"A perfectly silly, genius idea" -- David Letterman

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tom Hanks

"Steve, Tom Hanks on line one."

I sighed.  It had been a long day and I was finally packing up to leave One CelebriGum Plaza.  "Can you tell him I'll call him back tomorrow?"

"He says it's urgent."

Far below my 89th floor office, the lights of Manhattan glittered.  I had glamorous places to be.  But I picked up the phone.

"Hi, Tom, what's up?"

"Steve, as I'm sure you've heard, I was recently ranked the most trusted person in America by Reader's Digest.  So you can trust me when I tell you that CelebriGum needs work."

"Really?  What kind of work?  I mean, I think it's going well; I've had some good entries recently -- "

"Exactly.  Steve, the problem is that CelebriGum has in fact gotten too good.  Eye-catching, artistic entries like Paris Hilton and Jack Hanna have strayed from your mission statement.  Right there at the top of the page, it says "mediocre photos."  You upgraded from the lousy cell phone to the pretty good point-and-shoot to the fancy camera, with the result that there's less and less mediocrity.  You've forgotten what made everyone fall in love with CelebriGum: the gritty, slapdash charm."

"Wow.  I hadn't thought of that, Tom.  What can I do?"

"Here's what's going to happen.  I'm going to help you make a dazzlingly mediocre entry."

"First, I'm going to arrive suddenly and bolt right for the stage door, allowing you only a fleeting glimpse of my ankle as I disappear inside.  Forget mediocre; we're already at awful."

"But we don't want awful!  Or do we?  Tell me, Tom!  You're so trustworthy!"

"Relax, it gets better.  But only a little.  As I leave, you'll get a decent shot.  However, I'll have other people around me so the composition is jumbled and not particularly pleasing.  I'll time my exit so you have too much light on the window ledge, and not quite enough on the street.  I'll let you get the side of my face, but -- this is important -- make sure the focus is just a bit soft."

"For the next shot, I'll be turned away, and mostly lost in the blackness of the car.  Here's where further blur can really help CelebriGum scream "amateur"."

"Ah, yes.  Pretty sure I remember how to do "amateur"."

"Regain your focus for the last shot, by which time I'll be getting into the car.  It won't be very interesting, but that's beside the point.  What you need -- what we all need -- is that potent combination of the supremely absurd concept and the indifferent quality photos."

"Can I still have a really good-looking entry sometimes?"

"Sure, just not too often.  Mostly you should stick with the proven formula: so-so pictures, mildly clever commentary."

"That's what people like?"

"Yeah.  I'm not sure why, but they do.  Okay, gotta go."

"Thanks, Tom.  I mean it."

"See you in a few days.  Don't screw this up."

"I won't.  Goodnight."

I hung up and looked at the last glow of sunset over the Hudson.

I wouldn't screw it up.  I'd get it right for the fans, for Tom, and for all the other celebrities.

And for Reader's Fucking Digest, dammit.


  1. Steve, Shitt Fuckson is on line one. He doesn't like the last sentence of your entry.

    1. Yeah, well, Shitt called me privately one line 2 -- the line I told him to use for personal calls -- to assure me that his public outrage was just for political show. We both know CelebriGum is untouchable.

  2. Tom Hanks.... Is there anything he doesn't know?

    1. He knows everything, including the Socratic Paradox: "I know that I know nothing."

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