Age

My coworker Marcus took a bite of his tuna sandwich and chewed thoughtfully.

I tapped my spoon against my bowl, waiting impatiently for his answer.

“No,” he finally said. “She’s too old.”

My mouth dropped slightly in disbelief.

“Halle Berry, in all of her gorgeous glory, wouldn’t do it for you because she’s too old? You’re 41, though.”

“I know. But I want to have kids. So I’m looking for a woman who’s younger.”

My eyebrows arched involuntarily. “Only younger?”

He nodded with steadfast assurance. “Only younger.”

I stay in my own peer group.

I never choose strictly from the naïve hearts of tender youngsters or from the weathered ones of secure veterans.

But interestingly, I’ve gotten offers from both ends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Leon was getting on my last nerve.

My absolute last 9-year-old nerve.

My friend Samantha and I were playing with her toy kitchen when her little brother interrupted us.

For the 15th time.

He’d steal the plastic burgers from my hands.

He’d sing at the top of his lungs whenever I’d try to speak.

When I’d walk over to the tiny sink to “wash” the dishes, he’d pull my braids and run away.

Samantha would threaten bloody murder as big sisters do.

But seconds later, he’d return.

Always with me as the target of his activity.

One day, I complained to my mother about it.

And she responded with a horrifying thought:

“I think he likes you.”

What?! No, he’s too young. He’s in the second grade, for goodness sake. It can’t be.

But it was.

And as time went on, it always seemed to happen that way.

Maybe it was my small stature or quiet spirit. But whenever a friend had a younger brother, he would inexplicably develop a crush on me.

Now, as an adult, I’m garnering attention from the opposite end.

One day, I was walking leisurely when I felt a pair of eyes on me.

I stopped and looked to my right. There was a man with a beard the color of smoke and a leathery worn face.

He eyed me for a second and then began walking toward me.

I stuffed my headphones into my ears and quickly turned on something, ANYTHING, to muffle what was sure to be a pseudo complimentary yet unsuccessful greeting.

I recounted this to Marcus, who, responded in the expected way.

“You are attractive. Well, why wouldn’t he try to talk to you?”

“But he’s definitely older than my father. That’s a nearly 30 year age difference.”

“So? He could be your sugar daddy.”

I shook my head vigorously. There’s not enough sugar in the world.

Lesson: Age ain’t nothing but a number, depending on who’s doing the counting.

Mardi Gras

Nancy’s red curls bounced as she arranged the cakes on the table.

“You have two choices,” she said cheerfully. “Raspberry and cinnamon.”

We were nowhere near New Orleans but that didn’t mean we couldn’t celebrate Mardi Gras. On a gray Tuesday morning, Nancy decided to brighten up our work day with a sugary breakfast of King Cake.

As I cut a slice of the cinnamon, Nancy told me the history of the office king cake and the recipients of the storied plastic baby.

“Rona got it last year and she ended up getting married. The year before last, Clarice got it and ended up pregnant. Ernest got it the year before that and his wife got pregnant.”

I giggled and began to walk to my desk with my slice in hand. “Well, let’s hope I don’t get it!”

The next morning when I got to my desk, sitting in a jumbled nest of violet and turquoise beads, was a tiny smiling baby.

For sure, I know I’m not  and won’t be expecting. So let’s see what else the year brings… 🙂

Watch What You Eat

Water Cooler Lesson of the Week:
Before you indulge in the office’s free lunch, consider the hands that made and touch it. 


A couple of months ago, a coworker of mine brought in a homemade carrot cake. He placed it on a nearby island for anyone with a sugar jones to enjoy. The frosting was creamy and inviting. The cherries on top looked fresh and sweet. But I was halfway through my slice of cake when I noticed Amy’s stern look. 

“What?” I said, with my mouth full.

She asked me, “Why are you eating from them?”

I searched her face for any sign of humor or glee. But there was none. She was all business.

But I had no idea where she was coming from. “What do you mean?”

“You know we don’t eat from them. You only see them here but who knows what their habits are like at home. You don’t know what their kitchens look like. You don’t know if they’re clean. And some of them you know for sure aren’t!”

