1/11/2007

When I am King: Important Meatings

When I am King...

The whole pastries-at-meetings dynamic needs to be rethought.

Don't get me wrong; I love pastries. I can inhale a box of these lard-bombs faster than a supermodel snorting cocaine. And pastries at meetings are wonderful. I know that it's just a cheap gimmick to get people to show up and guilt them into staying, but I gladly fall for it. If someone buys pastries they can count on me showing up, whether I'm supposed to be there or not.

But it struck me this week when I was in a rather large meeting; there's something wrong about everyone eating these things before and during the actual meeting.

Pastries (by which I mean serious sugar blasts, the ones with enough glaze dripping off of them to seal a cruise ship hull) are inherently sticky. Cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, donuts, carmel rolls; each one of these has enough adhesive power to weld together the seams in a nuclear power plant. And you usually eat these things with your hands, so the goop naturally gets all over your fingers.

You try to wipe if off discretely with a napkin, but it doesn't help; napkins are not cut out for this task. This is industrial-strength goo, stuff that Spiderman could use if his web shooters run out. So eventually you resort to the world's best general solvent; saliva. You casually, quietly eat the mess off of your fingers, at least enough to dissolve it and let the poor napkin handle the remains.

All of that's fine; it's just a part of eating, which is the single-most popular and highly-developed trait that our species has learned through the millennia. Other animals learned how to climb, developed keen senses of smell, evolved into loyal companions, or honed their eyesight. We learned to eat well. And guess who won that evolutionary battle? After all, the climbing animals aren't looking at us wondering how we'd taste if they fried us in a pan of butter.

But then comes the crux of the problem; you're in a meeting. And chances are, especially at the kind of meeting where they serve these heart-stopping delights, you're there to actually meet with these other people. And meeting people eventually ends up in a ritual of shaking hands... all of which are now covered in trace amounts of spit.

You could do the fair thing at this point and refuse to shake hands with someone. But somehow that never works. If you give some fake excuse, you come off as a whacko who has a thing against shaking hands. And if you don't give any excuse, ... you come off as a whacko who has a thing against shaking hands. You could try honesty, but somehow people don't want to hear that your hands are covered in spit (or that theirs are, too).

So you buckle down and shake. And shake. And shake. And pretty soon (you can do the math, but just trust me on this), everyone in the room has exchanged spit with everyone else. We might as well have just given open-mouthed kisses the whole time, although even that wouldn't cover it because then all the combined spit would at least have remained in our mouths. No, it would be far more efficient to just go around the room licking everyone's hands.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not into hand-licking, either on the receiving or giving end of the bargain. I let my dog do it on occasion, but only when I know he hasn't been munching on something brown and suspicious in the back yard. And people? No way. Not unless I was paid a lot of money. Or given a big pastry.

One of the first efforts in my kingship (because the pastry meetings will start immediately upon my ascension) will be to solve this problem in an effective and sanitary manner. Various proposals are on the breakfast table currently, but no decisions have been made. At one extreme end is the suggestion that we ban pastries at meetings; this is obviously not a workable solution and would result in the end of meetings as well as the decimation of the entire pastry industry. A simple solution of “use forks” has also been presented, but unless these implements were permanently fastend to peoples' hands, they would go unused and the problems would still exist.

The most promising contender so far is my favorite: pastry troughs. Everyone will be required to eat meeting food by dunking down into the platter, face-first. The problem we are trying to solve is not the mess involved, but rather the spreading of everyone's internal fluids to others in the room. Eating from troughs solves this by ensuring that not only will no phlegm will applied to fingers, but that everyone's face will be so covered in sugary gore that noone will want to go near anyone else, so the chances of passing spit around are even less likely.

Pastry troughs: We've been pigs for our entire evolutionary development; why not start acting like them?
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