Had a pretty busy weekend after a week of being mostly sick. I woke up Monday (after being around a lot of kids at Merry Main Street on Saturday) with a very sore throat and feeling pretty bad. The past, oh, 6 or 7 times that happened, it was strep throat. It was also a pretty busy day at work. I stayed home and returned some phone calls and responded to some e-mails. By then it was after lunch, and I was pretty tired so I did what I had wanted to do all morning: take a nap. I woke up at 4:30 (too late to head to my doctor’s office) feeling much worse. It was official: I was sick! The next day, I made sure to get to the doctor. Usually when I see her and tell her my symptoms, she looks in my throat and recoils at what she sees and says, “yep, that’s strep,” and gives me a prescription for an antibiotic. I feel better about 12 hours after I take the first one…knocks it right out. This time, my throat wasn’t terribly red. She gave me a swab test and it was negative. So, she just said, “whatever it is should clear up in a few days, if not come see me again.” I went home and slept, then ended up going to work on Wed but still not feeling well. Being away from work any longer was going to make things really difficult for me, though. Thurs I almost felt right, but I had a “frog” in my throat all day. Friday I woke up feeling great, but with no voice and I had to whisper most of the day (although it got me out of phone calls).
Losing my voice made the weekend interesting. My friend Tim who now lives in St. Pete was visiting Shreveport starting Friday (his company had their holiday party there on Fri afternoon) and I drove out there to catch up with him. I was able to talk, but it was funny to listen to it, and I kept straining a bit to get a voice, which made me cough a lot. I sounded sick, but felt fine. Anyway, it was cold as can be outside, but we hit several bars and even managed to find a dance floor that had a reasonable amount of people having a nice time. It was nearly impossible for me to talk to Tim in some of them, but we made the best of it. When it was my turn to buy a round, he had to come with me to the bar to place our order. We hit quite a few different venues, then we sat around and caught up for hours. One of us had a few too many beers and woke up feeling somewhat queasy (as I understand it) in the morning. Then I drove back home and had a nap next to James on the sofa before my company holiday party.
The Office Holiday Party
My company party was, well, interesting. Usually, my boss holds it at his home. He and his wife are great hosts (and cooks!). My boss lived in France for 5 years and knows a few things about good wine and champagne, so we always have terribly good spirits and very good food and a lot of fun. This year, he decided to change things up a bit, and the party was held at a restaurant featuring a murder mystery. It was a bit difficult to catch up with my colleagues’ significant others because we were supposed to be “interviewing” the 50 or so other people in the room to find out if they were the murderer. I didn’t really feel like making chit-chat with strangers with my voice being the way it was, so initially I was a wallflower. Eventually, the game started and an actor came up to us and said she was a detective with the Dallas Police Department, blah blah blah. Although I was wearing a name tag, she asked me for my name. Being a smart-ass, I said something like, “Bob Jones.” But of course, it was in a husky, belabored voice because of my previously mentioned weak voice. Witty banter ensued, then she finally went away. They had us sit down and explained things to us and after a rather painfully long introduction, left us to talk to everybody in the room for half an hour while they served salad.
Then more acting and setting up, and things are happening. Two other actors are introduced, who are seemingly patrons like everyone else, but clearly they are “in” on it as they are squabbling loudly and creating a scene that flows with the plot. Then, the “detective” starts in on some of the companies that are there. There was an obnoxious drunk group from a construction company at the table next to us. She wanted to know who the “top dog” was and gets him up and proceeds to embarass the hell out of him. Great fun for the staff. Then it’s our company’s turn, then one more. My boss has his turn but escapes pretty easily. Then another round of the audience talking amongst themselves, while the “detective” goes off to “run the guest list through the computer,” then more acting. This is where the wheels begin to come off. The construction company keeps getting more and more drunk and more obnoxious, and the “detective” says she has three suspects based on her “research.” She calls out a name. It’s one of the guys with the construction company. She has him stand up and proceeds to embarass the hell out him with some various “facts” that she dug up on him.
The next name she calls out is mine. She has me stand up and proceeds to ask me about being a Risk Management Consultant and about being on the Frisco Planning & Zoning Commission (which everyone with the construction company goes absolutely batshit crazy about). She says she read an article that was in the Dallas Morning News about our sign ordinance, which is frankly pretty restrictive, and starts going off about people not being able to recover lost pets, etc. She embarassed the hell out of me, but I think I was a good sport about it. I kept remembering to smile, I played along (“yes, it’s mean. Yes, I’m a horrible person. Blah, blah, blah” all in my husky, belabored voice). Then she does the same to another guy whose father evidently was with the CIA. He got off easy, but he was cute. At this point, I was a bit bemused, and I assume Gabe fed her all the information, and that the three “suspects” are red herrings to throw people off the trail of the actors in the room, one of whom would have to be the real murderer.
