(but no longer need you to need me)

A couple months ago, I got a call from the Amazing Amy inviting me to meet her and this person named Craig at Backstage Cafe. I'd heard about Craig a few times, and figured he was worth a look. Actually, that Craig was worth a look was the bulk of what I had heard about him, and it proved to be true--pretty face, no conversation. This would be perfectly fine under most circumstances, but as Backstage Cafe was hosting a local comedy night a little more distraction would have been welcome.

There are a bunch of quotable quips about the difficulty of comedy ("comedy isn't pretty," "dying is easy, comedy is hard," etc). So I'm not going to come down on a bunch of amateurs. Even if Amy confided to me that their material arrived in her e-mailbox a few days before. Even if they did count among their number an eighth grade English teacher who sang song parodies, a cancer survivor who tried to extort laughs by tying them to her chances of recovery, and a guy who seemed to be gunning for the title of the Rip Taylor of Central Arizona. And even if their acts never quite achieved funny, no matter how many times I hissed at our waitress, "Another one of these, please."



At least two thirds of the small audience that night was comprised of these comics, so mostly they did the stand-up version of preaching to the choir. Amy was having none of it, however, and when the opportunity came for audience participation she didn't let the toadies have all the fun. So before the bewigged lady in the front row could respond to the question, "What do you do for a living?" (she finally answered, "Madam!" Ha ha!), Amy called out, "NOTHING!"

"I didn't ask you," said Rip.
"Ask me next!" said Amy.

It was probably the most supportive heckling ever.

Soon after that exchange, we headed for the swanker pastures of AZ88, but I've never gotten that "NOTHING!" out of my mind. As some of you may know, I've been without regular employment for some months now, and IÕm running out of euphemisms for my rootless state (I'm down to "jobless loser" and "I suck"). I lack the bravado to pull off a "NOTHING!" and even when I have a temporary position, I am too chagrinned to admit to it when Amy introduces me to another one of her buns-of-steel, thriving business owner type friends.

So I beg off and say, "I'm sorry, I'd rather not talk about my job."
"That's okay," they say. "I was only trying to be polite." Then they turn on their heel and walk away.

Well, at least they tried.

For the past few weeks, I have been receptionisting in Tempe for Cosmo Homes. The building is nice and the people (for the most part) are nice--even the nutty anal ones that make me do the same unholy paperwork over and over and over and...where was I? Oh, yes. The assignment was only supposed to be for a few days, as the pay was low and the company supposedly already on the hunt for a replacement receptionist. After a few days, the Director of Operations asked if I would like to apply for the job. Thinking it was better than a kick in the head, I filled out an application.

Then, for a few weeks, nothing more was said about my prospects.

Then, resumes sent in response to the receptionist job advertised in the Arizona Republic and on the internet began to fill the fax tray. This is what's known in the business world as a "hint."


I was distraught. What kind of person doesn't get a job as a receptionist? Especially if his or her (let's face it, her) predecessor was chronically late, sluttily dressed, and borderline alcoholic? And that was the evaluation from people who seemed to like her. As usual, I went wining and crying to my hero and role model Pat Lang for help. She gave me excellent advice about asking why I wasn't considered for the job, which I will almost certainly not take because I am such a weenie. I asked her if she would be willing to write a reference for me, as quite a few of the resumes came with them. She told me, "I will write anything you want, but I will not help you find work as a receptionist."

That led to a dark night of the soul, and remembrance of an incident from the bus stop. The bus stop is where I go at lunch to read. It is noisy and hot and smells of exhaust, in short, a nice break from the office. Because mass transit has never really caught on in the Valley I usually have the shelter to myself. Once, however, I shared it with a chatty young woman, I'd say in her early twenties, who noticed what I was reading and then would not shut up. To her credit, she spoke clearly and knowledgeably about the popular book scene before she started in on her illegitimate kids, their shiftless father, and the new guy friend she hoped to rope into taking her camping. That's when I took a good hard look at her, and not to be uncharitable, she was...not attractive. She was nearly spherical, had prickly-heat pimples all over her convex neck, and gaps of at least a quarter inch between all of her teeth. Her clothes were dirty, as was her mullet. And yet, I thought, somebody impregnated this person, and probably did it more recently than my last date.



What the heck is up with that? I posed this question to my sister Lauren (Pat was on vacation). She said, "Would you want to date the guy who knocked her up?"

I went back and forth, but overall, it didnÕt seem like a very good idea. I mean, I wasn't even interested in dating Craig and what were the odds that that guy looked as good as Craig?

"So what's your beef?" she said.

So no beef. Maybe a few sour grapes, but no beef. Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world not to be wanted by someone you do not want, whether suitor or employer. Since this dawned on me, I've collected resumes from the tray, then surreptitiously faxed my own. I write this now on the Cosmo Homes computer on Cosmo Homes's dime, and as quickly as possible because I found their ad for this job in the paper and it said they wanted to fill it "IMMEDIATELY."

I may be a jobless loser and I may suck, but since I learned I wouldn't be the receptionist for Cosmo Homes, I've been happy every day.

(Written by Sharon C. McGovern)

From Volume 35
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