Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Cream Puff Crazy

When I first moved to Los Angeles in my twenties, I took a job as a telemarketer until I could find a job at an ad agency. For a short time, I dated a fellow telemarketer there, whom I’ll call C.P. He was smart, funny and neurotic—just like Woody Allen, without the talent. Even with his nerdy glasses and short, wiry hair, he had an intense magnetism that really drew me in.

One day, he told me he was going to make me these fabulous cream puffs and that he was thinking about going into the cream puff-making business. He also mentioned that he had been 100 pounds heavier in a previous life.

Then one night, out of thin air, he said, “I’m thinking about getting fat again.” Wow. I knew he could be unpredictable, but imagine my surprise when I heard that paunch line. As the air thickened with his bloated bluster, I wondered what I was supposed to do with that little tidbit? Should I say, “That’s flab-ulous!” or “Enjoy your new heft?” Should I try to talk him out of it? “Aw, you don’t really want to be a rotunda. You’re just down in the dumps and feeling dumpy.” The fact that someone could choose obesity as if he were deciding to grow a beard was, well, a sign that this guy wasn’t dealing with a fully stocked pantry.

Shortly after that, C.P. came to work acting all David Koresh-Waco-possessed. He started going from desk to desk, dishing out five-course diatribes on each person’s flaws. He had told me once that he’d attended EST seminars, and now I could see the fruits of his higher-consciousness labors. EST taught you to speak the truth (but if you wanted tact, that was a different group).

As he voraciously chewed people out in his creepy, my-word-is-the-gospel way, I got under my desk, seeking refuge. I thought this guy was about to go postal, and if those were just his co-workers, what was in store for me? When he wouldn’t leave, the boss finally pushed him out the door and locked it behind him. That’s when everyone gathered around my desk and said I could come out now. It was safe to come out!

That was the last time I saw C.P. and to this day, he is what I think of when I hear the words “Cream Puff.” But a profiterole? That delicate, cream-filled pastry with chocolate sauce that I so lovingly devoured in Paris? Ooh la la. That’s a whole ‘nother story.

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