Well, here it is. This is the final chapter in my horrid meeting opus. Those who never read part one may wish to do so at this time. You can find it here. Things will make more sense if you do. Or don't. This is a happy place and I'm not going to tell you what to do. You are free to make your own decisions. Disastrous as they may be.
When we last left me, I had just walked into Mr. Big's office. 20 minutes prior to this, I had been filled with a cocky enthusiasm. It had now been replaced by a particularly strong sense of self-loathing and a desire to run. I didn't. I rightly figured that bolting at high speed toward the exit would be off-putting and diminish my chances at being involved in whatever secret project I had been summoned for.
So, I put my best fake smile on and entered Mr. Big's office.
Two men were sitting in the office with Mr. Big. One of them was wearing cowboy boots. Fancy cowboy boots. They had flecks of red in them. And maybe snaky things on the side. Boots. Maybe this man had a horse. Maybe his horse was outside. But I didn't see a horse when I entered. Maybe his horse was around back. Maybe there was no horse at all. Maybe he drove here in a car. But can you even drive with boots like that? Perhaps he had been riding his horse earlier in the day and then was late to the meeting and didn't have time to get out of his boots. Good, heavens. Why am I wondering about this guy's boots and horses? I'm now in the office of Mr. Big. THE Mr. Big. Time to focus.
If this guy didn't have any horses then why would he wear boots like that...especially in Northern California? You don't wear boots like that unless you have horses. Are boots like that even comfortable? If they're not comfortable and he doesn't have any horses, then he must really like the way they look. Boots are okay. But they take a while to put on. I don't think I'd have them by my bed at night. Especially if there's an earthquake. No thank you. That would take so long and....STOP THINKING ABOUT BOOTS, Rugg.
But I couldn't. See, my brain was using it as a coping mechanism. I was totally freaked out and my mind was trying to calm me down. Boots. Those are some very expensive boots. I don't know how much boots like that cost, but I bet it's a lot. Probably boots like that are special ordered from a boot guy.
As I tried to make sense of the boots, I moved toward Mr. Big. Mr. Big never got up from his chair. He wasn't going to make this easy. He just stared at me politely as I approached to shake his hand. But wait. Should I shake his hand first or shake the hands of the other two men. Surely Mr. Big was more important that Boots and Mr. Guy. And what's with those boots anyway? Boots like that is a serious fashion statement. If you have boots like that you must have others. I wonder how many other pairs of boots he has like that? You have to have a pretty big closet for a collection of boots. If this was his only pair of boots, then why did he choose to wear them today? Luckily, I don't have a lot of shoes, so I don't spend a lot of time picking out what I'm going to put on my feet and...ENOUGH WITH THE BOOTS! Shake somebody's hand and get this over with!
I shook Mr. Big hands. Then did the same to the other two men. Words were spoken. Words I don't remember. But the words were along the lines of, "This is Bill and Hank." I wanted to ask Hank about his boots. Maybe the three writers that had been so jocular just moments before had done a whole bit about Hank's boots. Maybe I should do the same. Maybe I should say something pithy like, "Nice, boots, Hank. Where's your horse?" Maybe they would all chuckle and then I would...
My thoughts about saying something pithy were interrupted by Mr. Big. He was holding a piece of paper. He looked at me and said it again. Bear Country.
Bear Country? What the heck is Bear Country? Why is Mr. Big looking at a piece of paper and saying the words Bear Country? The other men nodded. They had the same piece of paper.
Bear Country? What the heck does that mean? Is this some sort of secret code. Is Mr. Big a Freemason? Is this all some strange roundabout way of getting me to join their secret order? And what's up with that guys BOOTS?
I had no option but to say, "excuse me?"
Mr. Big spoke again. "It says here you wrote Bear Country." The men looked at their paper and nodded.
Suddenly it hit me. Ohhhhhhh. "You mean Country Bears?"
Here's a hint. Don't do that. When someone like Mr. Big says you wrote Bear Country. Just say, "Yeah. I wrote Bear Country. I love Bear Country. Bear Country. Bear Country. Bear Country."
We talked briefly about my experience on Bear Country.
Then, Mr. Big asked me if I like writing with a group or am I more a solitary writer. This was an actual question!
I immediately began answering. I answered truthfully. I'm a solitary kind of writer. I started actually relaxing. We're talking now. Finally. I don't even care about Hank's boots. Yeah. I'm a solitary writer. See, I like talking with people and then going away and...
Thanks for coming.
I had given the wrong truthful answer. Just as the blood had begun to return to my head...it started flowing out again. Hank and Bill stood. Mr. Big said it was nice meeting me.
The meeting was over. I think I just sat there a moment. No wait. We're just getting started. Bear Country. Boots. Please. We're supposed to laugh and stuff. I'm supposed to get along with you. This was supposed to go so well that you want to walk me around the place and tell me stories about that really good first movie you made that I really like more than the others I didn't.
Hank and Bill were shaking my hand. It was irretrievably over. Over over. Mr. Big now stood. Over over.
I turned around and walked toward the door. And I tripped. I almost fell. I looked down like you do when you trip for no reason. You look for the trippy thing that tripped you. It wasn't there.
Next thing I remember I was rushing toward the exit. My legs remembered which way to go. They had to. My brain wasn't helping them. Down the stairs. And out...
There was my town car waiting. My driver stood by the back down. I could swear he was now wearing a mortician's outfit. The car was hearse. I got in. The door shut and we were moving away. I couldn't speak. I wanted a do-over. Don't take me away.
It was my ride of shame. Two hours before the world had been bright and shiny.
I sat at the airport. Quiet. Glum.
The flight back to Burbank was bumpy and icky.
But then I came home. My wife and daughter greeted me. All was well.
And nobody wore any boots.
I told my wife the story. "You should write about that one day."
"Maybe I will."
Now I have.