October 1998
s m u g
by Joshua Allen


Expo Dry Erase Markers

I remember my first dry erase trip like it was just this morning. I was temping at the Bank of America, minding my own business, performing a vicious ten-key, earning the praise and adoration of the numerous middle managers that zipped back and forth, certainly not requiring a bowler's hand brace like some of the effete (coming from the Latin effetus, meaning "worn out by childbearing": ex-, out  +  fetus, childbearing) single mothers that worked by my side. So I was smoking, right, I was really hitting my stride, when Dale Bermingham, the Dale Bermingham, like the senior financial manager Dale Bermingham, comes up to me and places a paternal hand on my shoulder. He asks me if I could transfer some charts to a whiteboard for a crucial meeting that will be taking place that afternoon. I shoot a quick glance at my team leader, Babette, who gives me an almost imperceptible nod, and I cordially agree to Dale's request. He escorts me to the main conference room which is already set up with a speakerphone and a crystal jug of water. At the southeast end of the room was the whiteboard, complete with a full rack of Expo dry erase markers.

 mmm marker-y

Here is how Expo dry erase markers are described in their catalog:

"Vivid colors. Consistent smooth lines. These markers write without a squeak and erase easily from porcelanized enamel, melamine, glass and most other dry erase surfaces. Available in chisel and fine tip. Wipes away with a dry eraser or cloth ... no drippy cloths needed! Colors: Black, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, and Purple."

It's almost a poem, isn't it? "Vivid colors, consistent / smooth lines." So Dale hands me a sheaf of papers containing PowerPoint-ilized charts (and this is where you really start to realize how much fiction is embedded in this story because the Bank of America, while I was there, certainly wasn't using PowerPoint or Excel or Lotus or any other post-1983 software for their business dealings and in fact preferred adding machines and dittos to computers [this is the Bank of America we're talking about here, friends, a major financial institution that is in charge of my $120.37]) and left me alone with the board, and the rack of markers.

I chose the black one because, you know, it's always important for the BofA to be "in the black," ha-ha, and started jotting down some numbers. Then I hesitated. What was that smell? Was there new carpeting in here? I suddenly realized that the fumes in question (nearly impossible to describe, but I'll throw "piercing ammoniac ecstasy" at you and see if that sticks) were flowing from the tip of the dry erase marker. Good lord! My eyes started to water and I felt a little sick inside. Before I could stop myself I had the thing right up to my left nostril and was breathing in, deeply, deeeeeeply, letting those potent pheromones rocket through my sinuses and lock themselves into selected neural receptors. What followed was a day-glo litebritemare of unnerving proportions. I've since discovered that the black marker is the most powerful, bringing about both the highest peaks of self-delusion and the lowest valleys of teeth-gnashing despair. But at the time I had no idea.

When I came to half an hour later, I found myself nude, spread-eagled on the conference table, the crystal pitcher covering my genitals, the marker dangling from my nose, my face decorated in careful, dry-erase calligraphy, giving me the overall appearance of a drunken Maori. The whiteboard, and indeed most of the room, had been covered in multicolored writing, the bulk of which later became (with some careful editing and hand-holding by our friend Leslie Harpold) my first novel, entitled Year of the Cilia Whipcracker Dynamo Angel Molecule Greenback Alarming.

I felt an enormous serenity wafting through my body, and after awhile I couldn't even hear the shouts of horror coming from my soon-to-be-ex-coworkers. I did, however, watch as the blood slowly drained from the jowly face of Dale Bermingham, a half-dozen three-piece-suited financial executives peeking around from behind him.

What does dryerase.com have to say about the dry erase marker?

"It keeps everyone involved and makes learning and presenting fun."

Oh, yes. Oh. Yes.



in the junk drawer:

and such
and such

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