Current Occupation: RETIRED
Former Occupation: ADJUNCT ENGLISH PROFESSOR and TECHNICAL WRITER
Contact Information: Charles Rammelkamp has published a novel (The Secretkeepers), two collections of short fiction and two volumes of poetry. A chapbook of poems, MIXED SIGNALS, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. A full-length volume of poetry entitled MATA HARI: EYE OF THE DAY has just been published by Apprentice House.
Dignity for Hire
I approached it as a job. Well, I stood to make as much as twenty grand for half an hour’s work, so what more logical attitude to take? Friends had submitted my name. I hadn’t really expected to be called, but here I was.
We all had to jump and wave our hands enthusiastically while the insipid theme song jingled out of overhead speakers like elephants on tiptoes. We shook our hips and hands, smiled as if we were trying to turn our mouths inside out.
Then the host, dressed like a lawyer at a high-profile trial – you know the guy I mean – came out from behind the curtain to studio audience applause and regarded us all with a kind of sardonic solemnity, as if he might break out laughing at any minute, roll around the floor. With the same straight face, he spoke to us as if we were a gathering of scholars, scientists at a symposium discussing cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s.
This guy could make eye contact without really looking at you. It was a real trick, the way he made you feel important and insignificant at the same time.
“For the win,” he announced, like some sort of archangel proclaiming the end of time, “What does a woman do after her husband falls asleep?” The correct answer was based on a survey of a hundred random people interviewed at a Burger King in Arizona.
“Pig out on junk food?” Contestant A speculated.
“Do online shopping?” Contestant B ventured.
“Read a book?” I guessed, knowing it was the wrong answer.
None of us got the correct response, but we all walked away with a thousand dollars.
Twiddle her twanger? Really? Come on. I mean, really?