by Andre Borges Aragón
It was on a gelid 17th of February in the year of our Lord MMXLI that Donny Lowstadt had his epiphany, his realization, and his eureka moment. In a scintillating second of miraculous clarity, he understood that they were all dying – either slowly or fastly – each and every one of the bloated whales at the Lexington Christmas Ornament Marketing Collective. The clock was ticking and Lowstadt, always a man of action, was ready to strike like a razor-fin Alpha-tiger with a paunch.
The idea came unbidden while he watched the Red Eagle News Network’s nightly information spectacular sponsored by FoxxConnNewsCo IV, starring Mabill Rilloy, the voice of real America.
Today the spectacular was about West Virginia and its cranky coal miners. From what Donny could tell, the miners mostly resembled mashed up sweaty lumps of dough– probably saturated with fast food flatulence and bad breath. As the images of the miner’s rusticated and Rubanqesue forms faded before Donny’s 69 inch Man-cave Trans-Touch 3D super screen – Mawbill materialized in their place, and notified viewers that the dough lumps, the dirty kind one would never want to eat, were protesting again, waggling signs fit for a kindergarten art class. Donny scrutinized the flaccid cardboard posters etched with dollar-store magic marker, and cracked a grin.
I’m just not convinced!
Anyway, what the miners seemed to want was an end to unsafe work practices. Some of them had been crushed to death or something. Maybe they had a point – but Mawbill Rilloy, the 54-year-old TV-host who looked like a trueborn son of James Bond and an avoidant Can-opener, was right there to unmask them for what they really were. He let it be known that their leader, Who the Fuck Remembers his Name, was once accused of sexual assault by his high school sweetheart and was not a regular church attender. Probably a faggot or something. Furthermore, it was revealed this very same leader had gone on record to support the Yellow Party (!) in the recent election – a clear indication, as if any more were needed, that these so-called miners were nothing but agitators, radicals, malcontents – bad credit risks as Mawbill Rilloy, and his buxom co-presenter Olivia Lapin, pointed out so sharply.
Still, the whole thing got Lowstadt’s mind a’ rockin’ and a rollin’ like an unsecured and potentially homicidal piece of mine equipment. Maybe his office was unsafe, too. Maybe the Lexington Christmas Ornament Marketing Collective had workplace environmental liabilities as dangerous as anything the blabla miners from Wilmington, Kentucky were facing.
Deep in thought, he reached over to the Gin & Tonic resting at his side, and reclined lower on his easy-chair, immersed in a state of almost perfect managerial meditation.
Wait a sec – naaah.
Maybe I could…
He knew the road ahead would be a hard one. Saving lives, ether down in the mine or up in the trenches of the American corporate Christmas Ornaments Business, could never be easy and could never be cheap. Digging deep inside for strength, Lowstadt opened his 12g network enabled laptop and surfed the web, looking for rays of godly light, nuggets of sacred guidance. Then it struck him, after watching 9 minutes of a Charismatic mass on Ya’llToob.com: He needed to look at his own company. His own house held the answers. Did he not remember his own house? Did he not recall his pledge when he was hired as Director of Finance?
As it so happens – he didn’t remember at all. So he navigated over to the company website. Once again eyeballing those elegant and evocative lines, he wondered how he ever forgot his Commercial Vision and Profitability Foretelling for the Year of Our Saviour Jesus Christ MMXXXVIII, Fiscal Quarter 2, day 4:
“To perpetually nurture superior project and operations competencies and secure increased profitability and efficiency in an ethical way.”
Never mind that there were too many “ands” in the executive summary thesis; it was a work of corporate glory – he just needed to live up to his gab.
Just then, Lowstadt knew improving workplace health was not a luxury for whiny miners alone – but a true-blue necessity for office workers everywhere, gosh darn it! The realization sent Lowstadt to the drawing board – literally. Down on the first floor inside his office by an azure-blue pool, Donny had a plastic white board with dry-wash markers used mostly for flow-charting, and occasionally for listing dangerous chemicals latent in some Christmas ornament varnishes and spray-on smells. Getting down to brass tacks, he finally started fingering his hardest questions and writing them down on the whiteboard: Just how was employee health to be improved? What could he do, as a lowly ornaments (“We call them “ornz” in the ‘biz”) boss? Who would help? Where do we go from here?
The answers to these and more questions hit him like a palletized load of ceramic Santa Claus cookie jars direct from a Guangzhou factory: Do what you know, Lowstadt, remember who you are – and do what you know! The answer was right there, quite literally attached to him: He needed look no farther than the bulbous paunch sagging between his chicken legs.
The enemy – large, shadowy, and necessarily formless – would be obesity in the workforce, and he would fight it with dollars and sense.
