Being late really ruined my morning today. Now all I’d think about was the unwashed coffee mug sitting in my sink. I should have just quickly cleaned it before leaving for work. It would have taken a minute… I could have forgone the 53 seconds it takes to put on my silver bracelets and knuckle ring… I could have gargled my mouthwash 42 seconds less than usual… 95 seconds would have been more than ample to soap up and rinse a little white ceramic coffee mug…
Hey– I can do it when I get home, right? In 8 hours and 95 seconds, it’ll be squeaky clean. In the meantime, I will let it ride… focus on what counts… we’ve got a huge agency pitch… channel the anxiety, channel it into creativity… the ideas… I can SO do this. I’m already on Jim’s bad side, and this is my chance to redeem myself. If Jim, the Creative Director is on my side, I’m golden… I’ve got a future. The mug… the instant coffee grind stained mug isn’t an issue… the WHITE mug with dark, oak brown beaded stains that are seeping deep beneath the surface enamel coating of the WHITE mug… it doesn’t bother me.
‘Good morning, team! Alright, let’s get started. The brief for the pitch. A feminine product– Tamplus. Any ideas? People?… Steve! Lay it on me!’
‘Uh… well… this is all about a woman’s menstruation… her period… a period is also a double entendre on the ‘full stop’ punctuation mark…’
Mark… Mark Twain… white suit… the WHITE mug…
‘So, I’m thinking: ‘Tamplus…A Period No More, It’s a Full Stop.’
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t hear anything after the ‘double entendre’ trope,’ Jim sardonically started. ‘Just to clarify, do you feel the clothes you wear are not making enough of a metrosexual statement? Cause I can tell ya, message received loud and clear without you having to say ‘double entendre’!’
Entendre… rhymes with James Bond… Goldfinger… Nescafe Gold… COFFEE-STAINED WHITE MUG!
‘Malcolm, batter up!’
‘Well, tampons, from what I understand, go inside a woman, and expand as they absorb… women also gossip between themselves about the size of a man’s… you know…’
‘PENIS. You do have one, right?’ Jim wasn’t being rhetorical.
Penis… willy… rhymes with Billy… Bill Gates… Windows 95… 95 SECONDS MORE AND I COULD HAVE WASHED THE WHITE MUG!
Malcolm failing to pick up on the lack of rhetoric didn’t help his situation. ‘Yes, Jim, I do have a penis. Here’s what I’m thinking: ‘Tamplus… The Tampon that Makes Men Jealous’.’
‘Great! Now that we’ve established Malcolm has a PENIS but clearly doesn’t doesn’t have a dick, anymore ideas?’
OH MY GOD… I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE! I know! I’ll say I have an emergency! No, no… Jim will ask what it is and I’ll totally not know how to lie and he’ll hate me more… I’ll create one! Like on a FEMA scale… mass emergency so we all have to clear out! Then I can go home and wash the WHITE coffee mug! FEMA would probably arrest me and take me into that rendition thingy, but I would have at least cleaned the mug and been thrown into that rendition thingy knowing my sink was mug-free and my WHITE mug was WHITE!
‘Carry? Hello? Creative Director to Carry! Slogan ideas, Tamplus?!’
Oh shit, slogan! Think, Carry! Think! ‘Ah, well, Jim,’ and then, the following words came tumbling out of my mouth with a force that was too heavy for me to stop.
‘Well, Tamplus is something women use to avoid leakage, which is a super crisis. At the same time, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is associated with crises.’
I spewed it all out at the speed of light, slowing down for the finale, which culminated into an artistic beatnik whisper, ‘Tamplus… Take the FEMA out of Female’.
Everyone around the table froze. Jim’s eyes stabbed me, and from the looks of it, his psychotic rampage would end up in fatal multiple verbal wounds.
‘FUCK ME! Brilliant! I actually think it’s SO HUGE, it should FUCK ME!’
I hadn’t seen Jim this excited before. I had never heard the word ‘brilliant’ from Jim’s mouth, while directed at my face. Granted, the ‘fuck me’, wasn’t a new, either as a metaphorical exclamation or as a blatant, unabated sexual request.
‘People! THIS IS WHAT SELLS! THIS IS CREATIVITY! THIS IS AWARD WINNING’
Jim continued on.
‘I mean, don’t all the men in the room want to be women just to have a period?! Steve! Malcolm! You’re already half way there, but doesn’t it make you wanna go the full distance to becoming a woman?!’