Another friend told me a similar story of a former coworker who would always share her dishes with the office. My friend never partook of the offered treats due to the fact that said coworker went dumpster diving on a regular basis.

My appetite suddenly gone, I looked down at my slice of cake and slowly flipped it over into a nearby trashcan.

Recently, a dessert of a giant chocolate dipped, candy confetti encrusted fortune cookie was placed in the kitchen. I watched as whole palms groped the cookie, noses swept over the chocolate, and coffee-odored breath moistened the sprinkles.
While watching, I saw Amy out of the corner of my eye. She smirked and gave me a knowing nod.

That’s why we don’t eat from them.

Dudes Don’t

It’s common knowledge that men and women are different. Men have greater physical strength. Women are better at relating emotionally. A man’s body is a series of angles while a woman is a composite of curves.

But who knew that even the little everyday things both of us face flow differently?
My coworker Bernard broke it down to me:
Dining
“If I go out to eat, alone or with a guy friend, I sit at the bar,” he said.
“What!?” I exclaimed. “You wouldn’t sit at a table?”
He turned his head side to side in disapproval. “No, we gotta sit at the bar. Especially if I’m eating alone. If I’m by myself, at least I can talk to the bartender or look at the T.V. If a man sits alone at a table, he just looks sad.”
Hmm. “Not even a booth though? If there were four of you…?”
He sucked his teeth as he pondered.
Finally, he said, “Maybe.”
Movies
“When I go to the movies with one of my boys, we don’t sit next to each other.”
I laughed. “Why not?” Every movie I’ve gone to see, whether it was with a man or a woman, we sat side by side, occasionally brushing elbows as we shared the use of the cup holder/armrest.
“Men just don’t. He has to be a seat or two over or up. The only guy I sit right next to is my brother.”
Bernard shook out his arm as he finalized, “You need that space.
Beds
When I have guests over, I usually give them my bed while I sleep on my couch or an airbed.
But Bernard shook his head at that.
“Only my mother can sleep in my bed,” he declared. “I had a friend of mine come over and I didn’t see him brush his teeth once…he can’t sleep in my bed.”
I was intrigued. “Really? What if a friend of yours had major surgery and had to stay with you. Where would they sleep?”
A handful of seconds passed.
“My couch pulls out. They’ll be fine.”
I told him,” Well, there have been times when I’m visiting a friend where we share a bed.”
At that admission, Bernard responded with a blank stare.
“No…just no. Dudes don’t do that.”
Our differences are indeed amazing. 

Change

Whatever they were talking about had to be good. I heard Amy’s spirited alto and Bernard’s stubborn tenor going back and forth like a game of tennis.  As I got closer to Bernard’s desk, I heard, 

“It has to be a certain grade, a certain type.”

He wasn’t talking about meat. He wasn’t talking about a car. He was talking about hair. 


“He doesn’t date girls with natural hair,” explained Amy, her voice coated in disbelief. 


“No, it’s not that,” Bernard countered quickly. “But if it’s the dry coarse kind, then they have to straighten it.” 


His statement made me think.


 I wondered how many gorgeous and wonderful women he passed over because their hair coiled too much. 


I wondered how many of his girlfriends had hot combed their kinks into flat strands.  


And I really wondered, 

How much of yourself should you

modify

alter

 change

 add

 subtract

  for someone else?



Physical appearance is inarguably one of the strongest factors in attraction. Both men and women savor pieces of eye candy that walk into their lines of sight. But I wonder how much of what we do to change our looks is for ourselves.


Is it more to catch eyes….?


Is it more to keep eyes….?  


Even our personalities can be affected by what our significant other thinks. Audacity is carved into meekness. Thoughtfulness is sharpened into selfishness. What’s loud becomes soft. What’s low becomes high. 

Soon, who you were is gone. 

Relationships can be catalysts for change. But sometimes, they can refashion a person into someone altogether new. 


Not better. 


Not worse. 


But different. 

Be sure that you can live with the difference. 


When the relationship is over, you’ll still have to live with you. 

Dollar



I was louder than usual. I was bolder than usual. But the statement was so jarring that I had no time to censor myself. 

“You did what?”

