To Color Your Discourse
It is 6:55 in the morning, they have been waiting in line for three minutes, and already Roxanne's knees are starting to feel numb. She should've worn slacks today; she should've known it was going to be cold. She takes another swig of her coffee, trying to drag all the warmth and caffeine she can out of it. Megamind had finished his on the drive over and is subsequently left with nothing to do but fidget with the cuffs of his black leather jacket that she had no idea he owned until this morning. She watches him cross his arms and then uncross them in order to shove his hands into his jacket pockets, only to take them out and cross his arms again moments later. He's either colder than she is or trying for some kind of grumpy, petulant child look. Roxanne untangles his arms so she can take his hand, and he shoots her a betrayed "Thanks a lot for dragging me here" gaze. She responds with half-lowered eyelids and a confident smile that says "Relax, you'll thank me later".
Finally, it's 7:00 and the doors open. The line inches forward ever so slightly, Roxanne and Megamind at least thirty people away from getting inside.
"Why did everyone stop, don't we get to go in?" Megamind asks her.
"Too many people. We'll have to wait a little while longer for them to go through everybody."
Megamind actually "har-umphed". "I thought we had an appointment."
"Then why are we waiting in line? What's the point?"
"It's just how these places are run. Everything takes time."
He sighs epically and she squeezes his hand a little. He turns to look at her. "Roxanne…"
"I have decided I hate waiting in line." He announces this like he's giving an executive order. "I feel like a brain-dead sheep buried in with a thousand other brain-dead sheep."
Roxanne laughs a little. "I don't think anybody particularly likes waiting in line either, so at least you're in good company."
Megamind looks around at the crowd of civilians standing in front and trailing behind, all giving them a wide berth and avoiding eye contact. "Somehow that doesn't make me feel any better." His eyebrows furrow in thought and then, "I wonder… if we got everybody to charge the building could we get in faster?"
Roxanne smiles. "I'm pretty sure that would only cause a lot of chaos."
"But we'd be inside where it's warm and not out here… where it's cold…and quiet… and boring… Roxanne, I hate this Department of Motor Vehicles."
"We aren't even inside yet."
"I know, and yet the sense of foreboding alone is strong enough to convince me of my hatred for this place."
It is Roxanne's turn to sigh.
Half an hour later they have gotten inside. Megamind's opinion of the place hasn't much improved, mostly because they are still being herded into lines like, well, like sheep. Roxanne decides her second mistake of the morning, besides wearing a skirt and not slacks, was not thinking to bring a book or a crossword or something with which to occupy Megamind. He's determined to be bored. And a bored Megamind makes for a grumpy Megamind, which in turn makes for a grumpy Roxanne.
They have the same conversation, a conversation they had already beaten into the ground on several occasions, five times before the next hour hits.
Why can't they go home?
He needs to get his driver's license renewed.
He never had a problem with his old one.
Because he was getting arrested constantly anyway. It certainly didn't help his record at all.
Or because he drives an invisible car and all he needs is an invisible license to go with it.
That line wasn't funny the first time he used it. And he needs some form of identification.
How could anybody on Earth have trouble identifying him?
It's illegal to drive without a license. He's supposed to be walking the straight and narrow now.
If that means more waiting in lines he's starting to regret that decision.
No, he wasn't.
Alright, fine, he wasn't. But he still hated this.
It'll be over with soon.
She's not playing this game again.
They're just gonna lapse into silence again.
What's happened to them? They used to have such clever banter.
Is that what that was?
The Department of Motor Vehicles must suck it out of you.
Tired conversations you've had at least a hundred times must suck it out of you.
But look at the white walls, the fluorescent lights, the lack of windows. It's practically an insane asylum.
Would it kill these people to put something on the walls?
It would ruin the reputation of DMVs everywhere.
There are more of these places?
Most cities have one, yes.
Such a tragedy.
They make it to the front desk where a blonde clerk with a deadpan stare and short, clipped nails hands them their paperwork without really looking at either of them. She gives a non-committal wave of her hand towards the opposite end of the office where a set of long, coiling lines of people awaits them.
