If only I had me a sharp knife.
If only I had me a sharp knife, I wouldn’t have to go downstairs to the main kitchen at work to prep my food. Slicing tomatos, apples, avocados, rinsing lettuce — all that could be done up here on the second floor, at the semi-abandoned coffee bar near my desk.1
And the most important part of not having to go down to the main kitchen for every single meal, of course, is that I wouldn’t have to experience… my coworkers.
My coworkers are the bane of my existence. Coworkers? They come up to you in the main kitchen where you are minding your own damn business slicing up some vegetables, and they say things to you like: “WHATCHU EATAN FER LUNCH?” Oh, yeah. These people talk like that. Definitely in my grossly exaggerated imitations of them, they do. They talk weird and they are maybe 1.5 times the size and height of normal people and their features blend together into one lumpy mashed-potato-like mass and they probably inhale through their mouths. I don’t know, I am usually too busy trying to desperately hold myself together to really notice.
Time slows during these moments. The moments where you frantically try to appear intensely engrossed in the task at hand in hopes that they leave you alone, but no. You sense that they’ve sighted you, and now they are moving closer, and now they are hovering just over your shoulder. My breathing gets shallow, the world gets fuzzy at the edges. The knife in my hand moves of its own volition, rising up and then sinking down again, like a seesaw or one of those oil pumpjacks you see perpetually pecking at empty fields. Up. Down. Chop. Chop.
“THAH SHURE LOOKS HELTHY!” they chirrup brightly. These coworkers do not know anything other than blind optimism. They have never felt the cold grip of reality tighten in their chests as they sit up in bed in the black of night, bitterly confronting the smallness of their own existences. They remain eternally surprised by ordinary occurrences, especially as they relate to meteorological phenomena. And their worst infraction of all, perhaps, is that they speak only in all caps.
“KIN YUH BUHLEEVE HOW CHILLY IT IS TODAY!” they shriek, grins permanently clamped in place, guffaws echoing across the room and back again like boomerangs. “BOY IT SHURE IS CHILLY! I HEAR IT IS SPOSED TO BE CHILLY THROUGH TOMORROW! IZ THIS UHLASKAH OR IZ THIS CALIFORNIA! HAW HAW!”
Yet despite their outwardly friendly and welcoming nature, my coworkers remain inherently suspicious of anything they do not immediately recognize. “WHAS THAT?!?” they inquire, leaning over my lunch plate like they are examining evidence at an anthropological dig site, or maybe just absorbing a particularly compelling panel of a Cathy comic strip. Through gritted teeth I manage to choke out: “A tomato.” This causes them to furrow their brows at the purply-red heirloom fruit below. “UH TOMAYTO!” they snort derisively. “AH NEVER SEEN UH PERPLE TOMAYTO!”
Never seen a purple tomato.
All the things I want to shout in return come flooding through my head.
Stop breathing on my goddamn purple tomato, motherfucker!
You think I’m so goddamn healthy? You don’t know me! I had macaroni and cheese for dinner last night, motherfucker!
Of course it is chilly outside! It’s almost goddamn winter! Motherfucker!
But no. No. I can’t say any of that, of course. So instead I just show them my teeth in what I hope passes for a smile, and say weakly: “Yeah, it’s a pretty weird tomato, huh? Maybe it will warm up soon.”
I really, really, really need to get me that sharp knife.
***UPDATE: I did. I got a sharp knife tonight. Badow, how you like me now?
1 It has a sink, a counter, and a coffee maker. Brilliant.