Thursday, April 10, 2008

That's what she said.

After five long months of reading novels, fruitlessly searching the DVR for quality stored programming that isn't there, and actually working religiously on my dissertation . . . my favorite shows are finally back with new episodes after the writers' strike. The Office and 30 Rock -- oh, I love you so!

Thursday nights are sacred to me, and finally that special Thursday-night feeling is back. Despite growing up as one of five children, I would not say that I ever lacked for attention or love from my parents. However, as one of five, you don't always get as much alone time with mom and dad as you might like. Sometime in later grade school or maybe around junior high, our family initiated a new tradition we called "my night to stay up." Each child (except The Intern, who was still under 5 at the time), had one evening when they got to stay up later than everyone else. This night involved more time with mom and dad, an extra snack, and extra television time. I looked forward to "my night to stay up" for years and not just because of the chance to watch 90210. Thursdays have been special to me ever since.

Obviously, Thursday has been a prime television night for years now, but beyond the quality programming traditionally featured, Thursday night has more to recommend itself. Thursday precedes Friday, which is typically an awesome day. In college, Thursday is a key going out night. You feel more daring on Thursday nights . . . who needs to get a good night's sleep--the weekend will be here soon and then you can catch up, right? Thursday night is the real reward for the drudgery of the work week.

I would say that between the end of Friends and The Office's move to Thursday nights, Thursdays lost their luster for me for a few years. My husband and I got into The Office midway through the second season (we bought season one ASAP to catch up) when the bub was an infant. We found the show hilarious, probably even more so because our social life was incredibly constricted at that time (not that it's booming now, but we're sort of used to the married-with-children lifestyle these days). My husband remains a fan of the show. For myself though, I think it's fair to say that The Office borders on an obsession.

I religiously check Office Tally, a website that tracks all the doings of the show's actors and writers, plus includes message boards (I rarely post though) and a spoiler section (I try not to peek). I have all of the seasons on DVD and savor the experience of watching the extras and bonus features that go with each episode. I think I care about Jim and Pam ("JAM" as office FANatics know them) more than I ever cared about Ross and Rachel (and believe me, back in 1996, I cared about Ross and Rachel).

I won't speculate too much about what it is about The Office that makes its fans so loyal because I'm sure other, more reflective persons have done that. I suspect that it's good writing and a certain accessibility and familiarity. A character like Dwight Schrute seems extreme, but anyone who has had a job--whether in a failing mid-market paper company or not--knows that truth, especially the kinds of truths you come to discover about your co-workers, is way stranger than fiction. I once worked a summer temp job answering phones for Macy's Credit Services. There were about twenty people in my "training class." Perhaps snobbishly, I hung out with the only other two temps who were also college students on summer vacation. One of my "friends at work" was an awkward sophomore from a local university. This was the summer of 1996, way before the American Pie movies came out, but I kid you not the great majority of our lunchtime conversation every day was devoted to all things marching band. She had endless stories of the "this one time at band camp" variety (minus that one story). I admired her passion; after all, being a member of the marching band at a major university requires a lot of talent and dedication. Then three weeks in, it was revealed that she was not in her college marching band. All of her stories were stories from high school marching band. Then, I just felt sad every day at lunch when she started in again. I remember lots more about her, including the fact that her dad's job was "international troubleshooter for the Always maxi pad." See what I mean about truth and fiction . . . you could not make a job like that up.

I fear I got off course there, but the point is that human beings are all strange beings, all of us, and we never know it better than when we have the opportunity to observe one another day in and day out, as in the workplace. And strange as we are, the ways in which we can irritate but also comfort, entertain, and understand each other are even stranger . . . and pretty cool. The Office shows all sides of human nature. It is funny and, at moments, touching. I love it.

The above photo features a little tribute to The Office (I'm still working on the hubby to actually hang it up in our living room), a collage made from these awesome stickers I ordered online from the artist elloh (seriously, check out her stuff, it's inspired by pop culture and really fun). Each sticker features a character from The Office, and they make me happy. Just like the show does.

Okay, I have go. The first new episode in five months is starting soon, and I'm ready to savor every witty line and awkward pause. It's a big night. That's what she said.


LAP said...

At my last job, the co-worker quirks were abundant. There was my awkward thirtysomething coworker asking louding over the cube, "LAP, what kind of ab exercises do you do?" (as if I was going to demonstrate any examples for him). Then, once I moved to an office, I got a post-lunch reprive from the constant hacking/clearing throat of my next door neighbor Hoagy when he walked down the hall, newspaper in hand, for his ritual trip to the restroom. So, these are just two quick examples that make me appreciate The Office, not just because it is funny, but as you mention MEP, it is more real than you might initally think.

Anonymous said...

Maybe last night was an advertisement for the old adage about mixing business with pleasure. Where else can they go with Jan? It was certainly thought provoking on many levels. Only a few laugh out loud moments, though.m

T-Baby said...

Just to be clear, we will not be hanging any Office "artwork" in our house unless the Bub wants it in his room. I think that needs to be said.

Steph said...

What a clever thing your parents did with the special night for each kid!

PITA said...

I literally can't stop laughing about the fact that someone's job is "international troublshooter for always maxi pads." That is just too much really. "My night to stay up" was really fantastic, and they weren't oridnary snacks. These snacks involved popcorn, the super pretzel soft pretzel nuggets (we termed them "buhbites"), or even nachos sometime. Don't quote me on this, but I want to say my night was Tues-dee. NTB

Anonymous said...

Love what your parents did- we do the same thing at our house to make sure everyone gets to feel 'special'. Of course our kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Max and Ruby (I think I'd appreciate 90210 better!)... but glad to see the similarities. Btw, I'm so addicted to your blog- I literally check it like 3x a week!!! Never been much of a Office person, but husband is. I am, however, a DWTS person and love your recaps! Thanks for all your wonderful and quirky blogs (especially love the maternity clothes one!)

Mandy O'Halloran said...

The above comment was left by me!

Anonymous said...

Immediately after the episode I looked at my Dad, (Who is OBSESSED and quite possibly on the same level as MEP) and said that was bizarre. But after watching a few times, it got funnier. There are so many lines that you don't pick up right away because you are laughing about something else. Hunter's song has been in my head all weekend. I am so happy to have the Office gang back in my life. "You take me by the hand..."

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