It’s difficult to feel like an empowered entrepreneur, ready to assert oneself on an important conference call, when you are wearing pyjamas, shovelling cereal into your mouth before it gets soggy with milk, cat meowing at your feet.
Welcome to the World of Working from Home.
Things I can do in my home office, that I can’t (acceptably) do in a regular office:
- Tweeze my nipple hair
- Wash the poop from my cat’s butt-hair
- Poop, on mute, while on a call
- Make a grilled cheese sandwich
- Eat a brick of cheese
Not to mention, I can do all the above while naked. At first, I was liberated. Now, I’m allergic to pants.
Going out to meet living, breathing acquaintances at a Mexican restaurant, I feel like a bear emerging from hibernation. The sun hurts my eyes. My shirt is stain-free, but wrinkled. Oops, nix stain-free. Damn salsa.
The phrases they say are fuzzy, the words not fully registering in my brain. Alarm clocks? Panty hose? Office lunches? I don’t quite get it.
For a moment, I’m interested in the gossip, until I realize they are talking about co-workers, not cats. It would have been a lot more interesting if instead of Tammy the Receptionist versus Claudia the Temp, it was a Persian cat who pretended she was gluten-intolerant to make the Siamese cat’s birthday all about her.
“Oh no, I can’t eat that cat. I’m gluten-intolerant. Is there a gluten-free option for me? Don’t I deserve cake? I’m the face of this office,” she would say. (For you purrists who would prefer an untranslated version: “MeYOW Meeoooh! MEYOH Meoyaho, MeYOH, MeYOW Meooo! MEYoh!”)
I can’t deal.
Instead, I sip my margarita. (OK, maybe not sip.) I squint my eyes and concentrate extra hard to take a photo with my mind. This is the picture I will pull out of my mental rolodex the next time I’m thinking, “I should text someone I know, get some human interaction.”
I’d rather be back in the den, where hibernating bears belong. Who needs friends when you have an Onion.
(If you don’t know who Onion is yet, you’re unfortunately out of the loop. You’re missing out, and I honestly feel bad for you. She’s the most famous Persian cat in the entire world, and you can read about her more here.)
Apparently, tequila blurred the mental picture, because three weeks later, I’m venturing out into the wilderness again. This time, for prey… in the form of a six-foot tall, red-headed City Clerk named Chuck, who has a freckled, bulbous nose and gray front tooth. Bears are scavengers, and scavengers take what they can get.
My mother set us up. She wants grandchildren of Homo sapiens variety, you know, the type that poop in diapers, eat boogers, and contribute to overpopulation, climate change, and the eventual destruction of life as we know it. Aren’t fur babies the more socially responsible choice?
I throw a lint brush in my purse. Although I feel comforted by Onion’s white hair on my navy-blue cardigan, Rule #1 is: “Wear Clean Clothes (Free of Cat Hair!)”. Rule #1 is from a LIST OF RULES sent by mother via email. Rule #2 is: “Don’t Talk About Onion”, which just goes to show my mother knows nothing about courtship. How is anyone going to fall in love with me if I don’t talk about that of which I am most proud?
Chuck’s gray tooth isn’t as prominent in-person. Or maybe it’s just the dim lighting of the Denny’s. One of the fluorescent bulbs is burnt out. Lucky Chuck.
“I get paid by the hour and I mostly work from my bed with no pants on,” I say, when Chuck asks what I do for a living. I’m a freelance web designer, but Chuck doesn’t know this yet.
Pink ignites like fireworks across Chuck’s cheeks. His freckles disappear behind the blush. “My mom said you were involved in a website thing, but I had no idea.”
“Yeah, working from home has it advantages,” I continue. “I get to play with my fuzzy kitty for most of the day. Want to see a photo?”
Chuck’s shaking hand reaches for his water glass, but he knocks it over. I present a photo of Onion on my iPhone, thus breaking Rule #3: “No Photos of Onion Allowed”. But, how could I resist? She’s tangled up with a wool scarf, looking like a fur angel.
While mopping up his water with napkins from the convenient dispenser, bookended by salt, pepper, and a flashy A-frame advert for “Online Ordering and Delivery!”, Chuck discloses he’s allergic to cats. In fact, he can’t stand to be around them. His eyes swell up so they bulge out of his head, and mucus builds up in his esophagus so he can’t breathe.
I take note of the Online Ordering and Delivery. From now on, I’m sticking to ordering in for one.