"Fill this out. Go to window B. Next."
Roxanne thanks her hastily but politely and shuffles Megamind across the room and into the appropriate line. He stares at this fresh line with his lips pressed together in a frustrated pout and Roxanne wonders if he has the dehydration gun hidden in his jacket somewhere. A few of the nervous glances they've been getting from various people seem to ask the same question. Roxanne chooses to ignore them. If they were going to cower away from somebody who'd done more than enough to earn their trust then that was their problem. Megamind doesn't even seem to notice.
They reach window B, which encases a plump, balding man with unusually dark, beady eyes and a nametag that says "Oscar". Megamind pushes the completed forms through the slot between the desk and the glass. Oscar's pebble eyes shift rapidly from the paper to Megamind to the paper and then back again, which Roxanne guesses is his version of a double take.
"These are license renewal forms, you need to go to window D."
"Excuse me?" Megamind says, dangerously slowly.
"Window. D. Line. Over. There." Oscar enunciated all too forcefully, either too cocky for his own good or too stupid.
"The woman at the front desk distinctly said window B."
"Well, either the woman at the front was wrong or you just didn't hear her right."
An uncomfortable knot of worry begins to tighten in Roxanne's stomach. She reaches out carefully and rests a hand on Megamind's shoulder. He doesn't acknowledge it, but doesn't push her away either.
Oscar rolls his tiny eyes in a sullenly bored fashion. "Look Balloon-head, I'm sick of having this conversation, just go wait over in that line like everybody else."
Roxanne isn't sure if she stiffened first or if Megamind did. All the noise and whispers and quiet shuffling sounds echoing through the office immediately cease. Whereas before everyone's eyesight had been cautiously avoiding them, now people are staring in wide-eyed terror at the exchange at widow B. Somewhere in the office a baby starts to wail. No one else seems to even be breathing.
"You've got a lot of nerve…" Roxanne stomps forward before Megamind interrupts her. She doesn't fully realize how close she had gotten to the glass window until his hand at her elbow pulls her back.
"You heard me, lady. You and Balloon-head get out of my line." The beady eyes widen ever so slightly in a loud, confident reprise of his insult.
The knot in Roxanne's stomach grows hot, pressurized and unstable enough to explode. "That is insulting…" she begins through clenched teeth. It's Megamind's turn to rest a hand on her shoulder.
"You're quite right, Roxanne, quite insulting." Megamind delivers all too dryly and without a hint of anger. Roxanne immediately feels some of the heat dissipate from her and she turns to her companion with wide, confused eyes. He gestures, palm outward towards Oscar. "Our friend here has squandered a fantastic opportunity, hasn't he?"
Oscar blinks. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, it's just a tad bit insulting that you have this standing in front of you," Megamind gestures slyly at his head, "and the best insult that you can come up with is 'Balloon-head'!"
Oscar's dot-eyes cross a little. "I, uh… what?"
"There are about a million better things you could've said."
"Oh, yeah." Oscar leans forward, "Like what?"
Megamind smirks, eyes narrowed in anticipation. "Well, there's the obvious," he takes a step forward, arms spread out, in full view of the room. "There's something you don't see everyday, a giant blueberry on a stick!"
Someone a few windows over muffles a giggle.
"Courteous: Excuse me, sir, but you seem to have a fire truck caught in your gravitational field." He waves a hand over and around Oscar's head, like a planet in orbit. Smatterings of chuckles rise around the office.
"Reflective:" Megamind raises one hand, delicately adopting the manner of a fashionista or the stereotypical gay hairdresser. "Could you turn around for a second, I need to check if my hair's straight." The blonde at the front desk snorts and bursts into loud peals of laughter, doubled over her desk like she's having a stroke. The crowd starts to laugh along with her, half at Megamind's admittedly entertaining performance and half at the infectious nature of the employee's snorting, gasping laughter.
