I hated the bag of nuts that routinely sat next to my boss’s laptop on the conference room table. I hated how he rarely ate them. And I hated it even more when he did.
As coworkers provided their meeting agenda items, I wondered if his wife packed them for him as a healthy snack or if dumping walnuts into a Ziplock bag simply required the least amount of effort. I didn’t know his wife, but I wondered if she loved him. Or if she tolerated him. Which I assumed was dependent on whether he was more or less of an ass at home.
The word “hate” isn’t one I often use to describe people; however, sometimes it’s okay to loathe one’s actions, like the way they munch on mixed nuts with their mouth open.
- The pistachios were his sly smirk.
- The almonds were the conniving ways he climbed the corporate ladder.
- The walnuts were each time he was bcc’d on an email without my knowing.
- The cashews were his condescending tone.
- And the macadamia nuts made me think of the annoying, mocking way he laughed any time my blog was brought up.
I hated his nuts.
Feeling Like the Alcoholic
The familiar scent of cologne caught my attention before I could spot a former date’s baseball cap across the wine bar last Sunday. I took a quick drink of my beer, anticipating what would come next.
Like clockwork he ordered a bottle of sparkling water as a petite 20-something in denim overalls and a Brandy Melville tee met him at the table. It reminded me of 6 months ago when I first met him for a similar sober date at the coffee shop down the street. He didn’t disclose why he didn’t drink, but he seemed so high on life that it wasn’t even necessary.
I secretly beat myself up wondering, “Why couldn’t I be that way?”
Despite being friendly since seeing him last, I couldn’t help but feel like a downgraded, slightly fucked up version of his latest date as I enjoyed my Allagash White Pale Ale and chocolate chip cookie in an oversized Forever21 sweatshirt.
I Fucked Up
On the following Monday I pulled my new boss into a meeting room and as I sat down across from him, I was nearly shaking after finishing a call with a customer. Despite weeks of preparation, everything in my project seemed to be going wrong.
Angry execs questioned my choice of features, worried team members pushed back on the timeline and demanding customers pointed out what they found to be flaws. As the only Product Manager working on the new software features that would be released in two weeks, I was pretty sure I fucked up. And I was prepared for the worst.
“I should have built it exactly how they wanted. I should have involved another team member,” I explained to him. On the fourth set of regrets he stopped me.
“First of all, no more should have’s,” he said. “And second, we could talk about product solutions, but I’m pretty sure you already know the answer. Because you’re smart. And that’s part of the problem.”
The Ways In Which I’m Nuts
Blogging about the many ways I’m fucked up is one of my favorite things to do. I analyze them like tiny clogged pores in a bathroom mirror, carefully extract them and then document it all like a Doctor Pimple Popper YouTube video.
Consequently, in the same way that I grew to despise many of my former boss’s actions, I assumed that the same hard feelings existed as he ate his nuts and stared across at me.
- The pistachios were each time I nervously twirled my hair.
- The almonds were my forgetfulness.
- The walnuts were the way my voice went up a few octaves at the end of sentences, signaling uncertainty.
- The cashews were my lack of technical knowledge.
- And the macadamia nuts made him think of my silly blog that I naively believed was something bigger than it was.
I think he hated my nuts, too.
What Is the Real Cause?
The term ‘fucked up’ is commonly used to describe the state one enters after too much alcohol and/or drugs. Due to tequila shots or marijuana or even too much caffeine, judgment is impaired, perception is skewed and poor choices are often made. The effects are almost as expected as a Bachelor couple failing. But we still ask the next morning, “What went wrong?!”
In the absence of such substances, it seems as though there is no good reason why we should act this way. However, we forget about the culprits that naturally intoxicate us on a moment-by-moment basis.
Pride quietly pulses through our veins while insecurities unconsciously take over our brain. Ego makes us feel like it’s all okay until exhaling a big puff of delusion at the end of the day.
- We push back on the way our boss micro-manages… while scolding our boyfriend for buying Whole milk because we think we know what’s best.
- We hate the way our crush doesn’t text back… while we flake on a friend for dinner because we feel fat.
- We dislike the stranger’s quick temper at the grocery store… while we send a bitchy message to a coworker because we expect perfection.
- We scoff at people’s drinking habits or marijuana use… while we overeat or over-exercise or over-work or over-lust or do anything in excess because it feels good.
Dealing With Each Other’s Bag of Nuts
“What makes you worthy of his love? Is it because your respective infidelities cancel each other out? Maybe he knows who you really are. Not your body in bed or your mind at work, but the secret you, the person you don’t want anyone to see, much less acknowledge yourself – a woman who is fucked up, and he loves you anyway. Isn’t that true love? Someone who will kiss your bruises the same way he kisses your lips, is on your side, not when it’s easy but when it’s damn near impossible and you yourself don’t think you deserve it?”
– Art in “Masters of Sex” (heard during weeks of binge watching Hulu)
I’m not sure what day or which meeting it was that I finally noticed the bag of nuts was gone, but it was shortly after my boss shared with me that he was going through a divorce. Nuts had been replaced with Diet Coke, and his weeknight meals were now pizza delivered to his new apartment. Along with the Ziplocked bag went many of the things I hated. But I still didn’t know exactly why I still felt like the only one fucked up.
Now, a year later, I was sitting in front of my new boss. The shaking had subsided.
“I’ve seen this happen to you in meetings and interactions,” he explained. “When someone is confronting or questioning you, you back down. You feel that they are right, and you are wrong. The more you back down, the more space it creates for them to seem right. But you’re smart too and your opinion matters, even if you do fuck up.”
Lately, when faced with confrontation or cashews I don’t like, I subconsciously say, “You’re a little fucked up, and I’m a little fucked up too.” Oddly it makes me feel better – whether it’s my boss or crush or best friend. Because it’s important to remember we’re all slightly nuts.