You’d think your janitor job at the local chili cheese factory would help, but it never has… until today. There’s a conference in town. A meet-and-greet for all the various folks in the cheese industry. It’ll be your rebirth into the real world. You’re going to go in there and do your best with your weapon… your words. All you needed was this opportunity.
You cross the threshold to the conference in an almost dream-like state. You gaze around. Over to the right, there’s a real A-1 cheese grater if you’ve ever seen one. As you seemingly float over to him, you briefly try to review your plan of attack, so to speak. You can’t help but panic.
What am I doing? What am I f*cking doing? All this planning and I still think I’m gonna explode in front of all this people. Like a cheesy poof. Your body starts to feel sticky, warm and confining.
Upon arriving you can regain some composure. You read his name tag. “Hi. Hello. Tony? It sure is hot as hell today. Metaphorically speaking, of course.” Tony will look you up and down. He responds cordially, “Eh, 98. Not so bad, right?”
He made a joke! And it wasn’t aimed at me. How to retort? The heavy presence of aged cheddar is making your eyes cakey. But you don’t lose your focus even if your confidence wavers a bit.
Looking at the band on stage you note, “That singer has the velvet voice of Bing Crosby.” Tony responds, “Yeah, his voice is Velveeta-smooth, heh heh.” You both laugh at his cheese humor. He pats your back and floats away towards the cheese platters.
This is good. I think I’m accepted. Your confidence is starting to build. Next you try strutting around like some kind of subtle stallion, even if your insides are coming up your throat. Betraying the strut, your eyes are darting back and forth.
This time you approach an a woman admiring a gigantic cheese statue of Michaelangelo’s David. You go over and sniff the statue up and down, back and forth. Then you say, “Ahhhhh… the sweet smell of success, in a manner of speaking.” This time your eyes are stuck in a sage squint. She laughs and applauds your cleverness. Her laughter and motions seem to echo.
What’s this? She’s laughing, too. Jackpot! You throw out some jazz hands to complete the effect. You look at your hands and discover they’re blurry and starting to disappear. You want to ignore it.
Hold on. Something’s off. I can feel it. All of a sudden you realize you’ve transformed into “The Catch Phrase Guy”, this curious and quirky Mysterioso that everyone seems to like, but no one really knows.
What’s going on? What am I doing? You start to feel sick. You start to hyperventilate and you’re so hungry, both physically and emotionally. You painfully recognize what a fake you are, trying to impress these people with trickery. You’d trade all this glory, just to really speak candidly to one person and know what to say.
You float outside. You need the air. It feels like you’re waking up from a dream.
You walk up to a man in a suit with kind eyes. “Hi, I’m Janitor Ted. How you doing?” He seems so real to you, his face, his eyes, but still an enigma. You think, “This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time.” He sticks out his hand.