— Or, At Least, Someone Like Her
Centuries ago, before personal computers, Blackberries, cell phones and The Google, Your Decrepit Tattler worked for a company that published a glossy magazine in a mid-sized, Midwestern US city. The glossy was eponymously named after the city, and the company also owned the local civic-booster travel guide and an FM radio station.
One day the word went out – the company had hired that year’s winner of the state beauty pageant to flack for the magazine, and proudly announced that the owner/publisher was confident she would go on to become Miss America, thereby enhancing the magazine’s ‘national prestige and image.’ All of us Worker Bees were ordered to come up with ways to promote the wonderfulness of Wendy Jo Stepford – her real name has been lost in the mists of age, but that’s a serviceable substitute – making sure we ‘excited’ local and state media coverage of her and, of course, the magazine for which she stood.
Our Advertising Director Ron, the dog, eagerly took it upon himself to be her personal escort and tutor, and arranged photo-ops around town to display her at various events – inaugurating the Oktoberfest celebration, cutting the ribbon at a car dealership opening, saluting the interstate trucking industry, dining at a new trendy restaurant – where she could smile with incredibly large teeth, open her eyes unnaturally wide, and proclaim forgettable hooey with the breathy guileless sincerity of a pretty 20-year-old in a miniskirt.
At first, the plans of the owner/publisher went smoothly – wherever she went, Wendy Jo attracted crowds of young women asking her about her choice in cosmetics and wardrobe, and leering old lechers who lusted to be her Sugar Daddy, and the media couldn’t get enough of her blandly sweet persona and trite, platitude-laden lexicon. Plus, she looked good in a two-piece bathing suit – somewhat incongruous for a German beer festival where she was posed with ruddy men in lederhosen, but it put her picture on the front page of the city’s highest-circulation newspaper.
The first crack in Wendy Jo’s edifice occurred during that suds-soaked Teutonic rave-up when she was asked about the history of Oktoberfest – they might as well have asked her to define Quantum Mechanics. She paused for a long uneasy moment, eyes practically bugging out of her head in naive intensity while her mouth froze in a large-mouthed professional beauty contestant grin; then came the groaner, delivered brightly: “Uh, those Nazis in Germany had a lot of bad stuff about them, but I think we can all agree that Oktoberfest was a pretty darn good idea!” Oh, you betcha! Gemütlichkeit!