My New Compass Ring / 25 June 2002

Andrea called me in for a quick sit-down this morning. The enforced casualness of Andrea somehow ten times more brutal than if we’d gone by surnames. (My dreams are clogged with low-ceilinged offices, ties of solid colors, surnames being barked — so sweet.) Josh, she says. “Josh, you’re tight with the other Josh. Am I right or what. And let’s say someone asked you to rank his personal integrity. Low, mid, high, small, medium, extra-large, what.” I say he’s a stand-up fellow, though everyone in the office knows I resent him for getting the josh email address while I’m stuck with josha, something my mother sometimes calls me.

“True or false, he deals with his environment in an honest and straight-ahead manner.” True, I say, falling into her trap, because then: “Yeah well it’s been brought to my attention that the other Josh has manufactured every single user-testing report ever. All those focus groups never even existed.” I am aghast and tell her so. What about the transcripts and psychological analyses? What about all those shouts we heard in the conference room? What about the videotaped testimonials? “All faked. He played all the parts, wore wigs, did all the voices, created characters out of thin air, backed them up with doctored IDs and credit histories.”

My god, I say. The other Josh, he’s a genius. “I know,” Andrea says. “The other Josh is the most beautiful man I’ve ever met. I want you to give him this.” And she hands me a large plastic ring with a tiny compass embedded in it. It has trouble locating magnetic north. I accept the ring, nod, and take my leave. I wear it home, sitting in such a fashion that everyone on the airship can easily see it.

Joshua Green Allen

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