Over the loudspeaker, “Christmas party radiology conference room at noon.” We chipped in for cold cuts, brought goodies-- deviled eggs, swiss cheese and crackers, pink jello salad, Mexican wedding cookies. Mary Dullea brought posole, we eat in paper cups. Spiked punch lasts fifteen minutes.
Mrs. Petty stage whispers, “We shoulda made chicken soup for Dr. Kopperman.” Sandra brought bunuelos, learned to make them in her Mexican cooking class. Consuela spits hers into the wastebasket, hisses to Teresa, “I’ve never tasted anything like that.” Sandra gets huffy, “They’re Mexico City style. Not New Mexico.”
Kyle, the security guard, plays Santa. Evie gives me three pair of bikini panties, each with a drink recipe. On the q.t., Mary Dullea whispers she’s selling hot Navajo jewelry for her brother-in-law in Arizona. The custodians have their party upstairs. Lucille comes down to ours and complains, “They’re playing Spanish music. I can’t understand a word of it.” She writes her recipe for sweet potato pie on a pink “While You Were Out” pad. It’s her new husband’s favorite. He’s from the Bahamas, hates Albuquerque.
Mrs. Petty passes around a card to slip into Poopsie’s in-box. Poopsie is secretary to Dr. B, the chief of radiology. The card is a photo of a penis with glasses and a little Santa hat. Underneath it says, “Season's Greetings. Guess Who?’ Poopsie won’t come to our party. The way she refers to herself as “executive secretary” emphasizing the “zec,” I know she won’t show. Evie thinks Poopsie is having a mad affair with Dr. B. That may be true, but I think Poopsie hates us all, especially this time of year.
Evie is pregnant, thrilled about it. We laugh when she pops a button on her blouse because her boobs are big. The conference room is near the nursery and the maternity ward. When someone opens the door, you hear an infant cry. Mrs. Petty stage whispers “Baby Hay-Soos” every time.
December 22, 2018
From my perspective, forty-five years later this memory amused me because it took place well before “political correctness” was a buzzword in the workplace; well before Rodney King bemoaned, “Can’t we all just get along?” I think unconditional love is reserved for parenthood, God, and labrador retrievers. In the meantime, Joy to Our Imperfect World and Merry Christmas!
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .