Excerpt #2: As I stand here self-conscious

 

Don Ph-Close-up--female-eating-banana-600-webAs I stand here self-conscious that any living soul or domestic animal, should see me like this, who comes gliding down the driveway looking like a southern version of Cary Grant—no make that Gregory Peck 

but my new boss, the head of the McDonald & Campbell creative department and cofounder of this hot shot ad agency: Gregory Lunsford Campbell, III. Looking better than either Grant or Peck. Looking like the real deal southern gentleman—whom I will come to find out he is.

“Will Stallworth, so glad you’re here!”

I hastily wipe the remnants of the inexplicable accident off my mouth and chin. By the way, I forgot to mention that today is the 25-year anniversary of this esteemed advertising agency. A big banner stretches across the driveway: Welcome Ya’ll and Thanks for 25 Magnificent & Charming Years. M&C, get it?

“Glad to be here, Gregory. Congratulations on surviving a quarter century in this whacked-out business.”

Gregory saunters up to me and does what

Gregory does with friends, family members and mere acquaintances—he gives me a huge bear hug—warm and sincere. I like it, even though it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Tall and lanky, he carries himself with that particular stiff-legged walk that athletes sometimes do.

Although 64, he’s blessed with a full head of dark brown hair, speckled with grey. His jaw line is squared off, his teeth straight and white from a routine of blitzing every night with Arm & Hammer baking soda ever since he read about the technique in Readers Digest at 16. His eyes are hazel and penetrating. They sit over a slightly down-turned nose. His voice carries a southern lilt. Not overdone. Then, there’s the aroma of Old Spice aftershave that tickles your nostrils long after he’s gone.

“So, what do you think about the news on Southeast- ern Cellular?” he asks.

“I gotta’ tell ya’, getting into a pitch for a $100 million account is a humongous deal for any ad agency. For this ad agency, which is barely $95 million all in, I’d say you guys have to be proud as can be.”

Gregory looks down at his feet and ruminates as we walk up the driveway. I’d soon come to find out that Gregory is a big ruminator—he thinks things over in his mind one trillion times before he acts. Me, I’ve got the patience of a traumatized tsetse fly.

“Yeah, I’m excited all right, but I’ve never felt like such an underdog before,” he says.

“We are a huge underdog, Gregory! But there’s beauty in that. None of the big agencies will have any idea what our pitching strategy will be. And they’ll underestimate our talent, because they are arrogant bastards that don’t know what they don’t know. Shit, they drink their own bathwater.

I’ve pitched against these guys too many times. They always, always fuck in the missionary position. But we’ll be laying some Kamasutra moves on the client she’s never even imagined before. And she’s gonna’ love it.”

Gregory smiles his gentlemanly smile at the risqué metaphor. I put my arm around his shoulder and eyeball him.

“Plus, the work my team did for Lara Blessing, Southeastern’s new marketing VP, when she was my client at Advent Computer, made her a superstar and helped her get this major job. Not to mention, she seriously has the hots for me.”

He blushes and says, “For a $100 million account, I swear, Will, I’d French kiss the Pope.”

Gregory cracks up at his own joke, and his laughter is so endearing that I crack up. We’re standing there at the top of this long driveway guffawing like two baboons sharing a joint. Tears stream down our cheeks, and we can’t get a grip on ourselves. A couple of people walk by and stare at us, see that it’s the boss, and smile amicably, even though they are thinking: What are these two jackasses cackling about?


 
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