Part 39

To: GlennTTTT

Fm: DriveBri

Re: Success Hangover

My head aches, I can’t drink enough water, and there’s a new lump above my eye. I’ve never felt better! I got the job!

Not to get philosophical, G, although I’m sure you’re soaking up the wisdom of the East there in Shenzhen (I’d love to hear what the dating scene is like for visiting Americans in a Chinese industrial city — you never know when it might come in handy). But sometimes things have to be taken away from you in order to experience how good they feel when they come back. Here’s an example: me, job.

The interview was like nothing that you would’ve imagined, or that even I would’ve imagined (since we both might admit I have the superior imagination, even though you might be the superior at surface things like story and writing). I walked into Mr. Wicker’s old office; I hadn’t been in there since I got fired, which was the only time I had ever been in there. So the memories that came flooding back were kind of a downer. I tried to psych myself back up by imagining myself as returning to the Coliseum in Rome (Italy) to take my revenge on a beast that had vanquished and killed me. But then I remembered that I was dressed like a vaquero, and I was trying to merge the cowboy outfit into the Roman thing, and then I heard Jason Gleick say, “Come in.”

He was sitting very straight on a yoga ball. My hope that he would also be dressed as a cowboy turned out, as I had feared, to be a long shot. Instead, he was dressed in a shirt and pants: businesslike. He also seemed much younger than me (at least on the outside).

He beckoned to the other yoga ball and said, “Brian Conover. Jason Gleick.”

“I know,” I said, and sat down. It was a long way down for someone of my height, and I got kind of doubled over on myself. I did not roll back and fall over, though, as I did the last time I was on a yoga ball, which had resulted in Tommy rolling it over my prostrate form (“in fun”). So, point for me.

“Thank you for seeing me,” I said.

“Your outfit is ridiculous, inappropriate,” said Jason Gleick.

I was worried the interview was starting to slip away. I frantically searched my brain for the answer to, “What would a cowboy on a yoga ball do?,” but my brain was incommunicado (not communicating).

So I said, “It’s nice. I think it’s nice.”

“Panic,” said Jason Gleick. “Brian Conover, do you want to know how I can tell you were panicked?” He didn’t wait for an answer — impolite, but not really, because if he had I wouldn’t have come up with one — and said, “Because you stopped rolling. Because you were overwhelmed by my provocative honesty, and, in your desperation, forgot you were sitting on a yoga ball. Yoga balls are truth seismographs.”

“Or lie detectors.”

“That is a very ordinary way of putting it. Even your eccentricities are fails. This is promising. How long did you work at Buzfeed?”

“It was the one that only has one ‘z’,” I said. “Just being honest.”

“I know you are, you’re rolling left a little bit,” said Jason Gleick. “What are your core competencies?”

“I’m really funny. Also,” I remembered, “I used to do this job. I can write over five puzzles or pieces of trivia a week. More, if you want me to stay late.”

“You are aware that Captive Audience Solutions is a failing business in a failing sector?”

“No.” Not a great-sounding answer, but I was worried about what direction my butt/legs combination was steering the ball, so I wasn’t fully paying attention to what I was saying.

Or was I?

Because Jason Gleick said, “Perfect. You’re exactly the man I need in this situation, Brian Conover.” He stood up. I stood up too, but in stages, unfortunately.

“Call me Brian.”

“I won’t. I use two names. We’re about to recognize the power of the dual name. The 19th century was about putting your last name on things — “

“Like ‘America,’” I said.

“Wrong in two ways. And in the 20th we talked about being on a first-name basis. The 21st century will synthesize these two thought streams, and the second name will provide differentiation and rhythm to our form of address. It’s one of my theories. I have a lot of them. They’re all correct.”

“So…I’m hired?”

He looked at me a long time. He was a little taller than you’d expect a billionaire to be — 6’3”, maybe. Lean. Not as lean as me, but maybe that’s an area I can help him in. His rimless glasses had a small blinking green light in the upper right corner. Was he recording me? Is it a new fashion? Is it to help him find them in the dark? That would have come in handy the couple of times I accidentally stepped on your glasses back at the ‘Wine (Brandywine College).

“You’ll do,” he said. “You’ll find all the forms and the NDAs in the outer office. The elevator doors won’t open until you sign them. See you Monday.”

And with that

Sorry, bro. Had to run to throw up. Epic night after I got hired! But I’m too hung (short for hungover) to get into it. Maybe a little later. But you can celebrate the fact that your boy Brian has not only gotten a job, but, as you can see, also made a friend.

— Bri

P.S. — Don’t worry though. You’re still my number one! Jason Gleick will just be the North American champion.

P.P.S. — It’s kind of weird that he knew about Buzfeed, because I didn’t put it on my resume. That guy does his homework!

P.P.P.S. — And that business about CAS being a failing business in a failing sector? Obviously it’s only to motivate me! He’s not a billionaire for nothing!