After I joined my workplace, I was the newest guy in the office for the longest time, until another girl joined us. I remember her from the time that she came for the interview. I liked her immediately, and she looked so cool in that purple coat that I was willing the customer service guy to JUST GODDDAMN HIRE HER ALREADY. And what do you know, he did.
It didn't exactly start well - she asked a stupid question like "which city in Singapore are you from?" We once had a conversation where somebody made a reference to a word, and she recognised it as a slang word which originated in her hometown. Of course I introduced her to Singlish but I don’t know how she’d take it. She hadn’t even known anything about Singapore - she actually compared singlish to engrish - I had to tell her that it's closer to a creole language. She’s as white as sliced bread.
And she speaks with a lisp. I can’t quite remember the last time I considered the possibility that a lisp would be sexy.
Well crushes can be fun but I don’t really know how this situation is going to resolve itself. I’ve already lived in the states for almost 7 years and I still don’t understand white people very well.
I had tried to invent a few excuses for talking casually with her, but usually no more than one or two lines of banter. Just joking about why on earth tall girls bother wearing heels. I read somewhere that couples that look like each other get attracted to her, which is probably the reason why I gawk at more than my fair share of tall and thin girls with jutting out chins. I once chatted with her about coffee: she claimed that she didn’t drink it in the afternoon because it made her stay up all night. Then I caught her red-handed making it for the afternoon. Eventually everybody from customer service ends up quaffing that stuff all the time.
Just the other day, I was eating a girl scout cookies, and I said, “I hate girl scouts because I was a boy’s scout”. That was when I learnt that she was a girl scout. She said “don’t break my heart” and I had to clarify that it was just a joke (actually I do have a passive aggressive attitude towards girl guides as a former scout). OK what is this “don’t break my heart” shit? YOU don’t break my heart!
I though that she’s a lovely person. Always talking about her daughter. Loves the outdoors. Has girl friends. But I don’t know – I’ve always been more of a guy’s guy than a ladies’ man. I don’t know whether this is really about I think that she’s a beautiful person than it is about I think that she’s the right one for me. But I’ve had visions of her and I and her daughter sitting around in a circle, and they were kinda nice. Maybe I’ve been privy to one other great mother-daughter relationship (actually that was my sis and my grandmother) and I liked watching it, even though I wasn’t privy to all the details.
So many obstacles to this thing. The whiteness is an obstacle. Her daughter – I got to make sure that she likes me, and I’m normally not good with children. Otherwise the height is just perfect. I’m not going to look at teapot again and wish that she were wearing stilts. I would be a little surprised if this works.
But first first first – I need to make sure that she’s single and available! That’s also important! I asked a friend who’s gay – what do you think about the question of whether she’s single? I said there was no ring, and he said either she’s not married or her relationship with the father is not good. I said that she looks a little out of my league. Then he said, “well personally I wouldn’t sleep with a guy unless he looks out of my league. What’s your point?”
Later on I found out she’s almost certainly not single and available. She showed me pictures of her kid on her phone and I was like “that’s pretty cool”. And she’s almost definitely married because I googled her and she posted a comment somewhere about her honeymoon. So the only way she’s not married now is if she’s divorced, and that’s a little worrying because divorced people are divorced for a reason.
She probably dressed well and it helped that she had a great physique. I used to watch her sashay down the hall from the back, and all I could see were here high heeled shoes and her copper brown hair. I love redheads, and she’s somewhere between a redhead and a brunette. After that I used to go to her side of her office more often, and I don’t know if I was imagining things when I observed more people from my side of the office doing the same.
She was a bit of a health nut. Shortly after a heavy employee lunch she had climbed up the stairs to our office (we were on the 7th floor) even though she was wearing high heels. I asked her why she did it, she said, I had a heavy lunch, and I had to work it off. Her lunch was almost always home made, and it was something with yogurt or salad or a combination of the two in it. She always looked great, and she always had that dignified manner of tapping away at the keys. Well I found out to my disappointment that she was a fire sign, because the staff always put the birthday of the guy on the office calendar. Turns out that she had joined on her birthday!
I googled her online and I found that she had left one or two comments here and there. I hadn’t added her on Facebook but I saw the photos that she made public, and she was always against some nuclear power plant being built near our city, or some oil pipeline. And she apparently drove a blue car just like me. Her supervisor, during our quarterly update to the rest of the company, drew a picture of her driving a car and her daughter riding in the back. If I had to guess, I would say that she was politically liberal, which suited me fine. I once had a chat about politics with her, and she explained the primaries system to me. I didn’t get it but I was quite happy to be there.
