Back in June, our maintenance staff sent an email to let us know that a bunch of furniture from various places around campus was about to be sent out to the surplus furniture warehouse, and they asked if any of us wanted any of it before it was trucked over. Looking through the pictures attached to the email, I decided that my office needed an end table, so I wrote back and the next day my table was promptly delivered:
It really classes up the office, right? Not as much as cleaning out that bookcase and getting rid of all those sloppy stacks of unfiled papers on it did, or moving that shredder to someone else's office did, but it was a step in the right direction. The table was nice looking, and paired nicely with the fancy armchair that Angi and I rescued from the hallway when someone at the other end of the building was sending it out to be surplussed.
Once I had the table, though, I had a small problem: It needed something on it. Just look at it. It cries out for ornamentation of some sort, but what? I couldn't get a plant, because my office has no windows and plants die. I didn't want one of those little office fountains, because the noise would be grating, rather than soothing. Fish were out of the question, too, because then I'd just feel sad when the fish died since it would just reiterate that I'm incapable of nurturing. Maybe some art? Possibly a sculpture?
Yes, I thought. Perhaps I'll place a bust of Pallas, there beside my chamber door? Maybe not. After all, a raven might perch upon the bust of Pallas, there beside my chamber door. It might perch and sit and nothing more, and then perhaps might quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
Maybe not a sculpture. I have to work in there, and don't have time to beg phantom birds to take thy beaks from out my heart, you know?
I decided instead to get a candy dish. People like candy dishes, because people like candy. I could fill the dish with candy, people would come and eat it, and they would leave my office happy. Putting a candy dish on my shiny table was a win/win situation, and even better was the fact that I already had an empty glass pumpkin on the shelf above my desk, because my staff gave it to me filled with candy for my birthday the year before.
For a while, the candy dish worked out exactly as planned, but then I was reminded of something horrible that I already knew and had somehow forgotten: No good deed goes unpunished. In this particular case, I learned that if you steadily provide candy, people will eventually feel entitled to it, and then they will start to feel entitled to give opinions about it.
"All you have are Jolly Ranchers? You should get some other candy."
"Are you going to get chocolate next time? I really like chocolate."
"Why are the Skittles that color? Are they the regular kind?"
Today a person who will remain nameless leaned into my office, noticed that someone had finally eaten all of the Christmas candy left in the dish, and told me, "You're out of candy. You better go get some more."
Fortunately, they left my office before I could smash the candy dish over their head, but I spent a good portion of the next ten minutes before I was distracted by the telephone seething with rage. I realize that, by giving candy freely for several months now, I have tacitly agreed to continue doing so for as long as I continue to work here, but still, a little gratitude or at the very least a little bit of manners doesn't seem like too much to ask. I thought about not refilling the candy dish, but then a worse thought occured to me, and I suddenly felt all warm and cheery inside.
I better go get some candy? I better go get some candy? Oh, you bet I will. I know exactly what kind of candy that dish needs, because I know that sometimes candy is not your friend. Sometimes candy is the enemy, because sometimes candy... is Durian Candy.
My friend Sandy introduced me to the horrorshow known as durian candy way back in 2006, in the parking lot of an IHOP near Chattanooga. Sandy warned me that Durian Candy, which you can sometimes find at the Asian grocery, "has kind of a strong flavor," and offered to hold my camera while I tasted a piece.
What follows is a frame by frame documentary of the Durian Candy experience.
It started out with a deceptively innocent looking piece of wrapped hard candy:
which I carefully unwrapped:
and then put in my mouth. The effect was immediate:
This candy was not good. Really not good. The longer it sat in my mouth, the more not good it became:
Oh, God, it was disgusting. It was like a fruity candy wrapped in rotting meat and then doused with turpentine and photo-developing chemicals. I don't think I even made it through a full thirty seconds before I couldn't take it any more and spit it across the parking lot:
After that I spent about five minutes spitting continuously, trying to clear my mouth, before we went inside and I let the waitress know that I needed an orange juice RIGHT NOW while Sandy giggled and pretended to be sympathetic.
If they had candy in hell, it would be Durian Candy.
And I think I might head to the Asian grocery store this weekend and see about getting some for my candy dish.