September 18, 2002

"Keeping it Zipped Up," c.

"Keeping it Zipped Up," c. Ryan Rhodes, Dec. 3, 2001

I'm very easily distracted. As long as I can remember, my attention span has been woefully short term. Every little thing that can divert my attention diverts my attention. I could be concentrating on diffusing a ticking time bomb, and the ticking would distract me. I'd eventually start humming a tune along with the ticking beat, forget that I'm supposed to diffuse a bomb, and "BOOM!," no more marginally humorous columnist.

For example, I recently attended a meeting at work, and despite my best attempts to pay attention, I was distracted the entire hour because one of the meeting participants had his zipper down. And I don't mean slightly down either. This zipper was unzipped down to the last metal zipper tooth, and I could think of nothing beyond that unzipped zipper.

I'm still pretty new to my job, and it's important that I learn as much as I can during every meeting, but all I managed to learn during that meeting was that an unzipped zipper, though silent by nature, is deafening due to its very presence. He just sat there across the table from me, his pants in a perpetual yawn, oblivious to his open fly and its debilitating effect on me.

I think my boss was discussing magazine content, but I wasn't sure, because all I could hear was: "Now, for the next issue zipper, we should have a zipper article about zipping unzipped zippers. Our magazine needs more exposure, like an unzipped zipper. Isn't that right, zipper? Zip zip zipper zip zip."

I really should have mentioned something, but I just assumed a more senior member of the staff would speak up, the zipper would be zipped, and I could focus on something important. Alas, no one said a word. And I know everyone saw the unzipped zipper. It was obvious, oh so obvious. I'm fairly certain people in Afghanistan knew about the open zipper.

Rather than say something directly, I opted for subtle hints, like adjusting my belt and dropping my pen on my own crotch, anything to get his attention focused on his own
groin and open air vent. Instead, he clasped his hands behind his head and stretched out, giving the world an even better view of his zipper problem. This was not happening.

How could everyone stay silent about this? The quality of the meeting was surely suffering, yet no one would put an end to the madness. His tucked-in shirt was even
sticking out of the hole, as if waving a small flag of surrender.

About halfway through the meeting, I realized that the zipper stress was starting to take its toll on me, and I felt a small bead of sweat trickle its way from my armpit and down my side. No anti-perspirant in the world could hold up to this kind of pressure.

"Now if we look ahead to the February zipper issue, we'll see zippers, and of course zippers. We have to take steps to prepare for these zippers. Zipper zip zipper, zip zip."

Another bead of sweat made its way down my side, and I found myself trying to understand how his zipper had managed to descend to its current position. Maybe there
was a strong magnet under the table, capable of tugging zippers all the way down, placed there by a prankster with a weakness for the old "unzipped zipper" gag. No, that couldn't be it. Otherwise, all our zippers would be down.

Maybe he was in the bathroom prior to the meeting and realized he was going to be late: "Holy smokes, look at the time! I'm going to be late for the meeting! I can maybe quick wash my hands, but I just don't have time for my zipper."

After 45 minutes, the stress had become unbearable, and I hadn't been able to follow much of the meeting at all because of that accursed zipper. To alleviate some of the
pressure, I gazed briefly out the window, and when I turned back, the zipper had been zipped.

I should have been monumentally relieved, but I wasn't. I was actually kind of mad. After all, for 45 minutes I had endured the zipper nightmare, and I had earned, at the very least, the satisfaction of seeing his face when he finally realized his zipper was down. But, no, that little glimmer of satisfaction was denied me because I allowed my vigilance to falter and I looked out the window. It just wasn't fair.

The more I thought about it (and trust me, it dominated my thoughts for hours after the meeting) the more I came to believe that he was waiting for me to look away so he could zip his zipper. That way, he could pretend his zipper had never been down, and I'd be forced to dismiss everything as a figment of my imagination. But, his ploy didn't work.

That zipper was down, and I have the sweat stains to prove it.

Posted by Ryan at September 18, 2002 11:02 PM
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