Ladies and Gentlemen: the Hyperion Institute for Advanced Callimastian-Callipygian-Kickassian Studies proudly presents, for your reading pleasure, a trilogy of love stories, cut up and interwoven to make them more interesting (or at least more pretentious):
Ain’t Love Grand?
Love Is a 4-Letter Word
Martin Elginbrod’s To Do List for January 2_, 200__
- BUY GROCERIES
- PAY LIGHT BILL
- RETURN VIDEOS
- FALL IN LOVE
- GET A HAIRCUT
The list was much the same every day. Oh, the items changed. You can’t return the same video more than once, after all. But, each morning Martin Elginbrod would make a list (he was a famous list-maker; more on that in a minute), and somewhere on that list would be the item FALL IN LOVE. That might sound very romantic, but if so I wouldn’t be telling it right, for while Martin Elginbrod was many things, romantic wasn’t one of them. Oh, he’d like to be the kind of man who could take a girl in his arms and say, “Darling, let me kiss your soft, sweet lips while I sing you the beating love song of my heart.”
But Martin Elginbrod wasn’t that kind of guy. Martin Elginbrod was the kind of guy who made a list to go shopping, made a list of movies to go rent a video, and made a list of current events to go get a haircut. Basically, Martin Elginbrod made a list any time he might be around certain types of people. (The kind that usually had breasts and made him extremely nervous. (And no, I’m not talking about Italian gangsters. I’m talking about women.))
Martin Elginbrod didn’t do so well with the ladies. He wasn’t particularly unattractive, or loathsome. But, every time a female would come into Martin Elginbrod’s presence, he would break into a flop-sweat worthy of a politician at a truth-telling contest. Martin’s mouth would dry up, all words would leave his brain, and the sweat…it wasn’t a pretty picture.
So, Casanova Martin Elginbrod was not. But, he was hopeful, so every day Martin Elginbrod would write down FALL IN LOVE on his List of things To Do.
Crystal Jenkins had been in love for 6 years, 211 days, 14 hours, and 31 minutes. That was the exact moment she first laid eyes on her new boss, Holloway Babbit. Both Miss Jenkins (none of the “Ms.” crap for Crystal) and Mr. Babbit worked at Caradyne Global Inc., a company that did all sorts of things (but none of them interesting, so let’s move on).
Crystal was transferred from the Secretarial Pool to be Holloway’s private secretary when the previous secretary died, or possibly retired. (Again, it’s not that interesting, so I didn’t bother to find out which). What’s important is that you understand that upon seeing him, Crystal fell immediately, hard-core, hopelessly in love with Mr. Holloway Babbit.
Crystal was a closet Romantic. She’d die of embarrassment if you knew (so don’t mention this to her), but Crystal liked to take warm bubble baths and read Romance novels (the kind with big shirtless guys on the cover and used language like “his quivering member” and came three times a month in the mail, since Crystal never had the courage to buy these books at the local grocery store). Crystal used to pretend she was the girl swept away, but this never happened to her.
Until she saw Holloway.
Unfortunately, Mr. Holloway Babbit did not see Crystal. Well, he saw her; one cannot completely avoid one’s secretary, now can one? But, he certainly didn’t seem to care.
“Ms. Jenkins, could you type this up please? Ms. Jenkins, could you file the Rothchild report? Ms. Jenkins, could you get me coffee, two sugars, one cream?”
That was all Crystal was good for. She couldn’t even get Holloway to call her Miss Jenkins (or better yet—be still her beating heart—Crystal). She’d left plenty of hints. She wanted him to know she was single, but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
Ain’t Love Grand?
It tears at our souls, it claws at our guts
It makes us nervous and nauseous and nuts
Heartache and sadness that won’t go away
We try to back out; our heart makes us stay
Painful rejection, a slap in the face
All we’ve to hope for is certain disgrace
Yet, still we follow our same hopeless plan
Ain’t Love Grand?
Love is a 4-Letter Word
The thing about Martin Elginbrod was that, he was a pretty neat guy. Twice a week he would quietly pick up litter and garbage in the park, because he wanted to be a good neighbor (and so that the kids wouldn’t accidentally come across broken glass or needles). Martin was a voracious reader, and four times a year he would anonymously donate 25-30 used hardback books (in great condition) to the local library, which didn’t have a lot of money. Martin loved the Colonial period, and collected rare furniture and art from that time (his home was beautiful). Martin loved to write poetry too, but he considered himself pretty bad and would never show anyone.
For his job Martin Elginbrod wrote a circular, with a crossword puzzle, historical tidbits, and funny little comments about life. The circular is used in family restaurants all over the country.
(You may have done a Martin Elginbrod crossword puzzle the last time you went out for pancakes.) Martin also wrote technical manuals for G.E. products, and everyone in the industry said that Elginbrod manuals were the easiest to understand. But around women…
He did try. Scared as he was, Martin Elginbrod was a great sport, and so he went out on countless blind dates, sent up by friends, co-workers, and his sister; all who knew what a great catch Martin Elginbrod was and who didn’t want him to be alone. At first Martin would pick the girls up, but that ended after the time he got so nervous that he drove 40 miles the wrong way and got them lost.
But meeting the women at the restaurant wasn’t much better. Martin would be dressed up—trying to make a good impression—and that wouldn’t help the sweating. Then he would stammer and splutter and sound like Porky Pig (and maybe knock the water over), and the woman would think Martin was a hopeless mess. He tried to let them do most of the talking, but Martin Elginbrod found that women liked to ask a lot of questions that he didn’t have the answers to on the spot like that. This is partly why Martin took to making such extensive lists; to have an answer to every conceivable question. What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies? What is your favorite color? Martin had these answers and a thousand more written down.
And they were great answers. Martin Elginbrod was a pretty witty guy. But chicks tend not to be impressed when a man says, “I never knew my favorite color until I looked into your eyes” while reading a note-pad! (It wasn’t a line, mind you: Martin had written this in the washroom while cleaning off the hot soup he spilled in his lap, but it seemed concocted.)
Anyway, that’s how all the dates went. Pretty soon Martin Elginbrod stopped trying to date. But he didn’t stop making his lists, and he didn’t stop hoping that one day he could check off FALL IN LOVE.
For five long years Crystal Jenkins worked tirelessly—and devotedly—for Mr. Holloway Babbit. She volunteered to stay late whenever asked (secretly hoping for one of those boss/secretary encounters she read about in her books). Crystal bought dozens of new outfits—that she really couldn’t afford—in the colors she thought he liked. She gave up on Holloway calling her “Crystal,” but she did correct him every time he said “Ms.” with “Miss” to remind Holloway she wasn’t married. Nothing seemed to work. Holloway didn’t notice, or didn’t care.
Then came the office Christmas party.
Mr. Holloway Babbit got very drunk and started staggering and slurring his words. Crystal saw her opportunity, but fact to face with the moment she’d been dreaming of, Crystal was scared and couldn’t make her move.
She didn’t have to.
Holloway followed Crystal into the copy room—where she was getting her coat to leave. We’ll give Crystal her privacy here, and spare you the details, but lipstick definitely had to be reapplied.
The next Monday Crystal came to work on Cloud 9. Mr. Holloway Babbit greeted her in the same dismissive manner, and fear shot through Crystal’s gut, but she told herself this was just in public and Holloway wanted to keep professional at the office.
Four days later, she wasn’t so positive. Crystal wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but not this. If anything, he was even icier. Finally, she confronted him, asking about the Christmas party.
“Yeah, I was so drunk, I don’t remember anything. Bob from Accounting told me I started singing, then went in the copy room and made out with some total dog. You have to watch out for me, Ms. Jenkins, when I drink, and make sure I don’t do something stupid.”
Crystal said nothing, but her face told the story. Holloway noticed, and started stammering.
“Um…that is to say…uh…Bob always exaggerates…gives me a bad time…I hope you don’t think this means I don’t respect…”
“I love you.” Crystal said. The words hung in the air like heavy fog, refusing to evaporate. Holloway looked even more alarmed.
“Uh, Ms. Jenkins, I totally value our special friendship…uh…and I would never mean to intrude upon your kindness…um…I wouldn’t want to compromise your work…I think of you as a sister…”
Crystal quit listening after that. The next day she was transferred to Sylvia in Marketing. It was a promotion. Crystal never felt worse. But, she didn’t give up. Crystal continued to buy nice outfits and sit close to Holloway in the cafeteria, and passed him often in the halls (there is a fine line between serendipitous chance meetings and stalking). She told her mother (who agonized for her) that the transfer was so there would be no conflict of interest, and Holloway could date her, while swallowing the bitter truth. Her friends told her to move on. She couldn’t, but she did have her diary, to which she poured out her heart:
From the Diary of Crystal Jenkins January 2_, 200_ Dear Diary, Loving someone who doesn’t love you is one of the most heartbreaking things imaginable. When that happens it crumbles you. Our world, while very cynical, has brought us to expect love and romance. The words, “I’m sorry, I just don’t love you” no one remembers at the end of the movie. The pain seeps into every part of our lives, and time only makes the ache less frequent. When we are 80 years old, we will still be able to feel the pain as if we just saw him walk away. Tears never run out and the pain of every breath of the heart can be seen in the small of your eyes if you look closely.
A little overly dramatic, maybe, but have you ever been a woman in love? Crystal read a line in one of her Romance novels—“There has never been anything as tragic or as noble as unrequited love.”
Crystal took this to heart. She decided she would wait for Mr. Holloway Babbit until the end of time, so at least he would know how strong her love was.
Ain’t Love Grand?
