Thursday, July 26, 2007

a most unfortunate interview

The worst job interview I've had--and I'm a bit reluctant to place this crown on any interview for a job that I didn't get, as so many of the successful job interviews led to months of soul crushingly mundane employment and could therefore be argued to be worse by the nature of their success, though such a precedent would move this post from the merely anecdotal and into something a bit too philosophical for this hour of the morning--occured shortly after my graduating college and wasn't even for a "career" sort of job. English majors rarely have those interviews anyway. No, this was just a simple bookstore job involving little more that stocking shelves and the typical customer service activities. It was something to pay the bills while I tried to talk myself into a grad school program that never materialized. It was not unlike any of the other jobs I had worked while in college and I entered the interview seemingly calm and relaxed. I was trying to give that impression anyway, but an unusually warm January day had rendered my thick turtleneck sweater a poor wardrobe choice that left me baking and sizzling under the cafe atrium skylight like so many of the ants I tortured with magnifying glass as a young child and then again as an older child and young adult.

Ants are bastards.

One of the women across the table, perhaps after seeing me mop my brow with a napkin, offered me water that I declined under the rationale that a candidate refusing water might appear more employable than one swilling free water like there's no tomorrow, as if these two nice older women, one looking oddly like a taller version of my high school guidance counselor the other a dead ringer for a shorter version of the same woman, watching me sweat from three short feet away were in the market for a camel. It didn't make any sense, I know, but I would be that camel just in case.

Irregular sleep patterns, a bit too much drinking, and any number of similar shenanigans associated with the final days of one's college career had perhaps taxed the physique a bit too much to pull of a good impression beneath sheets of sweat, but I did a damn fine job of it for the first half of the interrogation. I leaned back casually in the chair with my legs crossed and a lazy half smile pleasantly stretched across my reddening face. I glided through a seemingly informal discussion of college and previous employment. I threw out anecdotes and asides like a regular Regis Philbin, doing so with such ease that not even I could remember which ones, if any, were true.

Then came the stumbling block that derailed my bookstore career and ended the interview in fearful looks from my tall and short counselors that I would see again and again from across the room every time I visited the store afterward.

My future was a bit harder to make up than my past. I threw out the possibility of going after a MFA in creative writing, which was partially true, and then took it a bit too far by mentioning that I was writing a novel.

"Oh really," the short one said, "What's it about?"

It was a reasonable question and one that I should have anticipated, but didn't. One should always have at least a vague outline in mind before lying about writing a novel. That's just common sense.

Emergency sirens went off in my head. The lying creative section had nothing at the ready, and all the other bits rushed to cover for this inadequacy.

Would I go with an Evelyn Waugh-esque comedy in which a number of tragedies befall some poor bastard, a dark and brooding war novel, historical fiction, some outlandish bit of sci-fi?

Each of these were dispatched from various parts of my cranium, and I unfortunately went with each simultaneously as the interview spiralled to a dark and unfortunate place. In my defense, the interviewing ladies could have ended the line of questioning early on when things less than promising and not insisted on dragging it out. When enough lies to constitute a sizable avalanche have been piled upon one another the decent thing to do is let it go, especially when it is in no way germane to the position being filled.

That's another bit of common sense.

So, as you can see, mistakes were made on both sides, though I certainly bore the worst of it there on my end of the table having just described a novel about hapless used car salesman who, after stumbling across a time travelling AMC Pacer, winds up, on the other side of a series of even more outlandish plot twists that my mind has kindly blocked in time, meeting his rather vivid, ghastly, and altogether senseless end alongside a lovable robot sidekick on the battlefield of Chickamauga.

I wish I was making this up.

After a moment of awkward silence the shorter and obviously more vocal of the two plunged the knife a bit further by asking, still with a look of fear across her face, "What does it all mean?"

Another reasonable question, I suppose. I've never liked those.

" know," I stammered, "It's just meant to be light Summer reading. Nothing too heavy."

And that was that.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

a cat question

For some reason I awoke thinking about that odd and seemingly cruel tendency in cats to render their prey nearly dead--deliver all but the final "death blow", as it were--and then step back a couple of feet to leisurely crouch in cold observation of the slow and agonizing final moments in the insignificant life of some mouse, rabbit, or Shetland pony. My own cat is far too obese and skittish to have ever engaged in such activity, but I'm sure its one of the things lies dreaming about just before I sneak up behind him with the vacuum cleaner or a crudely fashioned can of rocks. Anyway, the whole thing seems against the streamlined nature of wild kingdom and served to implant a number of questions into my feeble and still-awakening brainmeat.

For instance, what would be the evolutionary benefit of such a thing? Was there a point on the evolutionary of timeline mice where they briefly had the ability to explode upon death? Could it be a savory revenge for any number of agonizing Tom and Jerry-like antics that elude human observation? Is the cat kindly giving the mouse time to make peace with its Jesus?

Just wondering.

Monday, July 16, 2007

lost episodes

One thing I like to do to exercise the ol' brainmeat while driving around or engaging in otherwise mind-numbing activities during a rare sojourn from Casa Camino is pretend, just for shits and giggles of course, that I fell off the face of the Earth. Perhaps I was kidnapped and sold into white slavery or abducted by aliens or drove off an embankment and and wedged myself into a ditch to lie injured and subsist on rainwater and insects and wait on the worst. These and other cheerful contemplations aren't important really--the thing I focus on is this: Were I to go missing, the cops would understandably be interested in the last few Internet pages I visited. And, as I seldom Google search things like "How to get kidnapped and sold into white slavery" or "How to drive yourself off an embankment in such a manner as to live but be injured just enough to have to eat insects and drink rainwater and all that business", the police would have a bit more deducing to do.

For instance, just the other day I was driving around after having done some Wikipedia research on Vladimir Lenin that lead to the typical Wikipedia branching into other Communist leaders and whatnot.

"Ah", a reasonable detective assigned to my case would surmise, "This man has obviously chosen to become a Communist Revolutionary and is now living underground and planning to overthrow the government." He might then say something about the case being closed and proceed to light a cigar only to be told by Mrs. Camino that he can't smoke inside, but in his mind the frame is frozen and the credits have begun to roll. I might show up in a later episode to rob a bank in a bright red shirt with an Uzi and maybe a scarf and band of hippie ne'er-do-wells, but substantial advancements have been made in this particular plot line. Whether or not I turned into a recurring character would be based solely on ratings and is really out of my control at this point. If not, I would of course place the blame squarely on the script writer, as I can only do so much with the material I'm given.

What was I talking about?

Ah, yes. What the detective would be missing--and it's certainly no blight on his sub-Miss Marple reasoning--would be this: I was merely researching infamous bald men in history.

By the way, I noticed very few bald Communist dictators. They are, for the most part, rather soft and pudgy but with healthy heads of hair. Look no further than Stalin, Hugo Chavez, or any number of college professors to see that they greatly outnumber the Lenins and Maos. Perhaps the bald get things started, revolutionarily speaking, and the thick haired sidekicks then take over. Then again, Karl Marx was more a walking fern than a man, though I suppose he never overthrew any governing bodies. No, Marx was all talk. So, yes, I suppose we can safely assume that your finely quaffed Commie would be content to sit back and let the more follically lacking of their revolutionary brethren do the hard part.

You bald commie revolutionary types should really have more pride about you.

Anyway, the detective might not catch a pattern with Benito Mousilini and Dr. Phil preceeding my Wiki-branching into Communism.

Which I suppose would matter very little other than to serve as a bit of brain exercises for the ol' imagination as I dine on the slower crickets who come to investigate my wrecked and obscured vehicle.

Friday, July 13, 2007

though i plan to pass it off as an old "football injury" acting up again...

I think I dislocated my shoulder while trying valiantly to shave my back.