Happy Hour


A small kitchen filled with a dozen Claims Analysts getting
ready for an office party. Most of the analysts are middle
aged women, pink-collar workers employed as glorified
electronic clerks for HealthMutual, a large insurance
company. They sit at keyboards all day, manually entering in
claims forms. The analysts are delighted to be away from the
monotony of their jobs, if only for an hour.

There is one male in the room, and he stands out. He is 21
years old, young enough to be the son of many of the women in
the room. His name is MIKE, a recent drop-out from the
University of Virginia, and the narrator of this story. Mike
wears Dockers, an ill-fitting tie, and it’s obvious that
office work is an unexpected development in his life. Yet,
he is smiling and perhaps a little too happy. 

The ladies had a tradition. 

Everyone is excitedly gathered round a table crowded with
homemade treats–chocolate chip cookies, Rice Krispy squares,
strawberry cakes, almond brownies, etc.. A smorgasbord of
sweets from a dozen different ovens. The ladies like to show
off their baking skills.

The Claims Analysts are looking around, eyes bright, waiting
to begin. A final Claims Analyst hurries into the room. She
is MICHELLE, a shy but attractive girl, roughly the same age
of Mike.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Mike gives her a friendly look before returning to his hungry
contemplation of the table overflowing with baked goods.
WILLY, a large and officious woman kicks things off. Willy
is short for Wilhelmina.

Let’s eat!

The eating begins. Or, rather, Mike’s eating begins. The
other Claims Analysts politely nibble, sip lemonade, and make
SMALL TALK about diets and kids. Mike gorges himself on home
baked goodies, eating ravenously, much to the delight of the
assembled women, who are glad to be appreciated.
Michelle hangs back against the wall and has to be persuaded
to take a brownie.

Every Friday. 4 PM. Happy hour.

Claims Analysts try to ply Mike with more food, delighted at
his appetite.

Michelle tries not to notice Mike, his appetite, his sloppy
table manners, but can’t help but LAUGH as she watches him
spoon lemon cake into his mouth. She is attracted him,
perhaps because he is the only guy in the office. Or perhaps
because he is likeable and a little wild. She is not sure,

Willy notices Michelle’s affectionate gaze. She doesn’t like
it one bit.

Mike catches Michelle laughing at him. He wipes his mouth
with a napkin and tries to slow down.

Mike, Mike, try mine!

Mike GRUNTS, nodding.

It was a cokehead’s dream.

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