Dental Plan or No Dental Plan, I May Just Hang It Up
My job blows. I was called into my boss's office today for the third time in a month. He sat me down, let out one of his patented big obnoxious sighs, and started in on the same old complaint again. Soren, he said, this job demands the kind of dedication, insight, imagination, and outside-the-box thinking that only a few truly accomplished people possess. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. It's posted on every available surface in the hallway.) He leafed through the latest project I submitted and just sort of shook his head. He said it was "okay", but that what VowelMasters Press was looking for was the kind of writing that tore like a bullet straight into the reader's soul. It wasn't enough (he claimed yet again) to merely move a reader, or to transport them to a faraway place, or to inflame their intellect. No no, we had to destroy their very notions of themselves and of what art could accomplish in this modern world. He said I had shown a lot of promise with my novelization of Herbie Rides Again, and just as much with my novelization of Bewitched, but that since then, the others in the office had been surpassing everything I turned in. He described Marty's novelization of The Man as "scintillating" and "challenging", even though that bloated dork barely changed a single comma from the original screenplay and even misquoted some of the dialogue between Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy! Meanwhile, Sally's work adapting School of Rock to novel form was apparently "off the chart brilliant", and even Grant's 88-page Junior Readers edition of Bruce Almighty was described by my odious superior as "something that made me proud to do what I do". (I'll give him that, actually. Grant's young adult novelizations are always single-sitting reads, but come on, the man's been doing this for thirty-one years, he's a pro.) It was our sacred responsibility, Mr. Henskey droned, to present to the public the best possible prose simulation of watching a popular motion picture in the romantic or action comedy genre---did I want to be personally responsible for literally dozens of people closing our books feeling that there was a certain something missing from the experience, thus forcing them to take out their wallets yet again to buy a movie ticket? Did I think that was just? Did I enjoy stealing from those people by leaving them unable to perfectly picture each and every scene that some poor souls had to rent on DVD to see? How would I feel if I snagged a copy of Rumor Has It from Walgreen's only to find that the writing in the novelization merely recounted the wacky hijinks endured by Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner rather than let me live them? The meeting ended with Henskey handing me the script for Sister Act 3 and telling me that I could either make him laugh and cry in the same sitting or start to think about writing novelizations for a publisher with lower standards. (And no WAY am I going across the street to Gallant Verb, not with Jerkface Jarrett running things. I'm not going through THAT hell again.) My father did this for a living, and his father before him, but man oh man, if the chick who came in on Tuesdays to refill our Deer Park water cooler wasn't so smoking hot, I'd seriously think about going back to creating Seek-a-Words for Sesame Street Magazine. There was a job where you could put your head down on your pillow at night and think: Today, I made a difference.