I will have you know, Mr./Ms. Holier-Than-Thou, before you cast judgment on me for that time I stole cheese in my armpits, you should know that it was really fancy cheese – and not fancy as in “Kraft Singles versus store brand”. Fancy as in fancy.
I know, again with the cheese!
It was my first real office job, and we’d received a particularly fancy holiday gift basket from our biggest client. Co-workers snatched up chocolates and cookies, and that one weird lady grabbed an apple and said, “Dibs!” like anyone wanted it, and then we all looked at her like she was the saddest person on Earth. Not because she liked fruit, but because she was such an obvious phony. Who’s excited about the apple?
If you’re unfamiliar with office gift basket etiquette, it’s suitable to take things from the basket at-will, but it’s expected that any items you take will be consumed ON PREMISES ONLY. Try walking up and sticking even one item into your bag at the end of the day – in front of people – and see how well that goes over. Even if it’s the stuff nobody wants, you’re not allowed to just take it home with you. It could be a year-old summer sausage that the janitorial crew now uses as a door stop. Doesn’t matter. It ain’t leaving that office.
Offices have unspoken rules in these situations, and all of them are ridiculous and make no sense at all, which is why you might recall they made a hit TV show called “The Office”. That show was 98% accurate, by the way.
This basket had two wedges of cheese in it – one cave-aged blue and one goat gorgonzola – and they were from a boutique cheese-maker that was also my favorite craft beer brewery. Not only was this cheese fancy, but it wasn’t even sold in stores in my region of the country! Even if I had wanted to be an “honest person” and “buy it” or whatever, that was not an option.
I eyed those cheeses like they were wedge-shaped dairy diamonds. I checked the fridge every day – no takers. At the end of the week, both of the wedges were still there, untouched.
My plan was to steal the cheeses, which was going to work out great, because I spent all of my formative years being a thief. I was counting on my thieving skills to burst back onto the scene like high-waisted jeans and Electric Slide me to cheese theft victory. It would be like going to back to middle school, but knowing everything I know now. I was hoping that after so many years of being “a law abiding citizen” (BOR-ing!) that I still had it.
If I had walked into the kitchen with my bag at the end of the day, that would have been a dead giveaway, so I had to pull this off by being quick and light, like a cat burglar. I waited until the coast was clear and crept away from my desk into the kitchen, but didn’t turn on the kitchen light. I quietly opened the refrigerator, holding down the button so that the fridge light wouldn’t come on, picked up the cheeses, and closed the refrigerator door. I was going to just creep back out to my desk and put them into my bag, but then I heard my boss coming down the hallway towards the kitchen.
I was standing there, halfway out of the dark kitchen, holding a wedge of cheese in each hand. I had no excuse for why I would be doing this, but I had about five seconds to figure out what to do.
I heard my boss’s steps grow closer. I was wearing a sleeveless dress with a little cropped cardigan sweater over it. I looked around in a panic and shoved the wedges of cheese under my cardigan, one into each armpit, and walked out of the kitchen. I crossed paths with my boss, who now decided that rather than stay in the kitchen, he would walk back to my desk with me to discuss some reports. Goddamn it.
I walked back to my desk with him, arms glued to my sides, holding the cheese wedges against my now very cold armpits. I stood at my desk, nodding my head and making small talk. Today was the day the boss apparently felt chattier than he’d ever felt before.
He asked me to hand him the reports that I had on my desk, and I must have looked like a T-rex when I did it, forearms sticking out at 90 degree angle from my body, stiff, with my upper arms still glued to my sides. I handed him the reports…
…and that’s when one of the cheeses started to slip.
It started sliding eeeever so slowly out from under my arm and down the side of my torso.
The cheese was falling.
Oh my god. The cheese was falling.
The cheese was falling and my boss was standing three feet away from me and there was absolutely no chance I was going to be able to finesse my way out of a wedge of cheese falling out of my armpit onto my desk.
Even with years and years of reflection, I still can’t think of any level of finesse that would have stood a chance of getting me out of this, besides busting out some disco moves and singing, “It’s raining cheese! Hallelujah! It’s raining cheese! Amen!” and then claiming I had planned the whole thing as an elaborate joke. The problem is that only a gross weirdo would play that kind of joke, and I had “conveniently” left the fact that I was a gross weirdo off my job application.
There’s no way to explain cheese falling out of your armpit. There just isn’t. I’m thinking about it right now and I’ve got nothing. If you’ve got a plausible explanation, please, by all means, feel free to share it in the comments. (Keep it clean, you filthy animals.) You never know – you may save some other person with cheese in their armpits’ life.
As luck would have it at that moment, as the cheese was slipping closer to the bottom of my cropped cardigan, my boss closed his eyes and put his head down on top of my counter and said, “I’m so tired of dealing with these reports.”
As he put his head down, I realized this was my only shot. In one quick motion I lifted my arm, caught the falling cheese, and threw it into the wastebasket under my desk. Then I created a distraction by shoving some papers off my desk. I wish someone had been rolling film, because this was the most “I Love Lucy” moment of my entire life.
My boss lifted his head and said, “What was that?”
I said, “I’m just an idiot. I dropped all these papers.”
He continued the conversation and eventually went away after what felt like three freaking hours. I retrieved one armpit cheese from the trash, removed the other from my now-frozen armpit, and hid them both in my bag.
Later that night, as I was stuffing my face with stolen armpit trash cheese, doing the Electric Slide across my kitchen, the middle schooler in the high-waisted jeans winked at herself in the reflection of the glass door and thought, “Yep. Still got it.”
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“And as we say at W.O.B., don’t get any on ya.” – Mike Seaver, Growing Pains