I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, Chuck, and I think I’ve finally figured out what’s been bothering me so much lately, and it’s that you never shut up. Seriously, you talk all day long. You’re talking when you walk into the office and you don’t stop until you leave. That’s what, nine, ten hours straight of yakety-yak. It has gotten so bad that I have to close my office door, and I don’t want to close my office door, Chuck. You know why? Wait, Chuck, hold on, I’ll let you talk in a second. I want to explain something to you. See, I’m still a Junior Attorney. And the suits don’t like it when they walk by the office of a Junior Attorney and the door is closed. It makes them feel like they’re being shut out. But if I leave my door open then I have to listen to you talking all day long and it makes it hard for me to concentrate because your voice is driving me crazy. You talk to everyone who comes within ten feet of you and if there’s no one around you talk to yourself or one of the thousand pictures of your dog you have taped to the wall of your cubicle. And it’s not like you’re making small talk, Chuck. What you’re talking about is heavy, real heavy. All of these existential questions. One after another. And all the complaints and regrets. You walk into the office with that Spengler book tucked under your arm and all you can talk about is the decline of the West, right? How we’re all doomed? How we’re about to enter, what? What do you keep talking about? The, um, the “second religion” or something? Huh? Oh, yeah, that’s it, the “Second Religiosity.” That’s deep stuff, Chuck, and I’m trying to tell you that this is really not office talk, you know? Can’t you just say hello to someone without mentioning that we’re living in the Age of Caesars? Don’t you notice that no one knows what to say to you when you say that to them? Wait, hold on, Chuck, I’ll let you talk in a second. Or talking about the death of that dog of yours? Jesus H. Christ on a cracker, Chuck, that dog of yours died, what, ten, fifteen years ago? I mean, I get it, you loved your dog, but we all have to move on at some point, right? Look, I know you appreciate me getting you this job, and I know that being a paralegal can be a real drag sometimes, but still, this is an office, and there has to be a modicum of peace and quiet so people can do what they need to do and get the hell out of here. And by people I mean me. Me, Chuck. Your old pal, Peppermint Patty. I’m tired of having to listen to your voice all day, every day, for nine, ten, sometimes eleven hours straight. Nothing but doom and gloom and how life as we know it is finished and the inevitably of it all. Look around you, Chuck. Look. The world is not ending. And even if it was, that’s no excuse for not doing your job or creating an uncomfortable work environment. Which is exactly what you’re doing. No one wants to get within ten feet of you, Chuck. They’re afraid you’re going to start asking them questions about things they’d rather not think about. And besides, don’t you ever get tired of your own voice? Isn’t there anything you’d like to keep to yourself? Does every single thought you have in your head have to materialize out in the world and make a beeline straight for my ears? I’ve got news for you, Chuck: I can’t turn off my ears. Which is why I’m telling you this right now. You need to stop talking. Going forward you need to start keeping yourself to yourself. In other words, Chuck, you need to shut up. Okay? Chuck? Hey, Chuck? Are you listening to me? Wait, hold on, Chuck, I’ll let you talk in a second. I’m serious. You need to shut up. I know that’s not what you want to hear right now, but you don’t have a choice. For your own sake and for the sake of everyone in this office — and especially for the sake of me — you seriously need to shut up. And read another book. Or don’t read at all. Hey, Chuck, there’s an idea. Just simply stop reading. Because, you know, if you think about it, and I have, reading will get you nowhere. I mean, Chuck, look where you are. You’re a thirty-year-old man who does nothing but read, and look where reading has gotten you. Nowhere, Chuck. Nowhere.
MCSWEENEY'S QUARTERLY SUBSCRIPTIONS
“An enduring literary presence.”—Chicago Tribune
“Brilliant and always surprising.”—Detroit Free Press
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