A Peculiar Love for Nuts

 

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Michelle Phillips/Daily
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 6:44pm

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James Jameson? Yeah, I know him. He works with me at the office. Gotta feel bad for a guy with a name like that; his parents must have hated him. I think he runs numbers for the guys upstairs. I guess management thinks he’s hot shit or something. A while ago he threatened to quit unless he got a promotion. They gave him an intern who gets his coffee once a week, and that shut him right up.

Yeah, I’d say James has always been a little bit nutty. No pun intended. A real nut case, ha. You can sorta pick up on that just from talking to him. He had these … mannerisms. One is this twitch in his eye. He’ll be talking to you and then he just starts winking at you. First time it happened to me I thought he was coming on to me. I said nuh-uh, sir. There’s nothing wrong with that way of life, but that’s just not the book I’m reading if you get what I mean. Later I found out about his twitch from someone at the watercooler, and I felt kinda bad about the way I acted. I came by his cubicle to be polite and to welcome him to the office and did a sort of half-assed knock on the wall with my third and fourth knuckles. He looked up from his computer, and that’s when I discovered his second mannerism. He had a mouthful of nuts — I mean full to the brim. He looked like a goddamn squirrel stocking up for a long-ass winter, “Day After Tomorrow” shit, you know what I’m saying? He had another fistful of nuts ready to pop in as soon as he was done with the current set. Pistachios, cashews, almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts overflowing out of his lanky, crooked fingers — I could tell this man loved his nuts, but I didn’t realize just how much he loved nuts. How could I? You see a man with a face and fist full of nuts you just think, damn, this guy really likes nuts, then you move on with your life; that’s just what you do.

My office had a window. I thought I made it big: my own office, my own window, my own door with my own name on it. Then one day, this GODdamn bird flies into my office through my open window — it was such a nice day, I had to open the window — and it trashes my whole office. This two-pound ball of shit and feathers slammed into all of the family pictures that I had just hung on the walls — shattered the glass. It knocked over my computer monitor, scratched my nice leather office chair that I bought with my own money, and took a fat-fucking shit on my desk. Then it flew back outside like nothing even happened — like it coulda popped out any time it wanted to — like it just flew into my room to shit on my desk and ruin my day. Management made me move out of my office for two weeks so some fed dipshits in hazmat suits could kick it in there for a few hours and come out each day claiming that my office is “uninhabitable due to the possibility of the excrement contaminating the air with a viral disease” or some shit. I don’t know why they couldn’t just spray some Lysol up in there and call it — probably too tantalized by the fat government check cushioning their wallets.

As it turns out, I later found out from Biff (he’s got the office next to mine) that Jameson had been by my office earlier that day looking for me — that he’d come by with his fistful of nuts and poked his head in my door, and when he hadn’t found me he stuck his head in Biff’s door and asked where I was. Don’t know what he needed me for. Biff said the guy just wanted to see me. Anyway, Biff told me he suspects that James dropped a few nuts in my room when he did poke in, cos that’s what he did in Biff’s office, and a bird musta seen the nuts through my open window or something and decide to come and get a snack. Well sure enough I found a few cashews lying by my door when I was finally let back into my own office.

Till then though, I had to work in a cubicle that shared a wall with Jameson’s. That was just great. Obviously I was still bitter about the nuts he left in my office, but what am I gonna do, bully the new guy? During those two weeks, I saw James every single day. Every day when I’d get up from my cubicle to go to the watercooler I’d peek at him when I walk by, not in a spying sorta way, but a curious sorta way, and every time he’d have his mouth full of nuts and a fistful waiting its turn. When I’d get up to go to the bathroom, mouthful and fistful. When I’d go to lunch, fistful and mouthful. He must have gone through at least a pound a day.

Though on the fourth day — maybe it was the fifth — I walked by his cubicle and this time he wasn’t munching his nuts. This time he only had one nut in his hand (an almond I’m pretty sure) and he was holding it up like so, like he’s trying to suffocate the tiny thing with his thumb; and he was holding it up to his ear and squinting his eyes like he was dead-ass focused on something. I thought what a weirdo and got on with my life; that’s just what you do. Some people are into weird-ass shit; you just gotta carry on.

He wasn’t holding it anymore when I got back to my desk. He wasn’t munching his nuts either.

Here’s where this shit started turning into a real chin-scratcher. The first time I actually wondered if Jameson had fallen off his rocker was when I heard him murmuring through the cubicle wall — those things ain’t soundproof for shit. Now that in and of itself wasn’t that weird. You know, I get it. Some people talk to themselves when they’re working — helps their train of thought or whatever. My wife, she does it when she’s especially stressed; that’s how I know when to order pizza for dinner. Anyway, I hear him murmur and mumble and it starts to grind my gears after a while. I’m about to put on my headphones just to block it out but not without walking past his cubicle and shooting him a dirty look so he knows what’s up — I’m petty like that. I walk up to his cubicle and set the nastiest look on my face — my mom used to tell me not to make faces or they’ll get stuck; if my face had gotten stuck right then I’d have been screwed — then when I come around the corner, I see James holding the almond in the palm of his hand right up close to his face. He doesn’t seem to notice me standing there staring at him — he’s too busy whispering sweet-fucking-nothings to this nut. I swear to God, I’m telling you, this is some weird-​ass shit. I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t say anything. I walked back to my cubicle and sat my ass down, put my headphones in and went on with my life. Cos that’s what you do, right? None of my business.

