It’s a helluva balance. I think my astoundment really kicked in on St. Patrick’s Day, one of those blissful, leisurely whirlwind nights out that started with limerick recitations and plastic pints of beer, wound through hat-wearing Chihuahuas and shiny beads, through Mr. Deelio lounging on couches at the bowling alley and me falling over the ball return, through Irish car bombs and fried ravioli. We went to Wal-Mart; people fell down and sat in the ice machine. (OK, that was the same person.) We bought cheese, frozen hashbrowns, bacon, sugar-free Canadian sparkling scarywater, a case of Bud Light and Manischewitz.
Who goes to Wal-Mart at midnight and buys pork products and Seder wine? Us. We do.
And then I awoke in the Deelios’ condo at 3 a.m. to CCB chuckling, “There’s a Deelio in my bed!”
Fair warning, a good host (who has earlier fallen down and then sat in a Wal-Mart ice machine) will sometimes unknowingly wander into his guest room in the middle of the night and catch some Zs betwixt his guests.
CCB: “Dude, seriously, you’re such a cock block.
MR. DEELIO: “What am I doing in here?!”
Y’see, from that you might think I was living a life of irreparable degradation. Except:
Not a week later, I find myself at a granite conference room table. Others there: three company presidents (“The Triumvirate,” I call them), associate publisher, executive editor, production manager and the owner of the company, seated across from me, asking about the nature of special advertising sections in relation to editorial content, paper weight, polybagging, year-round distribution, designing a cover to accommodate a promotional sticker used for newsstand sales, edit-to-ad ratios, and the like.
EXECUTIVE 1: “We can’t use their logo on advertising pages.”
EXECUTIVE 2: “We’ll use ours.”
1: “Do we have a logo for this section?”
2: “We’ll make one.”
[ART DIRECTOR sighs and scribbles a note on her pad.]
It was like a masters class in magazines; like my freshman year when I signed up for a 400-level course about Middle English literature—I mostly sat quietly and tried to soak in everything that I could understand, but even managed to contribute here in there. “This line from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde obviously directly influenced Shakespeare’s version of the story.”
“We’ve presented that information in sidebar Q&A format in the past; by contract, the disclaimer copy is supplied by the company.”
Maybe it was because it was 10 a.m. on a Friday and I was on my third cup of coffee, but I felt this strange sense of professionalism, like I’d opened the wrong door and stumbled into an established career while I was looking for my Burger King orientation class. I was wearing flip-flops, for god’s sake.
And so it goes, I guess: Afternoon PJs and Wii golf; production meetings and proof corrections.
Take a shot of tequila to help the trivia team’s turnaround; schmooze a benefactor at my table for a nonprofit luncheon.
Lift up my skirt to show my coworker the puck bruise on my thigh; interview a cardiologist at 3:30.
They’re nominating a couple of my stories for statewide awards. Imagine that. On Saturday I could go to Hungry Howie’s, sweaty and grass-stained in my soccer uniform, and then on Monday win a trophy at my job.
If they only knew…