Delilah, My Boss
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Delilah, my boss, calls in from the dog park
and tells us it's time.
We must shed our stretch, she says.
Slap ourselves out of our lethargy.
Embrace the hum of new promise because the world is fun
and thrilling again, now that people have stopped
being so bothered by death.
Beatrice, Delilah's Lhasa Apso, has begun to hump
a makeshift statue of Frank Sinatra
in the background of her video.
"Beatrice," we all scold in our blazers
Privately, we panic.
Sweat trickles down our strained waistbands and
the timid hairs of our neglected legs and other limp,
lower-half things to the sourdough crumbs in our
slippers as we grapple with this change of heart.
We thought Delilah didn't mind.
We thought Delilah enjoyed calling in from the dog park.
We thought Delilah was flexible.
Delilah yanks Beatrice's leash as Beatrice continues to hump
Frank Sinatra, while another Lhasa Apso named Gloria
(she's new to the park as of last week)
trots up to sniff her anus.
"Gloria," we all scold, dabbing at the perspiration
in our unshaven armpits.
Delilah yanks Beatrice's leash again and licks her lips
as she stuffs her snack of organic seed crackers
into her pocket. Two seeds cling to her wet
translucent lip gloss, like fatty acid flies caught
in a hydrogenated polyisobutene
sticky insect trap on a
Maybelline office window.
I consider telling her about the seeds on her lips,
then get distracted by Beatrice's stamina
with poor Frank.
Delilah says look, we all know in-person
ideating is key to up-scaling our strategic
alignment with our changemaking metrics
and blue-sky thought leading for resilience.
She sets a timeline for our new Transformative Scheme
for a Thriving Team: Flex-Gradual Remote-to-Office
Policy, wherein we tag-team going into the office twice a
week for three weeks, and then we're all required to
return five days a week after that point.
Holly in comms points out that this doesn't feel very gradual.
Sarah pings me on Teams saying she doesn't think Delilah
thinks "tag-team" means what she thinks it means.
Delilah says c*** she's late for a hair appointment and
then that High-Level Virtual Board Convening—can you
send that PPT Holly? You did? I don't see it. Can you
loop in Melanie and send again in five different versions
so we can A/B test?—but, she continues, if we
put a pin in this she'll circle back by COB with
more details in the Monday M-igest, meanwhile
please take up any concerns with Richard.
We ask who's Richard?
Sarah pings me saying she doesn't think Delilah
thinks "A/B test" means what she thinks it means.
Beatrice erupts into a yapping fit as Gloria humps the
pinecone Beatrice salvaged from a pile of leaves beneath
Frank Sinatra, and Delilah says f*** c*** and hangs up.
Later, Delilah emails out the Monday M-igest
outlining our Transformative Scheme for a Thriving
Team: Flex-Gradual Remote-to-Office Policy,
accompanied by a GIF of a corgi on a
laptop on a skateboard.
Sarah asks if she can go home every forty-five
minutes to water her plants.
One of her plants is a rare vine from the Amazon that
I've become increasingly suspicious was imported
illegally, but I haven't had the mental bandwidth to
explain to her the harms of illegal plant imports and
their cascading effects on deforestation and
climate change and
methane release and
mangrove extinction and
energy insecurity and
counterfeit plant seeds and
corporate nursery malware and
early onset dementia from
the methane release,
(It is especially disheartening to think Sarah would be
illegally importing plants from the Amazon given that we
work for a nonprofit that tracks all the companies that track
databases that track open-source machine learning
algorithms that track how many species of snails
are dying off in coastal wetlands every year.)
Delilah tells Sarah f*** d*** if you
must, but please remember
the early bird is
master of none.
Sarah pings us asking what this means.
Holly tells her to compost her plants.
I send her a Slate article on houseplant ethics.
The next day, Delilah tells me in our one-on-one
check-in that she's been exceedingly pleased
with my performance of late and she hopes
I'm taking enough time for myself.
I am taken aback.
I say thank you.
I admit it's still been hard without Alexandra,
but it gets easier every day,
There's a pause in our conversation.
Delilah's video is off, but I hear the
blare of a car horn in her background
and some man calling for her to
take the goddamn baguette.
My deceased wife, I remind her. Last April?
Ah b** o* d****, she says. Right. So sorry.
I tell her it's okay.
She asks if I'd like her to donate to the
local LGBTQ+ fund in my wife's memory.
She asked this last month
when I reminded her of my dead wife.
I tell her I appreciate the thought
but don't worry about it.
Also I don't think such a fund exists.
What might be nice, I add, is there's a
live experimental clarinet performance in
the park this afternoon and I'd appreciate being
able to stop by if I could take two hours of PTO?
My wife used to dabble in experimental clarinet,
and it was nice.
Oof, Delilah sighs, today's a bit short
notice, can you just let me know a couple
months in advance the next time there's a
live experimental clarinet performance?
I tell her I think this is the last one until next summer.
She says hmm you know I just saw a banner ad for some
harpsichord virtuoso who'll be playing under the 9th street
overpass next Tuesday, you could go to that.
She says she read somewhere this morning
that harpsichord music—especially street
harpsichord music—has been proven to
work in concert with our brain's stewards
of sleep during REM cycle dreamscapes
to stimulate long-dormant pyramidal
neurons in our hippocampi linked to
both qualitative innovation visioning
and quantitative prowess in honing
fiscal acumen, and it may also
help stoke the violet flames of one's
psychological womb in order to
attain a higher level of grounding
and will away annoying ailments
like iron deficiency,
You could make that a
Performance Goal, she suggests.
Learning street harpsichord? I ask, to clarify.
No, listening to it under the over—
f***ing c*** o* b****
she says. Beatrice!
Sorry, late for
They day I go in to the office,
no one is there.
Sarah is with her plants.
Holly has gone over to the private sector
to work for a company that ships their employees
heated ergonomic desk chairs with invisible
armrest sensors compatible with virtual
home assistant systems.
And Delilah is squeezing in the
dog park before a dermatologist
appointment and a spin class
with her grandmother.
I sink into Delilah's chair in front of the window
lined with bobblehead Lhasa Apsos.
In the corner behind her desk is
a half-rolled poster of Peyton
Manning and a life-size cutout
of Jodie Foster at the
1992 Academy Awards.
I don't recall these things
being here before.
Behind me, I hear a moist snuffling
sound that I assume is a dog nose,
but it is a man.
This man, maybe seventy-three,
wearing a violet sweater vest
and confusingly damp sandals
(it has not been raining)
meanders over and
offers me a tote bag
crammed with succulents.
The tote bag reads
C-ansas City, 1969.
The man says his name
I say Richard, can I ask
if any of the clarinet music
Richard shrugs and says
well I was experimental
if you know what I mean
so the clarinets
probably were too.
I look at the tote bag.
In the blue of my memory,
lines of warm song unfurl themselves.
F*** c*** o** o* d****,
I say, and I accept