A lot of us lead pathetic lives.

Carlotta is still semi-new at what we do, has occasional questions, and since she knows me best of the bunch, she asks me questions sometimes. That’s what people do, right?

Since I got back from vacation, though, she’s got a new trick. She's been snagging me.

At first, on Monday, she came over to my desk and hooked her pinky under my shirt sleeve, basically pulling me over to her desk so she could show me what the software on her screen was doing wrong. Tuesday and yesterday, she snagged me a few times as I was walking around the office, running mini-errands or zapping copies or whatever, by pinkying my shirt pocket. It seemed low-level playful, nothing more.

This morning she snagged me by my belt loop, and this gets my attention more effectively. Then, this afternoon, I was standing in a corner, flipping through a printout for some numbers, when Carlotta put her finger in my left butt pocket and lightly pulled. I turned around, saw this extremely attractive woman smiling at me, and she gently yanked at my pants a second time. I was immediately about half-engorged, and she must’ve seen the blood drain from my face.

Carlotta is not a fool. She knows she’s attractive, knows I’m a loser, and knows what happens when you yank on a man’s pants pocket.

I’m no fool, either. It has to be meaningless — she’s married, I’m a fat doofus, and this morning I forgot to brush my teeth.

Chalk it up to charity. I’m her ‘good deed’ for the day. I’ll take it as a compliment that she trusts me enough to play pinky-tug, and knows I won't freak out or file a complaint with HR.

I’m just wondering, if I don’t turn around the next time she tugs at my pants, what will she tug at next?

♦ ♦ ♦

Kallie and I are having dinner with some friend of hers tomorrow night, and then we’ll watch that Rolling Stones video she's been on about since before her vacation. I said yes, but I’m not that keen on meeting some stranger. Momma always said, never talk to strangers, and to this day I rarely do.

Her friend’s name is J B — just initials — and Kallie says it’s only 50/50 he’ll be there. “He said he’s coming, but he’s a guy who often ducks out of social engagements at the last moment.” If he doesn’t show up, that’s fine with me. If he does, we could talk about our shared interest in ducking out of social engagements.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Xerox machine has been broken all week, but today the repairman finally showed up, and got the machine humming. Which means, at the end of the day I said good night to everyone, went home, ate dinner, and came back to the office with the master copies in my backpack. Time to print the November issue of the zine, as a free fringe benefit of the job.

While the machine was cranking 'em out, I was sweating wet all over my forehead. Paranoid like every month, I was worried that one of the bosses might be working late, and would open the printer-room door, find me stealing a few hundred pages of paper and printing, and fire me.

The door did open, but it was George the janitor, a guy about my age but already almost half bald. We’d talked before, just briefly, on nights I’ve worked late, or nights like tonight, when I was pretending to work late. 

“Hey, Doug," he said. "Working overtime again, huh?”

Our history had added up to maybe ten minutes of conversation over the past several months, but over that time I’ve semi-bonded with the guy. He wouldn't fink me out, I was sure. So what the hell. I told him the truth.

“No, I’m just here to steal some copies.”

He wanted to know what I was copying, so I told him, and explained the concept of zines. He asked for a copy, and I said, “Three dollars,” but he just raised his eyebrows.

Until tonight, I hadn’t shown the zine to anyone I know in real life except my ex-girlfriend Maggie, and even that became something of a problem. George has always seemed laid back and cool, though, so with his pledge not to show it to anyone else who works there, I handed him a copy, free of charge, fresh printed and stapled, and still warm.

He barely glanced at it, then walked away to empty the trash and vacuum the rest of the eighth floor. When he came back, we talked a little longer. He gave me his phone number, and said maybe we could get together some time.

“The thought doesn’t make me want to vomit,” I said, "but you ought to read some of the zine first. You might not want to hang out with me, after reading it.”


“You know, Pink Floyd says, everyone’s built a wall around themselves? I certainly have. But when I write the zine, I tear down the wall.”

George sorta shrugged. “A lot of us lead pathetic lives,” he said. “I’m 38 years old and I’m taking out trash for a living.”

A lot of us lead pathetic lives. I love that line. Like I said, George seems to be a cool dude. Showing the zine to Maggie worried me; I was afraid she wouldn’t ‘get it’, and indeed, she didn’t. I’m pretty sure George will, though.

 From Pathetic Life #7
Thursday, December 8, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life   

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  1. Stay away from that Carlotta girl. Kallie is the one you want.

    1. I appreciate the advice. You're aware, I hope, that this all happened many years in the past.


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