Welcome, one and all, welcome, and what we have here for you is one of many, though the one is that of Mr. Joe Meno, a pristine creation re: a worker in a wolfman mask in meeting with his boss, while pining over his lost girl: tis beautifully, wonderfully simian. Broadside #9 arrived in October 2002, toured the eastern U.S. with Mr. Joe Meno himself, THE2NDHAND Editor Todd Dills, and Jim Munroe, likewise honoring the latter's lately-released 'Everyone in Silico.' Visit www.nomediakings.org for details on this quite magnificent endeavor. Suffice it to say we are proud of her, #9. She's thick and shiny-glossy.
Also in this issue: a letter from Ernie Baxter to a generation of online churchgoers, by the illustrious Adam Voith (www.TNIBooks.com); some new jams from first- and second-issuers Amber Sharick and Germania Solorzano, dealing with, variously, a winter retreat to Nicaragua and a man pulling a fast one on a defenseless animal. The Dog Gets Fleabane Tea, indeed. To order, please send $1, U.S.A. to:
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And enjoy the selection. Commence...
IMPROVE YOUR PERSONALITY WITH A NOVELTY WOLFMAN MASK
Things been bad at work lately. I started wearing a Wolf Man mask the day after we lost the much-anticipated "Sterling FlameProof Cosmetics" account, when usually chipper Pete McDougal, glasses fogged with tears, broke down, and began screaming, "This isn't living, people! This isn't living!" just a few short minutes after he got called into Mr. Aspen's office. I felt I had to do something. I'm no Pete McDougal. Heck, I'm no Bill Langley, either. I'm not even as good as Westheimer, who's a groveling, sniveling, kiss-ass and the butt of all our jokes. I haven't come up with a solid pitch in months. To be honest, I've just stopped giving a damn. Sheila wanted a baby. I didn't. So she left. I've got a postcard here tacked to my desk with a palm tree and a lady golfer on it from Sheila a few months after she moved out to Palm Springs. She's getting remarried or so the postcard says anyway.
After Pete McDougal crawled to his cubicle and began packing up his personal affects, I knew the time to act was now. Like you know, it was just past Halloween and all the drugstores were still full of Halloween junk, so I went down to PharmCo on the corner, bought a cheap, plastic, brown Wolf Man mask, and in the elevator going back up, I put it on. I don't know why I did any of these things. I just thought, well, I thought if they saw me with this mask on, they wouldn't know what to do and so they'd leave me the hell alone. Like I said, things have been bad around here the last few months. Andy Young, the guy who was on my team for the Hair-On hairspray account, which we did win, but no one looks at the wins, only the losses, right? well, Andy had hung this big black and white photo of Mussolini in his cubicle after Mr. Aspen said Andy wasn't a team player, and after that, well, no one said anything to him. I was thinking I would do the same thing with the mask, I think.
"People" in the office began talking about "my mask" right away. Mostly the kind of people you would expect would, like Westheimer, and a few of those dolled-up oral-sex experts some people refer to as secretaries around here. As you might have guessed, there were rumors right away, rumors and innuendoes and a lot of gossiping, so this is just to clear the air, so to speak.
About our office, if you didn't know: there are a lot of pricks that work here. Statling and Sons are the best ad-men in the city, if not the country, but the people that work here can go blow as far as I'm concerned. They are, for the most part, a bunch of "backstabbing hate-mongers", and if they see you getting ahead, they'll go out of their way to make sure you get knocked back down pretty quick. Do you know that popular radio jingle, "Boy, you'll really love your life/when you own CutCo Knives?" That one was one of ours. But the guy who wrote it, McClelland, he got fired right afterwards because someone sent an anonymous note to Mr. Aspen detailing McClelland's various nocturnal activities with some of the sleazy secretaries. Now everyone in the office knew McClelland was having at it with some of the secretaries. Everybody is having at it with the secretaries. But some jealous prick had to go and sandbag McClelland and put it in writing and that was that.
In our office proper, I feel like I'm something of an outsider. Most of the guys here are young, brash, smart-mouthed go-getters, fraternity boys, you know the kind; sharply-dressed, fresh-faced, they wear expensive black leather shoes that seem to say, "I'm going places, you weak, divorced, chronic masturbator. I'm having sex with a real girl later on today and then I'm going golfing. So you can either step aside or watch me walk over your weak, pasty body." Hell. I don't have a spring in my step anymore. I'm fucking tired. I'm fucking tired and alone. I mean at work, there are plenty of people around, a whole fleet of admen, and pitchmen, and designers, and slutty secretaries and easy personal assistants, but the way the office is set up, there are these rows and rows and rows of small white cubicles, with high narrow walls, which means you can't carry on a conversation with anybody. Shit, I mean I've eaten dinner by myself for the last two years, every night. Do I have to be alone here, too? Do I? Because every day, I sit in quadrant four, all alone, beside sweaty Ben Dolkes, who's fifty pounds overweight and thinks he's going to be canned next because he accidentally took home a stapler last year. What kind of life is this I ask you?
