Our merry little band of Mortgage Brokers set up house in the damp, gray fog of West Portal in a small office. There were eight desks closely together in two rows of four facing the large store front window. There was a floor upstairs for some of the new agents. People who entered would be greeted by Pamela. My desk was in between Johnny and Christine behind her. The four of us were essentially the "production" team for the West Portal Loan office. Bill and Stan-the business partners and working loan agents- were stationed in the adjacent row along with whatever newbie agents we got fresh from passing their Real Estate Licensing tests. We all gradually sunk into our routine and Pamela embraced her authority of office manager with zeal. She would take the new agents under her wing and advise them. She and Bill would playfully exchange colorful banter with Johnny inserting bizarre, enigmatic one liners having to do with ass licking and semen consumption. Pamela would shriek out an admonishing "Johnny!!!" filled with the same shock and dismay of Jane Hathaway but you could tell she was slightly amused. Christine would just look ever so briefly puzzled as if she didn't quite get Johnny's jokes and then shake her head in disbelief when it became clear what he was talking about.
It didn't happen RIGHT away but I began to fall a little in love with Pamela. This all came about due to my odd compulsion. You see in every job I ever had, there was always a chubby person who I could squeeze and shake whenever I needed to. I realize that's a peculiar statement so let me elaborate. It started as far back as Sixth Grade when I kept squeezing Jay Yahowicz's skull because it was so magnificently bulbous to me. Ever since, I have had a strange compulsion to grab body parts of an individual and squeeze or shake them in some way. The rounder the body part looked, the more I am compelled to squeeze it. Lucky for me I never do this to random strangers. I always befriended them first. Also lucky (or not depending on your view), for them- it was never a sexual organ. For me it wasn't a sexual thing anyway. I noticed I often did it to a co-worker so I suppose it's how I relieved stress. These days Orlando, and infrequently Drew endure this odd behaviour.
With this activity I often limited it to the cranium or the upper arm. I once wrote on a girl's arm in college in indelible blue marker, " I Love your Fat arm" You can imagine how she felt about that -particularly since she wasn't really overweight. She just had fat upper arms and I LOVED to squeeze them. She had a crush on me up until the blue marker incident and she viewed my squeezings and shakings as affection. My new co-worker Pamela had luscious arms and it was hard for me to wait and get to know her better before I could begin squeezing. I found I couldn't help myself and when I arrived to the office. I'd reach down and do a quick stealth squeeze/shake combo and shout a cheery " Good Morning Pammikins!!!" (As much as I disliked her incongruous Sea Scallop hair do, I was tickled to see it vibrate a little with my squeeze/shake combo.) She looked up at me in wonder and asked, " What was that? " I smiled, " Just making sure you are awake and ready for a great day!!!" and then I'd hustle over to my desk, hoping for better control of myself.
As we got to know the local watering holes and lunch places we got to know each other. Pamela rarely brought a packed lunch. I did bring my lunch but would often join her on Fridays. There were a few nice places in West Portal. She quickly bonded to Stan's new marketing girl. I say "girl" because it always seemed like a woman just out of college. It was a part time position but she did have a desk upstairs. Our marketing person was named Nupura. Pamela and Nupura became close because of their proximity in age. Due to my stunted emotional maturity, I found myself relating quite easily to these 20 something girls. (I was in my late 30s). We all talked about the pitfalls of being single in this day and age and how difficult men could be. Nupura had a handy little trick that amused Pammie and me, where she would unfurl her long dark hair from it's little bun on her head in the middle of a packed bar and immediately you could feel all the eyes of every man blaze in her direction. That would be my cue to head to the Castro so I could make some men blaze in MY direction.
Pammie was generous and often bought us drinks and treated us to lunch. I figured her salary was similar to my own and asked her point blank if she had more money stashed somewhere else. She reluctantly revealed her good fortune to me and Nupura. Pammie was a trust fund baby. She had explained that a close friend of her father's had some significant business success and had set up for her and her brother and sister, -a trust fund. She had an allowance from it, but the whole thing wouldn't be hers until she was 38. I didn't know about Nupura but after decades of trying to scrape a living together I was mystified why someone would CHOOSE to work if they didn't have to. Pammie didn't look me directly in the eye and said out into the air " It's best if I work for my money" I reached over and squeezed her arm and she asked, " Why do you DO that to me all the time? " Nupura took the liberty of explaining it to her in front of me. " It means he likes you Pammie!" We raised a glass to all liking each other very much. I liked her soooo much that I was ready to change her. I had always wanted a daughter! I began "Now about that hair do...." Nupura gulped her drink nervously and I squeezed Pammies arm one more time. Pammie looked alarmed. ( To be continued)