mail. Did you get it yet? Is it there?”
That I still receive emails from him in spite of our proximity to each other strikes me as bizarre, though it is less annoying than his former method of, “Quick! Type this: www dot . . .”
Of course, the onus is on me to maintain marital harmony in spite of these close quarters. Fortunately, since I don’t possess any annoying habits, this isn’t too difficult. I know he finds my talking to myself inspirational. And how else would an out-of-touch middle-aged man like him find access to mind-numbing, time-draining YouTube videos if I wasn’t around to enlighten him?
And I’m sure he finds the presence of my “posse” – all six dogs – comforting. Their presence leads to my own version of a guessing game: What’s That Smell?
Really, he’s lucky to have me here across the desk.