PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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A Moving Scene

 

There is nothing I find more moving in the world than actually picking up and moving. Because when you move, all your stuff gets wrapped in puckered cloth and tied up with miles of plastic tape. And suddenly it’s a fascinating work of art. You come to see that these are not movers clomping through your home, but conceptual artists, and you finally understand Cristo and wonder, hmmm, maybe he started out as a mover.

One thing I’ve learned about moving: lots of stuff gets boxed and then forgotten, until the next move. How do I know this? As it turns out, I’ve moved before. And I will admit that I’ve stood by and watched things get boxed even though I knew full well that I would never take these things out of their dark tombs, until it would be time to move again and therefore time to open the dusty box that arrived all those years ago to see if there’s anything inside of interest. Or simply have it moved again without bothering to look inside.

I’ve seen how boxed items can sit on a shelf for years, decades even, which someone is paying for. Not as a line item per se, but paid-for by virtue of the space that your boxed junk is occupying in a corner of your attic. That space may feel free, but it’s really not. According to a dry-cleaner I went to a few times, “Nothing is free!” The dry cleaner posted this sign because apparently someone had asked her to sew a button on a blouse, but didn’t expect to pay for it.

Well, before you know it, you’re dead and your kids have to hire a guy to come and dispose of all those precious 1940s commonplace wall sconces you were unwilling to part with so they can sell your old cranky house. And after opening boxes and looking at all the rubbish therein, everyone has a good laugh, even the junk removal dude. And then they start to weep bitterly because it turns out that you really were a pretty good guy.

There’s a bad novel in there somewhere.

 

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Little Nipper

You’re at a meeting at 10 in the morning, and your colleague suddenly pulls out a flask and takes a haul. What do you do?

What does anyone do? None of you on staff in your combined 300+ years of office experience has ever encountered a co-worker flask-nipping in a meeting during normal work hours. Everyone looks at each other with consternation. Brows are knitted furiously. Is someone going to confront this guy about his drinking issues?

But no one has the guts. And so he keeps on doing it, even in meetings with The Big Boss, who is too nonplussed to know what to say. It goes on and on, with the co-worker drinking from his flask at all hours of the day, at his desk, at lunch, before heading home on his donkey-rickshaw (environmentally friendly, you think? Do you have any clue how much methane each mule and donkey produces each year?). He’s such a goofy dude that on those rare occasions when you all get a drink after work, a beer or two doesn’t seem to make him any looser than he seems during a regular day at the office. But generally speaking, beside his taking regular hauls off the flask and following up with flamboyant, Doc Holliday-esque tubercular coughing fits as he chokes down the liquid, the slugging doesn’t seem to negatively affect his performance. There are even clandestine sobriety tests, as office mates drop papers in front of him to see if he’ll stumble when helping to pick them up. He doesn’t.

The colleague dies one day and his desk is cleaned out, whereupon the flask, hidden in his bottom drawer, empty, is available to be analyzed. Advanced assays are run, whereupon it’s discovered that there is no sign of moonshine inside the flask, but instead ultra high-test French roast coffee (cold brew).

If you're willing to play the flask nipper, I'll outfit you with the means of surreptitiously recording people's reactions at your office job. It'll be a riot! Then, we'll project the recordings onto the west side of my house from dusk to dawn every day so that people walking down the street after dark will be treated to performance art.

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