Monday, April 5, 2010
Sometimes I think a lot about Heather Reisman, CEO of Chapters/Indigo. Girl – what are you up to exactly? Are you making organic paper products for your Pistachio stationary chain? Are you and Jerry deep in a game of Risk? Do you use the Streit’s Matzoh Ball Mix at Passover or do you cook matzoh balls from scratch? If so, what’s your secret?
But beyond the mundane realities of Heather’s life, I also have more serious business minded questions for her. Like how does she pick her Heather’s Picks for Indigo? According to Indigo’s website Heather’s Picks are: “Guaranteed Picks, Chosen Personally by our CEO and chief booklover – we guarantee these great reads or you’ll receive a full refund or exchange.” I thought initially that Heather’s picks would be somewhat topical; even Gwyneth Paltrow has amended her GOOP lifestyle e-newsletter to include season offerings such as Steven Spielbergs favourite Matzoh Brei recipe. Oddly enough, however, Heather’s picks exist in a festive time warp, Brian Mulroney’s Memoirs is currently one of her “picks” even though it was published in 2007 and well… Brian Mulroney is about as relevant as Britney Spears these days.
That being said, there is still money to be made in seasonal literature, and now is the time when every Indigo is decked out with copies of that clichéd graduation gift: Dr Seuss’s Oh, The places you’ll go. It may not be chosen by Freulein Reisman, but its still a money maker.
People often give copies of Oh, The places you’ll go to recent graduates as a sort of pick me up as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. I suppose rhymes like: “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” are helpful in times of CRISIS, JOB SEARCH, and OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE moments. Heck Theodor Geisel even has rhymes for moments when you feel like crying: “Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”
I understand why the book has a following, however, if I see one copy of Oh, The places you’ll go at my Donna Martin Graduate themed graduation party… I’m going to lose my shit. Its not that I don’t value its message, which is about as saccharinely sweet as a “Favourite Things” episode on Oprah, feeeeeeaaaaaaatttttttuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrinnnnngg JEEEEEENNNIFFEERRRR ANNNNIISSTTTTON (you know the voice that Oprah uses to introduce big name guests, read that line like that) because I do, but because… it just isn’t really the right message to graduating students.
Lines from Oh, The places you’ll go are like when you call your mother crying because your boyfriend broke up with you or because you don’t have a job and the only thing she can tell you is that everything is going to be ok. In those types of situations, hearing that “everything is going to be ok”, just isn’t very helpful. What you need your mother to do is introduce you to that cute boy down the street and or get you a job. We need action and well action… not words.
So what will I be getting my Rotman friends, besides a papier mache picture frame made out of my statistics notes? In keeping with the Children’s literature them, I’m partial to something from the Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew oeuvre. Why? Well the Hardy Boys mystery novels, which chronicle the lives of amateur teenage sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy, teach a couple of valuable lessons that Oh, The places you’ll go does not.
First of all each of the original Hardy Boy books are self sustaining stories; when the Hardy Boys solve their mystery du jour, the story is over and there is no lingering bullshit. This is helpful for moments of your life that you wish would just end. The Hardy Boys teach us know that once you’ve solved the mystery of the Tower Treasure, you’re on to the next case, the mystery at the House on the Cliff. Lets say you hated doing your Masters of Lameness Administration (MLA) at the School of Lameness; well that shit ends in two years. Move on!
Secondly the Hardy Boys teach us that life is mysterious. Frank and Joe have solved over 100 different mysteries. They’re only 18. So don’t cry and don’t be lazy; go solve some mysteries.
Thirdly, don’t discount the value of friends. The Hardy Boys are surrounded by good friends, from Chet Morton and his Jalopy to harmonica playing star athlete Biff Morton, described as buff, blond and muscular (call me!). This also leads us to point 3b): although the Hardy Boys also have “girlfriends” these seems to be a platonic designation; if you notice neither Frank nor Joe are taking time away from their busy schedule of solving crimes to fuck-around with lady parts. Point noted Frank and Joe.
The reality is that the last thing MBA students, and other graduating students need is a pat on the back telling us that everything is going to be ok. We know that; we survived. What we need now is a little context – and for that context, I will be looking to the Hardy Boys whose tale of white, upper middle class, WASP suburbia is about as comforting as anything else out there.
And to make a long-story short - Heather, I’m looking for a job – if you want someone to vet your picks – call me!