More talking amongst ourselves. Then the “detective” comes back in, and now she needs to take the suspects’ mugshots. So, she lines us up in the middle of the room to everyone’s delight while cameras start to flash. She has the three of us hold up laminated serial numbers. On the back are these cute lines she asks us to read. Mine was, “Is that a shiv in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” again, in my husky, belabored voice. Everyone squeals with delight. Then she assigns us all our prison nicknames. Mine was “Frisky Risky” something or other. I wasn’t paying much attention to the game at this point, I just wanted to sit down and for this all to end.
Shortly after I sit down, a lady who was introduced early in the evening as the head of catering comes over to me and asks to have a word. I think perhaps she wants to thank me for being such a good sport, make sure I’m okay, something like that. Instead, she wants a description of my car. I tell her, and she says, “Oh, sorry. Someone left their lights on and we were looking for the owner. Someone pointed your way and I thought they meant you, my mistake.” I go sit down, wondering at what point a description of my car is going to enter the plot.
The car never comes up. But, the story finally gets to the end where the guests get a sheet to fill out with who they think the murderer is. The “detective” reveals a final clue, which is a note supposedly written to the murderer about how “when I saw you get your mugshot taken, I knew it was you, my _____” All the clues presented that night are summarized on the back of the answer sheet, and the last one is written just like that with the blank. The detective says something like, “here’s the answer and I’m only going to say this once.” She reads the clue complete with what goes in the blank (if you know what it was, you’re ahead of where I was at this point).
She leaves and gives us something absurd like 20 minutes to fill out the answer sheet. I’m studying it, thinking that there’s not enough information to answer, wishing time would go by so this would end and we could leave. Then I look over at a colleague who was sitting next to me, and she has written my name down. Then I look at James, and he says, “you know that it’s you, right?” I think he’s kidding me, but then it dawns on me what was in that blank, and I suddenly have a flashback and remember her giving me my prison nickname, and I then vaguely remember her repeating that name when she read that last clue. Great.
So now the rest of the time can’t possibly tick by fast enough, as I await my no doubt painful exposure as the murderer. After what seems to be an eternity, finally she comes in and takes up all the answer sheets. Then, they have to take time to tally them to find out who the winner is (the most correct answer) with people coming over and talking to me about the sign ordinance and asking if I have kids or dogs and what would I do if they got lost, blah blah. I never figured out if those people were actors or just hateful, nasty people. Another eternity goes by and finally she comes back in and generically asks the audience who they think the murderer is. By this time, a number of people have figured it out, and have also figured out that my name sounds a lot like “Christmas.” So, about 20 or so people in the room are shouting “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” and others are shouting other names. The detective comes in and exposes me as the muderer, evidently because I was a lover of the lady who heads up catering. Again, I play it up a bit, smile, put my arm around the woman, blah blah. They lead me outside the room and the drunk people at the construction table are loving this. I go out in the hallway and they say, “thanks for being such a great sport…here, we have something for you.” I figure they are going to give me a gift certificate to the restaurant or something for being so cool about it, but instead it’s an orange prison jumpsuit and plastic handcuffs. They explain they will announce the winner and then introduce the “cast” and lead me in last for a big laugh (because I’m their “punchline” as they put it). They drag me, I play it up again, hang my head in shame, etc, etc. People take pictures, and of course the cast is encouraging everyone at my table to take pictures. Only one person has a camera (thank god!) but I’m sure eventually (probably 2 or 3 years from now) 57 copies of that photo of me in an orange prison jumpsuit will be pasted all over the office. Hardee harr harr. Fortunately, everybody cleared out of the restaurant in a hurry. I guess they were almost as ready as I was to home after a three-hour ordeal. Oh, and I didn’t get a damn thing for my trouble!
Cookies on Sunday
Sunday we had several friends over for what has become a holiday tradition at our house: making Christmas cookies. This year, James baked a bunch ahead of time, so we could spend more time decorating them. It was fun, but the best part is just having good friends over to make you feel warm inside. We decorated a lot of cookies, and it is fun eating them this week, but we would have had just as much fun if no cookies had been involved.