“Signature here,” said Stephen Cloobeck. “And here.”
I signatured there.
“And sign here,” said Cloobeck. “And here, and here. And here.”
My signature was impressive. It was three letters (GRE), but highly illegible, sometimes entirely illegible, sometimes just a flaccid line, a signature that said, “Sorry Cloobeck, I don’t have time to write out GREG. Certainly not GREG MICHAELS-MCKAY. Time is money, Cloobeck. You should know that. Don’t you know that, Cloobeck? Do you even own a watch? I own a watch.” That last part wasn’t true, but I was working on it.
“Okay,” said Cloobeck, extending his hand. He had a watch. “You’re Cinnabon.”
“That’s it?” I asked. “I’m Cinnabon?”
“And Derek,” said Cloobeck. “You’ll meet Derek. Together — mind-meld! — you’re Cinnabon.”
“Do I have my own office?” I said.
“You do!” said Cloobeck. “With Derek. Close quarters. You’ll become fast friends, you and Derek. Maybe even, dare I say, best friends?”
Cloobeck smiled expectantly.
“Sure,” I said. “He sounds like a nice guy.”
“The nicest!” said Cloobeck. “The absolute nicest. But he’s got some problems.”
Cloobeck gestured to his own head.
“In the ol’ brain-bunker. He’s very sad. Clinically sad, I think. That’s what he said. Something like that. Is that what it’s called? Clinical sadness?”
“Uh huh,” I said.
“The tweets were getting too cynical. No fun. A suicidal Cinnabon? Is that funny?”
“No sir,” I said.
“No sir indeed. Not funny. Parents hated that. Didn’t want their kids, y’know-”
Cloobeck mimed hanging himself.
“But he’s a great guy. You’re gonna love him.”
* * *
Derek was wearing a black shirt that said “POLITICS.” I asked him what it meant.
“Scoff,” said Derek.
“Did you just say ‘scoff?’” I said.
“Eye-roll,” said Derek, swiveling away in his chair.
I did not love Derek. I was also not-so-sure that he was a great guy. He had been hogging the iPad, our work iPad, to watch a cat-punting video. (Summary: a man drop-kicks his cat off a porch, and everyone laughs, especially Derek.) “This is called research,” explained Derek.
“I brought some ideas,” I said, producing my box of ideas. “Derek?”
Derek wasn’t listening.
I set my box of ideas on the table. A repurposed tin, once filled with Danish butter cookies, now filled with innovative tweets. I plucked a tweet from the tin. It smelled like Danish butter cookies.
“How about this one,” I said. “Does this frosting make my bons look big? #Cinnabon #BigBons.”
Derek swiveled back toward me.
“No,” said Derek. “No. Not ever. We’re artists, okay? Or, actually, let me rephrase that: I am an artist. I don’t know you. But we’re not tweeting that.”
I stared at him in silence.
“How about the cat video?” said Derek. “We could tweet that out. Sharpen our edge.”
“I think there would be some problems with that,” I said. “Legally.”
“Eye-roll,” said Derek. “Suit yourself.”
He handed me the iPad and raised his hands in faux-surrender, swiveling back to his desk. I logged into Twitter. My Cinnabon Empire. One hundred and fifty-three thousand subjects, waiting silently, en-masse, for my words. Their new king: Greg Michaels-McKay. Silent, but all-powerful. A poet for the modern age. I was Cinnabon.
“We apologize in advance,” I wrote, smiling wryly to myself. “For any cravings this tweet may cause.” Below it, I attached a glamour-shot of two dozen glazed Cinnabons, glistening seductively beneath a divine shaft of light, as if, in some way, God were whispering, “It’s okay. Have one, or maybe four. Maybe eat all of them — treat yourself. How many calories? It doesn’t matter. But, for the record, it’s slightly over twenty-six-thousand.” My hands trembled, just slightly. Derek swiveled back.
“Let me see what you wrote,” he said, reaching for the iPad. I yanked it away.
“No!” I said. “No. Let me post it.”
“Give me the iPad,” said Derek. He pried it from my hands.
“Scoff,” said Derek. “This sucks.”
He posted it. I wanted to post it.
“That’s our one tweet for the day,” said Derek. “I’m going home.”
“That’s not– ” I said, but Derek was out the door.
* * *
Cassie was fourteen minutes late, which was fashionable, but made me feel bad. I had booked Red Lobster days in advance, which they insisted was unnecessary, but I insisted showed commitment. I wore my best khakis, which also showed commitment.
“Hi Cassie,” I said, standing up. She sat down.
“Hey,” she said, burying her face in the menu.
“You look even more beautiful in person,” I said.
“Ha,” said Cassie, leafing through the soups and salads. “Sure.”
Her hair was electric — bright blue — frizzy, like a mop of radioactive moss. She was not the kind of person that generally liked me. I was pulling out all the stops.
“They have unlimited cheddar biscuits here,” I quipped. “As many as you want.”
“I’m lactose intolerant,” said Cassie.
“They have normal biscuits,” I said. “I don’t know about unlimited.”
