Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Classmates & Officemates

If I could give you one piece of advice, never tell people your personal life at your work place. I happened to find myself in a predicament that sort of fell on my lap. A few years back, I started working for a company where most of the people that worked there went to the same school I went to. It was uncanny and downright awkward- a huge disastrous, unwanted high school reunion. Even the people who were ten years older than me were from the same school and the same area. They knew my older sisters and called out my last name as though they haven’t heard it in years—but were refreshed to see a “Pasquella” in their office.

“How’re your sisters? How’ve you been? What’s going on in your life?”

And…

“Are you married…kids?”

I always had to answer, “No, not married and no kids just yet,” with a big smile, hoping they would walk over to the next cubicle and rehash old times with some other lost soul. I was never fond of high school reunions or even the thought of one. My ten-year reunion was soon approaching - but it had nothing to do with me, because I wasn’t planning on attending. For the love of God, I ran out of that school like a bat outa’ hell! Why would I want to revisit a time I hated? Some people loved high school, but for me, it was one big messy blur of distress.

One night, after dinner, my girlfriend and I walked into a local bar down the road to have a drink. It was Friday night and the bar seemed to be packed just by the looks of the parking lot. We had to park in the neighboring establishment’s lot. It seemed like a good night. We heard the music blaring and people shuffling around the patio area with their cocktails.

As soon as I opened the door, I saw people running over towards me.

“Deb! Oh….muy….GAWD! I haven’t seen you in like- forever! Come here!!!” One by one, they all started lining up to hug me, even the ones who used to despise me. One guy came up to me with his arms wide open, waiting for a big bear hug. I recognized him as ‘the funny heavy kid’. He was black and had an extreme weight problem in the past. We loved him though - he was so friendly and so hysterical! But, we always noticed he was a bit “soft spoken”.

“Ivan! How are you? You look great!” He was now tall, thin with a muscular build and absolutely gorgeous.
“Oh hunnay, I am doing just F*I*N*E--- fine! Girlfriend- whatchya’ been doing with yourself?” He said in the most flamboyant tone.
“Not much- still the same.” I never knew what to say in these circumstances.
“Are you married?”
“No.” I said, “I’m with her.”
Pointing to my girlfriend, as his eyes widened like two huge bowling balls.
“What about you? You on my team?” I said, bumping his arm, as if I already knew.
“What?”
“Aren’t you on my side of the fence?”
“You mean, am I gay?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh hell no girlfriend- I love my ladies!”
He said, snapping his fingers like those guys on Living Color--

Three snaps down in Z-formation!

It’s just as bad as if you were to ask a woman with a little belly weight, “So when are you expecting?” I was totally embarrassed, but at the same time, I was so shocked to hear that he wasn’t gay. Maybe he wasn’t out yet? Or maybe that was just his demeanor- the way he acted? At any rate, I felt horrible for my wrong judgment. I apologized and he said, “Oh honey, I get that all the time, don’t you worry about it.”

But I did. I worried and fidgeted the rest of the night.

So back to the office scene…. I was known as the ‘lesbian’ of the group.

“Psssssssss! Did you know Deb’s a lesbian?”
“A what?”
“A lesbian.”
“A Lebanese?”

It was the talk around the water coolers. And God forbid one of my co-workers were found walking out for lunch with me.

“Hmm…You think she’s gay too?”

Thank God one of my co-workers found this quite amusing. We started to go to lunch all the time, and we started making people believe we were a couple. We were the talk of the company. People popped their heads over their cubicles like nosey little prairie dogs and wondered what we were whispering about. One gay man that worked with us, who was also our very close friend, got upset with us because we were way too ‘chatty’. Even though he knew we were playing around with other people’s heads, even he thought we were an item.

It’s so hard to mind your own business sometimes!