She seemed to get along fine with the rest of her colleagues. She was in the customer service section, and it was a place dominated by whites. (In contrast, the engineering section where I was in was half white and half yellow). She was usually asked along for lunch, and she joined the girls who went out to lunch together – whenever she was not munching away on her home-made ridiculously healthy food.
I thought I was in love with her for a few weeks. I had this vague floaty feeling whenever she was near. I hadn’t had a crush on another person in such a long time. But she seldom hung out with the Asian guys. Some white folks don’t know anybody other than white folks, and she seemed like one of them. It was going to be pretty tough to get to know her on that level. It’s already tough enough to know somebody of another race well, whatever you want to say about racism. Your values are always different. The way you understand everything is always different. You speak the same language but you don’t really understand the other guy on an instinctive level.
But I did notice that she was often pretty late to leave the office. The engineers often came in later than the customer service (who had to start work on the dot in order to receive calls from customers). And for some reason she was always leaving around the same time as we did. I recall once going over to her side – I hadn’t meant to gloat or anything, was just saying hi, but she snapped “goodnight” at me.
I once saw her in the hallway and we were walking out of the building. And it was a little awkward because other than her lamenting that she would only get home in time to kiss her daughter goodnight, there was nothing much to say, and even though we were headed to different places, she opted to diverge our paths a little sooner than we had to. There was this other time when I saw her, a can of perrier in her hand, standing in the hallway, deep in conversation with a person on the other line, which I took to be her daughter. She looked to be very happy chatting away, even if work had to take place away from where she was. I remember thinking, “I never knew that motherhood could look this stylish and glamorous”.
I hardly had time to work out a good strategy for getting closer to her when I suddenly received an email in our inbox, telling us about “L’s last day”. A friend of mine who was more experienced in the company than I was figured out that it was a firing, and he was right. It turned out that her supervisor deemed that she wasn’t mastering the processes and the workings of our company’s product quickly enough. It was almost three months after she first joined the company. She was gone. It was sudden. I still remember that for some reason when I went over there on her last day, we greeted each other, which doesn’t happen all the time. She was still there when I left that day. In between that and around 9 pm, when the supervisor sent the email, she was fired. It was a big shock to me that I would never ever admire her copper curls from the back again. She looked so graceful and ladylike tapping away at that laptop that I couldn’t have imagined that she actually sucked at her job. I still remember the first conversation with her, where she said that she was so relieved to get this job - maybe she was sorda a dumb person? I interpreted it that she wasn't in a traditional family structure, as in she did have a daughter, but she may not have been financially supported by a husband. So they fired her, they fired somebody who was well liked, who probably really could do with having that job, who had a daughter to support, but who nevertheless didn't measure up. It felt a bit like somebody had killed Bambi. I remember talking to the guy who, one month before he hired her, was complaining that it was pretty difficult to find the right people to work in customer service, and who were good enough. Maybe he relaxed the standards to the extent that he took a chance on her, in spite of his not being 100% sure she would measure up.
I remember what it was like to see somebody fired. There was this girl at my previous company, I suspected before a day of retrenchments, that she was going to get it. The poor girl had no clue: she had been sponsored by the company for a year of studies, and for that reason she refused to believe that it would happen to her. And after it happened, she was crying rivers of tears. L had still been vaguely effervescent about things. I look back on two times that she had mass mailed the whole company (which has less than 20 people: mass mailing is rare but not unprecedented). She seemed to not have a clue about how close she was to getting axed. I guess I'll never know what it was like when L was fired. And since I wasn't one of her closest friends at that time, I suspect that the details would not be shared with me.
One week before she left, I remember that she had taken a bottle of Odwalla smoothie from the fridge, and she hadn’t finished it, and left the half empty bottle back there. And it was still there one week after she was gone. I looked at the cap and found that she had marked it “L”. So I did something slightly gross, and took it away to finish it. There will be more pleasant ways to taste her saliva, which I’ve often fantasised about, there will be more pleasant ways for our bodily fluids to mingle together. But this will have to do for now. Well if she had left a smoothie of a different brand it would have been even better because then I could say that I had drunk her naked juice. Ha!