Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

Can I Get A Witness

with 10 comments

Never forget. Yum!

I was reading a bunch of sad posts on 9/11, but then thought – what the hell for? So we can be all doom-and-gloom on a gorgeous Friday when I’m having a kickass hair day? THAT’S HOW THE TERRORISTS WIN, AMERICA.

The best 9/11 joke I’ve ever heard was on Arrested Development, by far my favorite show of all time:

Tobias: As you may or may not know, Lindsay and I have hit a bit of a rough patch.
Michael: Really? When did that start?
Tobias: Well, I don’t want to blame it all on 9/11, but it certainly didn’t help.

If it’s hard to write punchlines about terrible events without offending people, it’s even harder to write good jokes about terrible events that really entertain. From a writer’s point of view, though, I can say that sitting on an amazing punchline – and not being able to use it – is like four weeks of an almost-orgasm combined with Chinese water torture. It’s a terrible place to be in:  honor, meet humor! WHO WILL WIN? Even if you gamble, you’ll lose someone who didn’t get it, or who thought you were an inconsiderate asshole. I just have to be willing to lose those folks. Love me, love my jokes about date rape and AIDS.

On September 11, 2001, I woke up next to the man who would become my ex-husband. I got ready for a meeting that morning with a cell phone company – I believe I was interviewing for a position as A Cell Phone Client Heckler – and, because I was running late, never turned on the television. When I arrived at my interview, no one greeted me – people were running around the store, sheets were being printed out haphazardly, managers were barking into cell phones, and one girl was escorted out the front door, crying. Not knowing 1) 9/11 happened, or that 2) the cell phone company’s main office was in one of the twin towers, I was completely floored by the panic and chaos. ‘These people need weed,’ I thought. Still, I was looking for another gig because I wasn’t making enough money, and a friend had finagled the interview for me. I thought it was kismet at the time.

I was interviewed by Lisa. Lisa was a pasty, washed-out middle manager. She had badly-bleached yellow hair with black roots that was pulled back in a bedazzled banana clip. Upon seeing said clip, I made a pact with myself to avoid looking at it again, fearing the kind of raucous, never-ending laughter that would get me thrown out of town. I decided to focus on her thin, set lips and beady eyes, which darted around constantly; she looked like she was going to rob the place. Lisa sat down across from me, with our knees almost touching. She said, “Sorry for the mess out there – because of what happened today, it’s been a real nightmare in here.” I just smiled and nodded, assuming she meant the sobbing female employee being escorted out.  Lisa leaned in close and said, “You just never know where life is gonna lead you, pal. Did you have anyone close to you… ?” She meant did I know anyone affected by 9/11, something I was completely oblivious about – our car radio had been stolen the week before, so I’d amused myself by singing showtunes on the way over, true story  – and even though I was clueless, I thought the ‘pal’ was a good sign so I shook my head no.  Lisa bowed her head, I assume in respect, and I got a whiff of her hair; she smelled like a lit cigarette dipped in Victoria Secret body spray that reeks of manufactured passionfruit and cheap island whores. I turned away and held my breath.

I didn’t like Lisa, and not just because she was aggressively unattractive and unattractively aggressive. She was also one of those ‘I’m just one of the guys! I’M JUST LIKE YOU!’ kind of girls, who aren’t one of the guys but never, ever know it. And because of her dude-like sensibilities, she talked like a linebacker and used work jargon like a champ; she also said the phrase ‘workplace accountability’ about 27 times, but who knows why, I wasn’t listening. Lisa clapped me on the back like a logger, winked at me like a car salesman AND SPOKE IN ALL CAPS! WHILE GRATUITOUSLY! USING! THE EXCLAMATION POINT! – like CAN I GET A WITNESS! and HIGH-FIVE, UP TOP! She wore an ill-fitting, pinstriped suit from Generic Professional Women-R-Us, and it was off-white. The pinstripes? Brown. Yeah, I know, fucking kill me already.

I complain about Lisa, but it was mostly the interview questions that sucked, of which there were 417,000.

Tell me some of the situations in which you’ve had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you?

Give three specific examples of something you did that helped build enthusiasm in others.

Describe a time when your active listening skills really paid off for you — maybe a time when other people missed the key idea being expressed.

So you want me to describe an impact of the change that may have happened to me when I had to quickly adjust to changes in multiple situations over which I had no control? BUT I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION. Three specific examples of how I’ve built up enthusiasm in others? Booze, hypnotism, and lying. My superior active listening skills told me I wasn’t getting the job, no matter how stupid the question or brilliant my answer, so I tuned out the rest of the interview. I was already a lackey somewhere; I didn’t need a lateral move to another shitty job, no matter how much I’d save on my phone bill. Plus, Lisa would never be my boss and actually live to tell the tale.

I went to work right after that, and there was a small TV into the tiny employee backroom. That’s where I sat down, alone, while people cut hair in the salon and spoke nervously in lowered tones, and watched the twin towers fall, over and over again. I had the surreal feeling of wanting to double my efforts at grieving so I could catch up with the rest of the world, like ‘Hey, wait for me! I’m only five hours behind you!’ So many feelings and reactions were completely unreal that day – the worst, for me, was nervous laughter. Not something people look kindly upon, believe me, but I was in shock.

Five hours of normal, away from the things of man and terrorist. Five hours of being blissfully unaware that the world was upside down. But bliss meant that in the time our country was being terrorized, and when people were clinging to each other in our darkest hour, I was sitting in a windowless office with a below-average chick I never wanted to see again; a woman in an off-white, Jaclyn Smith pantsuit who called me ‘Chief’ and smelled like cheap, floral vagina. And thanks to the horrifying circumstances, I will never forget this woman, not now, not ever – it’s humanly impossible. Not with cocaine or a lobotomy or dementia or a space portal – because she’s crucial to the entire story.  When people say NEVER FORGET or mention 9/11, what I remember first is Lisa.

Which is why I prefer 9/11 jokes over reminiscing. Though I prefer Arrested Development jokes to anything else:

Lucille: Get me a vodka rocks.
Michael: It’s 8 o’clock in the morning.
Lucille: And a piece of toast.


Written by sn0tteh

September 11, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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10 Responses

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  1. If it’s a good punchline it has to offend someone.

    YOU GO GIRL!!! =)


    September 11, 2009 at 8:19 PM

  2. i like toast…


    September 11, 2009 at 9:39 PM

  3. Narrator: Neither he nor Gob were prepared for the challenges of using cats to catch a seal.


    September 11, 2009 at 9:53 PM

  4. @Libby That’s exactly how I feel. 🙂


    September 11, 2009 at 11:52 PM

  5. @Matt I like Vietnamese people. So it’s like we’re the same, only not.


    September 11, 2009 at 11:52 PM

  6. @Buttercup Exactly.


    September 11, 2009 at 11:53 PM

  7. I still want to eat that twin towers cake. Mmm.

    Please don’t sell me to White Power Bill for a pack of cigarettes.

    Carrie Gunnnnn

    September 13, 2009 at 1:30 PM

  8. @Carrie It’s a really horrific cake that I really wanna eat.


    September 13, 2009 at 3:40 PM

  9. I almost vomited at the description of Lisa’s perfume. Too vivid.

    Badass Geek

    September 14, 2009 at 7:29 AM

  10. @Badass Geek Blame Victoria Secret.


    September 14, 2009 at 11:20 AM

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