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The Nostalgic Tourist

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

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WRDSMTH


We’re presenting our promotional marketing ideas for the TWINbiscuit Candy Bar. The crux of our concept is an under-the-wrapper instant win game with the theme, Find The Cookie Worth A Fortune. This is what I do. I work for an advertising agency in Chicago by the name of SwiftWorldWide. I am the Account Director on the CandyMoon account and I am seven hundred and thirty-seven miles away from home.

Our PowerPoint presentation has ended and we await feedback.

The Brand Manager for TWINbiscuit seated at the head of the table stares intently at my partner and me. His poker face prompts my associate to clear his throat, look over at me, then down at his shoes. I do not flinch. The execs in the room peruse the handouts dealt before them, waiting for the boss to tell them what to think.

That’s when I show all my cards.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as the PowerPoint clearly demonstrates, we offer turnkey services and a promotional concept that clearly achieves your brand’s objectives within the desired tactic, which we’re confident will generate brand awareness, incent trial, and increase repeat purchase with the target audience. All that, creatively wrapped up in the theme, Find The Cookie Worth A Fortune.”

This moment of confidence is interrupted by, “Turnkey services. Brand objectives. Awareness. Trial. Increase purchase.”

I wince, hoping my associate stops talking. ASAP.

Unfortunately, he adds, “Target? Bullseye! Find The Cookie.”

Ugh.

Finally, the Brand Manager speaks. He pontificates, “You two are the Lennon and McCartney of Brand Building Promotions.”

Play this compliment backwards and it says, I am dead.

“I am the walrus,” I say out loud in order to entertain the troops at the CandyMoon Corporation.

My partner, McCartney—yeah, you better believe I’m Lennon in this little game—adds, “Coo, Coo, Ka-Choo.”

I turn to him, disdain clearly advertised on my face. The lyric to the Beatles tune we’re referencing is, Goo, Goo, G’joob. Coo Coo Ka-Choo is Simon and Garfunkel. Mrs. Robinson.

Regardless, it works. The room giggles with delight. The big boss continues by telling us he is so delighted with our work, he is awarding SwiftWorldwide the entire annual TWINbiscuit account, not just the first quarter assignment we’re pitching today. We expected around seven hundred thousand in revenue but net two-point-eight million over the next fiscal year.

So, why do I feel so poor?


I woke up at 4:00 a.m. in order to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight to Newark in order to grab a car service for an hour-long drive to Califon, New Jersey, which is where the CandyMoon Corporation is located. I do all this in order to make a 10:30 a.m. meeting with the TWINbiscuit Brand Group. I gain seven hundred thirty-seven air miles, but lose a little bit more of me along the way.

Carpe Dead-End. Fact. I am a beaten man.

At O’Hare this morning, in a pre-grande-coffee-of-the-day condition, I noticed something, which ushered me toward my present state of emotional poverty.

Gate B-10.

Non-stop to California. Non-stop to Los Angeles. Non-stop to memories of the one that got away. A girl. The girl. The one I let go when she answered the call of the ocean.

The crux of the problem is an under-the-skin, unforgettable loss with the theme, Piece Together The Crumbled Cookies & WIN.

We were the Harry and Sally of Personal Romance Building Emotions. Play the relationship backwards and we’d still be together. Yeah, in the beginning it was bliss—but isn’t it always? Her name is Jane. I used to call her Weakness.

“Why do you call me Weakness?” she’d ask every time.

“Because you’re mine,” I would respond.

We did this often. It became our mantra. It was a foreplayful nickname game that elicited loving emotion long before we were ready to say, I love you.

Wish I hadn’t seen it.

Gate B-10.

Non-stop to my every regret.


Back in Califon, the clients are treating us to lunch. Problem is, their idea of a “good lunch” is ordering in from a “great sub shop around the corner” while we pound out the 12-month promotional plan for TWINbiscuit.

My roast beef sandwich arrives wrapped in wax paper riddled with Blimpie logos. Makes me feel sofa-king special.

We eat.

We brainstorm.

We plan.

We shake hands.

The day is finally over. Lennon and McCartney have left the building. The car service waiting outside of the CandyMoon Corporation whisks us back to the airport, albeit not without incident.

