I H A T E T
O B O T H E R
Y O U
M R. G E R G E N,
B U T
W O N ' T Y O U
P L E A S E
P U L L O N M Y
F E E T A L
I T T L E ?
BY HARRY J. TIPPLE
- - - -
Pretending not to notice me fluttering
on the floor for my lost contacts, digging and pecking at the carpet
like a poor lonely mockingbird with clipped wings, my boss, David Gergen,
continued yelling into his hands-free cellular telephone, making excuses
to his wife about obscure acts of pleasure involving tiny pussy cats
and fat laughing clowns with large round fingers. Finally he kicked
me in the ribs.
"You're my hardest worker, young man," he said, slipping on his shiny
Adidas tracksuit. "Perhaps it'll all pay off some day. But this office
is not your bedroom. What the hell do you think you're assembling down
there?" My fingers were now lodged deep into the carpet, all the way
up to my wrists. They were gradually disappearing even further. Something
like a gluey mouth was pulling them in and flies were swarming up like
sick little junkies with wings on them. I was far too embarrassed by
Gergen's private phone conversation to mention this, however, and feeling
a slight measure of guilt and paranoia over the awkward state I was
in. All I could think of was trying to be funny.
"What does it look like I'm doing bossman?" I said, "I'm digging for
gold." I looked up and instantly regretted the comment. Gergen had taken
out his coveted golden bowling ball and begun to polish it. He frowned.
"Don't you mean that what you're doing is getting old?" I was now into
the murky carpet all the way up to my elbows, but Gergen had found a
second golden bowling ball and was holding the two of them between his
legs like enormous testicles, gently lifting each one and glancing back
and forth as though trying to decide which he found more pleasing. This
humiliated me beyond words. Obviously this second bowling ball was mine
-- the one Gergen had called "too light" to apply his patent spin to
before screaming, "Remove it from my sight!" When had he retrieved it
from the dumpster and applied this cheap coat of paint? As I desperately
tried to hold my face away from the furry sucking floor I managed to
say, "I'm telling you chief, there are whole worlds down here.
Who knows what we might discover? Nevertheless, I'm having a terrible
time finding my contacts."
Gergen got up on the desk as though it were a stage. Was he preparing
to deliver another of his self-conscious diatribes instead of actually
helping me? Swinging the bowling balls like heavy ineffectual wings,
he said, "That's no place to look for contacts son." For a second, he
actually became airborne. "After I finish my morning exercises, I'll
let you take a peek at my rolodex. But only a peek. I've got a meeting
in a few minutes. I really can't be bothered."
My shoulders were now nearly beneath the moist sticky carpet, my head
cocked back at a very unwholesome angle. Clearly there had been a misunderstanding
of some kind. Without disturbing Gergen's routine by making too much
noise, I desperately tried to get leverage with my knees. Far below
I could feel little teeth affectionately nibbling at my hands as though
in preparation for bigger, juicier bites to come. Beyond the two-way
mirrored office wall, I wondered, was there even an audience for all
this flailing? Someone who might step in before it's too late?
"I would appreciate that very much sir," I said. "New contacts are always
nice. But for now, I really need to find my old ones. I can't see a
thing. I was wondering though, and I hate to interrupt you sir, but
would you possibly be willing to give me a hand down here? Maybe just
pull on my feet a little?" Gergen didn't hear me. He was now at the
final, most demanding stage of his workout, flapping his arms far up
by his secret nest in the ceiling, huffing like a mutant quail with
expensive bowling balls affixed to its wings, one of which was possibly
lighter. That might account for the slow spinning orbit he seemed to
be making around the nest, never quite reaching those unhatched eggs
he claimed to be incubating, always returning to the starting point.
This is more a guess than anything, though, nothing I can confirm. By
now I was being slobbered on by a thousand angry mouths. "Mom always
said to reach for the stars son," he thundered for the last time. "Now
go away, I'm busy."