Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Procedure - 7

Due to the popularity of the Procedure, my appointment was weeks away. This left me ample time to bask in a sort of delicious agony, like a child awaiting Christmas. It also left me time to think. And to observe. To observe this strange, exalted race I'd soon belong to: the Procs.

There were a few where I worked, at a financial consultancy firm on the edge of town. These were people who'd previously been more or less convivial, more or less competent. Who had probably been tormented by doubt, guilt, fear and a thousand sins and vices, but for the most part managed to get up, get dressed, feed their kids and drive to work. People like everybody else.

Now – as far as I could tell – they seemed to have boundless energy and good will. They were relaxed, earnest and hyper-competent. In meetings, they listened to the inanest, most jargon-filled ramblings of their colleagues with saintly patience before proposing insightful, elegant solutions of their own. Everyone deferred to them more and more, a little embarrassedly at first but finally without reservation. For what sort of person would deny them, after all? Eventually the Procs were effectively running the business. Could anyone think of a legitimate reason why they shouldn't? In short order our revenues increased, the business grew, and salaries went up.

That Saturday, I saw the lady with the stroller in the park again. I ran to catch up with her and greeted her breathlessly.


"I remember you!" she said.


"How have you been?" she asked. She peered deeply into my eyes. It occurred to me with a bit of a shock that she actually wanted to know the answer.

"Pretty good. Great, actually. I got an appointment for the Procedure."

Her smile widened. "That's so wonderful!" she exclaimed. "I'm so happy for you!"

I smiled idiotically for a moment. She really was happy for me. I was flattered and moved by her happiness on my behalf.

"So anyway, I know you can't talk about the Procedure, but I was wondering if you could tell me how you're feeling now. Generally."

"I... I... Gosh, this is always so hard to put into words. What's your name?"


"Hi Adam, I'm Shana." She extended her hand and we shook.

"Adam, I have to tell you, it's been the most marvelous experience, it really has. Everything that ever stood in my way has disappeared."


"All the barriers, all the bad habits and all the bad thinking. Gone."


"Is it OK to say this? I feel like God."

"I don't know."

"There's nothing I can't do, Adam."

"That's very exciting."

"Do you want to have sex?"


"Would you like to have sex with me? My apartment's not far away. I can put the little one to sleep."

I was dumbfounded. Of course I wanted to have sex with her. She was fit, beautiful. Her sunny disposition made her all the more attractive.

"I... I... Uh, I dunno, I..."

She beheld me with an expression of profound warmth, sincerity and understanding. Of love.

"We have no hangups anymore, Adam. There's nothing we can't do and there's nothing we won't do. Nothing means nothing means nothing. Do you understand?"

"I guess so."

She made a gleeful little laugh. A dark trickle of blood emerged from her left nostril and flowed slowly toward her lip.

"Hey! Are you OK?" I asked, pointing at her face.


"You have some blood there."

Puzzled, she reached for her nose and felt around with her fingers. When they found the incongruous fluid she withdrew them to inspect their crimson tips.

"Huh!" she said.

"That's blood," I said.

"How about that!" she said. Her smile, half bloodied now, was no less wide than it had been when it was clean.

"Are you OK?"

"Adam," she replied, shaking her head, "I will always be OK. Do you understand?"

I nodded uncertainly as she wiped her fingers on her pants.

"You'll soon know what I mean. Hey, I'll see you later, OK?" she said, and turned around and went off on her way.