You’re Funny, But…

There are only a few worse ways to start a job interview than that. Once I had a guy make me wait until he finished typing then, with a flourish, pushed away from the desk and said,

“I was a horrible writer then I dated a writer now I’m a great writer.”

Huh? I fucked a brain surgeon but I’m still a little uneasy opening up brain buckets.

What kind of sex life did they have? Fuck to the rhythm of the preposition song?

“About above across after against among around at before beside between by down during except for from in into near of off on over to toward under until you cum.”

Oh, I know there are more but who can remember all the lyrics to the Circle Jerks hit?

But the ‘you’re funny, but. . .’ is a classic. That usually follows with a litany of horrible things I am perceived to be. None of which is based on anything other than what I’ve written. There are very few people who know me who’ll say much truly bad about me mainly because, although they know I’m not all that good, I’m not averse to pulling out the old skull scalpel.

This woman said she was uneasy meeting me because of what she’s read. She had the impression I’d walk in chewing on a newborn while strangling kitties. Oh sure, you audition for the new Gong Show with your killer set and you’re marked for like.

I ask this woman, who is in the industry where she has to deal with writers, if she understands about a writers voice? She assures me she does but (she’s butting again) that I seem mean and prone to attack.

I ask her why we’re speaking? She obviously has issues with me, my craft, and baby eating kitty killers in general. She explains the producer is forcing her to speak with me before proceeding. Let me interject here that we’re not talking On Golden Pond. We’re not talking On Golden Blonde either but it is somewhere in the middle. The bottom line is he thinks I’d be good whereas she thinks I should be strapped to a table and heavily medicated (okay, so we can all agree with that assessment).

It’s usually at this moment when I say I’ll sign anything to prove we spoke. Shit, I’ll even say she made a heavy push to get me but I just can’t pull myself away from the project I’m working on, a traffic cop who does trepanation on people who text while driving.

But I need something. This may prove she’s right about me but, as always, I feel justified in fucking with her. Sure, I say terrible things but only to horrible people. I never pick on those who haven’t dosed me with a few hits of ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ I tell her she’s wrong about me. I’m actually very spiritual. Very much in touch with the vibes around me.

“I’m very into positive visualization. Every day I positively visualize the death of my wife.”

She starts to get that look. The one that says, ‘See? I knew he was an asshole.” They get so smug about it. I explain it was just a joke. I’m not into any visualization shit and I’m not even married.

“See? That’s called writing. Or making shit up. Or, more exactly, lying.”

I ask what she’s read that makes her think I’d show up wearing only a GI Joe with a kung fu grip? And, I will admit, I was impressed. She’d spent more than her time with my crap and, that alone, could turn one against me. She explains she likes my work (wait for it) but, I’m too aggressive and, she feels, volatile for her. When gently prodded she couldn’t come up with one exact bit or fragment. It was more a general asseyness.

I explain I was fortunate to find my writing voice early on. That I found a way around my lack of talent to fool people into thinking I’m doing more than typing. But, when it’s necessary to be a reporter, write in someone elses voice, do a general assignment I can. As a matter of fact, I said, I worked for a greeting card company and blew away my editor when I wrote a serious bit. It ended up being their top seller that holiday season.

“Do you see that, to paraphrase Louden Wainwright, the guy writing these stories ain’t me. So, no, I’m not a boy who’s also a bug. I’m not a thrill killer. I’ve never killed anyone on the internet. As a matter of fact, right now I’m working on a script about a bass player in a huge rock band who’s also a serial killer.”

She’s silent for a few seconds so I add,

“I mean, come on, I’m not a bass player!”

I love that heavy silence when I’ve put people into a netherland. Are they right about me? Am I fucking with them? Have they fallen into that crevasse where they will be my next fodder?

Yep.

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18 responses to “You’re Funny, But…

  1. So that is what they were going for with “on the top” “with a friend” “over the rainbow” “in the crack” . Who knew?

  2. I knew! See? Who says you can’t learn around here?

  3. I disagree.

    I think you should be strapped to a table and only lightly medicated.

  4. you have a lovely way with people!

  5. I’m seriously fucking afraid of you.

  6. Strapping you to the table works for me!

  7. Me frightening? Look what you people have been saying!

  8. Exactly…Although I happen to know you would never pull out the old skull scalpel…unless you knew it was rusty.

    For trephining I have a new attachment for my cordless deWalt.
    Promises to complete 30 per hour.

    The cop can only finish 16 (15 in the clip, 1 in the chamber) before reloading.

  9. See? That’s why I tell you what I’m doing. There’s always someone out there who can make my job easier.

  10. WTF is wrong with scaring the shit out of people and leaving them wondering if the devil is handing you your material? Good god, we don’t want to be stuck with the writing of the Brady Bunch for our daily dose of entertainment.

    I personally think your best jabs are the ones that fly over the intended targets head, leaving them wondering IF they should be offended or if they should just flee.

  11. And yet I’ve hired you anyway…twice. For credible companies like Blockbuster and Home Interiors. (Okay, “credible” might be taking it too far.)

    WTF is wrong with ME! I’m liking the table and medication idea more for myself.

  12. And don’t think I’m not waiting for you to get your masters (doctorate? Evil genius? I can’t keep up with all your degrees) get another job, hire me AGAIN so I can strap you to the virtual table and medicate you once again!

