Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let's Get this Party Started

What better way could there possibly be to kick off the 40th birthday festivities, than with a 2:45 afternoon break of epic proportions?

I remember Billy perched on the picnic table in our pavilion, talking dreamily to Robbie and me about a forensics class he'd once taken. None of us were in any hurry to leave: no one watching us and nothing to do. I don't know how long we'd been out before Billy remarked languidly, "You know, we've been out here a really long time."

And yet, you know, I don't think it was much over an hour, hour and a half, tops.

Do you remember the walks to Stevie? Sometimes we'd take them after we'd already been sitting outside a good half hour.

Or some days we'd merely stay in the break spot, relaxing in the shade, talking about everything and nothing, laughing, happy, relaxed; as a group, not particularly conscious of the time, although one or two people might get a little anxious and start talking about going in. The rest of us would mock them. Do you remember? Sometimes we'd mock them so harshly that they'd just go inside, and probably feel fairly silly when the rest of us eventually showed back up 45 minutes later.

Conversation could go anywhere, nowhere, everywhere, and everything was funny. Eventually the "second shift" would show up, a group from Traffic Analysis who generally came out around 3:45 or so. We always knew it was time to go in, though they were friendly, and generally invited us to stay. No: this was the changing of the guard; and we acknowledged the second shift break group as the only other rightful inhabitant of that spot. We were on good terms with them, of course! But it was not our fate to sit and break with them. Their arrival meant it was our time to go back to our desks and work the sudoku puzzle or look at the weather forecast until it was time to go home. Such is the natural order of things.

So, as an early birthday present to me today, Ernest rounded up the people who'd be 3MBG members if the 3MBG had not finally and tragically disbanded: himself, of course; and Jennifer B.; and Jason - poor dear Jason, the only one of our old set who hasn't escaped! - and Butch, who is kind of like the 3MBG's kindly, indulgent uncle; and sweet thoughtful Esther; and Carlos, a new guy. And we went on break. And we took that break. We took a good break. I stayed, and laughed, and talked, and listened, and had a wonderful time, and whenever that little nagging voice inside whispered that perhaps I should think about going back in now, I told it to shut the F up, beeyotch!

The second shift never arrived. I'm pretty sure they still break there; perhaps they sensed something rare and magical taking place, and didn't want to ruin it for us. When at last Jennifer and Esther yielded to the urgings of their ticking consciences, leading the rest of the group reluctantly away in their wake, I was satisfied that it was time: the first real break I've taken since starting my "new" job a year ago February. I got back to my desk today to find no notes on my chair, no papers waiting for me, no emails, no phone messages; and I'd been gone for a full, lovely, wonderful hour.

Tomorrow, we do more or less the same thing, only with more people, alcohol, and no time limit. Then this weekend, Robbie and I are off to Corpus - Dumas and Magda, on our own, since unfortunately our older brother Edwin was swallowed by a whale earlier this week. I'll be curious to see how he gets out of that one.

This is going to be the best birthday ever.

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At May 21, 2009 8:53 PM, Blogger Billy Joe said...



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