Malcolm in the Middle

It occurs to me that I may be losing my mind. Because really, how many people find a picture of a random stranger on the internet, print out a head shot, tape it to the copier, and name their new cubicle mate Malcolm?

Before you judge me, you’ve got to understand one thing: this was not my idea. So if I am going insane, I had a push in that direction from Jenny, one of the designers I work with. In her defense, she was merely looking out for my best interests. I mentioned recently that I moved to a new cubicle in an otherwise unoccupied room at work. On the plus side, I’ve got tons of privacy, and have been able to decorate the area to my liking. Think lots of lava lamps and a neon peace symbol lamp. I’m calling it my “portal to the 70s”. The only negative aspect of this situation? I have no coworkers nearby to interact with. And, this room was previously a storage area full of papers, boxes, plastic chairs, and a copier we no longer use. None of which were relocated prior to my arrival, I might add. Meaning that very large and bulky copier is sharing space with me. Hell, I frequently bump into said large and bulky copier. So Jenny stopped by to say hi this morning, and suggested I put a face on the copier and give it a name. I might not feel so lonely that way, she surmised.

My "portal to the 70s."
My “portal to the 70s.”

Others might have ridiculed the idea, but not this guy. I thought it was brilliant, and spent the next fifteen minutes perusing Google Images for the perfect cubicle partner. My first thought was “hot Swedish chick” but I quickly realized that would be way too distracting. I’d never get any work done with some blonde model two feet away! My next two searches were for “weird looking old man” and “crazy woman.” I really don’t know why. I decided this should be a serious venture, and my new work companion ought to look like he or she was a real office worker, so I searched for “office worker.” But all those people looked stiff and formal. They definitely wouldn’t fit in with the corporate culture here, where we sometimes drink margaritas in the middle of the day. So I typed in “Office Space” for a little levity, but I really am not in the mood to hang out with Lumbergh or Milton all day. So I thought about the type of person I would like to share this space with. He’d be a youngish guy, casual and hip, but wouldn’t take himself too seriously. He’d be funny and self-deprecating. And black, because we can use a little racial diversity around this place. Once I’d formalized the details surrounding my new buddy, I was able to find the perfect image pretty quickly. Meet Malcom:


He’s in the middle of my cubicle, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy for the companionship. He’s a pretty cool cat. Listens to my stories, never complains when I play my music, and is every bit as entranced by my lava lamps as I am. He’d just better stay away from the pistachios in my desk. Those are mine, dammit.

Nary a Chocolate Bunny to be Seen

So, Easter happened. I guess. With the kids at their mothers’ house, there was nary a chocolate bunny to be seen. No baskets filled with plastic grass, no dyed and hard-boiled eggs, no sign that it was even a holiday. Church? Yeah, right. It just felt like any other Sunday, but then again, even if the kids had been around, they’re too old for that stuff now.

Well, except for coloring eggs. You’re never too old for coloring eggs. Maybe next year.

Tara and I spent the majority of the day in what passes for our backyard (really just a covered patio and a small swath of dirt, but we make the most of it). The weather was gorgeous and unusually warm, 77 degrees, a record high for the date. Spring fever was in the air, and on Saturday, Tara  stocked up on flowers and plants. She was excited to plant things and decorate the backyard, which I found adorable. So plant we did, mostly in containers. We strung up “party lights” and rearranged the patio and drank alcoholic beverages and grilled brats for dinner and listened to music, mostly Bob Seger, a carryover from the previous night’s concert. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best Easters ever.

This just proves that it isn’t what you do so much as who you do it with.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

12 thoughts on “Malcolm in the Middle

  1. Thanks Mark!! Not only for making me laugh but also for using “Portal to the 70’s!!” Yay!!!

    I’m happy it’s a copier with a photo named Malcolm and not some soccer ball with a hand print made out of blood to resemble a face and named Wilson!


    1. I almost gave you a shout-out for encouraging me to use the portal phrase!

      Hmm…a Wilson cubicle buddy would have been pretty cool, too…I mean, what if Malcolm and I feel like a game of volleyball in the parking lot someday?


  2. Mark, I love your cubicle because it looks so cozy. It almost looks like it could be a desk/office area in your home. The lava lamps are AWESOME!!! Love your new work mate, Malcolm. The expression on his face it priceless!

    “this just proves that it isn’t what you do so much as who you do it with.”

    You’re right! And it sounds like you and Tara had the perfect Easter day!


    1. The only thing missing is a window. But if there was a window, it’d be too light for my lava lamps, so really…nothing is missing! Tara stopped in today and saw it for the first time. She thought it was cozy, too. Considering how much time one spends at work, it’s nice when you enjoy your surroundings, you know?


    1. I realized we simply took a page from 4th of July last year, in which we never left the house but did spend copious amounts of time on the back patio, drinking and barbecuing. Maybe that can be our new holiday “thing.” I’m already looking forward to Memorial Day!


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