Monday, November 27, 2006


Betcha can't guess what this is. Here's a hint. Rattle-rattle-rattle. Here's another hint. Ssssss... Here's another hint. It's a necklace made out of turquoise and baby rattlesnake vertebrae.

"Why, Suzanne? Why? Why has that necklace of baby rattlesnake bones been pinned to your cubicle wall, just under your calendar, for three years?" Well, I'll tell you. I don't know. I know where it came from, but not why I can't seem to get rid of it.

My friend, let's call her TechBarbie, received it as a gift. Her future father-in-law gave it to her for Christmas in 2003, and she accepted it graciously instead of doing what I would have done, namely laughing and handing it back. "It's pointy, Suzanne! It pokes me in the throat when I wear it. And it's kind of, um, strange. I can't throw it out, because it was a gift! What if he asks what happened to it? What do I do?"

Without a moment's hesitation, I replied, "Give it to me."

"You can't throw it out!"

"Who said anything about throwing it out. I want it. Tell your future father-in-law that I loved it even more than you did, and you didn't know how you could NOT give it to me. Every word of that is true. Problem solved."

I can't tell you why I wanted it, maybe just because sometimes I'm contrary. The fact that she found it so horrifying made it that much more appealing to me.

It was far too small to fit around my neck. Fortunately, for the necklace at least, I was going through an angry phase at work. Stuck in the same job for the fourth straight year, no glimmer of promotion-based hope on the horizon, I decided that the new year was going to be themed "The Death of Fun". I took down every bit of tchotchke from my desk and replaced it with somber, serious office supplies. No cartoons clipped out and taped to my monitor, no trade show toys to play with, and only one sober little photo of Accountant Boy next to my phone. For about one week, I could have shoved everything that mattered to me from my workspace into my purse and walked away. "No more fun. I bring no joy to this job, since it gives no joy to me." I dressed in grey and black every day.

The necklace played into that theme. "Hey, what's that?"

"Dead rattlesnake."

"Uh...why is it there?"

"To remind us that we are all bound for the grave. The flesh hanging on our bones is temporary and we will all disintegrate to dust. There is not point to levity. Can I help you with something?"

I couldn't keep that up forever, mostly because I think they would have had the security guard escort me to my car if I'd gone any further with my death soliloquies. Besides, as with my recent Scottsdale experience, at some point my own ridiculously bad attitude started amusing me, and the act of laughing at myself, to myself, shook me right out of the foul mood. The grave desk decor morphed into something more pirate-themed, because the skull-shaped pencil holder and planter worked with either motif. Job got better, manager got fired, new manager promoted me, clutter reappeared. Fun crept back. There might even be a Slinky around here somewhere.

The baby rattlesnake necklace is still here, though. It's been hanging in that spot for so long that nobody even asks about it anymore. Why can't I take it down and throw it in the trash? I kind of get the heebie-jeebies when I think about tossing it. We're moving to a new building in a month or so. I wonder if it'll have to move with me?

Now, this guy? I know why he's here. My best friend gave him to me. He probably cost about a buck fifty with Happy Meal purchase, but I think she had to go to a couple of places to find him, and she held onto him until she saw me again, which was probably quite a while, given how often I get down to my old hometown. He's my favorite Muppet, and she knows it. We're going on a quarter-century as friends, this year if I remember correctly, which I probably don't. She'd know if I asked her. That, dear readers, is friendship.


Bezzie said...

GREAT story!!! I too when faced with a dismal job removed all personal effects so that I could leave on a moment's notice. Great minds think alike ;-)

Jessica said...

I am so glad you followed that baby snake spine up with a muppet baker! LOL. ;)Great stories! I was thinking about getting a mini voodoo doll for my office. I would hide him in my drawer and poke him with...paper clips? :)