Sometimes a summer job turns out to be more than you ever expected. That’s what I found out when I became a summer intern.
Gotta’ Get A Job
I was in my third year of college and looking for a summer job to pay the party bills. I was hoping to find a position as a bouncer at a strip club (I was training in martial arts) or as a fit tester in Macy’s bra department, but no such luck – it was 1978 and all the GOOD jobs were taken.
Out of desperation – and not just a little whimsey – I answered an ad for a chemical technician at a well-known food company – so well-known they were in the top ten of the Fortune 100 and their products were (and still are) consumed by the majority of Americans and a goodly portion of the rest of the world. It was close to where I lived and they had a good rep, so I figured what the hell – I’ll give it a shot.
I had to recall how to take a shower and then talk my lady-friend into helping me buy an “interview suit” – that nasty assemblage of cloth (sometimes organic, usually not) that costs way too much and fits way too badly.
Having duly cleaned and clothed myself and being pronounced presentable by a jury of my peers – half of whom were far too ripped to really make ANY decision, let alone a sartorial one – yours truly headed off with chin thrust forward and chest inflated to the interview.
The first person I encountered at the company (besides the ancient security guard in the parking lot) was the receptionist in the main lobby – whoa! Total babe! I had to think hard to remember my name, let alone the name of the person scheduled to interview me. After a few false starts, I finally stammered out the right words in the right order and was escorted down tree-filled hallways to a large conference room, where I was offered coffee, tea, soda and a platter of breakfast goodies. Turning them all down (conventional wisdom at the time) I sat and waited for my interviewer, a lady named Denise. My head was bowed and I pretended to be engrossed in my non-existent notes when Denise walked in.
Have you ever elevated a conference table without using your hands? I did. Denise was a knock-out – a gorgeous redhead dressed in a sweater that threatened to explode at any moment, coupled with a pair of dress slacks so tight I could discern the mole on her left thigh. Her face wasn’t just beautiful – it was breathtaking. Turns out she’s one of the technicians I’d be working with.
In my mind, I tried out my new mantra: I WANT this job. I NEED this job. Buddha, I PROMISE I’ll change my ways if I GET this job. But the fun didn’t end there. Another tech, this one senior to Denise, tag-teamed into the ring and started asking the usual questions – why do I want to work here, blah, blah, blah. It took all of my self-control not to blurt out “BECAUSE YOU’RE ALL SO FRIGGIN’ HOT!!!”
Instead, I gave the canned replies as I gazed at her black stockings, which were revealed to me through the simple expedient of her skirt riding up almost to her Bermuda Triangle. Terry was a blonde and I almost got the opportunity to ascertain that fact, but as luck would have it a third member of the team – this one, unfortunately, a male – came into the room and started questioning me.
Paul was the manager of the group I’d be working with. Around 29 or so with a doctorate in chemistry, he proved to be a fellow dude when he asked if I “partied”. This immediately put me on my guard – I figured it was a trap to weed out the freaks. But my intuition was screaming to answer in the affirmative, even if only to qualify it by saying I only partied on weekends and never on a work night. He seemed happy with my reply.
I finished the interview, shook hands with everyone and was assured they’d be getting back to me in a couple of days since they were really short-handed in the lab.
I Got The Job!
Lo and behold! A few days pass and I get the call to come in for orientation. I get through all the usual corporate handbook shit, give my urine sample and my next of kin (wonder if there’s a Freudian connection there?) and I’m brought to the lab where I’ll be working. Denise is there filling out her lab coat like it’s a Halston gown; Terry was sitting cross-legged in a desk chair showing off those gorgeous legs of hers, and Paul was leaning against the lab bench like a contented Rajah, a big smile on his face. “Welcome to Wonderland” he chuckled. Yeah … this was one rabbit hole I wouldn’t mind falling down.
For the first week I was a good boy – well, as good as I could be, which wasn’t much – but I busted my ass working conscientiously, being careful with all my measurements and trying to be helpful in my slack time by volunteering for the grungiest jobs.
I was introduced to Ellie, a mature German lady who was the organoleptic expert of the company – she used her tongue and her nose to identify tastes and odors. OK, OK, I know … but that was her job, and she was damned good at it, at times almost appearing to have magical abilities.
Then there was Tony, the group supervisor that my immediate boss Paul reported to. He was the Grand Pooh-bah of the floor and when he duck-walked down the hall the sycophants would spill out of the labs, complimenting him and throwing themselves under his feet, but he only had eyes for Denise. … and I think Denise was married. But that didn’t stop her from engaging in some heavy flirting and, on one occasion when I just happened to come around the corner, a furtive crotch-rubbing of Tony. I made like I hadn’t seen anything but she knew … she knew. Her face flushed almost the same shade of red as her hair, but I continued my dumb and innocent act.
Terry turned out to be funny as well as sexy, and I enjoyed working side-by-side with her at the fume-hood. She’d reach across me to grab a condenser and “accidentally” rub her chest across my arm, or she’d drop her notebook (I later learned she was ALWAYS dropping her notebook) and I’d get a profile of Terry that no scientific journal could ever hope for.
Paul was The Dude – he wore lizard-skin cowboy boots under his dress pants, drove a Datsun 240-Z (the hottest foreign sports car at the time) like he was Evil Knievel incarnate and generally had a party-boy demeanor. I DID notice on more than one occasion that he and Terry were getting into some prolonged private sessions in his office, no doubt discussing a new flavor compound or a radical new theory of food coloring.
At the end of the first week on Friday afternoon, Paul asked me if I had any plans for that evening. Usually, I did, but this time, I was flying solo for the night. He invited me out to his house for “a little get-together”, and when I asked if there was anything I could bring he just gave me an enigmatic smile and said, “your favorite bong”. All righty, then!
