Friday, October 02, 2009

Gray Flannel

In September 1987 I worked in the Computer Applications Department of the law firm of Hogan and Hartson. In early September I started to go to lunch with two coworkers, Craig Dye and Daniel Cutler. The office building where we worked, Columbia Square -- designed by I.M. Pei, no less -- had a roof deck for the enjoyment of employees. Craig, Daniel and I started to have lunch together on the roof deck. A brief time after the three of us started to eat lunch together, Craig started to douse himself -- I mean literally douse himself -- with men's cologne. Gray Flannel.

The word "gray," by the way, is an anagram of Gary -- but sometimes cologne is just a cologne. In about September 1987, Craig also bought a dress shirt -- gray cotton with thin orange stripes; it was identical to a shirt I used to wear. But sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. In April 1987 -- five months earlier -- I had pointed out to Craig that the name "Craig Dye" was an anagram of "gray dice." -- It would take a Sherlock Holmes to carry this line of thought any further!

Craig used to stink up the whole office with his cologne. One day a coworker, Cindy Rodda, entered the office. She said immediately: "What's that smell?" She turned to me and said: "Is that you, Gary?" I didn't know what she was talking about. I remembered that I had recently changed laundry detergent, and I said to Cindy: "Are you talking about my New Tide? I just started using New Tide detergent." She said, laughingly, "no, it's not New Tide. New Tide!" She walked over to Craig, and said: "It's you!"

Now, that's interesting. I could have said to myself, "Craig just started having lunch with me. Maybe he's falling in love with me. He started dousing himself with cologne to seduce me!" But I never thought that thought. I may have paranoid schizophrenia, but I'm not crazy. Why would any rational man think that because another man in the office started using cologne, that it was a reaction to him? There is one answer to that question. Perhaps if I unconsciously had fallen in love with Craig, I would have interpreted every random act he did as a sign that he loved me. Perhaps, I would interpret his ignoring me as a sign that he hated me and wanted to destroy me. Every random act -- or its opposite -- committed by my beloved was instinct with his passionate feelings for me; so desperate was I for a sign that he was not, in fact, ignoring me. And that's Schreber! The fantasy compensates for an inadequate and unsatisfying reality.

To this day I have no idea what was really going on in that office in terms of group psychology. But some complex and disturbing dynamics seemed to be played out. Craig's private irrational -- his belief that I alternatively loved him and hated him -- seemed to be adopted by other employees.

On a day in about June 1987, two employees -- Espe Rebollar and Daniel Cutler -- were standing off to the side as I chatted with an employee, Clarence Pollard. Clarence Pollard, was a bright young fellow, a graduate of Yale University. Why wouldn't I chat with him? I overheard Espe say to Daniel: "He's (meaning me) trying to make Craig jealous." I thought Espe's comment was odd and disturbing. I knew at that moment that I had no idea whether Craig was even in the office; he worked in a cubicle. There's no way my chat with Clarence Pollard was in any way related to Craig. Elliott Mincberg, Esq., an attorney at the firm, knew Clarence Pollard. I think that both Mincberg and Pollard were fans of the character Sherlock Holmes. Or is my memory playing tricks on me?

I have a sense that Craig's private irrational (his paranoia) was being adopted credulously -- and ridiculously -- by other employees who interpreted meaningless, random acts that I performed as objective and real evidence of my motivations. Where have we seen that before? I am speaking of the private irrational of an individual being adopted as real and objective by a group or even a nation. Well, I won't go there. I'm not a Republican. Ha!

Recently, I watched a TV show about the Manson case. An individual knowledgable about the case said that Charles Manson has denied ever having instructed anyone to kill anybody. And the individual added: "And I believe him." Now that's interesting. It says something about the dynamics of disturbed groups. To people who say I am being paranoid about my experiences at Hogan and Hartson, I will deny that I believe that coworkers ganged up on me. It's quite possible that a charismatic individual can corrupt a group of people with his private irrational without directing members of the group to do anything.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

I recently learned that Craig Dye has a brother named Gary. That's something I didn't know while we interacted.