I am rarely, if ever, at a loss for words. This is the brief story of one day when I was. . .
Elaine (name changed to protect the . . . um. . . well, her) worked in our IT department. She was in her late fifties. She had a round figure. By this I don't mean that she was fat, for although she was certainly overweight she was not fat. But she conveyed a sense of sphericity to an observer. I can't describe it. She just looked like a little ball. She was about 5'4" tall with an unruly mass of kinky, iron-grey curls on her head that vaguely resembled a brillo pad. She wore glasses and flannel shirts, and frequently sweated. I know, we all sweat, but beads of perspiration seemed a fixture on her forehead (maybe all the flannel) . Her glasses slide down her nose when she was sweaty and she frequently had to push them back up to the bridge of her nose. When she spoke to you she repeatedly said "okay" while you talked to her, but you get the distinct impression that she was not really hearing what you were telling her because she said "okay" inappropriately, and too frequently. I would find myself repeating things to her because she'd say "okay" in the middle of something I was explaining and I feared she missed my point in her eagerness to communicate the fact that she understood my point. She had toadlike facial features. If she were wearing an apron she would look grandmotherly. She told stories and used the names of her friends and relatives without explanation or clarification even though you had no way of knowing who those people were. She just assumed you knew what everyone who knew her knew. She was completely harmless and very nice. She did an adequate job.
One day, Elaine came into my office (I was just remembering this recently) and asked me, "What's two in the pink, one in the stink mean?"
I gaped at her. I don't know that I've ever gaped at anyone before. I've heard about gaping, even read about it in books, but until that day, I don't recall actually ever ENGAGING in gaping. My mouth opened and closed like a fish on dry land trying to breathe the air. I started speaking then stopped abruptly several times mid-word. No intelligible language emerged for several seconds. In the end I believe I stammered something to the effect of, "I'm sorry, I can't help you. I'm not even sure what to tell you to do. Why are you even asking me this?"
Her reply was, in essence, that she had asked Dave (a friend of mine also from the IT department) and HIS response had been, "You need to go ask Jim, he'll tell you."
Yes. . . THANK YOU, Dave.
I have rarely felt as uncomfortable professionally as I did when Elaine asked me to explain what a shocker was, but I know the idea of calmly telling her that it's when someone puts two fingers in a woman's vagina and drops a pinky in her anus was very very amusing in hindsight. At the time however, I could not have been caught more off guard.
Imagine your grandmother coming to you and asking you what a "Cleveland Steamer" is and maybe you get the picture.
Upon hearing that Dave had put her up to it though, my response was, "You need to go ask Chris, he'll tell you." And sent her on her way.
Chris kicked her out of his office unceremoniously and ultimately she got the information from. . . her boss. I called Dave and congratulated him while cursing his name. It was funny.