Marissa and Me

There are days when the world is beautiful: in the high 60s, low 70s, Hawai’i cool, perhaps with some rain, mostly overcast, trades from the NNE. Food tastes better, people are attractive, humanity seems noble or at least capable of it. Days like this I experience chance encounters with information that shifts the perspective, maybe opens a new avenue of interest, plumbs the depths of something long forgotten. Like the dream last night about the turquoise VW bug that I left in an abandoned gas station with the keys in the ignition. Little wonder it was stolen. But what did that mean?

And then there are other days.

So what is the difference between plain nonsense and utter nonsense? Utter is absolute and total; plain is unadorned or evident.

In any case Marissa has the gift of stringing together a series of sentences that alone make sense and even have meaning. But, then, unable to disengage her mouth she goes on with the next thought and the next, thoughts better left rambling around in her brain unspoken. Not quite stream of consciousness, more like elaboration: a thread that snakes its way through a fabric, one end – one realizes in panic — to infinity. She thought associates, sounds and noise in the shape of words that are clustered into bunches. I envision prepackaged fruit in a supermarket: more than you want to purchase and not easily inspected.

Marissa is friendly, upbeat and always willing to help. She’s also always willing to talk, even as you signal that as far as you’re concerned the conversation should be winding down. Tactically, I look down, make noises that signal waning attention, do the mouth scrunch and furrowed brow to show some compassion. I’m also facially saying “Well, what more can we say? What more can be done?” as I sidle to my office.

Her tic only recently registered on my consciousness perhaps because I’ve had more time than in the past to be in her line of vision, as I stand at the printer right in front of her desk waiting for my document. I believe she feels she must acknowledge me. Today she reported that people often mistake her name for my name, which, by the way, is not very much like her name at all. “And it’s been happening since high school! And now,” she threaded onward, when she hears my name sometimes she turns around! “Well, maybe that explains the problem,” I said, plucking the document from the tray and gracefully attempting to beat it back to my cubbyhole. More was said but I had already moved on, fortunately relieved by another office staff member who giggled. And so the ball got passed out of my unwilling hands into an office mate’s.

Maybe there’s a better way to look at this. Marissa is social, she’s inclusive, she wants to make contact, she’d like to get to know me better, she’s nervous and vocalizes instead of falling silent or biting her nails. She needs to fill the void, hers, mine, the office space’s.

Many of our workers are students, god bless them, many of us often say, and so we see their job performance as in the process of becoming – better, we hope! We view students as continually in the process of developing their leadership, no matter what position they hold. Office staff who handle phone calls and emails and greet those who wander in build a foundation for their leadership skills by first becoming excellent followers.

But what’s really great about college students is that they are always seeking approval unless drunk when they really don’t give a fuck about it. But during the sober daylight hours they want appreciation, recognition, validation, and rewards from faculty and staff. Remember, these are the kids who did well in school else they wouldn’t be in college, so they’ve fine-tuned their study skills, putting in just enough effort to earn the grade they want.

I sometimes imagine them as acrobats, leaping from the platform to catch the bar swinging toward them, making the catch and then looping themselves up and over. Always believing a net stretches out below, they are fearless. What helps, too, is that they are at the height of their beauty in the late teens and into the late 20s. Pathetically, some obsess about their looks and are surrounded by trick mirrors that reveal only flaws. A good friend of mine recently found a photograph of herself at age 18 and told me, “If I’d known I was that good-looking at the time I would’ve been fucking my brains out.”

What’s really great about being older is that I don’t need to give a fuck.

Talk story

Leave one comment for Marissa and Me

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to its use of cookies.