The ends of the Earth, we willingly go
Through strife and hardship (through rain, sleet, and snow)
To gain the brass ring, our desires fulfilled
To win our heart’s dream, we’d have our blood spilled
This is not a cost considered too high
If they were to ask, we’d willingly die
Then those piercing words, “Can we just be friends?”
Ain’t Love Grand?
Love is a 4-Letter Word
Martin Elginbrod’s To Do List for May 0_, 200_
- FINISH LETTER TO SPONSORED CHILD IN CHECHNYA
- PICK UP DRY-CLEANING
- WRITE AND PRACTICE WHAT TO SAY AT GROCERY STORE
- BUY GROCERIES
- TALK TO GIRL
- FALL IN LOVE
Martin Elginbrod bought groceries every Thursday (which everyone knows is the best day to buy groceries). He would always see this woman looking through the book section. He really wanted to talk to her, but he was so nervous.
Martin wrote down 20 different things to say. He read all the books she seemed to be interested in (even the Romance novels, which she never bought but was always looking at). However, he didn’t want to scare her and make her think he was stalking her. After all, women really don’t understand what it’s like to think about someone all the time who barely knows you exist.
Martin Elginbrod went grocery shopping, as nervous as a cat. He saw her, over by the books. She was wearing light blue, one of his two favorite colors. He went up to her, taking deep breaths, preparing to say something. Unfortunately, his hands were quite clammy and his basket tipped precariously, causing a grape to fall out, which—if you’ve been paying attention up to now, you know—Martin Elginbrod slipped on, crashing into the woman.
Panic seized Martin’s throat, and the witty box remained closed. (Later, driving home, in a great esprit de l’escalier, Martin thought of what to say: “I apologize for crashing into you, but you are so beautiful, that one glance and I forgot how to walk.” As it was, Martin could barely speak, other than to say “I’m so very sorry” 400 times, and help her gather her groceries back into her basket, and then hurry away.
When Martin Elginbrod arrived home, he put away his groceries (except for the grapes, which he threw away and vowed never to eat again, as traitors), and pulled out all his little notes to himself. One was missing—the very one Martin had practiced saying so many times. It must have fallen out of his pocket when he crashed. Martin Elginbrod began to sweat.
From the Diary of Crystal Jenkins, May 0_, 200_
Today started off as the worst day ever. I wore my new light blue dress, Holloway’s favorite color, but he never even glanced up when I passed him in the hall (all four times). Then at lunch, I saw him sitting with Liza Staniland (that total slut!) and holding her hand. I guess they’re an item now. Holloway told me once he couldn’t date someone he worked with. I guess he just meant he couldn’t date me.
So, Diary, I was feeling pretty low after work, when I went grocery shopping. I was standing by the books, thinking about buying that new Romance novel (my next one doesn’t arrive for a week), when this man crashed into me. He was so embarrassed and apologized a million times. Then when was in the check-out line I noticed a folded note in the bottom of my basket. I opened it and read:
I almost fainted there in the middle of check-out #3. Obviously he planned that whole crash just to slip this note into my basket. It’s the most romantic think I’ve ever heard of. I’ve seen him around, at the library and the park. I think I’ll go talk to him.
From the Diary of Crystal Jenkins, May 1_, 200_
His name is Martin Elginbrod. I found him at the library; although it took going there for 3 straight days (if men knew what women did for love they’d never stop laughing at us). He was so cute! He pretended to stammer when he saw me, read off this little card that my beauty drove words right out of his brain! He never mentioned it, but I think he read off the note to let me know that he did it the first time.
We went out for dinner. On the table was this cute little page with puzzles and quotes on it, and I saw “Martin Elginbrod” written in the corner. He wrote it! That’s what he does for a living. He is so smart to be able to do something like that. I asked him to explain how to make a crossword puzzle, and he got so involved he forgot to pretend to be nervous.
Mostly, though, he let me talk. I have never met anyone so polite and interested in me. He let me have all the attention. I felt like such a star. It is so wonderful to have a man notice you, and think what you say is important. He told me my green dress I was wearing was one of his two favorite colors (the other is the blue I wore when he “accidentally” bumped into me).
We’re going out this weekend. When Martin heard I adore the Colonial period, he asked me to go to this Colonial Antiques show. He said it sounded like fun, which I know he only said to make me happy, but I feel so good that he would do something he finds boring just for me! It makes me feel so special! Holloway and Liza sat at my table today and I didn’t even notice them. Liza looked so disappointed.
I am so happy =)
Ain’t Love Grand
It twists and it turns, it never lets go
It preens and it snarls; it puts on a show
Completely a slave, to the heart’s desires
You’re led on a leash; you’ll walk through the fire
Yet sometimes in life, the balances tip
After all the pain, you get one more trip
You find that someone that you understand
Ain’t Love Grand?
May 03, 2004
Thanks to Jerrica for writing the first Diary entry
Thanks to Tootsie for help with Editing
Thanks to Martin Elginbrod and Crystal Jenkins
Love is a rough stone wall