Thursday, May 27, 2010

The caulk issue. Because I am 12.

A couple weeks ago, in our weekly staff meeting, someone brought up The Caulk Issue.


Have you ever discussed caulk in a professional environment? No? Let me tell you.

It turns out that a number of schools constructed from the 1950s to the 70s were built using caulk that contains PCBs. PCBs, if you don't know, are toxic and (it turns out) practically impossible to contain. So cleanup of these schools turns out to be a huge and costly issue.

I didn't know about the schools and the toxins, but had read that PCBs are responsible for the diminishing size of alligator penises in the Everglades.

Which brings us to the weekly meeting.

I work in an education-related field, and we write about these topics. Topics like schools and caulk. Not alligator penises. So in staff meeting, people talk about their article topics for the following week's newsletter.

My life is so much more glam than you ever imagined, no?

So we get to beautiful, elegant Michele, who says, "I'm going to have to write about the caulk issue."

She pronounces it carefully, trying to accentuate the L. CauLk. But still.

There is a pause. A pregnant pause, if you will.

And one of our older colleagues says - with complete sincerity - "Oh, the caulk issue. Yeah. The caulk is a big one."

Fortunately, I am sitting next to Michele, so I cannot make eye contact.

Someone else says, "What's the deal with the caulk?"

An explanation of PCBs and containment problems takes place. Schools have to be torn down, because you can't just remove the caulk.

I resist the urge to giggle like a girl. The caulk, people, the giant, dangerous caulk! What do we do with the caulk?

Half the table is avoiding eye contact, and the other half is discussing it in complete seriousness.

The giggle sits at the top of my stomach the entire meeting, flapping and fluttering, in much the same way a fly will bat itself against a window pane, trying to escape. I'm afraid to say anything.

Finally, we adjourn. I make it down the hall and around the corner before I turn to one of my Quad-mates.

I squawk, "The caulk! The deadly caulk!"


  1. OK, I laugh every time I read the line about the caulk being a big one. I never would have made it through that meeting.

  2. It was brutal. Seriously. It has come up in so many side conversations since then.

  3. Last July when the Senate HELP committee was marking up it's portion of the health care bill there was an amendment concerning women who are breastfeeding, and requiring employers to provide them with private place to pump. Anyways... it was amusing to watch a group of (mostly) old men try to talk about the amendment without saying "breast"... and there were a bunch of people in the room who were obviously working hard to suppress their giggles.

  4. VVK - I would really, really have liked to see those meetings in action. I'd have wanted to whisper boobiesboobiesboobies under my breath.

  5. Hilarious! So I'm clear, those are penises in the drawing?! I'm quite proud of you for making it back to the quad before giggling.

  6. I love caulk! I love to talk about it, to see it, to read about new techniques for using it, to watch shows about it on TV....

    Wait, we're talking about caulk, right?

  7. bwha ha ha ha! sooo funny. caulk. tee hee. my hunny is in construction and sometimes we have conversations about caulk, and see who can be serious about it the longest. i usually bust a gut after the 2nd or 3rd time of saying it.
    i am also 12.
    ps. love the peni (that's the right plural right?) around the windows.

  8. HKW - Definitely are! And the truth is, the Quad is just down the hall from the meeting room. :)

    SarahLeigh - Uhh, yes, exactly!

    K-Tee - I would laugh about it every single time even if I talked about it regularly.
    And thank you! I was pretty amused while drawing. And yes, I think so. Or maybe penii?

  9. haahahahahhaha! I would have been horrified and first and then laughed when I realized what was being talked about. Because I would have forgotten. oh fun. I love when work meetings turn fun even when they are not supposed to be.

  10. OMG what kinda school is that with penis adornments around the windows. Porn School?? Ok I guess its in the way you guys pronounce the word caulk and I guess its something like asbestos no?? I want to know who has the job measuring the alligators penis's??

  11. I have to sit through meetings where we discuss erection schedules. Like, for cranes (construction cranes, not the birds.) I have discussed erection schedules probably a hundred times. I still cannot do it without a smirk.

  12. Grace - I wanted to laugh so badly. I couldn't believe nobody did!

    Go-Betty - Hahahaha! Yes, it's Porn School! Caulk is the stuff that you put around windows and in cracks and I think between the tiles in your tub to seal it up...I've never actually caulked anything, truth be told. I'll have to ask Nick. He knows a lot about the caulk. Hahahaha - see, I just cracked myself up.

    Dear Hillary - I love you so much. I would never have imagined the phrase "erection schedules" and here you go and have meetings about them!

  13. Haha! That is sooo funny. It went comPLETELY over my head until I figured from Go-Betty's comment that it was a pronounciation thing! I pronounce caulk like cork. So I was thinking, huh?? WTF. But I get it now! And I would NOT have managed to keep a straight face!

    Love the new hair by the way!

  14. That took a minute to pick up the word play, I had to put on American accents in my head. Those words sounds nothing alike in Australia, caulk and cork would be said pretty much exactly the same (not much of an "r" sound in cork), but the other word with a much different "o" sound. But oh dear, I wouldn't have been able to contain my giggles in that meeting! Well done!

  15. Love the inventive non-contained caulk drawing! I have been in meetings like this so many times when you feel you'll split right open if someone doesn't laugh..I have to dig my nails into my legs sometimes.

  16. I'm in the historic preservation field so I totally get this and was on the floor laughing. Like Hillary, I also have to the term erection alot. I always have a difficult time writing it in my staff reports or worse when I have to use it in a presentation to the Preservation Commission. I don't think I have ever had to use caulk and erection in the same staff report... yet. Some one may have pinch hit that presentation if it were to happen.LOL

  17. Miranda - It is funny - I didn't think of pronunciation until Go-Betty. I also think it's hilarious that you guys were like, WHAT is the current penis fixation?

    As for the hair - thank you! I'm not loving it, I have to say.

    Amy - As I said to Miranda, I didn't at all think of the non-American pronunciation. Now I'm going to try to be much more aware with the homonyms!

    kayare - I have only been in one meeting like that previously. I seriously could not stand it!

    Angel JAM - Hahaha! Staff reports! I don't think I'd be able to get up and make a presentation with a straight face. Because as I said, I'm 12.

  18. This is why I am glad to be "free" of grownupland. I have such low impulse control. Thanks for the laugh!


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