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Between The Spreadsheets by Nicky Fox (1)

1

“Just because I like pink frilly things, doesn’t mean I’m void of depth or feeling. You can shove that misogynist judgment up your ass,” I whisper-yell and walk away from the most infuriating man I’ve ever met. Usually people like him don’t bother me. When I say “like him,” what I mean is those guys with the dark clothes who read Stephen King and think they know everything about the world. Who have such deep thoughts that my preppy, simple mind can’t comprehend. It’s like the only way to be smart and deep is to wear black, hang out in a coffee shop, and be depressed and act uninterested all the time. I take joy in the simple things. Does that make me simple? I like pretty things. Does that make me superficial? I’m also female. Does that make me emotional and needy? I’m not trying to write some bitter diatribe on the inequality of women. Normally I’m able to brush guys like him off, but this man drives me absolutely insane.

“You can take out whatever’s up your ass today,” Dylan calls out at my retreating backside. I’m forced to work with a shaggy hair, grunge, hipster beard, ass wit, who is condescending at every opportune moment. Not that what he wears or looks like has any effect on how I see him as a person, but it’s exactly the problem he has with me. Yes, I wear polos and pencil skirts with high heels. I curl my hair and want to look neat and tidy. It’s a style I’m comfortable in and I feel looks best on me. I also happen to find beards super attractive. If Dylan wasn’t so much of a schmuck I might see myself liking him. He’s attractive, like hot actually. Bright brown eyes pierce through the dark brown hair that hangs in his face. His lips, God. His lips seriously turn me on. I mean they are encased in a grungy hipster beard. Not that I would ever even consider kissing him or doing anything with him. Dylan is vile. Although, he’s passionate in what he believes in. It just so happens what he believes about me is all wrong.

There’s more than meets the eye in the pink clothes I wear. I’m a sensitive person and I care about other people. In my line of work, you do need to care about your coworker’s well-being. I’m passionate about animals and I love movies and children. I bet Dylan despises children. No, I will not be quick to judge like him.

When he spills words of equality and prejudice and then in the same breath he projects his inaccurate assumptions of me because of the way I dress or decorate my office, then what does that say about him? He’s the same thing he’s trying to rally against. Dylan hasn’t even tried to get to know me as a person. He has no idea who I am or where I come from. I mumble to myself, “Don’t turn around, don’t turn around,” but the pull I have to fight with him always wins out. “Dylan, remind me who you are named after again?” I chuckle to myself as I leave him in the breakroom.

It might sound like a lame comeback, but it pushes his buttons. Every time I mention that little nugget his hands ball up into fists and his mouth goes into a thin line. It’s awesome. See, he is forever fighting the fact that his parents named him after the most cliché, moody, poet/singer ever . . . Bob Dylan. To him, it’s like being a hipster named Finn or River. Dylan doesn’t like being a walking cliché. I like to dig it in whenever he’s really pissing me off, like today. It started off as a normal conversation like it usually does. We talk about work and the weather and suddenly it’s Clash of the Titans. Most people steer clear of us when we’re both in the same room. Our coworkers don’t like being pulled into the hate vortex.

Today was no exception, and like me, he knows what buttons to push. The morning went something like this: I entered the breakroom, I acknowledged his presence with a nod, avoid, avoid, avoid and then he sneers at me. His nose scrunched up with his lip as he had a look of disdain on his face. Being the grown-up I am, I ignored it and went about making my morning tea. Then, he opened his mouth. “God, you even make your tea snooty.” He’s always the instigator.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I reply, ceasing the dunking of my tea bag.

“Black tea? Really who drinks it without cream, sugar, or honey?” I know he’s just doing this to get a rise out of me. I make my tea the same way every day. He’s seen me make it every day. It’s not like this is a new occurrence.

“Yeah, I like it black like your soul.” I smile over the rim of my cup, but my victory is short-lived when I notice he’s taken that as a compliment by the smile he’s giving me. Fucker. If I had balls I would so want to teabag him right now. I adjust my diamond stud earrings, it’s a nervous habit of mine.

