I took my son to work today and they gave him my job. He looked so earnest in his Bullwinkle tie: regional vice-presidential, in fact, apparently. Stakeholder-inspiring, they called him, a paradigm shift in leaderliness. As for me, I’ve been retained for sixty days to transition him, at partial pay, beneath a crap-colored parachute. I remember when he was born, how his mother coddled him (the blankets!), how we argued during his pregnancy—yes, even that was his! Survival of the fittest, I lectured her. A new world order, she whined. He grew up conflicted. Grew up? He’s nine! What does he know about differentiating brand attributes? Enough, they tell me, more than enough, concentrate instead on making him less, how can we say this, derivative? less, can we be blunt here?: Less. Like. You. He looks at me now as if I were one of those cavemen in the diorama at the Museum of Natural History, where he peed his pants while riding my shoulders and I changed his pants and dried his tears and bought him an ice cream and mopped up the cone when he dropped it. That’s not true. I said that for sympathy. I would kill the district vice president of corporate indiscretion for that look. Truthfully, he hasn’t looked at me since Bring Your Child To Work Day when he shook the hand of the chairman of the board, who cannot remember my name, and focused his indifferent gaze on something of fleeting interest behind the chairman’s head and asked, as if by accident, How much do you make? while, at the same time, with the back of his free hand, grazing the curvy bottom of the woman who will be his right-hand man. That’s not true. I didn’t change just his pants.

Copyright ©2006 David Hodges

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