    Here’s a true story about Surqu and I.

    I was supposed to meet up with her and her husband when they were passing through Boston. The day before was the 4th of July so I was at a friends for a BBQ. I’m sitting there with a bunch of people when their pitbull got out. No one seemed unduly concerned and, of course, THEY shouldn’t have been.

    For whatever reason this dog, who I’d met on plenty of occasions, decided to bite me on the calf. It hurt a little, there wasn’t much blood, just puncture wounds really. My girlfriend was more pissed about my pants ripping. The dog had all his shots so I washed it off and went back to the day.

    The next morning I get up happy I’m going to meet up with my good friend. I place my right foot on the floor to start my day. All is good. I place my left foot on the floor and exclaim, to anyone within earshot and thousands of people who weren’t,

    “Why in gawds name are the monsters who live under my bed lighting my leg on fire?”

    Have you ever burned yourself with a lighter? Then you’re a pussy. If you’ve ever burned yourself with a flame thrower, yeah, you’re the one who sorta understands what I was going through.

    I look at my calf and it’s swollen. It’s not infected but the leg is reacting as if it didn’t appreciate those puncture wounds. I figure I have a few hours before I hear from Surqu, I heal quick, I’ll sit down for a while and heal.

    The phone rings, I get up and immediately it feels as if my calf is birthing a cow. I get the phone and, as gamely as possible, try to explain, as much as I’d love to get drunk (hell, about this time I wouldn’t have been above copping heroin) on this lovely day in Boston with two wonderful people, the chances I could walk to the door are less than good.

    I’m sitting there telling her this story knowing she must have thought I was totally full of shit. I mean, what are the odds?

    Turns out, in my life, even money.

    So, that’s the true story of why I allowed Surqu and her husband to get drunk in Boston without me.

    My loss.

  13. Betme: I personally think your best jabs are the ones that fly over the intended targets head, leaving them wondering IF they should be offended or if they should just flee.

    That’s actually my favorite. Just that little nugget bouncing in their head that tells them what I said sounds offensive but they just can’t figure it out in time for a response.

    But I do have to correct you about one thing. The devil doesn’t ‘hand’ me my material. There’s a heavy payment involved.

    How do you think things like Brady Bunch get written? It’s payment for being able to quiver someone’s uvula.

  14. It’s great that you’re so able to rise above this kind of crap. The “great writer” typing guy who made you wait is just the kind of asshole that the world needs less of. I bet the last sentence he typed before the flourish was “OK, now that what’s his name guy is in my office.” His great writing comes from his great life.

    On the other hand, it’s well-known that baby eating kitty killers tend to make poor employees. Mediocrity is a reasonably achievable goal for me. Why struggle with perfection?

    “Help, I’ve fallen into a crevasse and I can’t get up!”

  15. That entire interview process sucked. I talked to everyone in the friggin’ office. I took a bunch of those standardized editing and writing tests.

    The woman whose job I was editing said she didn’t feel a man could fill her position. ISM alert! ISM alert! I always laugh to myself when things like that happen because if I’d said it I would have been skinned.

    I’m walking from one insipid interview to another (biggest concern: they wouldn’t have to learn anything, would they?) until I asked the HR person what time it was.

    I was blown away. I’d already been there for three hours and now my time was drawing close. I had another job and couldn’t mess that one up (they were paying me). But they still had some people for me to talk to so I pushed on.

    It was about now (because I was totally disoriented. The walls were stark white and the offices weren’t that much more inviting) I saw a theme. Everyone asked me if I’d met or told me things about ‘great writer.’

    The consensus (including from the founder of the company who was, by that time, more of a figurehead but a very nice man. He was the only one who told me he didn’t like the guy and to watch out for him because he’d stab me in the back at the first opportunity. Other people would say things like, “Ah, yes, he is gruff BUT he plays Santa at the company party!” I’ve always called that the getting into heaven move) was he was difficult. I didn’t care. I’d already decided not to take the job (if interviews are like this how would it be to order pens?) but I wanted to see it through.

    When I’m leaving I asked the receptionist if she had any questions for me. She looked stricken. She asked what I was talking about. I told her everyone in the company had asked questions so I didn’t want to leave her out. She points her head to an office behind me where everyone was meeting. They’re all looking at me. I smiled, leaned over to the receptionist and said,

    “I don’t care. I’m not taking the job anyway.” I leaned in closer and said, “I’m telling you because receptionists know everything first.”

    David, you will be hearing from representatives of NAOBEKK in the near future. Oh sure, in our dark past we may have had some members who may have been poor employees but now, generally, we keep our life-style to our personal times.

  16. Sounds like a pretty fractious crew. Not taking the job sounds like a good choice.

    That’s way cool how you told the receptionist. 😀 That’s like right out of a, well, movie script, dude.

    I google NAOBEKK and come up hitless. It asks did I mean “NOBEL”?

  17. Well, the NAOBEKK (National Association Of Baby Eating Kitty Killers), as you’d expect, likes to keep a low profile.

  18. Fair enough. I guess the inventor of dynamite could have been a Baby Eating Kitty Killer in his spare time. It would just figure that they’d name some big prize after him, huh?

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