On Monday at the office, the enormity of the problem became obvious beyond all shadow of a doubt. Donny could count the walking wounded: Derrik Nika, director of sales and advertising – a chubb. Louis Arella, secretary to the president – a butterball cow. Vincent Bolugulu, director of accounting – a great whale with a ridiculous unpronounceable name. But that’s not all – many more, including junior execs, sales department workers, and bright young interns were all fat, all bulging, all gorging themselves in an orgiastic lunchtide feast of vending-machine bear-claws, improvident portions of sugared coffee creamers, and overly rich salad dressings.
The pathos of public fatness scandalized him as he sat at his desk, watching the security cams peeping on the Walpurgis menagerie of human lard, turning and shifting about him like a liquid gyre of calories.
The idea he got when watching old Mawbill Rilloy and the Canadian miners came screaming back to him now, like a direct quest from God himself to save this last and Greatest Country in the World: We’re were all going to die here, each and every one of us, stuffed with sweets until our little blessed hearts stop ticking. No less than the miners, This Great Nation’s office workers are killing themselves with Santa’s own cookies. We’re nibbling our way towards open graves.
Then Lowstadt took action. First he contacted Lucy Miller, VP of human resources, who was officially one of the last thin people around and therefore a shining example to everyone. Miller, welcoming the promotion of weight loss, voiced out loud her fond desire to set eyes on other human beings with normal proportions during the remainder of her life. Without delay, she helped Donny touch base with Brandon Wisebell, North America Coordinator of the Professional Christmas Ornament Merchant’s Association. Then the parties liaised, conferenced, spit-balled, and blue-sky dreamed. Slowly, bit-by-bit, he won their agreement and sacred trust in creating a radical new plan for corporate weight loss.
By this point, it was already clear the plan was much bigger than just one corporation in the ‘Biz. Lowstadt was thinking national – thinking global! After weeks of early mornings at the gym, late nights at the office, and an entirely new-company wide drive to get associates to lose weight – he received a knock at his door from none other than Barbara Wertzog, directress of the International Obesity Taskforce, essentially the staunch rebel queen of a revolution against fatness and creeping waistlines the world over – a woman with an undeniable fire in her eyes and a smart CLACK in her step.
She didn’t say hello, but launched right into the matter after flying in his office door one early morn: “You’ve got quite the fantastic idea there – Donny. We’ve thought about it long and hard – using market-based solutions to defeat this obesity epidemic– but you have really put the rubber to the road and hit the nail on the head with this proposal – you really set the place on fire!”
“Thank you, Ms. Hertzog,” Lowstadt replied not missing a beat, resting his hand on his left knee and feeling like a combination of an Academy Award Winner and an Alpha-Male Warrior King. “I never do things by halves. I’m ready to pull the trigger on this.” He made a shooting motion with the other hand.
The two of them, one in a pants suit and the other seated with his suit jacket firmly buttoned, precisely resembled the cover of “LEARN ENGLISH FOR BUSINESS!” a popular and widely-taught textbook in Paraguay, though they would remain forever ignorant of this fact.
Ms. Hertzog Continued:
“I’m sure you won’t miss your mark! Please, if you will, tell me more about this program of yours. I’ve heard it’s gotten real results. Even The Economist featured you as a ‘health entrepreneur.’ ”
“It’s simple, really,” Lowstadt answered, leaning back in his red leather office chair, “all we had to do was divide associate pay in two – one currency for consumer spending, and another for food related expenses. Employees are evaluated on their weight according to their BMI. The cut-off for obesity is a BMI of 32. We simply provide incentives for our good losers and salary adjustments for the gainers. We also hired an occupational nurse to keep track of weight loss in the office.”
“What’s the nurse’s name?”
“Slips the mind,” answered Lowstadt.
Fame was not done with this man.
Six months later, the trade magazine of the ornament community, The Frosted Ball, named Lowstadt its no. 1 super guest of honour at the yearly soirée held for anyone-who-was-anyone in the Ornz Biz. While networking at the party, Osborne Naft, Lowstadt’s nebbish mouth-breathing assistant, asked him about his philosophy of Christmas Ornament Product Sales and Marketing.
Lowstadt, perhaps a bit too drunk on festive eggnog, or perhaps arrogant with the increasing success of his anti-fatness campaign, answered Osborne with a frankness that a later shocked him in more sober moments: “Osby. Oz boy. Ozboy. I am going to tell you something about Ornament sales – Ornz sales. Basically they’re just middle-class housing development crack. You getta pair of 40-ish parents hooked on a few Morkey Mouse Collectable bulbs, and you’ve got em’, you’ve got em for life. Mid-life crisis to grave.” Lowstadt swaggered out of that party, right after looking at Ozboy’s shocked face, without caring one single bit.
His proudest day though, was when the Senate called him to testify on the incredible success of his market-based weight-loss programme. Employees all over the nation, under the firm guidance of his dual currency plan and associate responsibility feedback discipline policy (docking fatties’ pay), had literally shit out millions of tonnes of their useless extra fat, making them moderately more attractive.
