Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Spoiler: Part 10 -- Clark

The second person responsible for me becoming a spoiler was Clark, the guy Katlyn left me for. Clark was a VP at ConRon, a Texas-based energy company that had offices on Wall Street. He was a friend of her family, and we met a few times for dinner in the city.

He was one of these corporate types who somehow pull down six-figure salaries while acting like frat-house meatheads.

Tall, what my mother would call “husky” – now there’s a word you don’t hear much anymore – with a block-like head, light blonde hair and a choppy, chest-thrust-out, awkward walk – like a six-foot bantam rooster.

Clark had started out as a trader and worked his way up to hedge-fund manager. Whenever I would see him – at Katlyn’s folks’ place at holidays or when he’d join us for drinks – he’d yap on about being “in the trenches,” tell “war stories” about the pressures of trading, and gush about hedge funds like they were the Holy Grail.

And the personal growth tapes. Every few months, Clark had glommed onto a new guru. The lantern-jawed guy who hawked “Personal Empowerment” from his castle on Fiji. An ex-minister turned “people-treneur” – his shtick was about marketing “your personal brand” and “turning your life into a growth stock!” A foxy Asian-American woman – she was the best – who ran a seminar based on “exploiting inefficiencies in the dating market.”

That was the only kind of book in Clark’s apartment – a penthouse in the East 60s – and the only tapes, besides his “hidden cache” of porn, most of which featured women receiving “facials.” The only Japanese word he knew besides sushi was bukkake.

At first, I hated Clark for … well, not exactly stealing Katlyn. For picking her off on the rebound. Let’s call it an air ball. However, he made it up by showing me the benefits of spoiling.

“Hey, you’re a comedian,” Clark said to me one day at some lounge on Elizabeth Street, where people like him would go to pretend they were rebels who were subverting bourgeois society from within by working 80-hour weeks and shopping on weekends. “You ever do any corporate pranks?”

“You mean like cook the books?”

“Funny. I’m talking about did you ever do a corporate gig where you go to a corporation and impersonate one of the big-wigs or pretend to be some exec’s homo boyfriend? Shit like that.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Did you ever hear of Norman … can’t think of his last name. Something like Titsdale?”


“He, like, came down to our Christmas party and played Santa Claus – only he made all the VPs sit on his lap and told them what they were getting for Christmas. He was briefed by my boss’s secretary and like, he told the VP sales that he was naughty he hadn’t met his annual projections and was hurting the company’s bottom line, so he wasn’t getting a bonus, just coal in his stocking. The VP went ballistic! Anyway, he was so awesome they offered him a job. Now he’s VP corporate communications.”


“They need to find another corporate prankster. They asked Norman if he would do it again, but now he says playing Santa isn’t in his job description. I mean, he’s got a point. So, would you be interested? I could put in a good word.”

“Doing what – playing Santa? The Easter Bunny? The Hedge Fund Fairy?"

“Dunno. It’s more secretive than trading instruments.”

“No, thanks. I’m out of the comedy game.”

“Oh, get over yourself.”

“What I can’t get over are CEOs who have their cronies vote them these obscene stock options and bonuses while they rip off investors and wreck the environment.”

“Look, don’t you see it’s just a big game. They just know how to play it a little better than the rest of us.” He paused. “You can make serious money, dude.”

“How serious?”

“I think Norman got five grand. And a job that pays him six figures majorly.”
And that’s how I came to be sitting in the office of Magnum I. Stephens, CEO of ConRon Energy LLC.

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