I pulled up in my rag-top ‘Vette and immediately saw what kind of “get-together” this would be. Denise was standing on the pool deck in what appeared to be a painted-on bikini; Terry was just climbing out of the hot-tub, her perfect body dripping and steaming; Paul was in a pair of surfer shorts and a cowboy hat, and Tony was strutting around with a huge Guinea-stinker cigar clamped between his lips, dressed like a ’60’s mobster in Miami Beach – knee-length plaid shorts, a white wife-beater and a pair of aviator shades. I guess he figured he was the Beau Brummel of the group, but I wasn’t about to tell him differently.
There were bottles of booze all over the place; a few half-kegs decorated the pool-side picnic tables and a floating bar rolled up and down in the pool. Torches were burning, Jackson Brown was blasting over outdoor speakers and there was a pronounced blue haze lingering around the pool. I PRAYED it wasn’t from too much chlorine.
As I stumbled up onto the pool deck I received handshakes and shoulder slaps from Paul and Tony and hugs and kisses from Denise and Terry. Paul asked if I had brought what he told me to bring and I whipped it out from under my shirt. Grinning, he led me into his house – what I would under normal circumstances call a mansion – and into what was evidently his study. He opened a drawer and pulled out the biggest, wettest, dripping-est, most glow-in-the-dark chunk of Purple Haze I had ever set eyes upon. My Pavlovian response kicked in and I began drooling and shivering. “For you,” he said as he tossed the moist morsel at me, “for being such a cool guy. We all like you. Enjoy!”
Being the gentleman that I am I offered to pass it around, and upon hearing this Paul hustled me back out to the pool. “SMOKE’S ON!” he yelled, and Denise and Terry made a bee-line for me while Tony hung back, smoking his stogie and looking a bit perturbed. I hesitated, wondering if I was caught in yet another trap and how to get out of it, when Denise sidled up and whispered in my ear “Don’t worry, babe – he’s into something else.”
Crossing my fingers and praying to the God of Hunter S. Thompson I loaded up ol’ Sparky and proceeded to get a full hit of the most potent shit I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. This stuff was righteous – it would have made Bob Marley curl into a fetal position and suck on his braids, that’s how mindbogglingly fantastic it was. I don’t remember how long we hit that puppy or how long we just zombied around afterward, but I DO remember getting the Mother of All Wood watching Denise and Terry put on a little girl-on-girl show. Paul joined them after a while and winked at me as I lay semi-comatose in a padded lounge chair. Tony had disappeared and it seemed to be just the four of us, at least for now.
The next hour or so was a blur of skin and hair and alcohol and weed and pool toys, all of which intermingled to produce an almost trance-like state. Was Denise rubbing beach balls against my pool noodle? Was that Terry underwater in front of Paul, and was she responsible for all those bubbles coming up to the surface? Where’s the hash-pipe?
I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but somehow I don’t think they’re too important in the grand scheme of things anyway. At some point in the evening, Tony re-appeared, red-faced and manic. I accepted this as once again being the natural order of the universe (hey, everyone has their own poison, right?) and continued on with the festivities as Tony cannon-balled into the pool with an ear-shattering roar. Squeals issued from the girls and Paul and I struggled to save ourselves from the resultant tidal wave by grabbing onto the nearest flotation devices. Thank Poseidon for flotation devices! They might not have kept us up but they DID keep us up.
Eats Are On
Somehow we came to a group-mind consensus that we were all hungry, so we floated into the dining room where there was a spread that would make Epicurus proud. Steaks, caviar, fish and shellfish of all sorts, veggies enough to give Euell Gibbons a hard-on … this must have cost a small fortune. We dug into the victuals, feeding ourselves and each other and at one point I specifically remember Denise doing a turn as the catering table. Trust me – caviar never tastes as good as when it is served on a voluptuous red-head. Tony drifted in and demolished whatever we hadn’t yet eaten – he was a human Hoover, with attachments. I had seen a lot of strange things up to that point in my life, having lived in a Greenwich Village loft for several years, but I had NEVER seen a fully-grown man in Bermuda shorts with a medium-rare steak in one hand, a lobster in the other, biting into each alternately with a gusto normally reserved for starving dogs. In between bites he’d throw the steak down on the table, take a huge swig from the bottle of Johnny Blue and go back to chowing down without missing a beat.
Somewhere around 6am, we all crashed in – and around – the house. Later, around 3pm, when I slowly regained consciousness and tried to get up to do my usual wake-and-bake I saw that Tony was snoring away on the pool chaise like a honey badger with a deviated septum; Paul was sprawled across Terry on the living-room couch, and Denise … wonderful, gorgeous, sexy Denise … had her arm and leg thrown over me. I didn’t quite remember the events leading up to being in this position, but then again I didn’t question it too strongly.
The Summer Intern Life
The next two months were a blur of daily 3-hour lunches at various local restaurants (always on the company dollar) interspersed with weekend-long parties. Once in a while we’d change things up and bring a picnic lunch to the local park, where we’d smoke and toss Frisbees around for the rest of the day. Hey, the Boss was with us – we were golden! I had lucked into a teeny-tiny little cult of freaks and I LOVED it.
As it turned out, Denise was already separated from her husband and was awaiting the final divorce; Terry was already divorced and making plans to be with Paul, and Tony was a middle-of-the-road manager who was slowly becoming a slave to the white powder. The funny thing was, our work never suffered; in fact, I believe we came up with more new patents in that time period than any other group at the company. Those pathetic other losers just couldn’t figure out our secret, but WE knew.
… it was all due to clean living.