On the first day of June in Washington, D. C. it was a clear day, a sunny day, and also the day of Senate Resolution Debate #137838411b-71(lop170ff). Senate statements, delivered under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Defence, revealed the monster of obesity had long since enclosed the nation in its flabby claws; 87% of all adults not actively serving in the armed forces had a BMI of over 32 – the red glowing line for extreme lard. The effects of this fatness were profound. First of all cars, trains, planes, and automobiles all needed to be bigger. Bigger cars needed bigger spaces, and bigger shoppers needed bigger aisles to get their big butts to the registers (which remained the same size). In short: a logistics nightmare. All of this somehow equalled out to billions lost each year and many deaths related to pendulous bellies in one way or another. After this, there was even more bad news: hardly any young Americans were sufficiently fit to join the Army, something the military representatives yammered on and on about.
When it came time to speak, Lowstadt was righteously theatrical – just like old Mawbill Rilloy. He took the Senators by the hand through a wonderland of words – more dazzling than any trade-sized frosted Christmas Bulb ever produced. He shocked them with the fatness of the people, disgusted them with the shamelessness of their weight-gaining, and inspired them with a message of thinness and hope for the future. All were moved, and a prayer was said thanking Providence – and not the one in Rhode Island.
Finally, the Senate – old and wise – conferred among themselves. There was much wagging of many chins, stern looks were given, and sharp questions rose in magisterial clatter. Everyone had suits on, with little American Flag pins, even the representatives from the Yellow Party. You could tell they were seriously serious about this.
In the end, a decision was made after many hours of deliberations: this was bigger than worker’s rights, bigger than bombing more third-world countries, even. This touched the very core of the Nation. Lowstadt’s revolutionary idea of two currencies – Dollas for buying “Stuff,” and USBUX for buying “eaty stuff,” was gaining huge support from the green party.
Needless to say, a few fossilized old rebels in the Yellow party still called – toothlessly – for moderation. But as Mawbill Rilloy put it in his news show: they were the “yellow fat fellows,” which didn’t quite rhyme, but was good enough for the watchers of FoxxConNews IV. Everyone knew they didn’t care about the rolling plague of obesity anyhow, since they clearly belonged to the scheming, dishonest, and evil-minded farm lobby.
Lowstadt’s law passed easily. It was called the USA COP law or more properly the United States of America currency revaluation action plan and Child Obesity Prevention law.
That very day, perhaps by chance or perhaps by the providential manipulation of a divine hand, Lowstadt exiting the Senate chambers saw some uncouth types entering our nation’s great heart. They were small, rounded, chubby (of course), and swaddled in nasty cheap garb. They wore the bogus formalwear that unskilled staff, such as hotel or restaurant underlings, wear when they have to have contact with their social betters – even though the vast majority of these menials can’t possibly understand why they aren’t wearing their normal rags – or even why they should wear anything better. The shabby forms of the uncouth also, distantly, made him recall his own bygone High School days, when he wore a faded JC penny’s blazer for a dance on a special night with a vanished girl.
Despite his mind wandering, he kept on watching the strange lumps. They weren’t prisoners or foreigners – and they had an escort of police. What were they?
Fascinated, Lowstadt followed at a safe distance. Security let him right in, as they duly recognized him as an executive, an important man probably on route to a matter of some official importance.
He learned that they were in fact, the Miners from Nevada. Their primitive hetman or cheiftan, named Bewford or Boford or Bullford rambled endlessly. His mouth was as toothless as those of the Yellow Party hags, and he stank like sweat. His subalterns followed him to the podium facing the now mostly-empty Senate, and mumbled out their various demands, pleas, and even prayers. Someone prayed for Amity, which made Lowstadt think of the Amityville Horror, which was an awesome movie with great monsters.
The Senate chair silenced the petitioners after approximately 45 minutes of jabber, giving the floor up to counterpoints, comments, and feedback from the majority senior citizen audience permitted to watch most Senate proceedings. Lowstadt, at this point seated in the upper tier amongst the greyest of the greyheads, had something important to say.
Filled with a sense of pride, gas, or something, Lowstadt flew down from the nose-bleed seats to the podium where he delivered a firestorm invective against the miners. He likened their health challenges to those of Ornz Biz workers, to those of office workers all over America, and decried their emphasis on machine safety as foolish when 63% of a Americans can’t even run 500 yards in 10 minutes.
He had a point.
“Where is our military readiness?” He asked rhetorically. “Where is it!”
He climaxed, in the now-silenced chamber, with a phrase springing to his lips from the perfect brain of The Creator himself: “We have major threats in this country gentlemen, threats to children and mothers brought by obesity. I ask you, gentlemen of the Senate to consider mothers, Mothers before Miners. Mothers not Miners!”
The room burst into an uproar of applause.
The Senators Shouted: Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Lost in the golden sound of Senator’s applause, Donny Lowstadt looked into the FoxxCon News IV camera perched in the mid-distance, and thought, just for a moment, he could smell fame all over ‘Murica’s breath.