I shoulda kept thinking about it like that: “none of my business.” Curiosity killed the cat, they say. I wish I’d forgotten all about it and never looked into his cubicle again. The very next day, I walked by his cubicle, and I just glanced over my shoulder and James — I swear, you can’t make this shit up, I swear to fucking God you can’t — James is holding this exact same almond to his lips, puckered like a fish. Now if I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was just kissing this nut. Crazy, right? Batshit! He caught me looking though. He dropped the nut like it just burnt him or something and he turned hot red. He didn’t say anything though. I didn’t say nothing either; just walked on by. But tell me, how the hell am I supposed to just move on from that shit? I couldn’t help myself from thinking: was Jameson just kissing a fucking nut?

You can’t tell me that I needed to get over it — just don’t think about it, right? How could I not think about that? I kept thinking about it after I went home. My wife was talking to herself that night, but I didn’t order pizza. I just couldn’t stop thinking about what the hell happened in the office that day. Sherry got mad at me — that’s my wife — guess she wanted me to order pizza or ask her about her day or whatever it is women want; I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening.

I spent a lot of time at the watercooler the next day, mostly because I couldn’t focus on my work, but also because I wanted to avoid seeing James do any weirder shit. A few of my co-workers stopped by to take a break, and I chatted with them. I asked the usual shit like, “How’s the wife,” even though I didn’t care and what’s the weather look like for tomorrow even though I already knew. What I really wanted to know was if anyone else picked up on James acting strange lately, but nobody seemed to notice anything different about him. I didn’t bring up the nut thing; I didn’t want them to think I was the crazy one.

I had half a week left in this cruddy cubicle next to James, and dammit I needed to figure out just what the hell it was that he was up to. Last few days, I remember, he’d starting eating lunch in his cubicle, but he stopped eating nuts. I saw him eating salads, sandwiches, spaghetti — normal shit. Maybe he pulled himself together, I thought at one point. Maybe it was just a phase — an adjustment period. I invited him out to lunch one of those days, told him I knew this great deli that had just opened down the block; they’ve got this apple-brie melt that’ll make your heart melt. I was hoping that we’d talk over lunch and that he’d say normal shit, and I’d be like damn I was wrong, he’s no weirdo after all.

Turns out, I was wrong about being wrong. I asked him to lunch, but he politely declined, saying he already had made plans for a lunch date today, and maybe we could go some other time. Whatever, that’s fine. It was just a gesture anyway. Except, when I walked by again in an hour, I saw him eating a plate of pasta, two forks on the plate. Across the plate, he — I kid you not — he put that same almond on this, this chair that he made out of a cotton ball and a tissue. He was on a lunch date with an almond. Lemme say that again, a lunch date with a fucking almond. I went home from work early that day — told my boss I was feeling sick and I wasn’t lying. Felt sick in the head for the rest of the day. Barely said two words to Sherry that night, even. I think she went out and got pizza by herself. Not sure; I went to bed early. When I came back to work the next morning, James said ​"morning" and I gave him this half-assed smile 'cause I had nothing to say to him. A little while later though, I’ll admit, I came around the corner and asked how his date went. He smiled this toothy smile like he’d been with Olivia Wilde and she was all over him. "I think I’m in love, Michael."

I got an invitation in the mail three days later. You wanna know what it said?

James Jameson

&

Almonda Nutt

Cordially request the pleasure of your company on the joyous occasion of their marriage.

Now picture me going through my mail: bill, catalogue, ad, bill, ad, almond wedding invitation. At this point I don’t even know what’s going on. This nut is getting married … to an almond. Is that legal? How did he even find an officiant who’d agree to do that? Is this not concerning to anybody else? Is he planning on having kids with this lady? Has he met her parents? How are they going to have sex on their honeymoon? If they don’t have sex will their marriage be consummated? How are they supposed to have sex?

What? Of course I went. How many times in my life am I going to have the chance to see a man get married to a nut? Jameson’s guests all had this look — some combination of pity and concern — not the kind of look you’d want your wedding guests to have. Almonda’s guests were all nuts; not sure what I expected there. The usher carried a bowl of mixed nuts with him and placed each one in a seat. Jameson’s vows were heartfelt; I’ll give it to the guy, he honest to God cares very deeply about his bride. He talked about how he had always turned to nuts in times of hunger and boredom, that is, until he met Almonda. She opened his eyes to see that eating nuts is wrong, and she showed him how to love. A guest from James’ side was sniveling audibly by the end of it. The minister’s invitation for Almonda to share her vows was met with silence. Somebody coughed and then they were pronounced husband and wife.

I’ll be damned if the couple’s first dance wasn’t the sweetest strange thing I’ve ever seen. James was just beaming as he held onto his wife and swung her around in the spotlight. After dinner, I spied James trying to feed Almonda a piece of cake. He was failing of course, but it was kind of cute. And he was happy.

Me and Sherry were sitting at a table with some of my co-workers and their wives. I remember Rob’s wife cooing about how cute the newlyweds looked together, then she asked Rob if he remembered their wedding night and how in love they were.

Sherry wasn’t having a good time that night. I asked her when we were alone for a second how she felt about the marriage and she made some comment about how ridiculous this whole thing is and a waste of money and peoples’ time. I don’t see it that way, but I guess I know where she’s coming from. I came to this wedding feeling a bit like she did, but James was happy with his wife — dammit, happier than I am — and I don’t think it’s my place to look down on him for that. It’s a pity that Sherry can’t see it like that. After the wedding we went home and went to bed. Then the next morning the sun came up and we got on with our lives; that’s just what you do.