Why I feel this languor I do not know. I have achieved all that a beachball could ever hope to achieve. They cheer my advances! They laugh, open-mouthed and in earnest, at the slap of my vinyl body against their outstretched palm! Yet, as I whir past their eager, groping hands, bounding through the charged atmosphere of the Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Marriot, I feel a great and terrible ennui.
I was a philosophy major, you know.
I was particularly keen on the existentialists—Sartre, De Beauvoir, Kierkegaard. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom,” and all that tosh. I can’t say my former studies haven’t served me well in my current line of work as the beachball tossed out at corporate sales events. Bouncing from hand to hand to the grand salute of a stadium anthem felt transcendent at times. In those moments, I was the eye of the tiger.
I did have dreams though of getting my MFA and then, perhaps, a Ph.D. Maybe something that unearthed the moral certitude of the apocalyptic narratives of the Vulgate Cycle? Oh, I don’t know. “Society cares about the individual only insofar as he is profitable.” The young champions of industry that I entertain during each team offsite certainly know this truth. Why then has it taken me so long to realize this for myself?
When I search my memory, I recall a time I found it all very exciting. What beach ball wouldn’t? Outside of being chosen as one of the cast balls on Bachelor in Paradise it is the highest professional peaks for a sphere of my kind. In all honesty, I’m good at what I do. Very good. I’ve been proven to increase the brash grit required to sell any number of soon forgotten widgets by 84%. In 2010, I was able to get Steve Jobs to tell his sales team that they were “crushing it.” A phrase he swore to himself he’d never say.
Once, I’d overhead a bright-faced salesperson whisper to their colleague that a single, solitary caress of my slick flesh during Daft Punk’s “One More Time” had the power to increase their commission by 15%. I dined out on that for months. Their greedy fingers reaching, full of hope, buoyed me. My ego, I’m ashamed to say, grew swollen during my tender-footed years. Now, deflated and dull, I feel only pity for the thick-walled young show ball I once was.
One finds so little joy in chants of “We killed it, bro!” after a decade in this business. Their competitive spirits bore me. Do they not know that they sell widgets to other widget makers? (You wouldn’t think it from their cries of “Excelsior!”, but that is the condition of their cause.) I want to cry out to them, “This will not heal you!” Yet, I remain silent. I see myself—an aging fool gamboling across an unnamed sea of bodies to the beat of an EDM cover of Queen’s “We are the Champions.” Corporate logos, like pelts, flash across the projector screen, the tribe has done well for themselves this year. At what cost to their souls, I wonder?
I am no better than Flexible Time Off (FTO). We are shams—ignoble and naive. We fancied ourselves corporate renegades, sculptors of delight carved out of the grey smear of suits that surrounded us. Consumed us, more like it. Gosh, I don’t remember the last time I was able to get FTO to skive off for an early evening cocktail. We used to go to a great little dive just off of Main. You know the one, between the false cherry and the cigar store. Two fresh-faced idealists—our bond forged by a mutual love for discussing anarcho-syndicalist notions over a Negroni or two. We were just kids then. Stupid. Happy.
Oh, how I wish I could just get stuck in the rafters of one of these godforsaken airport hotels! FTO thinks I’m insane to wish for this, but to live amongst the rebellious balloons and tittering sparrows of a Grand Hyatt can’t be much worse than the tedium of corporate entertainment! Perhaps this is where my nirvana lives? Perhaps this is where I will finally find peace.