He moves in close, like he has a secret to tell me. I lower my cup from the front of my face. He looks so smug. “At least I have a soul, princess.” That’s when I snapped. I metaphorically teabagged him with my words, mentally gave him the finger and got the hell out of dodge, because I was so close to pouring my hot tea all over his hipster bearded ass. I know it’s petty and childish, but it’s our thing. I secretly think he gets off on it. He always finds a way to antagonize me.

I walk by Cindy’s desk. Hers is closest to the breakroom so she is privy to our adolescent banter daily. She gives me a knowing smile. I smile back and give her a roll of the eyes. She knows what I have to deal with day in and out. We work at a corporate accounting firm. It’s not exciting, but it’s stable and I love my job. I’m in HR. Unfortunately, Dylan was already working here before I got this gig. Even though he is a pain in my ass, he’s really good at his job and he seems to love it. The hipster comes off as gruff and hard edged, but I’ve seen him with other people. He can be charismatic when he wants to be, friendly even.

The first time I met him, I thought he was lost. He came into my office to ask a question about his time off. He took one look at me and it went downhill very quickly. You’d think in my position he would schmooze me a bit, try and get on my good side. But no, it’s not his style. His broad shoulders filling my doorway, I thought he was a maintenance guy. He looked like a guy that worked with his hands, his very large hands. I call him a hipster, but he doesn’t really have the physique that I picture when I think of a hipster. He’s not lean. He’s brawny and muscular under that tight white dress shirt he wears. Dylan doesn’t look like the type of guy that would sip a beer. I could picture a pint in his hands, the froth from the beer clinging to his whiskers. He has tattoos too. I’ve seen them when he rolls up his dress shirts. So hot.

I’m getting off topic here, but he’s a massive, intimidating guy. He’s probably used to people bending to his will. Unfortunately for him, I’m not like that. I’m stubborn, organized, and efficient. I don’t like bullshit, which is something we have in common. If he could sit in my office for more than five minutes and talk about something other than what I’m wearing or my intellect being lower than thou, then we might actually be able to get along. He had the audacity to come in my office and say that I put his time in incorrectly. He spoke slowly so I understood him, and I spoke like a Neanderthal so he would understand me. And so, our wonderful work relationship was born.

I collapse in my chair, wondering to myself how a guy like that works in an accounting firm. I do know that he’s a whiz with numbers. I think he was a child prodigy. Dylan gets away with a lot here because of it. Honestly, I’m surprised he hasn’t gone out and created his own firm. On the other hand, he doesn’t like dealing with the finer details, which I specialize in.

I glance around my beautifully organized desk. My office doesn’t have a window, and so I try and cheer it up a bit with color and beautiful things. When I say color, I mean mostly pink. I’m obsessed with the color. I know, I’m such a girl. It’s a cheery color. The most beautiful flowers to me are pink. I love flowers and I have some fake flowers on my desk. If I had the money I would have fresh flowers every day.

I’m not a type A personality all the way through but everything has to have a nice cute little place. I look at my large collection of sharpened pencils; that’s like a bouquet there in itself. My cute little notebooks, Post-its, and calendar. These things make me happy. They make me feel relaxed and I’m able to do my job efficiently when everything looks bright and I have easy access to it. I added floral pillows to the blah gray chairs that came with my office and have calming pictures hung. After I finally unloaded all my office supplies, Dylan came by and had to comment that it looked like Barney threw up Pepto-Bismol. All the women and some of the guys say it looks really nice, so I just ignore his jabs and keep doing what I do. He can pass judgment all he likes, I’m not changing.

I’ve worked here for two years now and I love it. The job I moved here for didn’t pan out. It just wasn’t a good fit and after a year, I left and joined this firm. The people are great, well most of them, and I can see myself working here for my entire career. I love doing this kind of work and helping people. I also get to plan some of the holiday parties. That’s my favorite, decorating for the holidays. Cindy and I are close for coworkers. We don’t hang out a lot, she’s quite a bit older than I am, but we talk on the phone after work sometimes. We like discussing the daily fights I have with Dylan.

“Andy, there’s an emergency meeting being called. All staff need to go to the boardroom immediately.” Before I can ask Cindy what’s going on, she’s moving on to the next office to inform them of the meeting. Shaking my head, I grab a pad and pencil to take notes. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a meeting where the company as a whole was there. This should be interesting. It must have been impromptu as normally they send an email a couple days before.