Mom invited me and my Sister Christy to Starbucks, ostensibly to plan that year’s family Christmas party, but it quickly became apparent that she had a far more sinister agenda.
“Christy, have you given any more thought about hiring Jimmy Merle to do marketing for you?”Mom said, sipping her frappa-whappa-happa-crappuccino.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Mom,” I sighed, “please tell me you haven’t been hitting people up to give me a job.It’s embarrassing.”
Christy is a psychotherapist, and has built a thriving practice.Apparently, Mom thought going to work for my little sister would be a good career move for me.
“There’s nothing embarrassing about a mother helping her child,” Mom said, patting my hand.“And don’t say the f-word.”
“I thought he was going to blog for a living,” Christy said.
“Of course he is,” Mom replied.“And he’s going to be a great blogger because he’s so talented.”
Christy rolled her eyes.“Can you actually make much money blogging?” she asked me.
“Hell, yeah,” I said.“Lots of people do it.All you have to do is write from the heart and put it out there.Pretty soon the money just pours in.”
“Hmmm…something about that doesn’t sound quite right.”
“It’s true.I’m constantly getting ads on Facebook and Instagram for courses on how to make a mint blogging from the beach in Hawaii or Bali or other awesome places.Everyone’s doing it.The key is having the right name for your blog.”
“That’s the key?” Christy laughed.“Having the right name?Not writing something interesting that people actually want to read?”
“Well, yeah…that, too I guess.But if you want to make the really big bucks you’ve gotta have the right name.”
“Oh my God,” Christy said, then mumbled something that sounded like ‘delusional.’“Do you have a name for it yet?”
“What is it?”
“Civilian Fuck Monkey,” I said proudly.“Pretty great, huh?”
“Oh my God.” She put her face in her hands and shook her head.
“Jimmy Merle!” Mom gasped.“That’s a horrible, awful name!”
“Kinda have to agree with Mom on this one.” Christy said through her hands.“It’s pretty offensive.”
“No, it’s not,” I said.“People love monkeys.”
“That’s not what I meant,” she replied.
“It’s downright sinful!”Mom snapped.“Do you think God is going to be happy with a blog name that has the f-word in it?”
“I…I don’t know,” I said.“I mean, don’t you always say that God made me just the way I am?Well, that includes my brain, and I thought up Civilian Fuck Monkey with my brain.Hell, if you think about it, Civilian Fuck Monkey is practically a collaboration between me and God.”
“Oh my God,” Christy said again, face back in her hands.
“Jimmy Merle!” Mom yelled, causing customers to stare at us.“God did not have anything to do with that awful, awful name.”
“Kinda have to agree with Mom on that one, too,” Christy said through her hands.
“I’ve told you and told you that Christians never, ever, ever say the f-word,” Mom said, dabbing her eyes.“And now you’re going to splatter it all over the internet for the whole world to see.And Pastor Pendleton and everyone one at church will know that my son has…has…abandoned the Church!”
“Mom,” I said earnestly, “I’d have to be out of my goddamn fucking mind to abandon the Church!You think I want to wind up roasting in Hell for all eternity?Church is my ticket outta that shit hole.”
“Oh.My.God.” Christy said.
Mom burst out weeping.
“Mom!Mom!” Christy shook Mom’s arm. “I’m sure Jimmy Merle is not going to call his blog Civilian F-word Monkey. Right, Jimmy Merle?”
I said nothing.
“Right, Jimmy Merle?” She repeated.
I folded my arms and glared at the table.
“Right, Jimmy Merle?” Christy growled, and pinched my arm really hard.
“Ow! Okay, okay, fine!Whatever.”
“There, Mom.It’s all okay.Jimmy Merle is going to call it something else.”
Mom dabbed her eyes and honked her nose into her napkin.After a few minutes she stopped hitching enough to be able to speak.
“As I was starting to say,” Mom said, forcing a brave smile, “Jimmy Merle is going to be a blogger.But it will take awhile to get it going, and he needs a job in the meantime.He’d be a big help growing your little therapy practice, Dear.”
“It’s not ‘little,’ Mom.We’re super busy.I’ve got eleven full-time therapists working for me now, and we still have a four-week waiting list for new clients.”
“He spent years working in marketing before his divorce.I just know he would be a big help to your business.He was the top producer at the last marketing firm he worked for, and everyone just loved him.”
“They fired him,” Christy said.
“That wasn’t his fault.He was going through a rough time, what with his divorce and all.Jimmy Merle’s ex-wife was being so mean to him that his job performance slipped a bit.Anyone’s would under those circumstances.And that heartless company fired him for practically no reason at all.”
“He showed up blackout drunk to a big meeting with Nike’s executive team to pitch them on hiring his firm.”
“That’s not true.Jimmy Merle doesn’t drink.He should have sued them for wrongful termination.”
“It is true, Mom.On top of that, Jimmy Merle was the main presenter, and throughout the presentation he kept addressing Adriana Lee—Nike’s Vice President of Marketing—as ‘hot stuff.’”
“Well, in my defense—” I began.
“A presentation,” Christy continued, “he threw together at the last minute, and which consisted of iPhone videos of himself attempting to do parkour while falling-down drunk.”
“It was a rough draft!” I protested.“No one expected it to be perfect!”