En route, McCartney yaps into his cell phone, boasting about the victorious day, about the three-hundred percent increase in billings, about wowing the Brand Group, about conquering CandyMoon, about absolutely nothing that interests me at this juncture. I half expect him to start spouting motivational movie quotes like, The things we do in life echo on in eternity.

He is beside himself. I am beside an idiot.

“Right. Right. Perfect. At the end of the day, I’m always reachable by cell. Late.” McCartney taps a fat thumb on the face of his phone.

I speak. “You know the lyric to that song is Goo, Goo, G’joob. Not Coo Coo Ka-Choo. Coo Coo Ka-Choo is Simon and Garfunkel. It’s Mrs. Robinson.”

“What? What’s your glitch?”

“The song. You got the lyric wrong.”

“Are you kidding?”

“No.”

“Who cares? Two-point-eight-million, man. You know what that means? That’s a major coup. A major coup for us…”

He points to himself as he says, “Lennon,” and points to me with, “and McCartney.”

I’m about to correct him when his phone rings. Tap of that thumb and he's on stage again.

“Speak to me. Sir! Yes, sir,” he bellows, followed by an obnoxious laugh. “You heard right, Boss Man. The whole shebang. We bagged the elephant. Yes! A major coup for SwiftWorldwide. Major coup.” He grins into his phone, “A major Coup Coup Ka-Choo.”

I react, snatch the cell phone from McCartney and toss it out the window.

McCartney’s empty-handed shock bleeds into, “That did not just happen. I was talking to Prescott. He’s V.P.”

May have overreacted there. But gazing out the window, I don’t acknowledge him.

“That was a brand new Google Pixel 3. Snapdragon 845, dude. What’s your deal today? You’re acting like a complete dick.”

Crickets.

“Gimme your cell phone,” he barks.

I slowly reach into my pocket and produce a slightly outdated iPhone. I look at McCartney and, with a flick of the wrist, jettison my phone out the window.

McCartney does a cartoon head-crane to gawk out the back window. He huffs, puffs and then it all blows over. I somehow managed to shut him up and, amid the peace and quiet, I watch the world rush by until exhaustion takes over and I doze.


I dream. Jane. Twin biscuits. Annual revenue of happiness exceeds all expectations by three-hundred percent. Jane, naked, wrapped in wax paper riddled with Blimpie logos. My idea of a good lunch. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. in order to lean over and kiss the past on the forehead. Carpe Delight. She is the egg-woman, Goo, Goo, G’joob. We plan our future. Here Comes The Sun, Do-Da-Doo-Doo. We shake each other naked. Harry and Sally never left the building.


Non-stop to Chicago. I wish. My flight out of Newark is delayed. After sitting on the runway for forty minutes, we finally take off. As the plane steadily gains altitude, I realize my whole life has been experiencing delays. Inclement weather. Mechanical issues. Late incoming flight. Ground crew difficulties. Delay after delay.

The plane finally levels off at twenty-two thousand feet and drinks are served.

Epiphany. I am a corporate lemming.

At least I’m heading home.


O’Hare. This is where my ride began almost twelve hours ago. It looks and feels the same, except I’m anxious to trade my grande-coffee-of-the-day for a very large glass of red wine. Anxious, that is, until I see it. It moved. It’s at B-4 now. And suddenly it tastes better than any glass of wine could at this juncture.

Non-stop to Los Angeles.

Non-stop to nostalgia.

Non-stop to before.


Just then, McCartney announces his presence annoyingly.

“Look, we’re cool. Apology accepted. I can let it go. You’re welcome. Now, can we be civil enough to share a cab into the city?”

“I’m not going into the city,” I say, waxing nostalgic.

“But you’ll miss the big announcement,” he protests.

I put my briefcase down and step away.

“I’m not carrying that for you.”

“Leave it. I don’t need it anymore.”

“Fine,” McCartney says, picking up the case. “But you owe me.”

I take another step in what definitely feels like the right direction.

“Dude. Reconsider. Prescott’s called a company-wide meeting. Think about the accolades.”

“Don’t care to be there, whatsoever. Not going to be in tomorrow either. I’m calling in.”

“What? You sick?”

“Nope. I’m calling in well,” I say as we part, as I make a beeline to Gate B-4.

I approach