A few years back, I worked as a manager in the Chemistry department at a University.
It was an okay job, kinda boring, but tolerable. The job required little creativity, and what little problem solving there might have been was not entrusted to me. I saw it as an opportunity to make more art. Which I did. Very often while I was in my office.
I worked with a bunch of people who took themselves very seriously. Don’t get me wrong—for the most part, they were okay as far as human beings go, but there was a strange unspoken hierarchy within the department, (tenured faculty were royalty, tenure track faculty, land-owning middle class, non-tenure track were of course the merchants or craftsmen, and the staff were the peasants, or serfs) and being at the bottom of the food chain was a bewildering horror of every day life that had the occasional adverse affect of inducing bad behavior in me.
I would randomly say and do somewhat questionable things and it was quite clear about six months in that the faculty didn’t exactly know how to react to the weird accounting lady in the back office.
Let’s just say that some of them maintained a wide berth.
One such occasion was the department work party. By this point in my time with the department, the writing was on the wall in terms of my place in this humorless world, so I decided that I would go dressed, appropriately enough, as Thing 2. I figured as long as I didn’t pull out a kite, everything would most likely turn out well.
Hardly any of the staff went—I think it was maybe me and the stockroom manager. It is challenging to really let yourself go when you party with royalty.
I walked in wearing my gold sparkly glasses, my blue fur coat and my Thing 2 outfit underneath. I looked around at everyone at the party, drinking wine and eating bits of food off of paper plates and exclaimed: “Oh, this wasn’t a costume party?” And started laughing hysterically.
Some of them half-smiled at me—I think one person kind of chuckled, but no one else laughed—and unfortunately for me, I have this strange affliction where laughing alone in a group of people who don’t get my humor makes me laugh even harder.
Looking at them all staring at me, obviously embarrassed for me, was such a wonderfully ironic situation that I felt I had pulled off the perfect caper. I know this might make me sound like a bit of a jerk, but making fun of people who look down on you to their faces, while they unwittingly go about their snooty high-minded snobbery is one of life’s great joys.
Outside of eating cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is what I like best about being an adult.
There are moments in life that you know you will see once again on your deathbed, if you happen to be lucky enough to be laying in one when you die, that fill you with anticipation. This was one of those moments.
Yes, dressing as Thing 2 for my work party not only improved my life, it improved my death as well.
Kind of fitting, really, that I found the secret to dying well at a work party.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author