As I finally finished
the next to last of the latest budget reports and looked at the clock, I couldn’t
help feeling a bit guilty. I’d sort of conned Chip into doing something that I was asked to do. I’m not in the
habit of running from anything. It’s not in my nature. But this, well, let’s just say I ran away from it as fast
as I could. It’s not that Lola owns me, but even I wasn’t brave enough to incur her wrath if I’d agreed
to be a judge at a beauty contest.
It all began when Harry
called me into his office and showed me his invitation. He’d been chosen out
of several of the more notable residents of Santa
Barbara. He knew as well as anyone that it wasn’t his money. He was, simply, famous. He showed me the recommendation from
the Public Relations Dept. that he should accept the invite. It would be good for the Institute. After all, there were still mixed feelings about NIMR by the populace. Seaview was one thing. Most everybody
agreed that she served her country against the enemies of mankind, not to mention foreign powers and terrorists. The citizenry
just didn’t always like the idea of her parked in the back yard, so to speak.
And NIMR itself had a nuclear reactor too. Not a good way to win friends and influence people, should we have a little
And so, PR thought a stint
as a judge would show folks that Harry, (and NIMR) were friends of the working girls, as he put it to me, pleading with me
to take the job off of his hands.
At first I was stumped.
You’d have thought he’d enjoy a little respite watching pretty girls
in swimsuits, dancing, singing, baton twirling, etc.
he told me, “ I don’t want the responsibility. Think of all the hurt feelings of the losers. Besides, you know
I agree with Angie that beauty contests are chauvinistic and degrading. In my position as CEO of NIMR, I certainly don’t
want to be seen judging anyone based on what they look like. What a can of worms that would open up. Think demographics. Dammed
if I vote one way, dammed if I vote another.
But, PR has a point…we’re not usually seen as real people….so…um…I
don’t suppose I can talk you in to it. As my representative?”
“You just said it
was a can of worms.”
“So it is, but it’s
also can of worms that you might be able to handle better than me. The dashing
Captain of the Seaview substitutes for me, sorry about the pun, as I have a, er…conflicting schedule. You’ll think
of something good for your acceptance reply, there’s a good man.”
He hesitated, knowing
he hadn’t really asked, more like ordered me to take up the gauntlet. “You will do it, won’t you son?”
For a minute, he looked
like a kid asking for a pet dog. How could I possibly say no?
“Okay, but you’d
better make a reservation at the golf club for Saturday in case the committee checks up on things.”
It was later that morning that I realized what Lola would think about me ogling other women and took the coward’s way out, conning Chip to take over.
And so, as I started on
my last report, late in the afternoon, I visualized Chip with said committee,
going over the rules, etc., Kowalski in tow, me
feeling guilty as hell and a bit hen pecked. It’s not that Lola and I are in a binding relationship, I mean,
we’re not engaged or anything…but still, you know the saying, ‘hell hath no fury’… and I’m
sure not brave enough to handle that.