Master of Mind

Posted in Uncategorized by anna on August 26, 2009

This is about a man we’ll call the CEO.

The problem started in 1993, the summer that he founded the company and David was born (listed in order of importance). The first twenty employees were fresh out of graphic arts programs, designers and developers eager to claim their patch of the unexplored Internet. Once the company took off, the CEO’s wife Dannica converted the dining room into an office and started running her charity work from home. Her contact at UNICEF was number two on the kitchen speed dial. Shanghai Kitchen was number three, and the CEO often found himself accidentally ordering chow fun from Oumar, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh.

The first order of business was the company t-shirts.

The just-hired 24-year-old creative director created the logo and displayed it in 7-foot projection in the conference room for the CEO’s approval. The sedign was simple: the company name and, underneath, a little lightbulb with wings.

“A. Flying. Idea.” The creative director said, emphasizing the words in the air with his hands.

“Where’d you go to school again?”

“Kansas State.”

Every Friday was mandatory company t-shirt day. Ubiquity was key. They’d just launched an account with Zima, and the CEO knew it was because he had made a point of scattering bottles throughout the office, even in the bathrooms.

He wrote it off as coincidence the first Friday. There was this junior biz girl named Regina who smoked weed in the bathroom and never washed her hair in the morning because she always overslept and dashed into the boiling subway at five to nine. The first time it happened, she came to his office to drop off some files. The summer of 1993 was hot as fuck because they were still signing the invoices with Cool Breeze and Regina had rolled and tied the hem of her company t-shirt just above the waistline of her jeans.

She bent over his shoulder to indicate “sign here” with her pen and he felt his dick harden. Like with a cartoon noise, practically. Sproiiiingg. But she was cute enough, he told himself, in an offbeat kind of way, a Sarah Jessica Parker-in-Square-Pegs kind of way, that it was an isolated incident.

Unfortunately this was not so.

Pamela, the company accountant, came in every Friday to pick up the invoices. She was heavy, in her 50s with a faded brown bowl cut and had always reminded the CEO of Kathy Bates in “Misery.” But one Friday she was wearing a company t-shirt and baseball cap, and as she waddled past his office the same affliction struck him, a mix of arousal and embarrassment with an intensity that he hadn’t experienced since adolescent summers at Jew Camp.

The CEO never spoke to Dannica about the problem because she always seemed busy with Operation Smile. At some point during the last two months, anonymous scrappy Hispanic middle-schoolers with overbites had taken priority over their marriage. Not that he had a problem with Hispanics.

One Friday in mid-August, in the middle of a sales pitch, the CEO got a boner from Kevin Kachich in Human Resources walking by the glass window in his company sweatshirt. It was the most profoundly disturbing thing his body had ever done to him. He’d never done anything to deserve that. He got fifty-dollar haircuts, ate California rolls for lunch, had a membership at Crunch, and before his marriage had enjoyed sex with (not too many, just enough) women (of similar age and socioeconomic class).

Let me say that again, because he’d want me to— he enjoyed sex with women.

This betrayal took him to the edge of sanity. Why was this happening, this love of his own image, this idol worship? Where did it end? Would he get an erection from a dog wearing his company’s t-shirt? His children? He didn’t dare test these theories, but obsessed about them. He canceled mandatory t-shirt Fridays and sat at his desk on panicky autopilot for months. He considered therapy, but it was too self-indulgent. He considered divorce, but it was too expensive.

Then one Sunday morning he woke up with such a deep feeling of clarity it was like he’d spent three years in meditation with Tibetan monks in one night. This phrase kept repeating in his head:

“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.”

The CEO thought he’d made this up until he remembered over his breakfast grapefruit that it was a fortune cookie he’d gotten from Shanghai Kitchen recently, but this didn’t decrease its motivational value.

He promptly re-instituted mandatory t-shirt Fridays. And mandatory baseball cap Tuesdays, mandatory sweatshirt Thursdays, mandatory thermal Mondays. He was determined to be master of penis rather than mastered by penis. For the first couple weeks he shuffled around half-erect from 9 to 5, but by the fall, the affliction was gone.

And by the winter, his ability to have an erection was gone completely. He didn’t particularly mind. He was his own master again, in complete control of his impulses.

Weirdly, time moved faster now that there was no sex to break up the monotony. Over the years there were departures and new hires, cleaning companies, office assistants. No deaths, because no employees were over 30. No births, but people got dogs and bigger apartments.

The CEO promoted Regina, now a senior employee but still smoking weed, to New Biz Executive and started inviting her to his office to get high during office hours. There was no sexual attraction at all, he’d long forgotten about that. While they were stoned he usually just asked her for advice about David. He was twelve now, and starting to perpetuate the age-old teenage ritual of hating his father.