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Penny does La Macarena

Maybe the ostrich anecdote will seal the deal

By Alix McMurrayPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Penny does La Macarena
Photo by Catherine Merlin on Unsplash

“Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky,” Penny wrote in her diary. Not so unusual to bring a diary to a job interview, right? Perhaps they would like to read some of her recent poems? Then, they called her in. Showtime!

Penny felt a ripple of raw liberation course through her body so she pulled off her Peter Pan collar and bow, jumped up on the conference table and began grinding her pelvis in syncopated rhythm to the cadence of La Macarena.

“Can you tell us exactly WHY you want this job, Penny?” the Lead Interviewer asked. She was of solid stock and as was noted in last week’s paper, a 150-year veteran of the agency, whose husband begat 12,000 children, 1,256 of which were from his union with her. (The names of his other wives were not mentioned in the article—some in the community were relieved at this, others, incensed.)

“Well,” Penny said throatily (partially out of breath from the grinding), “helping people just makes me FEEL SO GOOD!”

The Interviewers lowered their heads. [Sound of pencil leads scratching against the grain of recycled legal pads donated to the agency by the local paper miller.] One of the Interviewers broke the lead off her pencil, and not wanting to exhibit non-optimization of resources, she gathered the broken pencil secretly under the palm of her non-writing hand and continued the motions of writing, pencil-less, adding an extra scowl to her face to underscore the seriousness of her intent. Her fellow Interviewers did not notice the loss of the pencil, but Penny did, although now the Interviewers had stopped writing (and pretend-writing) and had instead become completely rigid in their chairs and were staring at the blank walls opposite each of them in the room.

“Is this a pregnant or non-pregnant pause?” Penny asked.

“We don’t talk about that during The Interview,” the Lead Interviewer said.

The Interviewer at the far end of the conference table realized she had to get ready to avoid eye contact with all the people whom she may have seen before, or knew from somewhere or imagined that she had seen and might know at the local grocery store in exactly two hours and twenty-one minutes, and so she started bobbing her head in almost imperceptible little pigeon jerks, preparing herself.

Meanwhile, Penny had worked up quite a sweat doing her grinding dance, and her knees felt a little shaky from the elevation on the conference table, so she hopped back down and resumed her seat. She found the Peter Pan collar on the carpet next to her chair (but not the bow), and she reached down to pick it up and fasten it back on. She fumbled with the snaps as she related her tale of the man in love with the ostrich whom she’d resuscitated at the public library five years before. She actually felt tears welling up in her eyes as she told this story, which she had saved as her finale for The Interview, hoping to elicit just the right amount of pathos.

In response to this, the Lead Interviewer, who was to her immediate left, morphed into the Medusa and her up-to-then placid tongue swelled up to ten times its former size, shot out of her mouth and began writhing in mid-air. This was a bit tough for Penny to take, particularly since she was physically spent from all the dancing and had expected to get her scores by now. (These Interviewers were very slow at arithmetic!) Penny had also truly hoped for a standing ovation for her man-with-the-ostrich resuscitation story. She tried to meet them halfway….

“I just want to say that if you need your pencils sharpened, or if I can help out with any calculations, or if you have especially tough cases involving ostrich involvement, well, I’m ready, willing and able!” Penny smiled brightly, and looked in turn at each of the Interviewers. The face of the Interviewer to her immediate right had disappeared and there remained only a large grin floating in the air by itself. This Interviewer still had her hands, however, and in one of them was a dead fish, which she handed to Penny.

“We give these to all our applicants as a sign of our appreciation for coming in for The Interview,” the floating grin said between its gritted teeth, which now held Penny’s lost bow.

Taking this gesture as a sign that The Interview was at its close, but feeling vaguely unsatisfied, Penny took the dead fish, put it in her purse, gathered up her coat and said her good-byes to the Interviewer of the Faceless Grin, the Interviewer of the Pigeon Bobs and the Lead Interviewer of the Medusa, whose tongue still writhed as she hissed, “We’ll be flipping coins late next week, and let you know the results of the coin toss. God be with you.”

Penny made a mental note as she exited with her dead fish, “Now THAT’S what they mean by optimization of resources—wow, I really get it now!”


About the Creator

Alix McMurray

Come join me hanging out with the Dodo Bird on the beach, waiting for the odd chupacabra, or chasing shadows into corners. And you can read about my life as a therapist on

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)3 months ago

    Wow 😮 This was Excellent writing 📝 ❤️💯👍

  • Surreal and delightful - Anneliese

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