FUNNY WOMEN #81: xo, The Intern’s Mom


From: <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, Feb 5, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Subject: Gary’s internship
To: Tuck Lanson, CEO <[email protected]>

Dear Tuck,

Gary’s excited to start his week-long internship at Lanson Corp tomorrow! We can’t thank you enough for this opportunity—and for the doors it will open after college.

It occurs to me that there are a few small issues which may (or may not!) arise during his time there. I’m sure everything will be fine, but I’m his mom. And moms worry :D.

1.  Gary’s concerned about doing a good job. Really concerned. If you could request that your employees furnish him with compliments and positive feedback—which I have no doubt he’d earn, so it wouldn’t be insincere—that would be so great. Please just advise them not to punctuate their praise with a pat on the back. Due to a choking incident from his youth involving a bag of Big League Chew and a plastic oar (!), back-patting makes Gary gag :(.

2.  Gary’s weak in the math department and thus has apprehensions about tasks related but not limited to numbers, sequences, patterns, proportions, and general quantification. This includes buying lunch. I’ve given him $15, which should cover a sandwich and chips (no soda, please), but he may get worked up when a cashier prompts him for money or he attempts to count his change. Perhaps you can assign someone to negotiate these dealings with/for him? Also, if you can—and if you can’t, it’s no big deal—please make sure he chews his food thoroughly (see #1).

3.  Gary wears glasses and has some trouble with depth perception. We’ve recently upgraded his prescription, which seems to have helped a bit, but in the case that he forgets his glasses or his glasses fog and, when he takes them off to clean them, he rubs the lenses too hard and accidentally snaps the frames, he will be forced to navigate the office hallways with his arms outstretched. (Awkward!)

4.  Relatedly, while Gary is of perfectly average size for his age, he feels short. This prompts him to misjudge where his head and feet are relative to the ceiling and floor. If Gary requests help fetching something off a shelf within his reach, please comply. As his therapist says, we all have our own realities and his is as valid as yours or mine.

5.  Gary has inflammatory acne. He’s taking Doxycycline, which seems to be helping, but it’s giving him diarrhea, which has lead to dehydration, which has lead to halitosis. Please don’t take it as a sign of disrespect if he’s popping mints while chatting with you. Trust me: it’s actually a sign of respect! (P.U.!) Also, I read that this medication can be deactivated if he’s too close to a microwave, so if you could seat him in a cubicle far from the kitchen, that would be ideal.

6. While we’re on the subject of Gary’s mouth, he has a history of orthodontic issues I may as well address. My son has exceptionally large teeth and a disproportionately small jaw and when he was 12, the dentist pulled four of his molars to prevent overcrowding. This was a grave mistake. (Thank you very little, Dr. Wang!) Though Gary wore headgear for years, his teeth never moved to fill in the gaps. Worse, he developed gingivitis around the sockets and his gums turned blue! There was a period during his adolescence where I was convinced he was depressed because he never smiled. Turned out he was just ashamed of his mucked-up mouth! Now he wears a retainer garnished with four fake teeth, a situation to which he’s *gradually* adapting. Which is to say, he has to remove this appliance to eat, and doing so makes him extremely self-conscious. Is there somewhere he can dine by himself (your office?) so no one will catch sight of his situation?

7.  This next item may or may not be related to his orthodontic shame, but Gary has never had sex. I’m quite sure, in fact, that he’s never even gone to second base. As a result, Gary has a difficult time resisting the urge to ogle women’s breasts and, on the rare occasion, to brush their fannies with his hand as he passes. This may make some of your female co-workers uncomfortable, and for that I apologize. Please know that I’ve tried to address this problem with him, but every time I broach the subject, he zips his jacket over his face and pretends he can’t hear what I’m saying.

8.  Last but definitely not least, Gary is adopted, which is fine for some kids, but, as it turns out, isn’t fine for Gary. It is *essential* that he never be made to feel unwanted or rejected, which can happen (inadvertently!) when employees host meetings and don’t invite him or have jargon-heavy conversations that he can’t follow or make eye contact with him and then abruptly look away. He is especially sensitive to restroom etiquette (or lack thereof!) and can’t bear it when a populated bathroom empties out and he’s left to finish his business all alone. (FYI, his psychiatrist believes there’s significance to his feeling extra vulnerable while relieving himself, but says it matters less why this is the case, and more that this simply is the case.) Which is to say: If Gary does feel abandoned one way or another, it will send him into a state equivalent to PTSD, and undo ten years of therapy that his father and I refinanced our house to afford.

9.  Also, we have reason to believe that Gary’s biological father works in the neighborhood. An interaction could cause cosmic emotional damage. If you see a man who looks remarkably like Gary, please cover our boy’s face with the mask I’ve packed.

10.  Oh, and for what it’s worth, Gary’s allergic to pine cones, pistachios, lime-flavored Life Savers, mint-flavored dental floss, mite excretion, mouse excretion, human feces (except his own!), and double-sided sticky tape. His reactions to the aforementioned range from mild hives to sudden death.

And that’s all! (Phew!)

Thanks again, Tuck. We can hardly wait.

All Best,


P.S. Due to Gary’s anxiety over starting this position, he may get there a little early. (He really wants to make a good impression.) Would it be possible to have someone there to let him in around 6am?

P.P.S. Alternatively, there’s a chance that, due to his anxiety, he’ll be up all night and will crash around 6am, in which case we’ll need to let him sleep in for a bit. Cool? 😀


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Courtney Zoffness’ fiction has appeared in Indiana Review, Tampa Review, Saint Ann’s Review, Redivider, the international Fish Prize Stories anthology, and elsewhere. She’s received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Vermont Studio Center, nominations for inclusion in Best New American Voices, and awards from the Dorot Foundation and Washington Square. These days, when she’s not teaching creative writing at Drew University or the University of Pennsylvania, she’s readying her nine-month-old for his first corporate internship. More from this author →