"Electrical: Say, what kind of wattage do you get out of that thing?" The whole room is laughing now, including Roxanne, who is having trouble remembering why she was so angry a few minutes ago.
"Observational: Well, people haven't been stingy on the compliments, now have they." Roxanne's laughter rings a bit louder than everybody else's. That statement had been her observation once upon a time.
"Critical: You've certainly come to a head in more ways than one." Oscar's eyes cross again, like he's never heard the idiom before. Everyone else is laughing; Roxanne doubts anyone is going to bother explaining it to him.
"Cautious:" Megamind spots an unoccupied chair against the back wall and lithely jumps on it, waving his arms in a dramatic fashion, jacket swinging, "Watch it, he's top-heavy!"
He gives the crowd a second to recover before addressing them again. "Patronizing: So glad you could make it, we were worried the doorframe wouldn't be a sufficient width." He pronounces it "paht-ron-ei-zing" but nobody seems to care.
"Inspirational:" He pumps a fist in the air. "You're sure to go far with such a good head on your shoulders. Like Saturn, for instance."
"Medicinal:" He raises his arms as if reading a giant marquee. "It's the poster boy for acetaminophen!" This is mostly met with confused mumbling until Roxanne shouts, "Tylenol!" and the laughter resumes. He gives her a grateful nod.
"Environmental: What's your personal experience with global warming." He says this with a bit of a drawl that makes him sound vaguely like George W. Bush.
"Naughty:" He stands solidly on the chair, hands at his hips, eyebrows cocked. "Just how big is the other head?" This gets a huge eruption of howls, whistles, and a few catcalls. The blonde's face is flushed crimson from laughing and she's clapping almost deliriously while trying not to fall out of her chair. Roxanne holds onto her sides and reminds herself to breathe.
Megamind jumps down and slides behind the front desk, taking the liberty of picking up her phone while she's busy cackling like a hyena. "Vintage:" he holds the phone to his ear. "Ollo, this is Vincent Price, I would like my Egghead costume back, if you please." The impression actually isn't half bad, albeit damaged by his signature greeting. Someone shouts out a gleeful, "To the Batcave!" which illicits another round of smattering laughter.
He replaces the phone and starts to saunter back towards window B. "Inquisitive: Where do you go to buy hats? I know a great backyard pool contractor."
"Boastful: This man holds the record for the longest headstand and the quickest cartwheel." He's up to window B now, facing a rather disgruntled looking Oscar, the only person in the room who hasn't laughed once.
"Polite: Would you mind taking a couple steps to the right, you're causing a solar eclipse." The man directly behind Roxanne guffaws in a great, deep belly laugh. The five feet of space people had been maintaining around them is just about gone.
"Uhhm…" Megamind falters for a second, looking up at the ceiling. Somebody towards the opposite corner shouts, "C'mon, one more!" which starts a rousing chorus of "One more!" "You can do it, one more!" He glances at Roxanne.
"Knock him dead." She says quietly.
"Alright, alright, one more." Megamind silences the crowd. "Dirty:" He leans up confrontationally towards Oscar so that his face is practically against the glass window.
"I've never seen such a big ass at that end before." The crowd erupts in a combination of cheers, laughter, and applause. Oscar just sits there, all slack-jawed and blank-stared, looking for the entire world like he still can't comprehend what exactly just happened. Megamind takes a theatrical bow and grins at Roxanne so broadly it practically reaches his eyes.
Her sides hurt, but she can't stop giggling even if she wanted to. She stands next him, laughing and clapping and letting her own skull fill with intoxicating pride until she thinks she just might rise up and float away.
"I still can't believe you did all that just to keep me from getting angry." Roxanne leans back into the black leather upholstery of the invisible car, passenger-seat this time.
Megamind gives her a soft smile, more reserved now that the audience was gone. "Well, as fun as it would've been to watch you 'go all gansta on him'," the expression sounds strange coming out of his mouth and she giggles, "getting thrown out for violent behavior would've been a tragic waste of all that infernal waiting."
