CREIG P. SHERBURNE
From an early age, I remember my mom giving me some sound advice regarding relationships.
“Marry your best friend,” she would say. “Marry the person who brings out the best in you.”
Now, I’d have done that, only my sister married him first.
Still, for a few years, I lived with my sister and her husband, my best friend, Christopher.
Then I met Cassandra and I knew that, despite all the rough edges of youth and a more-than-normally difficult childhood, that I had found the one. I think I knew because in her, I saw the woman I wanted to get old with.
I’m willing to wait to get old, though. I’m very patient in regard to aging.
But I really did follow my mom’s advice. My wife is who I want to spend time with. We don’t have to agree on everything, and that’s what makes it interesting — debate.
She works in the English department at Cal Poly. I am a professional writer. We recently got into a bit of a debate over a weird little English thing. I think the sentence “I’ll be pouring the wine,” is a lot wimpier-sounding than “I will pour the wine.”
They’re both accurate enough, but one sounds passive and wimpy to me, as if there’s a big bit of implied political correctness: “I’ll be pouring the wine as long as something doesn’t prevent it.”
Believe it or not, however, the point here isn’t who’s right and who’s wrong. (1) The point is my wife, my partner in life, my favorite drinking buddy, my fellow punk rocker, is not only smart enough to argue English semantics with me, but that we argue fairly. Rarely do they degenerate into yelling matches resulting in the neighbors calling the cops. More often than not, the arguments degenerate into kisses and us calling in our experts.
What’s cool about my life is that in addition to having married my best friend, I’m kind of surrounded by best friends. My brother is one. I don’t get to see him as often as I like, what with his work and school schedules, but I think about him daily and like to send him absurd, unsolicited text messages: “Do you like to rock? I sure do! Rock all the time, I say!” (2)
And it’s not just my brother. It’s also our friend Tracy and her kids — I’ve referred to them as my “rent-a-kids.” These are people we can invite over and not clean the house for — they won’t judge us for having a messy house because they love us and know that raising a family and working full-time isn’t easy.
But it’s more than just family and friends. I also have great coworkers.
I can tell because I spend so much time torturing them.
To be fair, I get tortured a bit in return, but by and large, it’s a one-sided thing.
To be doubly fair, I’d like to point out that we rarely give people we don’t like a hard time. Think about that. If you’ve got a coworker you’re not fond of, that relationship is pretty much strictly professional. Speak when spoken to, speak only on work-related topics. But if you like somebody, that’s when you can begin doing truly horrible things.
I enjoy changing the wallpaper on friend Jim’s computer while he’s on a break. For Jim, I try to keep it strictly to photos of ‘80s hair-metal bands, and extreme close-ups of my mouth after eating a bunch of Cheetos.
I think one of the best in-house pranks ever was when I replied to an email sent to both Editor Heather Young and I. I replied to both, so that Heather would see my response.
Thing is, I deliberately misspelled the other recipient’s name. I won’t include that email address here, but if the recipient’s email address had been firstname.lastname@example.org, then I misspelled it to something like email@example.com — looks pretty similar, but it went nowhere.
The body of the email was pretty horrible: plenty of, “please, you’re a giant idiot. Where’d you get your facts, the litter box? In the future, I suggest standing atop a bucket so there’s a chance you’ll fall off.”
Nothing I’d ever send to anybody ever for any reason — except Jim, maybe — but as far as Heather could tell, I’d just committed a truly horrible and fireable offense, and something that could be printed and forwarded to everybody.
So it’s totally understandable that her face turned bright red and her voice choked and wouldn’t work right when she yelled at me.
My only regret is not having filmed the response.
To be as crystal clear as I can be, that email only ever went to Heather and to nobody else, which is exactly as I intended.
Obviously, things settled down once I showed her it was a prank and that it didn’t go to anybody, but I had to buy one of those one-pound chocolate bars for her to make up for making her face fall off in sheer, “I can’t believe he did that”-ness.
I keep telling her she needs to take it as a compliment that I do these horrible things, but it’s a hard sell.
Send your coworker torture tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see if I can make my lovable, adorable, talented, smart and capable boss’ hair go gray.
1: I’m right.
2: That, by the way, is a great thing to post on your friends’ Facebook pages when they leave their computers unattended for a couple seconds. It’s hugely stupid, yet inoffensive.