Well, a blonde girl that Dolkes knows in accounting mentioned there was going to be hell to pay for blowing the Sterling FlameProof Cosmetics account, and poor ol' Pete McDougal was only going to be the first in a long line of some serious corporate blood-letting. Dolkes leaned over to me that morning and said, "Take a good look around, bub. By tomorrow, half of us will be gone." I nodded, and looked down at his shoes and saw poor ol' Dolkes was at least trying to seem young, sharp, vibrant, hip. He had gone out and gotten a new pair of those fancy leather black and whites and man, they did make him look a little better. I decided on my lunch break to run out and buy myself some new shoes, you know, because what the hell? but when I got down to the street, I lost track of what I was supposed to be doing, because, well, I saw an advertisement on a bus and it was of a lady tennis player and the ad reminded me of Sheila and well, to be honest, I'm still not over that one, and I was worried, I was worried as hell about losing my good-for-nothing job, and somehow I headed into the PharmCo instead. I spent the last ten bucks I had on the Wolf Man mask and as I was riding the elevator back up, I pulled the plastic mask over my head. As soon as it was on, I felt totally different. I was breathing louder. I felt my posture become more rigid, more aggressive. I felt totally indestructible suddenly. What I really felt was that some people better get the hell out of my way or I would be going for their jugulars. And everyone did. Everyone stepped aside and no one hassled me for taking ten extra minutes for my lunch break and when Westheimer, in his little blue suit, came by to complain about the Firebrand Tire copy taking longer than I had said, he just looked at me and kept on walking.
After lunch, of course, there was muttering and all kinds of pointing and eventually, as you might have guessed, Aspen, the dusty-lipped, cobwebbed-mouthed, older-than-God office manager, asked to see me in his blank little office.
"Um, yeah, Gary, we were wondering if you wouldn't mind taking that mask off?"
"Yeah, I'd like to but I can't do that, Mr. Aspen."
"Well, Gary, you're making the people around you very uncomfortable. It seems unnecessarily aggressive."
"It's just part of my personality, you know? It just says, 'Hey, I'm a fun kind of guy. Hey, I like masks.'"
"Well, Ms. Freeburg, your team's secretary, asked to be re-assigned until you removed it from your person."
"No can do, Mr. Aspen."
"Well, you do see this is going to be a problem, Gary?"
"No, sir, not at all. It just like a tie-clip or piece of jewelry. Westheimer wears a tie-clip, doesn't he? Well, doesn't he?"
"I believe he does, Gary."
"Well, then," I said, nodding behind the plastic mask. It was hard to breathe when you had to talk behind the damn thing.
"I see. Well, you're not going to budge on this, Gary?"
"No, sir. And I'm sure I don't have to, but let me remind you of company policy concerning personal appearance and hygiene. As long as it doesn't interfere with my work, right?"
"Well, that's what it says, Gary, but I really don't see...well, I guess I'll have to let you get back to work, Gary."
"Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Aspen." I waved at him and shut the door behind me, grinning, though no one could tell what the hell I was doing.
People couldn't deal with the mask, though, and by the end of the week, Aspen was going crazy. "You're not going to take off the mask today, Gary? I mean I think you've made your point, whatever it is supposed to be, Gary."
"I really need to get back to work, Mr. Aspen."
"Damnit, Gary, I will transfer you down to the mail room if you continue on with this foolishness!"
"Go for it, Mr. Aspen. I know three lawyers right now that would get a hard-on bringing forth a personal discrimination suit of this nature."
"Well, then, what do you want? What can I do to get you to take off that goddamned mask?" The office was very quiet at this point. Aspen's old, dry face was sunk in like a skull, his white fair falling over his shiny little forehead. His wrinkled hands were kneading his throbbing temples and he was trying to regain his professional, business calm, by breathing deeply.
"Re-hire Pete McDougal and get that sniveling Westheimer off my ass."
"You know I can't rehire McDougal. As for Westheimer, well, he's one of our best people."
"Well, then I can't take off the mask."
The old man shook his head, picked up a pen, set it down, then looked at me, nodding. "Why are you being so difficult here, Gary? Don't you want to be a team player? In order for all of us to be the best office we can be, we need to work together as a team."
I thought just then, of: Sheila, in a pink bathing suit, with black sunglasses on, her red hair tied back in a pony-tail, and her new hubby, a bald guy, maybe, in a white terry-cloth robe, playing tennis together, and her soft red mouth, opening and closing with peals of laughter, as the ball is hit back and forth, and already, inside her womb, a little pink baby is growing, and we were a team, weren't we? We really were a team. But maybe not. Maybe not. Then again, maybe she wasn't getting remarried at all. She had lied before, when I had first met her. She had said she was married so I would leave her alone. So maybe, well, maybe. I spoke up, just then: "I want a ticket to Palm Springs and I want to never see any of you back-stabbing pricks again."
"Done. Done. Will you take off the mask now, Gary? Gary?"
But I had already turned and was running from the office, alive, alive for one moment, and howling.