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The World of Franyo, Part 68: Quit Before It’s Too Late

Nicole Jeffords 5 months ago


My mathematician boyfriend, Steven, gave me a lot of support. “You’re being paid to twist facts, not to think,” he’d say when I complained about… well, following company orders and misrepresenting the products I wrote about. “Kinda like writing a bullshit English paper.”

That was one way of looking at it. But I was growing more and more stressed. I’d finish one report and immediately have to start the next, reading through the trades, taking a little info from this one, a little from that, finishing with a draft that sounded good but didn’t entirely add up. How long was it going to be before the company was investigated and I got in trouble?


“You’re just following orders,” Steven said.

“Yeah, like the ‘good German’ in Nazi times.”

“Well, think how appropriate it is that a commodity company hires you, a recent graduate of a creative writing program with no business experience, as its research department.”

He was right. The whole thing was pretty funny. I’d been trained to dissect a Wallace Stevens poem, not to evaluate the fluctuations of the gold market or describe why now might be a good time to invest in hog bellies. So I just kept truckin’. In a way it was the only good period I had in the four years I lived in Cambridge. I’d graduated! I had a job and a Master’s degree! I was a valid person!


Bowler Hat, Photo Credit Paul Downey, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

But I was still drinking too much. More even than before because I needed all that high octane booze to write the damn reports. And because I was spending so much time with Steven, who’d more or less moved in with me although he owned a sweet little house in Arlington. We’d been in group therapy together the previous three years, so we knew each other well. In a way that was the problem. After a string of horrendous relationships, it was a relief to be with someone I was comfortable with who really understood me. I didn’t want to look at underlying difficulties and didn’t think I needed to. We’d get drunk together every night, sit around and have a grand old time, waxing warm and merry as we schmoozed about everyone and everything we knew. He’d hold my hand, check facts and figures as I wrote the non-stop commodity reports. All my friends loved him, a mild-mannered affable guy who worked at MIT, drove a vintage car, smoked a pipe and wore newsboy caps he’d doff with a theatrical gesture in the presence of a lady – including Jofka, who thought he was hilarious. His father had won a Nobel prize in mathematics in the 50s, not easy shoes to step into. We got along well and even spoke obliquely about marriage.

yes or no

Yes or No, Charles Dana Gibson, Photo Credit MCAD Library, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

But that wasn’t to be. I wouldn’t describe myself as a sensible person, but something – a little frisson of intuition I couldn’t quite articulate – told me that Steven, charming as he was, did not ultimately belong in my future. Nor did the job at First Commodity Corporation of Boston. One night when I sat down to compose a report on sugar futures, my fingers froze up on the keyboard, my brain dead-ended, and this rebellious feeling of I-don’t-wanna-and-I’m-not-gonna rose like a wall in my stomach. There was nothing I could do to make myself write that report. Not even alcohol would help. The next day I handed in my resignation.


**An episode from this memoir is published every Tuesday & Thursday for those following!

**Need to start at the beginning? Find Part 1 here!

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