Rob Taylor: If Guys Could Talk: Grinch Visits Granby
If Guys Could Talk
The first wonder of the parental list of commandments is “thou shalt not lick the flagpole” – a foreign thought for most children until they are told that it is forbidden.
Second, but equally intriguing, is “thou shalt never ask a grown woman her age.”
But rules are made to be broken, and Granby’s Susan Hunter is only human. Her flagpole record is spotless. She has never kissed cold metal – mostly because her friend (from Loveland) got the urge one day to lick the freezer. Right then and there, little Suzie denounced freezers and flagpoles, saving her lips for boys … who also needed to pass the “hottie” test.
But Susan had no childhood guinea pig from the Front Range (or anywhere else) to illustrate the perils of calling attention to another woman’s age. When she discovered that a coworker’s 40th birthday was about to pass by unnoticed, she sprung into action, thinking nothing of the age-old taboo.
You can’t really blame her. Celebrating the decades was somewhat of a tradition at work, and she, herself, had been victimized on not just her 40th, but her 50th birthday.
Ringleader was not a role Susan regularly assumed. She flies under the radar at her job – except for her distinctive laugh (it’s quite charming) or the drone of 1980s music, which may induce a sudden outburst of be-bopping. Her career aspiration draws even less attention to itself ” having a window office. Someday, she just might explode and go postal about it: Scaling the wall of her cubicle and storming the sunlit outer offices. For now, the dream simmers below the surface of her unassuming façade.
It didn’t take “the instigator” long to solicit the help of an expert party planner, Patty, whose reputation is as pure and clean as the wind-driven snow atop Red Dirt Hill. Together, they sabotaged the 40-year-old-to-be’s cubicle with a black cloud of balloons, streamers, banners and party gizmos. When the dirty deed was done, they critiqued their handiwork with a critical eye.
“If that doesn’t say ‘Welcome to the Middle Ages’, I don’t know what does,” Susan chuckled.
“Very gothic,” Patty agreed, deciding to blow up one last balloon.
Their reverie was interrupted when the balloon exploded with a loud BANG. The sudden blast would have alarmed the faint of heart, but the ladies – after being momentarily jolted – thought nothing of it.
“Whoa! Scared me, and I’m fearless,” Susan said with a dismissive laugh.
She worked the phone that night, making sure that every employee arrived at work the next day dressed for a funeral. But the black army was stunned to find the birthday girl already sitting at her desk, not feeling the love. The walls of her cubicle were stripped bare.
There were whispers in the hallway.
“What happened to all the decorations?”
“They were gone when I got here. She must be ticked.”
“Oh, my gosh. Who knew?”
The group dynamic was so shaken that the army was in full retreat by lunchtime – each soldier returning home to change clothes. The cake was cancelled, the candles were not lit, “Happy Birthday” was not sung. All that remained was a lingering silence.
It was as though the Grinch had struck again. No longer content with stealing Christmas, he was now targeting birthdays. This cancelled party was too much for the Office Whos of Granby.
The need for closure and therapy hit Susan the hardest. It came to be known as “the Bermuda Triangle birthday” ” never to be explained or understood, since no one had the courage to broach the subject with the 40-year-old.
Many would chalk up the “birthday incident” as small potatoes. Not Susan. She relives the nightmare every now and then when her mind wanders. To this day, she nearly goes into orbit at the sound of a popping balloon.
But life does not grant us do-overs, and nothing can change the fact that she violated the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule about women and their age.
Today, if you inquire about the age of her 40-year-old co-worker, Susan will tell you “39 and holding.”
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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