So this morning I'm doing what I do, checking the news headlines and drinking coffee. The first part of this ritual is probably ver bad for my health. The Guardian, which I like a lot, is sporting an ad for something called "The Barefoot Writer." With extreme trepidation, I click on the link.
I sit through an audio pitch from a woman sitting on a beach. She used to have 120k worth of debt and an office job that was so bad she didn't have time to stop and have children. Now, since finding The Barefoot Writer she gets fancy pedicures and goes on vacation all the time.
Listening to this, I am instantly thrust back through the years to "The Amway Horror."
Amway was one of the original and biggest pyramid schemes of all time. I discovered it while working a job in the early 80's. I had two bosses, a good one and a creepy one. The good one was always touting particular soap products, but not in an overly heavy way. Just whenever some soap-requiring problem happened, whether it was motor oil or chocolate on somebodies clothing, he'd grab some stuff, pronounce its name several times and after touting its wonderful properties, slop it on the stain. Even when it didn't work, which seemed like most of the time, he'd praise its stainpower removing prowess. Being an underling, I always held back from saying things like "but the stain's still there!" Instead agreeing enthusiastically and changing the subject.
I was only 19 or 20 and really looking for a promotion. I'd been working there a couple of years and even though I was doing my best to show what a go-getter I was, working overtime, pitching in on projects I wasn't responsible for just to show the old team spirit, bla bla bla, I got passed over again and again. Always, oddly enough, by whatever female my other, creepy boss, happened to be sleeping with. This was a long time ago and nobody every talked about that sort of thing back then.
But I digress, as I am wont to do these days. Younger, cockier writers point their fingers and make fun of people like me. They never digress. But do you know why? They don't have anyplace to digress to. When you're older, every boulevard leads to endless streets crisscrossed by multiple avenues and alleys with twists and turns, filth and cast-offs, empty wine bottles and the occasional dead body. Do any of you whippersnappers know how much monumental effort it takes under such circumstances, not to digress? The shut up.
Okay, back to it. One day I'm sitting in a kennel. I've just finished feeding a bunch of elephant seal pups, which is a really hard job because elephant seals are as dumb as mud and if you don't stick a fish in their mouths at the right time they'll bite you. I get up to leave and as I'm closing the gate behind me, my creepy boss comes along and says, "Catherine, there's something I want to talk to you about." My heart fills with joy and so much anticipation I can hardly stand it. Finally, I'm going to get that promotion. I'll be in the union, full health benefits, making 11 dollars an hour (good money back then). I might even be able to buy a new car, one that has a reverse gear (my 1968 Saab did not). Life will be beautiful and all my problems will be solved! "I know your pay isn't much and it's probably hard sometimes..." Oh boy, oh boy here it comes. When do I start? Do I get new shirts, wellington boots? My picture on the union card?
"My girlfriend and I have gotten involved with something that is really amazing and we are raking in the cash. This product is so good it practically sells itself. Have you ever heard of Amway?
I felt like 9 bowling pins all knocked over at the same time.
Not that The Barefoot Writer works exactly like Amway. Amway was the classic pyramid scheme where the people at the top make money from getting others to sell the shit. The Barefoot Writer sucks the last bit of marrow out of desperate writers' bones by selling them interminable classes so that when they finally and ultimately fail, which statistically 99% of them do, it must be their fault for not utilizing the information sold to them via podcasts and seminars, correctly.
Well, it's time to get going. This is only a blog so I don't have to come up with any unifying or profound conclusion. I just have to get out of my jammies, probably call my mother, then go to the pool and swim off the ennui just caused by reminding myself of that story. I was real skinny back then, and my faded brown work pants covered with herring scales. The sun by the seaside is gentle, the air cool. Funny the things you remember.