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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

I’ll Be a Monkey’s Frozen Uncle

I was reminded today of one of my rules for getting through life with as little hassle as possible.

(There are many of these rules. Most of them are easily circumventable by Fate, Nature, idiots, smartasses and the average toll booth operator.

So the rules aren’t especially effective. And yet, they’re a pain in the ass to remember and follow. Hassles within hassles, my friends. Hassles within hassles.)

This particular rule was not violated by me, but I’ve been swept up in the wake of its breakage nonetheless. The rule in question is this:

Never, ever ask for anything.

It’s not the sexiest rule, perhaps. It doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Do unto others‘ or ‘Don’t talk about fight club‘. But it’s still very useful, because it reminds me that the world — nay, the entire Universe — is one big hairy severed monkey’s paw, just waiting to bitchslap me around for daring to want things.

(My friend Jenn tells me when I bring it up — which is often — that most people won’t get the Monkey’s Paw reference. So I’m linking it, just in case.

But I have faith in you. The story’s over a hundred years old. They made me read it in school — and I went to some burned-out backwards schoolhouse in the wasteland of the 1980’s American public education system. Also, it was on the Simpsons.

Maybe we’re both right. In the general public, maybe it’s not a blip. But YOU? You know the Monkey’s Paw. I can sense it. This feels right; it feels good.

Unless you’re one of those drooling morons who got to this page searching for ‘Simpsons bitchslap’ or ‘pain in the ass violated’. You people can move along. There’s nothing to wank to here, sunshine.)

Now, where the hell was I? Ah — ‘never ask’. Good.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the many folks that I share an office with — because they cram us into subcubicles like hairy Mediterranean gonads into undersized thongs — brought up the fact that our room was turning into a sweatshop. Literally, this time. Meaning the air conditioning was providing neither of the features that you might expect, given the name ‘air conditioning’.

So he called up the facilities people and asked whether they could turn up the old cooling breeze, just a touch. Little skootch. Smidgen territory.

“And how did we get this number, anyway? This is the hotline for people who wear ties and shirts with buttons and pants that cover their knees.”

They told him they were all on break, and maybe call back during the four-minute window when they deign to receive requests from the plebes down in steerage. And how did we get this number, anyway? This is the hotline for people who wear ties and shirts with buttons and pants that cover their knees.

Eventually, though, they got around to honoring the request. Because today, we walked into not an office, but the interior of a wind turbine. Or the exterior. Whichever one is noisier, and more blowy.

On the bright side, the office is nice and cool. Very cool. Eskimo icebox cool, which is not so bad for some of us — at least while its still sweltering outside. But some of our officemates are, perhaps, less than enamored with the new climate control. One girl went home and put on a parka and mittens. Another guy built a snowman in effigy. It doesn’t have my eyes, exactly, but the body is hauntingly familiar. It could get ugly fast, is all I’m saying.

Of course, we have a thermostat in the room to control the temperature, and therefore the air flow. And naturally, it’s solely for looks. They might as well have painted it on the wall, because sliding the little lever does an enormous bunch of nothing. Set to forty degrees: Arctic ice fan. Set to eighty degrees: no change. Turn off, pry out the battery, rip off wall: ditto. We’re working on a list of fifty words for ‘brrrrrrrr!

So far, we’ve just got the one. Or did, until our lips started sticking together while we tried to roll our r’s.

Tomorrow, we’ll have to do the only thing we can do, which is also against the rule listed above: ask facilities to turn back the fans a hair. Only a touch. Like, one iota.

I fully expect to see bedouins crossing through our office on camels next week, stopping only to say, ‘Yeech! Ees so hot here! Like sauna in August!

Because that’s how the Universe works. Don’t ask, don’t get. Ask, and get much more than you bargained for, or probably have the wardrobe to protect against. I’ve really got to start posting these rules on the office door. I think it’d save a lot of hassle.

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