In The Words: Things To Do At Work When You Are Bored
At the job where I formerly worked, I’d often go for a while with not too much to do, so, like any red-blooded employee, I’d devise inane and bizarre ways to pass the time. One idea I’d been kicking around the cubicle late February ‘07 was submitting phony letters to the editor/freelance articles for our hunting magazines. But finding a topic where the plausible and the absurd overlap had been enormously difficult.
But first I should probably give a little background. We got freelance submissions all the time, and most of that all of the time they were pretty bad. Of the most that were pretty bad, the most that were petty bad the most were people’s hunting stories. It’s not that the stories themselves were poorly written or uninteresting, just that they were all pretty much the same, and, while they were meaningful to the author, they didn’t offer much to anyone else. Of course we frequently featured hunting stories, but they were written by guys whose opinions our readership respected, not Joe Blow off the street who doesn’t know much about hunting, guns, dogs, or the proper pluralization of “GSPs.”
To give you an idea, the typical cover letter for a submission reads like this:
I’ve subscribed to your magazine for a long time. I like to hunt birds with my dog that I trained from when it was a puppy.
I went hunting one time and I’d like to share this story with your readers. Please let me know if you’re interested in purchasing this story.
Aside from their rather unconventional definition of “share,” these people generally have the writing skills of a snide blogger, meaning that they believe “ostentatious” and “distinctive” are two words for the same concept. As such, their writing typically suffers from one, if not all, of three affectations 1) Overly wordy descriptions, 2) Overzealous vocabulary, and 3) Outlandish topics. You can usually diagnose this from the cover letter, but there are times when a piece is so heavily afflicted by these vices that we really wonder whether the author is serious, or whether he’s, as we say, “insane.”
So what does this have to do with my topic for a phony submission? Well, as I said before, the challenge was to find a topic as close to ‘Is He Out of His [expletive] Mind?’ as one could get without going over into ‘He Really Must Be Out of His [expletive] Mind.’
And after long deliberation, rumination, and prognostication, it hit me in a Georgia quail field:
Hunting Porn — or rather Hunterotica: Hunting stories with a sensual twist.
So, after creating a phony hotmail account, I e-mailed the following to my bosses.
Dear [Name of Magazine Removed for Reasons of Copyright],
I’ve been an avid reader of your fine magazine almost since its first issue. I train dogs and hunt as much as I can and I have a lot of stories I think your readers would be very interested in.
That is why I’d like to offer you first rights to my story “The Best Thing My Dog Ever Pointed or Give Her Both Barrels”
As you know, while the demand for hunter erotica is very high, the market is virtually untapped. I think this is a rare opportunity for The [Name of Magazine Removed for Reasons of Copyright] to “boldly go where no hunting magazine has gone before.”
I’ve included a short passage but the actual story is 2038 words long…….and SIZZLING!!!! If you’re interested (try not to get TOO interested!!!) let me know and I can send you the whole thing. I won’t tell you whether it’s based on a true story or not……I have a lot more stories, too. Some even use the dog!!!
Thanks for your time and keep up the great work,
“The Best Thing My Dog Ever Pointed or Give Her Both Barrels”
The heat can be unbearable. Three hours into the field and a man can feel the warm sweat glistening down every hair on his chest. My pointer took no notice and ranged out far ahead. He smelled something, doubtless of that.
I ran after him, knowing my shirt would be soaked by the time I caught up. I stopped, removed it, and mopped my chest. As I looked, I noticed my skin was the same hue of burnt amber as the landscape, and before I could reflect in its beauty, I saw my dog.
He was staunch at point, every muscle on his supple hide tense, every vein, engorged. His tail was stiff enough to penetrate the air itself, his hocks tight enough to crack walnuts.
Glancing up I saw his prey: Flaxen hair and dusty skin, she was a creature of the land, her small arms wrapped around one even smaller. It was the kind of gun you’d never have to squeeze hard to discharge.
Breathless, I murmured, “And what, exactly, are you pursuing?”
“Woodcocksss,” she sibilantly responded.
“Small prey,” I teasingly demurred. “I think your bore would prefer something…larger.”
Her face flushed redder than the crimson knob of a drake Rosey-Billed Pochard, but from her smile you would think she’d just downed a cock pheasant with a .410. Slowly I edged closer, as she, somewhat restlessly, staid her ground. From the brink of my peripheral, I spotted my pointer, honoring.
A mere glance into her tungsten-colored eyes, those little BBs of truth, told me all I needed to know. I relieved myself of the heavy orange vest, weighed down with the remnants of the day’s bag: Six birds. I was about to go one over the limit…
Seeing the bright concoction of red and yellow which I had stripped myself of now resting on the ground, a look of concern dashed across her face.
“But…that’s the only orange you…”
I put a single finger to her lips, and, looking straight into those eyes, with a low voice said,“I like to live…dangerously.”
She could bear it no more. She flushed into my arms, and we plucked off each other’s clothes like so many feathers from a fresh pheasant. She was a stunning bird – breasts, thighs, and wings all plump, and smooth. The early reports, after all, had indicated a good harvest…
As we crumpled to the ground, she tenderly whispered:
“Leave the safety…off”
But the story didn’t end there, for, after a week or so, the following e-mail from my boss appeared in my phony-hotmail-account’s inbox:
Dear Mr. Wyman,
Thank you for your recent submission in which you couldn’t decide which lame title to use. I don’t even know where to begin with this, Mr. Wyman – though, if this is your chosen genre, you may consider changing your name to “Hyman.” (Sorry, cheap joke – I’m sure you’ve never heard that one before.) Never before have I been so appalled by a submission to our fine magazine, so speechless, so flabbergasted… so… so… aroused. Never, in all my years here, have I ever wanted to read a full manuscript so badly – and behind the locked door of a private bathroom. In fact, just thinking about it…
Okay, I’m back now. Where was I? Oh yeah, your sucky story – and I’m sure that “suck” appears more than a few times. If you continue to try to sell this junk, I will have no choice but to enlighten the Hotmail authorities that this e-mail address attempting to sell pornographic (you can spin it whichever way you like by labeling it with the politically-still-not-so-correct-but-not-as-bad word “erotica,” but we both know what it really is… GOLD!) material.
Very truly yours – and I do mean that in the most genuine sense,
Maybe they were on to me, maybe not—to this day, I like think (if they remember it), they’re still not quite sure. In any event, it was a fun way to pass the time.