"You make me sound like Sarah Connor or something. I wasn't gonna actually hurt him… y'know, much…"
He laughs with her at this, not the loud and boisterous laugh that used to echo across the city but the low, softer one. The laugh that he only used with her. "You have to feel just a little bit sorry for the insipid sap," he says, "being stuck in that horrific place all day long would probably suck anybody's brain dry."
Roxanne watches him watch the road, an inescapable twinge of something cold and unpleasant creeping into her mind as she thought about what happened. "Megamind?" she asks.
"You haven't… that is…" her mind tossed around multiple phrases, searching for something appropriate, something that wouldn't put him on the defensive. "People haven't actually said things like that to you, have they? I mean, besides that old crack of mine about your ego…"
He straightens, eyes glued to the freeway. Roxanne instantly regrets mentioning it.
"Some of them," he says, finally. "Not all of them, and not quite in those words. Most people haven't used something as unoriginal and stupid as 'balloon-head' since I was in shool…"
Roxanne nods. "If it makes you feel any better, the kids I grew up with used to call me 'bunny-teeth'."
Megamind's head snaps toward her with startled eyes and a wide-open mouth. "What!"
"Watch the road."
"Why would anybody say something like that? Your teeth are perfect!"
Roxanne shrugs. "They look alright now, but when I was little I started loosing my baby teeth before everybody else, and when my adult ones came in they were much too big for the rest of my face and stuck out and I looked, well, like a little, buck-toothed bunny rabbit."
Megamind slowly nodded, astonished. "What happened?"
"I cried to my mother, actually begged her for braces, and nobody wanted braces but I thought that would fix it, y'know. Then one day in the third grade I got so fed up with these boys calling me 'bunny-teeth' that I pelted Robert Johnson in the face with a soccer ball and knocked out two of his front teeth. We both got detention for two weeks and ended up becoming friends until his parents moved him out to Connecticut. By then I had pretty much grown into my adult teeth, nobody called me stuff like that anymore."
She tries to gauge his reaction, his eyes dart from looking straight ahead at the traffic to glancing thoughtfully at her. From what little he'd told her about his childhood she knew something similar had happened, though instead of getting detention for snapping and fighting back he had gotten expelled and carried out the rest of his education alone on the prison grounds. He couldn't exactly grow into his head the way she grew into her teeth, either.
For once Megamind doesn't seem to want to say anything so she continues. "Kids have been teasing each other since the dawn of time… and rude, bone-headed adults as well. I wish back then I had been clever enough to get everybody to laugh along with me instead of holding it in until I snapped… but at least now I know better. At least now I can look back on it and laugh." She smiles at him.
He smiles back, purpling ever so slightly. "You think I'm clever?"
Roxanne can't help herself. "At the risk of inflating your balloon-head even further, yes. Yes, I do."
A/N: And the moral of our story: If you're going to insult someone, try to do it creatively :D
No offense is meant to any real DMV employees. Or people named Oscar. Or people who haven't heard of the "come to a head" expression.
-Invisible license: lifted from Spongebob. I am ashamed.
-Insulting one's inability to insult: the whole concept of Megamind's insult pwnage comes from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, which already had several huge parallels to Megamind including having a love interest named Roxanne. I couldn't resist. Thanks to joanhello for mentioning it at the Megamind LJ community! You can find scenes of the movie (and the more recent, Steve Martin remake) on Youtube.
-George Bush: If you haven't seen Will Ferrell's Bush sketch on SNL then Youtube it. There's one regarding global warming and another with Tina Fey's Sarah Palin (ironic, no? xD)
-Egghead: from the Adam West Batman TV show, played by Vincent Price. One of my personal favorites.
-Sarah Connor: from the Terminator series.
-Roxanne's bunny teeth story: That actually happened. Sort of. It was more of a casual teasing than an incessant teasing and none of my real friends participated, but one kid did make me mad enough to hit him in the face. He didn't loose any teeth and his name wasn't Robert and he didn't move to Connecticut (as far as I know) but the rest of it was true.