Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Hierarchy of Cute Stories in the Workplace

I'm a little later starting with my blog today. This is due to the fact that it's very hard to blog while two slightly random coworkers decide to use your doorway as a conversation area. As I've mentioned before, I sit just left of the staircase that leads upstairs. This is the only staircase people use. Thus, there's a lot of traffic. It's quite a narrow staircase so and only one person can go up or down at a time. Thus, my small space becomes a 'waiting room' while someone comes down and someone else is waiting to go up. Occasionally, like this morning, it becomes a conversation area.

I know my coworkers don't mean to be rude and they do try to incorporate me into the conversation but it's quite hard to work- or blog- while they're chatting. This morning, in particular, it was hard because they were discussing a newborn baby and they kept saying things like, "passing the mucus plug" and "afterbirth." I'm generally not squeamish but as a Monkeypants who has never gone through the birthing process, there are certain things that I can choose to pretend don't exist. I'm sure when and if I ever do have a baby, these things might become relevant but when I'm just thinking about eating my banana for breakfast, the last thing I want to hear are the words, 'mucus plug.'

As I've mentioned, I have a vivid imagination. I also have this thing for words. Thus, for the most part, I tend to visualize a word and picture the spelling in my head. Sometimes, the visual image that the words provoke overrules my attempt to spell the word and look at the letters in my mind. For example: Mucus plug.

It probably doesn't help that I laid my question from yesterday regarding how a baby giraffe fits inside its mother with all that neck in front of one of my friends who never minds when I ask odd questions. In response, she sent me a video of a mother giraffe casually giving birth. When I say casually, I mean...casually. Let's just say the mother giraffe was walking around, all "dee dee dee, what a nice day. Look at the sun. It's pretty!" while she was actually delivering a baby which, upon its arrival, plonked unceremoniously onto the ground. That's quite a fall. The baby giraffe was fine. The video was disturbing and somewhat fascinating.

So, anyway, with that on my mind combined with the overly graphic discussion from my coworkers this morning, you can see why I might have been a bit delayed in starting my blog.

I often overhear interesting discussions from my little corner of the world. Often, it's sports. We have some big sports fans in our office. More often, it's about babies or children. I'd be as bold as to say that 95% of our office has children. The ones that don't are the young 'un's who are fairly recently married but, for the most, are already planning their families. There are, I think, only three of us single folk in the office. Thus, there's a great deal of discussion about children.

For the most part, I don't mind. It's interesting to hear because the age ranges of the children are from as young as eleven months to as old as twenty-five or even older. Occasionally, there is someone whose child is the best and brightest of them all and you're subjected to stories about his or her brilliance. Even these I don't mind until they keep going and going and going. And that does happen on occasion; you get a proud parent talking about their little genius and that's pretty much an hour gone, right there.

This is not to say I'm anti-child because I'm not. I have this little pack of nephew's and nieces that I love. Kids are funny. I like hanging out with them because they like silly things and their Auntie Monkeypants can be quite silly. But one thing I've noticed is that as an auntie, my short, amusing tales are my nieces and nephews are trumped by parent tales. Apparently, because the kids don't belong to me, my stories will only be allowed if no parent has a tale to tell. I'm actually not bitter about this; it's actually sort of a study in anthropology more than anything.

Of course, as well as the kid stories, there are pet stories. Pet stories fall between parent stories and nephew/niece/grandchildren stories. If your cat does something cute, it's ok to talk about. People would rather hear about Sausage than my adorable little niece. I find this slightly peculiar. If I mention that I've been home to visit my family and I got to hang out with my sister and my niece, the first question by coworker asks is "How is Sausage?"

Now, call me strange, but I find that weird. Generally, the Monday morning conversation will go something like this:

Coworker 1: How was your weekend?
Me: Great. How was yours?
Coworker 1: Good, thank you. Did you do anything exciting?"
Me: I went to my parents' and hung out with my sister and her niece.
Coworker 1: And how is Sausage?
Coworker 2: Sausage! I love Sausage!

I'm not kidding. You should also know that coworker #2 has never really met Sausage. I think they exchanged suspicious glances at one another in the parking lot when Sausage came to stay that one time and I still lived in the same apartment complex as my coworker. But they didn't really meet, per se.

Yet, the fact remains, I mention my family and they want to hear about the dog. It's probably my fault. I do tend to tell rather exaggerated accounts of Sausage. I mean, he is cute.

But my niece is cute too. I mean, she's adorable. I'm allowed to gush; I'm her auntie. She's got a great imagination too which makes it fun to play with her. Granted, she doesn't sit on my parent's couch, with a sweater wrapped around her head like Osama Bin Sausage but she still makes for some good stories.

Yet, the hierarchy is in place. Cute niece stories are not as interesting as cute Sausage stories and definitely not as good as cute kid stories. Even the kid stories are told in a hierarchical fashion. Babies trump grown up kids by a long shot. Babies trump toddlers but only by a small margin. Toddlers trump kids in that age group of 8-15 unless there's an exceedingly cute, funny or clever story about a little kid but usually those have to fall into the age 5 to 10 year old range.

Obviously, I've given this hierarchy some thought. It's hard not to, really. It's a culture change. In L.A., people my age are just thinking about kids. Here, in Ohio, people my age have already got a couple of kids. Some of them are quite old.

I'm currently listening to a cute kid story that falls in the 8 year old range. Cousins are being mentioned but since they're tied to an actual work-related offspring, it's acceptable. Normally, this is where I plug in my iPod and smile nicely and dive into work.

Unfortunately, I forgot my iPod today. That's what I get for boogie-ing along to the Glee soundtrack while I cook dinner. I left it on my table. I miss it already. It's good for drowning out the kid stories. I've heard enough for one day now and I've been her just over an hour. Eek.

Happy Thursday.

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