“We’re swamped. Maybe later,” How come he has time to fool around? It was okay, though. Paul was a pleasure to work for and protected me from our previous manager, an evil character.
On top of trying to get everything done so I could get out at a decent hour, a consultant just came in to upgrade one of our programs. He was patiently waiting to get my attention. I didn’t want to be rude & keep him waiting. Jerry & his fellow employees were treated terribly by that evil manager. I’d cringe at the way they were spoken to. “Give me a sec Jerry, I’ll be right with you.” Jerry, a very soft-spoken Asian fellow, smiled & nodded.
Time to pull rank. I asked a co-worker to go to our office on the other floor & see if Amy, our marketing rep was in fact wearing a plastic garbage bag for the 2nd time this week. Jerry took advantage of the fact that there was no one else in the room. He cleared his throat, “Marc wanted me to give you his email address.” I smiled. I liked working with Marc. He left Jerry’s company a few months ago. Some nights we’d be working on our new trade entry program until 10:00 at night. The evil manager delighted in everyone working around the clock. But we made the best of it. He used to tell me about his motorcycle & the flying lessons he was taking. Marc was like Dilbert with an edge.
The phone rang. “She’s wearing a bag!” My co-worker was laughing so hard that he could barely get the words out.
“Did anyone ask her why she’s wearing a garbage bag?” I had to ask. Amy was nepotism at its finest. Her antics were one of our fringe benefits. She was zany & very entertaining to say the least. Before he could answer my question, my co-worker lost it & dropped the phone.
Jerry cleared his throat again, “Marc also wanted me to tell you that you were his favorite client.”
The phone rang again. My co-worker got a little of his composure back, “ She said she’s wearing a plastic bag because she ordered pizza. Paul wants to know why you’re so busy.”
“Has she ever heard of napkins?” Jerry signaled that he was done & had to run. I nodded & thanked him. “Is the cheese going to somehow land on her back?” By now, me & my co-worker were hysterical.
“Tell Paul I’m going crazy because we traded with every broker in Europe!” Feeling sarcasm swelling in my lungs, “You’ve heard of no child left behind? This is no broker left behind. AND we don’t have accounts opened yet with half of them”.
“I hear ya!” He continued the Bag Lady explanation, “Amy informed me that wearing a plastic bag is better than napkins because she’s wearing white.” He was loosing it again as I tried to interject. “Wait, I’m not done. I asked her then why wear white? She said, are you ready for this? Because its after May; its fashionable to wear white.”
I hung up on him and put my face in my hands. She talks to our investors?
Wait! In the middle of a pile of trading tickets on my desk was the piece of paper with Marc’s email address. Hmmm, I’m his favorite client? He got my attention.
Let’s fast forward. After exchanging a few emails, Marc invited me to a sailing race. He didn’t sail but his friend John was going to be in a catamaran race in NY harbor that was launching from the Sandy Hook, NJ area. I didn’t know much about sailing. We were in the middle of a July heat wave. It’s too hot to watch a boat race, I thought. Due to the pick up in volume at work I was running a severe sleep deficit and hadn’t been out in the sun too much. And what do I know about catamaran racing? But the one thing I do know about all boating activities; none take place without some festive drinking. So I said I’d go.
But there were snags. The race was starting at 8:30am Saturday & Marc agreed to be there early to help John. He wanted me to go with him, via his motorcycle the night before. They were pitching tents & bringing campers to stay over Friday night. I started thinking, why are these people camping? Isn’t there a yacht club or boathouse?
I couldn’t decide which was more unappealing, riding on the New Jersey Turnpike on the back of a bike or camping. Luckily there was a ferry between Manhattan & a town nearby. I asked Marc if it would be okay if I got up very early in the morning and met him there.
I woke up that morning in pain. Not only was I wiped out from work, I got my period. Cancel! No, I can’t. He’ll think I don’t like him. And he seemed so happy when I said I’d go. Ugh, the forecast was for another hot day. I threw a bottle of Advil and extra sun block in my backpack along with a goofy rimmed hat with a draw-string. Fashion be dammed.