“But the entire video was of you tripping down stairwells and falling off trash dumpsters!”
“Look, it was just a concept video to demonstrate how we proposed to showcase Nike shoes.”
“But in the video you wore Skechers,” Christy said.
“But…but…that wasn’t my fault.You see—”
“Mom, I’m not hiring him.Jimmy Merle was a brilliant marketer at one time, but towards the end something went horribly wrong with him.I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I’m a little nervous about having him work for me.”
“Christy!” Mom snapped.“That’s an awful, ugly, hurtful thing to say to your brother.”
“Mom, please,” I said.“I don’t even want to go to work for Christy.This was your idea and—”
“Oh, this is just horrible, horrible, horrible,” Mom said, dabbing her eyes which had started leaking again.“You’re being too hard on your big brother, Christy.Now you apologize right this minute and hire Jimmy Merle as your marketer.”
“Mom, me hiring Jimmy Merle is a bad idea for lots of reasons, not the least of which is—”
“Oh, this is just awful, awful, awful!” Mom burst out ugly-crying.Everyone in Starbucks was staring at us now.
“Mom!Mom!Please stop!” Christy implored, to no avail.“Okay! Okay!I’ll hire him.Just stop crying!You’re making a scene.”
“You’re a good sister,” Mom said, composing herself and honking her nose again.
“My website needs updating,” Christy said to me.“Do you know how to code?”
“Fine.You can start tomorrow.That will work out well because most of the therapists and I are attending a full-day training in Denver tomorrow, so the office will be empty.Why don’t you meet me there in the morning.I’ll show you what needs to be done, then I can just head out from there.”
“What time?” I asked.
“Ooooo, yeah, that’s not gonna work for me.Kevin and I will be out late tonight judging a wet t-shirt contest at Jake’s Tavern.Noon would be better.”
“See Mom!That’s what I’m talking about!” Christy snapped.
“Jimmy Merle!” Mom said sternly.“Your sister has graciously offered you a job.Now you be there tomorrow at 8:00 AM sharp.”
“Fuck’s sake,” I sighed.“Fine.”
“I’m proud of you, Dear,” she replied, patting my hand.“And don’t say the f-word.”
“I got us a job working for my Sister.”
It was later that day and Kevin and I were at his apartment where we’d been playing Call of Duty and drinking Maker’s Mark all afternoon.
“I don’t need a job,” Kevin said as three enemies fell under his withering assault-rifle barrage.
“Yeah you do,” I replied, firing my rocket launcher.
“No.I really don’t.”He took a long pull of bourbon, smacked his lips and resumed blasting away.
“Well, I do.I told you, I’ve got to get some cash rolling in until my blog takes off.”I switched to my shotgun, but was too slow to keep from getting killed.
“I need my fucking couch back.Why don’t you just move back into your Mom’s basement.She said she doesn’t want to abort you anymore.”
I sighed and set the controller down.“I already asked, but Daddy won’t let me move back.”
“Why do you call him Daddy?”
“Mom makes me.It’s kind of a habit now.”
“But they’ve only been married two years, and he’s not your dad.Not to mention you’re fifty-fucking-two years old!”
“Trust me, it’s easier if I just call him Daddy,” I sighed.“Anyway, he said that I’m on my own now and we need to keep it that way.”
“But you’re not on your own.You just switched from sponging off your Mom to sponging off me, fuck face.”
“Look, my blog is going to take off in a big, big way.As soon as the money starts coming in I’ll be out of your hair.Besides, this job with Christy is going to get me some quick cash, and I’ll be able to pay you rent.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Kevin said, taking another pull off his drink.
“But you gotta come to work with me.I really need your help, buddy.”
“Fuck’s sake,” Kevin sighed.“Assuming I agree to help you, when did you tell her we’d start?”
“Tomorrow at 8:00.”
“In the morning?!?”
“We’re judging the big wet t-shirt contest tonight!” Kevin said.“We’ll be lucky to get back in by three A.M.Why did you tell her we’d start tomorrow at that ungodly hour, numb nuts?”
“I was backed into a corner.Besides, we’re not judging the contest.I already called Jake’s Tavern and told them we couldn’t be there due to a medical emergency.”
“What medical emergency?”
“I told them your anal fissures flared up again.”
“But I don’t have anal fissures!” Kevin shouted.“Now everyone at Jake’s thinks I do, fuckwit!Goddammit, I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Oh, quit being such a big baby.Besides, I had to tell them something.”
Kevin sighed.“I was really looking forward to meeting those lovely, t-shirt-clad college girls.” He took another pull off his bourbon.“Why do you need my help so bad, anyway?”
“Because Christy wants me to update her website, and I told her I could handle it.”
“I don’t know how to code.”
“Well, neither do I, ass hat.”
“How hard could it be?” I said, going to the fridge for more ice.“With both of us working together we’ll be able to figure it out twice as fast.”
Kevin drained his glass and held it out to me.I plunked in a bourbon rock, poured us both another Maker’s Mark and sat down next to him.
“Cheers, bro!” I said, clinking his glass then taking big swig. “We’ll figure out coding tonight, and be making money tomorrow.”
I opened my Macbook.Kevin skootched up next to me and looked on as I Googled ‘what is coding?’