Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


The Critic Within

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 9:05 am

In the distance I can see fabric drying on a clothesline. I had no idea that people still used clotheslines. The fabric is white, pink and baby blue, hung like huge squares in the background. It’s not windy out, so they stay motionless like a painted backdrop.

“There’s the error. There’s the incongruity. It’s 2005, but there are clothes on a clothesline in the background. Shoddy work, fellows.” There is a critic within me that is always looking for glitches in the Matrix.

One of our drafters celebrates Chinese New Year every year with a big party. When the festivities are over, he brings in the extra fortune cookies. The fortunes linger in the office for months or even years. Last year, one said, “You will be happy in married life.” She received it within months of her wedding and it still hangs by her nameplate. Others sit by keyboards and are pinned to the fabric walls of the cubicles.

“This one would be perfect for you.” The engineer handed it to me while I ate my frozen dinner in the lunchroom. It read, “You would make an excellent critic.” I frowned and whined when he handed it to me. My pride ached when I realized that he considers me an excellent critic. It made me sound negative and I pride myself on being positive. Reality and my vision of it clashed on a tiny slip of paper.

I thought to myself, “I didn’t eat the cookie. He ate the cookie. It’s his fortune.” It didn’t make me feel better. The fact of the matter is that he considers me an excellent critic. I have to own that. I can’t recall ever critiquing his work. I couldn’t possibly do it. My math degree is so far removed from engineering that they speak in a foreign tongue to me and are surprised when I look at them with a blank face.

So, there is a critic within me that notices clotheslines and the mistakes of engineers. It is a part of me that burns through my skin so brightly that people who barely know me are blinded by it. It is something that I didn’t even know was there. I guess it’s like wearing ugly clothes. They don’t bother me because I can’t see them. This critic, who I though only turned its gaze on myself, is observing everything and everyone around me.

Stupid fortune cookie…


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