 My coworker Bernard repeated himself, reciting it once again with no shame. 

“I bought salmon from the dollar store.”

He smiled nonchalantly and nodded his head. During a shopping trip, Bernard had decided to take advantage of a great deal and purchase some dinner, stuffed salmon, from a dollar store. His previous food purchases from those stores always ended well,particularly when he bought one of his favorite snacks, Fig Newtons.


“You could get a whole fig in one bite,” he said, his eyes glazing over at the memory. 


 I appreciate the financial relief that dollar stores bring but I’m scared of buying anything from there that I have to chew, absorb or ingest. 


Their items cost a dollar for a reason.

 “So, how was it?”

Bernard began to laugh. When he got home and began to prepare the salmon, he made a disappointing discovery. 


There was only an inch of salmon meat. More than half of the “salmon” was breadcrumb stuffing.


What have we learned? You get what you pay for. 

Battles

My office has been transformed into a war zone. 


Abigail’s words turned into croaks. Red quickly flooded her eyes, and tears collected in the corners, threatening to spill down her cheeks.  Sadness was etched all over her face. The director of my department sat before me, drenched in defeat.

For the past year, she has not gotten along with Regina, the editor-in-chief of our publication. Their battles are legendary. Phone calls so loud that they can be heard beyond the closed door. Fiery e-mails that clog in-boxes. Open disdain when in the presence of one another.  It was common knowledge that the two hate each other. 

Not dislike.

Hate.

And now, it looks like that hate is going to destroy Abigail, professionally and emotionally. The discord between the two has unintentionally drawn battle lines. Some coworkers are on Regina’s side, catering to her cause while undermining Abigail. Others are on Abigail’s side, having experienced the nastiest side of Regina’s attitude and believing that this fall-out is a result of not bending to ridiculous demands. 

It even appears that those who Abigail answers to have made their pick. They told her not to take Regina on because

she.

would.

NOT.

win. 


“I really want to quit,” she said wearily, her cry making her voice crack. My heart breaks as I look her and I feel so helpless.

But…

I know Somebody who isn’t.  

I am going to join the battle—– the spiritual one.

 It occurred to me that this is not truly between Abigail and Regina but unseen forces, greedy to see them both destroyed

Since that day in her office, I pray daily to the Father, asking Him to bring justice and fairness, for peace to return to her personal and work life, and most of all, for her relationship with Him. Jesus definitely uses twists of life to introduce Himself to a daughter who forgot Him. 

Instead of firing a bullet, I will keep whispering prayers until something breaks through. 


And something will.  

 O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on Your armor, and take up Your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.”
-Psalm 35:1-2


Trust yourself

She released a heavy sigh before she spoke. “I owe you guys an apology.”


My co-worker Amy and I listened to her, me stirring my cup of coffee and Amy sipping her water. Both of us with amused expressions on our faces.

“He wasn’t what I thought,” Rebecca said. “He is arrogant.”

We nodded our heads, smiling. “We told you!”

For the past few months, Rebecca had been trying to convince Amy and I to date another employee, Roy. Nearly every week, she would drop barely veiled hints about his attributes and availability. 

One day this past week, my desk phone rang. It was Rebecca.

Your husband is on the floor.



When I asked what she meant, she responded, “You’ll see what I mean in a minute.” A couple of minutes later, Roy comes by with my paystub.  


Whenever we would dismiss her reasoning, she would counter back, “You guys are going to miss a good thing.”


I hadn’t gotten a chance to converse with Amy about the whole situation. But I finally got the opportunity when I sat next to her at a company luncheon.


I leaned over to her and said in a hushed tone, “So has Rebecca been talking to you about…?” I trailed off and glanced at Roy, who was standing a few feet away. 


Amy followed my gaze. Her usual look of cool classiness was immediately replaced with pure disgust. “Oh my gosh! I was so insulted when she said that!”


“He is arrogant, am I right?”


“Yes! And with no reason to be! With his messed up hair!”


After the luncheon, both of us decided to pay Rebecca a visit where she apologized. She herself had a morning encounter with Roy that swiftly changed her opinion. I’m not sure what transpired but it must have been serious since there were no remnants of her matchmaking left. 