‘I’m growing tits as we speak, Jim…’ Malcolm conceded.
‘Already have a vagina, Jim.’ Steve confirmed.
‘Carry, Carry, Carry! GREAT JOB! Alrighty! Well, grab a coffee, cause you and I are going to get this rolled out by tomorrow, which means pulling an all-nighter!’
My heart’s racing… I am going to have a heart attack… skipping beats will soon evolve into no beats… an all-nighter? ALL-NIGHTER?! The WHITE mug? What do I do about the WHITE mug? WAIT! I have a client meeting at noon, near my apartment! I’ll go a bit early, wash the WHITE mug and then run to the meeting! YES!
‘Listen, Carry– we have to board ideas by 2pm, that’s the only time the illustrator is free. So, send Sandy instead to the noon meeting with Richter & Co. Lunch on me, my office, 12pm.’
I’LL JUST QUIT. Yes, QUIT. I’ll find another job. Someone will hire me, and in any case, I only really need enough money to make rent. I’ll quit now, go home and wash the WHITE mug!
GET A GRIP! DO YOU HEAR YOURSELF?! You’re going to quit over a dirty, stained, coffee-grind infected WHITE mug?! Screw the mug! Get another one! Throw it out if it can’t be washed back to its original WHITE!
That. Is. My. New. Plan. THROW IT OUT.
‘Carry, come check this out! I think a great TVC can come from this!’ Jim summoned me.
Walking into his office, I was ecstatic. I had a new plan. Throw it out. Now, all my energy could go to the pitch. ‘Sure, Jim, shoot!’
‘We open with a woman on the run, a woman who appears to be running from the law, a woman who went from tabula rasa innocence to a blown-out, full-fledged dirty, rotten scondrel…’
Tabula rasa… Latin… ‘blank slate’…’blank’…’blanco’… Spanish for ‘white’… WHITE MUG!
‘Wait! I’ll go get a sketch pad from the AD’s room, it really comes through in the sketch!’
As Jim bounced out the door, I kept thinking about the WHITE mug while gazing out the window… window… window… what if I sneak out the window??? Climb down the piping, rush back home, wash the WHITE mug, and sneak back in?
Jim always gets tangled up in a minutia of corridor conversations. It will be an hour before he makes it back here– by that time, I would have returned, sitting right where he left me.
I don’t know how I did it, but in 47 seconds, the time it would take me to wash two WHITE mugs, I was on the ledge.
There, I got to know a little bit more about myself.
For instance, that I’m frantically afraid of heights.
A paralysis unlike anything I’ve experienced kicked in. My vocal cords suffocated as my larynx contracted. My legs rooted themselves into the half-foot wide cement ledge, while my fingernails broke one by one, failing to dig themselves into the exterior gray brick facade.
I’m no mathematician, but I was sure between me and the pavement, the perfect quadrature came to form. It would take one itch, one gust of wind, one sneeze to ruin it.
More detrimentally, to ruin ME.
‘Carry?! Carry?!’ Jim’s ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ voice echoed onto the ledge, growing louder and louder as he came closer and closer to the window.
‘Carry? What the hell? What are… what are… what are you doing on the ledge?!’
Before I could answer, before I could negotiate with my parasympathetic ganglia to release my larynx, Jim already made his version of the story, THE version of the story, screaming it out to the entire agency. ‘Quick! Call 9-1-1! Carry’s on the ledge! She going to kill herself!’
Five seconds later, 15 floating heads were bobbing out the window to my right.
‘Don’t do it, Carry!’
‘I know your life sucks! But it’ll get better!’
‘You’ll find a man! You won’t always be the one getting dumped!’
‘Shit! My Car! Jump diagonally! But don’t hit my car!’
The comments slid quickly between a spectrum of extreme worry and biting pity. There I was, listening, hearing it all, when to top it off, a pigeon landed and fastened its talons onto my head.
Slowly, the pigeon released one talon, fastening it further right, followed by its second talon. Juxtaposing itself at a three-fourths angle, tail pointed towards the window, the pigeon froze.
Ten seconds later, an infinitely inadequate amount of time to wash one WHITE mug, it shat straight onto my shoulder.
Everyone gasped louder.
My heart started racing. I broke out into a cold sweat, my hands lost hold of the brick. My trachea contracted, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
My WHITE shirt… look what just happened… to my WHITE shirt.