“I miss those days when my father was still there,” I think. “Back when we still lived in the dirigible, and we used to wave at people.”
Washington, D.C.: I remember being called to the Palace Plaza Hotel once before. I took the executive elevator from the courtyard. But that was impossible, I could not have been there before, because the only people that came here were expensive lawyers on job interviews. And why had I been summoned there now? Yet the blue ring of light around the elevator button was impossible not to forget.
When I got out at the top, I was greeted by a familiar voice, and I suddenly remembered it all. The man with the golden bowtie. He is bald, with a shriveled face. The bowtie is made from solid gold and has little black-and-white tips. It is actually more like a scarf than a bowtie. The man with the golden bowtie has been there all my life, as a sort of mentor, I think. No, wait, it was a job interview.
The man with the golden bowtie is furious with me, and now I remember why. “Over $900 was paid to you for services,” he says, “and all we received were these pictures.” He was from the Princeton Review. Some time ago, I had been given a job grading tests, and then immediately forgotten about it. Instead of sending them the graded tests, I sent them photos of cowboys.
The man sends me to live with my mother, telling me I need to prove myself. My “mother” turns out to be a schoolteacher I have never met, but I quickly accept my role as her son. My name, it turns out, is Milhouse, and I have a brother named Nelson. Nelson is cruel to me. He resents the fact that each night, as he begins to do the dishes, I am still buttering my bread.
The first time I meet my “mother,” I make her cry when she asks me if I like her sweater and I say it is too bright of an orange for my taste. When she gives me an opportunity to replay the scene, I say instead that it is “unusually soft,” which makes her talk about my father and the dirigible.
I find a job cleaning the baked bean remnants off lunch trays. I encourage my coworkers to learn the keytar with me, so that we can start a business recording radio jingles. I tell them I even know where to find a keytar: down the Very Wide Hallway.
The man with the golden bowtie and I have a fight in his office. I tell him he cannot find me, and he insists correctly that he can. I know he has my best interests at heart.
At a beach party, nobody will sit next to Bill Cosby. He looks depressed, and I begin to tell him he can sit by me. Then I remember that he is a rapist, and think better of it. Just then, a rousing speech begins in which the recent accomplishments of the union are listed.