“He just seemed like such a good guy,” Rebecca stated, shaking her head. 


Happy that a date made in hell had been averted, Amy and I walked back to our desks, agreeing to meet for lunch soon. “We gotta come up with strategies so we can get married soon,” she said, half-jokingly. It’ll be interesting to see what we come up with :). 

Though I trust and often seek Rebecca’s wisdom and insight about faith, love, and all areas of life I haven’t gotten to yet, I wasn’t sure about her accuracy on this one. My gut, heart, and head were not drawn to this man. And it turns out I was right.  Lesson of the day: It’s always good to trust yourself.

Thanks but no

“Who?!” The word shot out of my mouth in a high soprano and at bullet speed. 


 “Roy. The guy on the 4th floor.” My coworker’s eyes danced and her voice rung tenderly. “Don’t you think he’s cute? You should date him.”

I stood there in stunned silence for a second or two. Once I found my voice,  I said something to the effect of “Thanks but no.”

While I am single and waiting/looking, Roy didn’t show up on my radar for two reasons. 

Reason #1: We work together. Now, I have seen people succeed at turning a fellow employee into a mate. My aunt and uncle actually met at their job and still work together. So did my parents, come to think of it. But for every fairytale work romance, there are five horror stories.

There’s also the unique situation of healing heartache. I know my heart better than anyone else except God. And both He and I know that seeing my heartbreaker five days a week would make any emotional bruises heal at a snail’s pace. 

Reason #2: He’s not my type. I don’t expect to find the perfect man but I’d like him to have some of the qualities I’m looking for. I know that he’ll come with flaws but hopefully, they’ll be flaws I can live with.  Roy comes with one that’s a dealbreaker : Arrogance. When I speak with him for a project or task, I get the feeling that he’s dumbing down his speech. His head is always held high as if he’s wearing an invisible crown. It can be intimidating but I just see it as annoying.

 My matchmaking coworker told me she tried to introduce the Roy possibility to another young single coworker who shut her down…for all my reasons and then some. The matchmaker rattled off a list of reasons of why we should take Roy off the market:

“He’s cute.”

“He has a gorgeous smile.”

“He’s cut because he plays soccer. “


I smiled and refused again while walking back to my desk. A short time afterwards, Roy passes by my desk on his way somewhere else. He’s wearing a scent that is heavy and sweet and lingers in my space long after he turns the corner. A minute later, my phone rings with an update from the matchmaker:

“And he smells good.”


I burst into laughter. While that’s a wonderful thing, it’s still thanks but no. 


Superfluous but loved

I had a conversation with a friend about a week or so ago about superfluous people. You know, those who spit a million honorifics before getting to their actual given names. Those who add every single degree they ever received  (undergraduate, graduate, and honorary) at the end of their e-mail signatures. Those who tout authority over a subject that’s doesn’t even belong to them. They seek to be seen in the right light, even if it means darkening other peoples’ reputations. 


For the past year and a half, I’ve worked under such a person.  While she is nice and friendly, she walks to her own drum beat and not in a good way. I’ve seen her “go rogue”, skip protocol, and send e-mails to the entire staff about subjects that don’t fall under her jurisdiction. She’s deftly transferred many of her duties to me and volunteered me to work on projects without my prior knowledge. And worse of all, I’ve actually witnessed her (and heard from others) make me the scapegoat for things going awry. 


Naturally, all of these things, topped off by possible damage to my name, irritated me to no end. I  began to resent her. Whenever she asked me to do something, a bitter taste would form in my mouth.  


But one day, I remember walking back to my desk.  I was heated up about some incident involving her, and I was ranting internally. But through all that mental ruckus, I heard God say:

“I love her just as much as I love you.”

That stopped me in tracks. Despite all of her (professional) flaws and her social faux pas, He loves her completely and eternally. Just as much as He loves old sinful, selfish, imperfect  me. After that moment, I tried harder to have more patience and grant her more grace. And though her treatment of me didn’t change much, my perception of her did. 


Unfortunately, as I write this, she may be losing her position due to her work performance. And though the dismissal is warranted, I sincerely pray that she lands well. 



“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other”
-I John 4:10-11