Despite my delicate condition, I made it to the race site feeling okay. Marc picked me up at the ferry & we took some back roads so he could show me a marina where we could rent a boat to watch the race from. But first we’d see his friend off.
I wasn’t pleased to find that the race site was nothing but a bay beach lined with a few campers and (horrors) port-o-johns. There was no yacht club or any permanent structure. His idea of watching the race from a boat was making sense.
The sun was strong. I immediately began reapplying maximum strength sun block and popped a few painkillers. We helped John & his girlfriend get their catamaran ready. The intensity of the sun and menstrual cramps were getting to me.
On the way to the marina, we passed a bar. So I would be spared one less trip to the port-a-johns, we made a pit stop. The bar was a dive, but an air-conditioned dive. The temptation hit me to forego our little boat ride & hangout in the cool indoors for a while. Nah, I wanted to be a good sport.
We rented a four-person skiff with a motor operable from the rear. The sun was bouncing off the water. I was wishing I had a hat with a rim as wide as a sombrero. One thing we didn’t realize. This was New York Harbor. It has as much boat traffic as the Turnpike has cars. That means wakes, big wakes. We were in a little boat. As we speeded along, I felt a full assault coming on from the waves. No!! On top of the sun & my cramps, I was feeling sea sick. Not a good combination.
“Are you okay?” He asked. I’m sure I was turning green.
I looked at Marc as if to beg him to put me out of my misery. “I gotta get off this boat!”
Luckily our boat had a shallow hull so we could pull up to the launching site. He wanted to try to bring the boat all the way in. I couldn’t stand those waves a second more. As soon as we were only a few feet out, I jumped over the side. Of course I got my clothes wet. Not a problem. I had extras in my backpack.
All I wanted to do was get out of the sun & roll up in the fetal position. We both left our backpacks in John’s camper. I changed & crawled onto the bed in there. I wanted to go home but I couldn’t even pick my head up. The racers were trickling back as the race ended. John lost. Marc didn’t want to leave me alone so he waited for John & Courtney to return before he took the boat back.
Courtney was very perky. “I’m going to make mudslides, do you want one?” I groaned. (Not unless you want me to throw up in your camper.) I declined her offer. John looked at me. His diagnosis: sunstroke. Good assumption.
Being out of the sun was a help. I was feeling semi-human and I wanted to get into my own bed. When Marc returned I said I thought I could handle the trip home. But as soon as I got back in the sun, my head started pounding. I didn’t care. I had to get home.
I was about to discover a semi-cure for sunstroke. Absolute terror. We didn’t have much time to catch the next ferry. That meant we’d have to go on a highway to save time. Sitting on the back of a bike going 60 mph was not only frightening, but also nauseating. I held on to Marc for dear life.
Ah! We made it to the dock. I really felt sick. He insisted on waiting with me until the ferry arrived. I was hoping he’d leave. I was afraid of throwing up on him. At this point, everything was making me sick, even his shirt's shade of green. I kept repeating to myself, “Don’t throw up on Marc.” I was hoping he wouldn’t try to kiss me goodbye because I would have vomited on him.
The ferry arrived & we parted ways. He knew to keep a safe distance. Smart man. That ride back was a blur. I was laying below deck and some people were starring at me & asking if I was okay. I got home & slept for 15 hours.
I was mortified by the ordeal. Marc called me the next week & tried to make me feel not so embarrassed. He also wanted to give me some things he had of mine. I hadn’t opened my backpack so I didn’t know that I was missing anything. He volunteered to meet me at lunchtime. When we met he handed me a somewhat see-through plastic bag. Oh no! It was my underwear & shorts that got wet from jumping off the boat. Our backpacks were both black. I must have put my dirty clothes in his. I could feel my face turning red. I thanked him. He washed everything for me. And folded it nicely.
This was a MAJOR clue as to my true sexual orientation. Marc & I never really got it together. But we are friends. How could any self- respecting straight woman not latch on to a guy who would wash & fold your clothes on the first date?
One straight woman did gain something from this experience. I gave the plastic bag to Amy. If she was going to don bags in the office, she might as well wear a cooler, thin one.