I looked for a waiter to ask about the rules vis-a-vis normal biscuits. I wondered for a second if lactose intolerance was hereditary, but decided that we would cross that bridge when we came to it. You can’t choose who you love. Well, not love. Not yet. I turned back to Cassie. She was quietly perusing the various available pastas. Most of them had clams, which seemed classy. It was a classy joint, hence the khakis.
“Sorry,” said Cassie, setting the menu down. “Sorry. Tell me about you.”
I had never been excited to answer that question.
“I run the Cinnabon Twitter account,” I said. “I actually-”
Cassie’s eyes lit up.
“No fucking way,” she said. “No fucking way. That’s you?”
“Yeah,” I said, smiling. Then I cooled myself. “It’s an alright gig.”
“So that tweet, the one where you said that Cinnabons were laced with Valium, that’s you?” said Cassie.
“Well no,” I said, “That’s actually my partner Derek.”
“What about the one where you posted a picture of Cinnabons jizzing frosting onto each other?” said Cassie. “Did you do that one?”
“No,” I said. “But did you see our most recent tweet?”
Cassie pulled it up on her phone.
“Oh,” she said. “Yeah. So… that’s you?”
“Yep,” I said, leaning back in my chair. “That’s all me.”
“Ah,” said Cassie, flatly. “Cool.”
She went back to her menu. I smiled. No one had ever called me that before.
* * *
Cloobeck poked his head into our office. Derek and I were having a breath-holding contest to determine who got the iPad next.
“Slow day, boys?” said Cloobeck. I inhaled sharply.
“No sir,” I said. “We were just-”
“Celebrating,” said Derek. “Celebrating our seventeen new followers.”
Cloobeck walked in and sat backwards on a swivel chair, hugging the backrest.
“I was just reading,” said Cloobeck. “That Wendy’s had over two million followers. Almost three million. Do you know how many followers we have?”
“One hundred and fifty-three thousand,” I said.
“That’s right,” said Cloobeck. “One hundred and fifty-three thousand. Can you explain those numbers to me?”
“They’re hacks,” said Derek.
“They’re hacks,” I said, quietly.
“No,” said Cloobeck. “They’re geniuses. Are you boys geniuses? Because, if I were to base it on the numbers, you boys are dumb as a rock.”
“We’re artists,” said Derek.
“We’ll get you half a million followers by the end of the week,” I said.
Cloobeck raised his eyebrow.
“Hold on-” said Derek.
“Wendy’s just attacks other Twitter accounts,” I said. “We can do that.”
“If you say so,” he said, standing up. “I’ll hold you to that.”
Cloobeck shuffled out of our office, closing the door behind him. Derek swiveled toward me, violently.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” said Derek. “Half a million?”
“I panicked,” I said.
“No shit,” said Derek. “There’s no way. You’re going to get us both fired.”
“But I’m right,” I said. “Aren’t I? We can just attack other Twitter accounts.”
“Who?” said Derek. “We don’t have any competition, you fucking chud. There’s no one to attack.”
Derek was right. We had the cinnamon-based-pastry market cornered. I looked around the room for something to attack. There was Derek, Derek’s stupid shirt, and the iPad. It was a very empty room.
“Apple,” I said. “Let’s attack Apple.”
“Apple, the trillion-dollar corporation?” said Derek. “Apple, the purveyor of iPads?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “People like conflict. Give me the iPad.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Derek. “I’m not giving you the iPad.”
“Do you have a better idea?” I said.
Derek was silent. He hesitantly handed me the iPad.
“Fine,” he said. “But I’m not taking the fall for this.”
I swiveled back toward my desk and opened Twitter.
“@Apple,” I wrote. This would have to be devastating, yet elegant.
“suck a dick.”
* * *
Cassie picked up, eventually.
“What do you want?” she said.
“Hi Cassie,” I said. “I miss you.”
“We went on one date, dude,” said Cassie. “This is weird.”
“Did you see our — sorry, my — latest tweet?” I said. “As Cinnabon?”
“I don’t know,” said Cassie. “You guys got suspended last night.”
“What?” I said.
“The Cinnabon Twitter account got suspended,” said Cassie. “You didn’t know that?”
“No,” I said.
“Well whatever you tweeted must’ve been dumb as shit,” said Cassie. “Figures.”
“No,” I said. “It was really funny. This must be some kind of mistake.”
Cassie hung up.
* * *
Derek’s desk was empty. It was normally empty, to be fair, but it usually had Derek near it, or sometimes under it, if he was asleep. After a few minutes, Cloobeck poked his head in.
“Where’s Derek?” I said.
“Ah, Derek,” said Cloobeck. “We had to let Derek go. Creative differences. He tweeted something vile. Too vile.”
“Oh,” I said.
“You must be devastated,” said Cloobeck. “Your best friend. I’m sorry, Greg.”
He put his hand on my shoulder.
“You’re a good kid,” he said. “A good egg. Not like that Derek. No offense. He was a bad egg. A bad egg that gets Twitter accounts suspended. So it goes.”
I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
“But once we get that account back,” said Cloobeck. “Big expectations. The world’s on your shoulders, Greg. You, and only you, are Cinnabon.”