I've often shared this story with friends. So, why not you? Hmm?
Before I launch into my story about the worst meeting of my life, there are some ground rules we're going to have to go over and agree to. Okay? Okay.
Because this worst meeting of my life was with a very important person, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. That means I can't reveal what the particular project was or who I met with. So, I shall just call the person....MR. BIG.
I would appreciate it if ya'll refrained from idle speculation as to the identity of Mr. Big. That could get me into trouble. And we don't want that. Unless you're someone who hates me. I hope you're not. Because that would make me sad.
So, as long as we're agreed...I can now move onto
'THE WORST MEETING OF MY LIFE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEST MEETING OF MY LIFE AND KIND OF MAKES ME ILL WHENEVER I THINK ABOUT IT.'
The Year was 2002.
I was editing a pilot at Disney when my cell phone rang. It was my agent. I knew it was my agent because she said, "This is your agent."
In hushed tones she informed me that I would soon be getting a call from a representative of Mr. Big. My tongue almost detached from where my tongue attaches. (I don't know what that's called or have the energy to look it up. So, let's just call it my Gilophlabius.)
So, anyway. I was shocked. I was a HUGE fan of Mr. Big. He made one of my favorite movies. Then he made two more. And then, like years later...he made three more that took place before the one I really liked. But they weren't as good. Anyway...
When I was in high school I wanted to be Mr. Big. Mr. Big was awesome!
Sure enough, not 30 seconds after I hung up with my agent, I got a call from a very secretive man who wanted to make sure I was me and not someone else. Once I had convinced him I was me and not not-me, he informed me that Mr. Big wanted to see me right away. The next day.
Once again my tongue almost detached from my Gilophlabius. Mr. Big wanted to see me? Mr. Big knows me?! I didn't say that, of course. I said something glib like, "I need to check my schedule." After pausing for what I considered an appropriate schedule-checking amount of time, I agreed.
Dandy. Excellent. Arrangements have already been made. He gave me instructions to take the first flight out of Burbank. They already have my name. From there I shall be flown to Oakland, California. A driver will meet me and whisk me to Mr. Big's compound about an hour away.
ME AND MR. BIG. He wants to meet me. Mr. Big. Mr. Big and Me. We're going to get along famously. And why not? I bet....I just bet that he's going to like me so much, he'll invite me to stay for dinner where we'll talk late into the evening about films and our mutual interest in Sea Monkeys.
Plus...I was going to his COMPOUND! A super cool place of legend and lore!
In close collaboration with my wife, I spent three hours deciding which of the three non-Tshirts I own would best convey my love of films and interest in Sea Monkeys. I couldn't decide so we went to Target and bought three more. (In the end we settled on a non-assuming plaid.)
And so, off I went to the Burbank airport. Never have I gone to an airport with such excitement! Never have the dread and fear of flying been so muted. Yeah, so I was about to get into a metal tube with barely less than a 16th of an inch of aluminum between me and sky...I was going in a metal tube with barely less that a 16th of an inch of aluminum between me and sky...to see MR. BIG. Ha! Invincible!
A Lincoln Towncar met me in Oakland. My very own chauffeur whisked me north. There I sat. Confident as can be. I looked at everyone else in their meager modes of transport. Poor, simple humans driving their own cars! Ha! They were going about their dull, dreary lives. Probably going to the market or something boring like that. Maybe a few of them were going to the dentist. Maybe one of them was going to pick out tile for a bathroom they were remodeling. How trite. How singularly boring. I was going to meet Mr. Big.
We wound our way north. Soon, we were passing through rolling hills. And then...we arrived.
I had reached the place of legend. We passed through the gates and the car stopped at the entrance to Mr. Big's domain. A very quiet domain. An eerily quiet domain. A super, eerily quiet domain. So quiet, in fact, that I could hear my cells dividing.
I was ushered into the building which housed Mr. Big's office. It was even more quiet inside the building. Now I could hear my hair growing.
I was taken up the stairs. The only sounds were my cells dividing, my hair growing and my corduroy pant legs rubbing against each other.
I was led into a small office and informed that someone would come and move me to another office as the time for the meeting grew closer. I was left alone. Alone in a small room that looked like someplace your grandmother would sew booties. Did I mention it was quiet? There I sat. I hadn't been nervous before. But I started to think about things. This was big. Meeting Mr. Big was big. Where was everyone? Where was the grandmother that used to sew booties in this room? What was I doing here? I needed to get home to pick out tile for a bathroom we were remodeling.
About 10 minutes later someone came and informed me that I was being moved to an office that was closer to Mr. Big's office. Why hadn't we just gone there first? I don't know. Maybe the air was different in that building and I was being acclimated to the change in pressure. I wanted to ask about the grandma that sewed booties but there was no time. We were off and marching ever closer to Mr. Big's domain. It got even more quiet.
I was put into another office. I was told the next office I went into would be Mr. Big's. Why did they have to do it this way? Now I was really nervous. I sat there. I twiddled my thumbs and then realized I had brought a book with me in my backpack. I decided to bring a backpack because it would look like I had stuff to do. You know, in between flying to meet Mr. Big I had a lot of creative stuff to do. I didn't of course. All that was in the backpack was a toothbrush and the thickest book I could find at the house. It was a collection of C.S. Lewis' essays and short stories. I needed it to look like I had a lot of stuff in there.
So I started reading it. I couldn't concentrate. Soon, the quiet of that place was broken by muffled laughter. It was coming from the very next room. Now, I had been told that Mr. Big would be meeting with a bunch of different writers on that day. I correctly assumed I was hearing Mr. Big meeting with a writer. And, oh, the laughter was loud. And weighty. And voluminous! Whoever was meeting with Mr. Big was doing great! Wow! The laughter only got bigger. And bigger. I knew this was a bad sign. I'm generally not great in meetings. But whoever was in there was killing.
I heard the door to Mr. Big office open and three writers walked out. There was still a lot of laughter. I heard someone say, "Fantastic! Great! You guys are soooo funny!" They walked down the hall...
Someone came in to get me. Oh no. I don't want to go in there. No. I want to go home. I have a dental appointment. I want to leave. But my legs betrayed me. They led me in to Mr. Big office. Stupid legs! Dumb legs!
There he was...
END PART ONE
FIND PART TWO HERE.