E is starting a new full time job today: the “minister of Q branch” at a tech start up, according to him. This job goes against everything E has worked so hard for—70 vacation days a year, hourlong lunches at Momofuku Noodle Bar, and no bosses to report to while he worked as a freelancer with his own company. But in true head-of-household form, and after negotiating his vacation day count several times to allot for at least three extended kite surf trips per year, he bit the bullet and took a grown-up full-time gig, with benefits.
One of the things E told me he does to make his office space more homey is to bring a in glass from home for his desk. “I drink out of nice glassware at the office, not out of a crappy tasting plastic cup.”
This I found appalling. “That’s just tacky!” I said. “You’re going to steal a glass from home to bring to the office? At least a decorative mug is better than a stray glass from our kitchen.”
“Mugs are for coffee or tea. I don’t drink either. I drink water. And I’m not drinking cold water out of a mug. Talk about tacky …”
“You don’t have one of those freebie plastic cups with the office logo or some other vendor on it?”
“Yeah right … I’ll drink out of a plastic cup … and eat with plastic forks too!” he retorted.
“How is that tacky?
“I’m not drinking out of plastic! I don’t drink out of plastic at home and I’m not drinking out of plastic at work!”
I scoffed. “Why don’t I just buy you a thermos?”
Frustration grew on E’s face. He took a breath. “In a crowded lot and amongst stiff competition, that is the dumbest thing I think you’ve ever said.”
“But it’s annoying when you take a glass from home because there’s always a glass missing from our set at home!”
E face contorted like a Cirque du Soleil dancer. “How long did I work at my last gig?”
“Nine months,” I said.
“And you never noticed that I took a glass from the kitchen.”
“Yes, I did! You took one of the tall ones!” I ranted. So we only had seven of them, and I couldn’t figure out where the other one kept disappearing to. And people at work know you just stole that glass from your kitchen, and then they realize that either you don’t have a full set of glasses at home, which is tacky in itself because when you have people over for dinner you don’t have a full matching set of glasses. Or, they think maybe you never had a matching set of glasses in the first place. Either way, your co-workers think you’re tacky! An office mug, one that is not part of a set and is a unique, decorative piece, I approve of. I’ll buy you a decorative office mug if you like.”
E was cross-eyed. “You can’t tell me that an office mug is kosher, but an office glass is not.”
“Does your boss walk around with a glass in her hand?”
“I don’t give a fuck!” he yelled. “I also take my shoes off at the office, too!”
“That,” I scoffed, “is beyond weird.”
“No, it’s comfortable!” E said. “And I’m still taking a glass from home, I’ll just switch them every few weeks so you can’t tell which one is gone.”
To sort of celebrate E’s first day at work–actually no, to feed him so he could help clean the house—I whipped together a quick turkey and cheese panini. While I set the table, E reached for a tall glass for water out of our kitchen closet. “See, it came back in one piece from the nine months it lived at the office! And I’m taking it to work with me!”
“I’ve got my eye on you, glass stealer,” I said.
2 pieces bread
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp yellow mustard
4 oz cheese, sliced (I used a mix of Greenfields creamy cheese and sharp cheddar. It melts down nicely)
1 cup arugula
1 tbsp olive oil
4 leaves basil
salt and pepper to taste
Lightly spread butter on bottom sides of bread, then slather tops with mustard. Layer on cheese on top of mustard. Then layer on turkey, then arugula (lightly dressed with the olive oil–you know how E feels about dry greens), then basil leaves. Then, top one side with another. Place in medium no stick skillet with a sandwich press on top and toast for about 5 minutes each side, flipping once. Heat until cheese is melted. With spatula, remove from skillet, cut in half and serve.