Monday, November 26, 2007

Boy's Stuff

In a rare moment at the office the other day Gaz, one of my partners, and myself found ourselves alone. Gaz is the one that I've worked with since I was about 21, we're a bit like a married couple, well longer lasting in my case, in that we have ups and downs and have been through a lot but are still together. Ok, to be fair we're nothing like a married couple that I've got any experience of, but I live with hope.

These moments don't happen often but, instead of the usual 4 or 5 other people in the office with us, we were alone. They had all pranced off to lunch or were doing things elsewhere in the building. There were people downstairs in the warehouse but they were doing their thing, which involves lifting, manual labour and physical stuff, so Gaz and I stay away from there whenever possible.

We could have talked about budgets, revenue, profit or loss. We could have persused the latest developments in our industry or perhaps had a little chinwag about the future of the Company. There was the option of talking a bit about the Christmas bonuses, an ever emotive topic that never gets to any sort of consensus. Or we could even have talked about football, page 3 of The Sun or porn.

But no. All those options were very important, very pressing and quite challenging, but with virtually no discussion, with that almost telepathic level of communication we've built up over the 20 years, we settled into a brief exercise in teamwork, managerial expertise and intellectual dexterity.

You've guessed it. We started to do the well known management training exercise, often used in Harvard Business School and other such institutions; throwing a coaster to try to knock off the teddy bear that we had carefully balanced on the upright bit of a chair.

It's a game of mental and physical prowess that can be played by any number of people of almost any age. Of course girls can't play it because they throw like well, girls, but anyone else can. Girls just can't get that proper flicking action in their arm to throw correctly can they? I think it must be to do with breasts or something but they always end up with a movement like a camp shot putter and a little gasp as they exhale.

And most girls would definitely worry about the welfare of the teddy bear too. It was a new white one, a sort of polar / Xmas bear, one that is involved in a raffle of some kind and was wearing a bear scarf. Why a polar bear needs to wear a scarf is beyond me. You don't see elephants bathing in Yala with swimming costumes on or leopards wearing the latest Nikes for a bit of extra grip around corners.

To make the game challenging we had to stand inside my office and throw the coaster through my door. This limited our swing a bit and meant that neither of us could get as much power behind our throws as we would have liked. Gaz went first. The first one's always a bit of a "peeing on your territory" kind of move. If you hit the target it will be mostly a fluke but it's good to get a feel for the prevailing conditions and also to instill a bit of fear into your opponent.

His effort sailed past the ear of the bear and I readied myself for my first attempt. Unfortunately I got my angles totally wrong and the coaster just made it through my office door and spun off towards the stereo, which was about 10 feet away from bear. Clearly Gaz had done some peeing and unnerved me. We continued taking turns, some efforts came close and some were about as far away from the target as a American trying to find WMDs in Iraq. Or should that be WsMD?

I can't explain how tense these games can become. Not only is there a a massive anount of male pride at stake but, at any point, one of the staff could have walked back into the office and we would have had to pretend to be working, as well as think of an explanation for bear's new position on the back of the chair. The people who have been with us for a longer time are more used to the sight of one or both of us doing something childish but there are some newer ones who might still think of us with a modicum of respect.

Then it happened. Gaz took his turn, we'd been getting progressively closer over the last few throws but this one had "dead bear" written all over it. The coaster zipped threw the air, not that coasters go "zip". It hit the polar bear smack on the side of the head and the nameless fellow crumpled onto the floor. I felt a bit dejected as I knew I'd lost, but then came out with an act of sportsmanship. I cleverly pointed out that, as Gaz had gone first, I still had another turn and could pull off a draw if I hit bear on this go.

I lined up, like a potentially match winning shot in Carrom, it's important not to over concentrate, not to think too much and start to panic. So I did exactly that. I concentrated too hard, I thought too much and I panicked. I took a few seconds to calm myself and regain my composure. The coaster left my hand, it fairly sailed towards bear, who had been rebalanced on the upright bit of the chair, which rhymes.

And then, I kid you not, the missile skimmed bear's ear, it actually touched the little bastard's fake white fur. He wobbled and contemplated falling off the chair. I felt as if he looked over at me and took a snap judgement on whether he liked me or Gaz the most. Perhaps he was a bear with a computer, well not just a computer but access to the net too, and he reads my blog. Perhaps he likes it, maybe he hates it.

Well if he was a internet surfing bear then he doesn't like my blog. Because, after two or perhaps three nanoseconds of pondering and deliberating the bear opted to stay put. It wobbled and stayed on the chair. Gaz celebrated, I sulked for a bit and tried to think of an obscure rule that may have been breached or something I could appeal. Sadly there aren't really any rules so I was at a dead end.

We went back to our desks and continued with the whole running a business thing. It can be fun but it's not as much fun as knocking bears off chairs.


Indyana said...

Sounds like great fun! My boys would have loved it too!

Tanya J. said...

Who says girls can't throw?

Anonymous said...