It was a month ago, I think. Maybe two. Maybe last week. Time is a flat circle. I was on a Zoom call with either the people I don’t need to actually see in order to effectively communicate with them—which is most people. Like eight billion people. Or the people I might actually need to see while I’m talking to them—which is like six people. I don’t remember which.
It was a stressful day. The meeting was effectively over. But one of the people on the Zoom was still talking, I think, just to remind himself that he still possessed the ability to make sounds with his mouth. Fifteen seconds of unnecessary words stretched to 17. And then, 10 seconds later, he was still fucking talking. I couldn’t take it anymore. And so, in front of everyone on the call, I reached down below my desk, unzipped my book bag, slowly pulled out a can of Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts from within, and began to eat them.
Immediately, the mood of the call changed. Faces froze. Mouths were agape. People were incredulous. Flabbergasted. Jealous of the size of my can. “Wait, are you really just going to pull out your peanuts in front of everyone?” someone said. A friend who also happened to be on the call texted “DAMON!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? EVERYONE CAN SEE YOUR PEANUTS!!!”
I could’ve allowed them to convince me to put my peanuts away—or, at least, wait until after the call to eat them—but hunger is natural. Everyone eats every day, even if we don’t want to admit it, and I will not be nut-shamed.
Still, I had to admit to myself that it wasn’t my proudest moment. Regardless of how stressed out or hungry I happened to be, randomly pulling out my peanuts in front of professional colleagues just wasn’t cool. No one got on the call that day like, “You know what I’d love to see today? Damon’s Honey Roasted Peanuts, that’s what.” Especially when no one else had peanuts to eat. It took some deep soul-searching to see admit that. A week later, after I’d exhausted the entire can, I apologized to them for my bad manners and lack of tact, and we’ve been able to move forward. I still get tempted on Zoom calls, every now and then, to pull out my peanuts. My peanuts are always only a foot away. But, if nature demands and I must eat in front of people, I’ve learned to at least switch to my spare Chromebook instead of my work Macbook.
Anyway, when I heard yesterday that The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin also pulled out his peanuts while unknowingly still on a Zoom call, I nodded in recognition and felt secondhand embarrassment for him. Just as I discovered that no one wanted to see my peanuts, I’m sure no one wanted to see Toobin’s either. And I’m certain that, wherever he is today, he’s upset with himself for not at least waiting until the window was closed to begin eating. We’ve all been there before because peanuts are good! But they’re not that good.