"Your sense of irony is irresistible."
"Well," I huffed inwardly at the pretension dripping from this man in his Armani suit, not believing that either of us were bothering to waste our time on the other, but feeling obligated to verbally bludgeon away, "Shut up."
Yes, my criticism was scathing.
Bemused, the corners of his mouth twitched a little too obviously, as though he were attempting to give the illusion of suppressing a smile while he was actually becoming seriously annoyed on the inside. Jerkily he reached, without turning his face from mine, for a flat rectangular box on his desk. "That should suffice, Mr. Wilks." His eyes now watched the box as he moved it from the desk to my mechanically outstretched hand.
There was that split second when I was certain he did not intend to let go, and that we would be left standing there, each with a hand on the box, not releasing our grasp, perhaps for eternity.
The thought further occurred to me that Emalinne might miss me if I stood here for eternity fighting wordlessly with this pompous man, and the back of my mind reminded me of the caffeine addiction that might break my stubbornness for a Dunkin Donut's run. In that split second I decided that no prolonged stand off would be necessary - my pride could take the hit.
It didn't matter, of course. He handed me the box without as much as an arch of his eyebrows. I took the box firmly, and slid it into my sports coat pocket with as much dignity as I could muster. Now who was condescending whom?! I nodded at him stiffly, and turning to leave I was faced with a dilemma.
I had clearly won our standoff (I had the box, didn't I?) and now I wondered about victor procedure. Do I back out of his office maintaining eye contact and smirking? This could help protect from any unforeseen attacks on my back with a letter-opener. Or do I briskly storm out of the room without giving him another glance? This seemed much more dramatic. What to do! I was paralyzed in the face of this complex decision.
"Just leave!" sang the caffeine bells in my brain. I could see the synapses in my brain drooping for want of coffee. "Just leave!" called Emalinne from my memory. I could see her exasperatedly whacking a random passerby with impatience. Deliberation was too much! I had places to go, people to see, a future life to live! I found myself at the door, with my hand on the opaque handle, turning by the force of my own skepticism and indecision.
But the grating sound of his call interrupted my automaton actions. "Mr. Wilks!" He hadn't moved from his authoritative stance next to his desk, but he was looking at me expectantly, hands clasped in front of his trim figure.
"Yes?" I asked, still completely in control of this situation, regardless of my inner turmoil. The confidence that had managed to buoy my spirits during the entire exchange was still pulling energy from my indigence at his entire charade of control. It was actually somewhat circular, but to this I was conveniently blind.
Sincere mirth was now etched across his face as he asked, "You aren't going to check the box?" Panic washed over me as I considered his reasons for being so freely jubilant. What was it? What did I say? What did I do? His arms were now crossed on his broad chest, and his amused aloofness confused me.
There were too many words to say! I was suspicious, perhaps paranoid, but definitely confused. I only needed to breathe, I told myself. I was going to win this battle of wits, I had only to uncover and analyze my options for rejoinder. I was going to verbally smack his absurd sententious face, with class, of course. "I . . ."
So articulate I was today.
"Oh, irony, good fellow."