Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dorothy Update

Yesterday I introduced you to Dorothy, my office’s 85 year-old cleaning lady. Last night she brought her 60-something niece in to work with her, since the niece was Dorothy’s ride to a funeral later in the evening.

(To give you a visual, Dorothy looks a bit like a central European peasant: a stout, wizened woman whose bespectacled image might grace the boxes for a line of frozen Pierogies. Her niece looked exactly like a cross between Betty White and Bea Arthur. And I don’t use the word “exactly” lightly here.)

This was the actual conversation that took place in my office between Dorothy, her niece, and me while I sat at my computer surreptitiously reading email:

The set-up: introductions and an exchange of the usual pleasantries. (It must be noted that Dorothy introduced me as "Office girl Jessie.") Beat of silence. Then:

Dorothy, tossing a baleful, disapproving look at her niece: “Look at her. She lost 40 pounds.”

Me, already uneasy with the direction of the conversation: “Congratulations! Wow, that’s quite an accomplishment.”

Dorothy frowns at her niece and shakes her head. Then, firmly but quietly: “I liked you better when you were fatter.”

Me: *smile locks on face*

Niece, smiling good-naturedly, clearly used to Dorothy’s hijinks: “But I can move around easier now!” She swivels her hips to demonstrate.

Dorothy, ignoring her and looking back at me. “I don’t like it. Her husband don’t like it, neither. ‘You should see her now,’ he says to me.” Coughing fit. “’You should see her now,’ he says.”

Niece, still smiling, tries to lighten the mood: “Now I can chase him around better.”

I laugh in a “trapped in a funhouse after hours” kind of way.

Dorothy makes shocked clucking noises. A fog of awkwardness rolls in. Then, Dorothy in an aside directed at me: “I like ‘em better when they’re fleshy. Don’t you, Jessie?”

Me: *frozen to chair*

Dorothy won’t let it rest: “Don’t you like ‘em better when they’re fleshy, Jessie?”

Me, on the verge of hysterics: “I’m staying out of this one!”

(Niece tsk-tsks Dorothy in the background, still smiling beatifically.)

Dorothy continues: “Our pastor lost a bunch of weight. Now he’s too skinny. I don’t like it. Not one bit. He don’t look right. They don’t look right when they’re so skinny. Like sticks they are!” Coughs up some phlegm. “Strong wind’ll knock ‘em right over.”

This went on for some time until my head exploded. As soon as they left I wrote down everything they said.

Have a wonderful, fleshy weekend everyone!


  1. Amazing. What is UP with that woman?

    You can't make that shit up.

  2. Well, those two are quite the pair. It sounds like you handled that quite deftly.

    I wish somebody like me 'fleshy'!

    Hi from 'down south.'

  3. I'm glad you wrote it down immediately. I especially liked your responses, even when they were silent.

  4. Anonymous1:16 PM

    I'm going right now to eat my third cinnamon roll.

    Thank you.

  5. oi.

    the flegm, the "fleshy", the ever ill boding cloud of akwardness...

    i feel a panic attack coming on, on your behalf.

  6. Ha - old people kill me with their backwards thinking sometimes. Being overweight isn't good for you in any way, why do they think it's a good thing?? (I swear, "You're too skinny, eat something!" is like the chorus in the Old People Anthem.)

    Knowing me, I'd try to set Dorothy straight ("You want her to have a heart attack? Diabetes? Didn't think so!"). I wonder how she would've responded. :-)

  7. Anonymous3:29 PM

    sounds like dorothy was a little jealous of the weight loss to me.

  8. I want Dorothy's surrounding me all the time. Encouraging me to have another cookie.

  9. That'll teach you for becoming friendly with "the help." Just kidding, these people handle your garbage, so just think about the mess you could be in!

  10. Good thing Dorothy's not a motivational speaker.

  11. Great conversation! I remember that trapped-in-your-cubicle feeling when an unsettling conversation falls into your lap. Office Girl Jessie, indeed!

  12. I'm guessing that Dorothy is, ahem, shall we say...a big-boned girl? ;)

  13. Too funny! I'm still giggling.


  14. Anonymous6:46 PM

    As long as she didn't look at me and say "Yep- now that is a way a girl should look. Check out the nice hips on her" we would be fine. If Dorothy is interested we have an elderly security guard in our building that we call "Mad Eye Moony" I could see if I could fix them up.

    Give details on your book!

  15. Anonymous7:02 PM

    I have a friend who says that everytime she goes home to her native Honduras she gets so much flak for being too skinny, even though she is of average weight. The last time she was there, she noticed that her aunt would give her a least twice as much food as everyone else, and would leave plates of cookies and breads in her room at night.

    I'm trying to wrangle an invite to her aunt's house.

  16. Anonymous7:26 PM

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around "Jessie"!!! Every weekend with me is fleshy, darling. ;) Hope yours is nice & relaxing.

  17. Well told! That was funny...very funny..reminds me of my grandmas next door neighbor. She was always pinching me on my hips telling me I needed to eat some meat.

    Wow..I just read that outloud and it didnt sound nice at all.. :)

  18. Anonymous10:13 PM

    hehehe love your stories!

  19. The problem with conversations like that is the useless things stick with you the entire day!

    btw- I'm still laughing! :)

  20. Anonymous8:58 AM


    That sounds like something Buffalo Bill would say from Silence of the Lambs. "It puts the lotion on its skin...'

  21. Husbands and grumpy Aunts just don't like change. Change="you must be having an affair."

  22. There is clearly a sitcom in this...

  23. You are soooo lucky to be blessed with such "colorful" conversation at work. In the 10 years I've worked at my office I still have no conversations worth publishing.

  24. Anonymous11:53 AM

    How uncomfortable for you--but worth it, if it inspires writing, right? Is she going in a book someday?

  25. You need to follow them around with a notepad. You'd never be low on great blog fodder. Not that you're hurting for it now ;).

  26. Whoohoo, up here in the north we love our women Fleshy. It helps keep you warm during the long, cold winters.

    Sorry, I was channeling my Dad there for a minute. :) This story was too funny!

  27. LOL, I love strange conversations like that, well I do but only if they happen to you. ~wink~

    AWKWARD! My mother-in-law is kind of like that.

  28. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Okay, that was brilliant. "Laughing in a "trapped in a funhouse after hours" kind of way"? FUNNIEST LINE EVER.
    You are my hero, but Dorothy scares me. I bet she likes food that "sticks to your ribs," a turn of phrase I have always found terrifying.

  29. Oh, I will! I will!

    And who knew? The obesity epidemic is a CHOICE, man!

  30. Who needs imagination when you've got real life, right? The rolly-polly cleaning woman at the office I've been working at accosted me the other night and bent my ear for 15 minutes about how she lost her husband last year. Yikes.

  31. Okay, you're my new hero, for using the words bespectacled, wizened and hijinks, all in the same post. I love you!!!

    Plus, the word verification at the bottom of this comment page says "asbvoat" and that just makes me think "ass boat" and I laugh. Haha.

  32. Holy fleshy crap! Your head exploded too? I've had a recent problem with the head exploding thing.

  33. 85 year old cleaning lady? I can only hope to be that active if I ever reach that age.

  34. Well do ya Jessie? Like em fleshy?

    Sounds like Dorothy won't be with us much longer once that lower fourth of her lung gives way.