Thursday, September 8, 2005
By the cocktail bar at a friend’s pre-game on 58th and 8th
The tall, blond, athletic young man presented himself first. “Hi. I’m Prescott Moncrief,” he said, extending his hand with a well-practiced smile and MBA eye-lock, still debating whether he ought to have included his roman numeral (III) in his introduction.
“Sup man, I’m Todd,” responded the other, grabbing Prescott’s formally outstretched hand around the thumb, forcefully wringing it, and releasing it with a loud snap that only he had generated. Todd then used the same hand to clumsily tuck in the loose pieces of his non-slim-fit shirt into his slightly baggy, pleated trousers and unsuccessfully balanced a dip-cup in the other.
“So Todd, what do you do here in the city?” inquired Prescott, regaining comfort but still frazzled by the urban handshake. He couldn’t help but feel awkward as he shuffled his feet trying to dodge the stray dip-splitlets that might sully his new driving shoes.
“I work for a boutique investment bank,” responded Todd cockily, smirking and now pulling up his pants over his temporarily retreated beer-gut, illustrating that this was one of those hardcore New York male-anorexia and exercise weeks. He would be spilling out of pants next week no problem after this weekend’s depression-gorge.
“Oh I see.” replied Prescott as if the pieces had started to fall together. “I work in finance too. I work at Goldman Sachs,” replied Prescott, suppressing the urge to rip Todd’s to bits. He had just put together Todd’s life story:
Todd grew up in a wealthy family in upstate New York or Connecticut, went to a state school (Tufts/Northwestern included) or tier-two Ivy like Cornell or PENN where he was a 3.0-3.3 GPA econ major and borderline drug addict. Nearing graduation, he incessantly tried to interview with every bank on The Street, cold calling the ones that didn’t even respond to his pathetic resume, and then botched the few interviews he actually managed to get by forgetting the impact of goodwill on net income. Finally, dear daddy the saviour swooped in and landed Toddkins a position at aforementioned “boutique,” where he has since toiled obsequiously under the tutelage of has-been DLJ washouts.
Todd paused and collected himself. “Yeah, I mean, I just really wanted to be closer to the deals, you know. Get more exposure.”
“Yes, of course. Very understandable,” replied Prescott, feigning belief and interest. He told himself he was above mocking his feeble conversation partner, but he could not resist. “So, done any big mergers lately? I hear Joe’s Deli bought a liquor store in The Bronx.” Prescott snickered.
Todd instantaneously turned fire red. The chip on his shoulder was throbbing so hard it was actually starting to appear as a translucent mass. “F*ck you man. We just did a huge IPO of this trucking company in Ohio!” retorted Todd angrily, instantaneously realizing the idiocy of his statement. He muttered something, fumbling to recover, and then finally got out, “Well, I work really closely with our partners who have great connections in the industry!”
Prescott just shook his head in disbelief. Here was a perfectly good factory worker trying to live outside his “position.” What a shame. “Todd,” Prescott said calmly. “I’m going to refrain from further ruining your few hours away from the testosterone-driven madhouse you call work. Actually, I think I hear your out of date, boxy Blackberry going off right now. That’s your MD. I think he wants you to bring him another coffee. But keep ‘trucking,’ they might even promote you to Excel next month!” Prescott paused, allowing the gravity of his insight and the wittiness of his pun to sink into Todd’s soul. Then he smugly snickered again, basking in his pedigree.
“And I’m going to do you one more favor,” continued Prescott, unable to restrain himself. He reached into his pocket and removed his wallet. He flipped it open and grandiosely pulled out a fresh ivory business card with razor-sharp corners [hear: American Psycho sound effect]. The light shined regally off the aqua and white emblem. Holding it between his index and middle finger, Prescott concluded, “Here. Take this and put it in your wallet. Maybe then you’ll know what it’s like to work at a real bank. And maybe you’ll finally be able to pull a half-decent girl instead of that hog over there waiting for you.” And with that he flicked the card in Todd’s face and turned away sharply, masterfully slapping Todd in the face with the swooping sleeve of the sweater tied around his neck.
Todd could do nothing more than gape into the space Prescott had just occupied. Memories of mediocrity inundated and paralyzed him. Images of report card’s with B’s, mid 1300 SATs sheets, cute face but overweight girls, and trophy chests with only JV letters ricocheted off his mind’s eye and piled together in one big sub-par hunk. Then the logic hit him like a blow to the gut—he was mediocre and so boutique investment banks must be too. The one thing he had thought separated him from the schmoes actually just illustrated how schmoe he really was. He sunk to his knees and let his head and prematurely thinning hair fall into his hands. He was a joke.
*Moral: “Boutique” may be a “hip” sounding word, but remember: boutiques are cool in SoHo…not in Midtown.