Dick Cheney sat alone in a room, his pants down to his ankles, watching TV. There was a metal ring secured snug around his penis and the ring had sensors that recorded his level of arousal.
This was a recent day on the job for Dick Cheney (Smart Ass Cripple Alias), whose life would be among the most tragic you ever did see if it wasn’t all bullshit. At times in his life Dick Cheney has had fibromyalgia, diabetes and vision poor enough to require LASIK eye surgery. He’s been a “distressed homosexual” and the parent of a child with autism. Pretty strange stuff, but none of it’s true. But sometimes Dick Cheney has to pretend like he’s all this and more in order to make money. Everybody’s got to pay the rent, right?
Dick Cheney is one of my crew of assistants. My assistants are paid squat by the state. (I used to say they aren’t paid squat, but they got a raise recently, which officially brought them up to the wage range most economists would categorize as squat.) Therefore they need second jobs. But Dick Cheney is a self-described “aberrant character.” He’s heavily tattooed. One of his forearms is tattooed solid black. He sometimes wears skirts and tights. His earlobes hang low, pierced with gaping holes about the size of a paper clip, into which he inserts various ornamental rings.
So Dick Cheney doesn’t make a good first impression in the traditional employment marketplace. So for his extra income, he trolls through focus group ads. He calls it “looking for crumbs.” It’s quick, anonymous cash, $50 to $100 a crack. If they’re looking for a male his age and race, he applies. Any other qualifications he figures he can fake.
Dick Cheney does a lot of internet research on whatever it is he’s pretending to know something about so that he might somehow contribute something vaguely useful to the focus group discourse. He’s done hundreds of focus groups. The first one was when he lived in Philadelphia. They were looking for “distressed homosexuals” to do a smell study. Dick Cheney was only half lying when he applied. He is distressed. (Who isn’t?)
“They passed around these vials that had cotton balls that had body odor on them,” Dick Cheney remembers. “And we were supposed to take a sniff and then answer this electronic questionnaire that had really random questions, like questions about dolphins and like ‘How old were you when you first went to the zoo?’”
Everybody who’s lived in the big city has a story about jumping through similar flaming hoops in order to hustle up the rent. I have a vague memory (I’ve managed to blot most of it out) of being an emcee for a puppet show about cripples. There was a little kid puppet in a wheelchair and a little kid puppet on crutches. I think there was a blind puppet too. And there was this bully puppet who laughed at them and called them names. And I think they all went skiing or something. I don’t remember. We took the puppet show to a second grade class and they were catatonically bored. And my job was to tell the kiddies that the moral of the story is deep down inside we’re all just the same, or some annoying crap like that. Like I said, I’ve blotted most of it out. It’s too painful to recall. The point is, we’ve all had to sink pretty low.
Dick Cheney’s most recent focus group was the weirdest. “It was the only one that involved my penis.” Again he lied and said he was gay. They slipped a ring on his penis and taped a tube to his nostrils. On the screen, flashes of gay porn. Flashes of animals fucking, like on National Geographic. A voiceover of a woman with a British accent talking about fish. More gay porn. From the tube puffed scents of orange and floral. The screen went purple. Then suddenly, dolphins swimming in a coral reef! Dolphins mating! More damn dolphins, just like back in Philly! None of this aroused Dick Cheney’s penis.
Even after that, Dick Cheney isn’t considering retiring from lying for a living. He can’t afford to.