Tag Archives: Sestina

A Memo From Charles Bucket, CEO

To staff, board members and shareholders of Wonka
Industries, LLC: I need not tell you that the chocolate
business is a rewarding one. From the Oompa Loompa
team of chemists and confectioners to the factory
adminstrative staff, we’re one sweet family. “Charlie,”
I tell myself, “why the heck would you ever retire

from the greatest job on earth?” But yet retirement
has been on my mind of late. As you know, Wonka
himself handed the reins to a boy. That boy, Charlie
Bucket, would grow this company from its chocolate
entrepreneurial beginnings to the conglomerate factory
system that is the standard of excellence. Oompa Loompas

have played a large part in this growth. Oompa Loompas
pride themselves on their work ethic; they do not retire.
I have marvelled at their productivity. Truly, the factory
cannot overstate its indebtedness to them. Wonka
was built on the backs of these rotund men with chocolate
in their very veins. They often told me: “Mister Charlie –

“you’re the best boss in the world. We love Mister Charlie.”
I chuckled at this. When I took over, these Oompa Loompas
were my very first teachers in this business of chocolate.
So devoted! Working ever endlessly, never ones to retire
come nightfall. I had been warned about this. Wonka
told me, “Bucket, these men owe their lives to the factory.”

Years ago, he rescued these indigents and the factory
has been their home ever since. He said to me, “Charlie,
they’ve got nowhere else to go.” I replied, “Mr. Wonka,
you have my word that I will ensure that the Oompa Loompas’
job security is guaranteed.” But now they want retirement
benefits. They want an ever-growing piece of the chocolate

pie. In these increasingly health-conscious times, chocolate
is challenging. We have cut costs, used soy, slashed factory
budgets and implemented staff-wide furloughs. Retirement?
If I may be irreverently self-referential here: Sorry, Charlie.
The hidden threat of the unionization of the Oompa Loompas
rends the richly embroidered, tightly woven fabric of Wonka.

In short, there is no retirement here. The chocolate will
flow like the blood of Wonka. The legacy of his factory
remains with me, Charlie, not some upstart Oompa Loompas.

Three’s A Crowd

Dawn breaks in downtown Santa Monica. We see protagonist Jack
Tripper emerge into the fern-encrusted living room where Janet
Wood sits in her favored oversized football jersey. Chrissy
Snow is still asleep, doubtless in a terry romper. The Ropers,
their landlords, have coffee on their wee terrace. California,
ca. 1977, is a magical place. Evenings are spent at the Regal Beagle,

for the most part, and if they are not spent at the Regal Beagle,
then we – the viewers – are left to our best guesses. Perhaps Jack
is at the nearby fern-encrusted apartment of a blonde waitress. California
is loaded with them. Despite the cavalcade of blondes, it’s difficult for Janet,
with her brunette shag, to get noticed, in the same way that Mrs. Roper
is entirely overlooked by her husband. It is a glorious time to be Chrissy,

her white-blonde pigtails bouncing in unison with her breasts. Chrissy –
emblem of all that is sunny in spite of her surname. The Regal Beagle’s
bathroom walls sully her not. Her friends, roommates, and Mr. Roper
treat her as one would treat a puppy-brained Golden Retriever. If Jack
lusts in his heart, Carter-style, for her, or for the long-suffering Janet,
he does not let on. Because even though it’s 1977, and even in California,

the idea of a man living with two women is as freakish as California’s
governor shacking up with Linda Ronstadt. O tempora! O mores! Chrissy
blithely skates along the pier, and cannot know that soon her place in Janet’s
room will be occupied by fresh (Cindy) Snow. All is not well at the Regal Beagle.
We learn that blondes will come and go, and no one will miss them. Jack
is the center, but the center cannot hold. The unthinkable happens: the Ropers

consummate their marriage and are put out to pasture (see: “The Ropers”).
AIDS, and “Friends,” loom on the horizon. It is not looking good for California.
The 80s barge in, but the ferns stay put, stubborn in their refusal to leave Jack,
Janet, and the jiggling that’s watered their fronds for seven seasons. Chrissy
is all but forgotten, Cindy shelved for “smart blonde” Terri. The Regal Beagle
stays open, the party staggers along, but nobody’s partying, least of all Janet.

Ever reliable, ever self-conscious in the face of bosom camaraderie, Janet
played straight woman for years. Fly, Janet, over the stucco walls of the Ropers’
erstwhile investment – now helmed by Ralph Furley – past the Regal Beagle’s
desperate clientele, past Larry Dallas, and beyond the stifling coast of California
and its buxom ghosts. Raven-haired Janet is free from comparisons to Chrissy,
Cindy, and “smart blonde” Terri. For Janet, there will be no spinoff, unlike Jack.

But somewhere in syndication, the Regal Beagle is in full swing, and Janet,
Jack and their companions carry on. Unsuccessful woo is pitched at the Ropers’
barren California nest, and the sun rises and sets on Chrissy Snow.


9-ish a.m. – I arrive at work
and the first thing I do is check Facebook,
where I’m having a “respectful” argument
about the “Ground Zero Mosque.” On Twitter,
Tila Tequila’s accused an ex-boyfriend
of nearly choking her to death.  Google

News has nothing about it. But Google
Images shows Tequila hard at work
at being naked. And what ex-boyfriend?
Isn’t she gay? Meanwhile, back on Facebook,
I’ve posted a quote from Ebert’s Twitter
page about Mt. Rushmore. My argument

being – just for the sake of argument –
WE defaced the Sioux’s “sacred space.” Google
it if you don’t believe me. My Twitter
following has plunged. I guess I don’t work
as hard to make “friends” as I do on Facebook.
I mean, I’ve even got some ex-boyfriends

on my Friends List, even the ex-boyfriend
who dumped me on my birthday. No argument –
he gave me a card first. It’s okay. Facebook
is one big happy family. But Google
is great for schadenfreude at work.
I wish more people I know had Twitter

pages. Because I have found that Twitter
is just like middle school, where ex-boyfriends
get blocked by ex-girlfriends, and everyone works
really hard to be clever, and some arguments
take up your whole feed. It’s better than Google
if you’re keeping track of who’s dead. Facebook

is good for that, too. Speaking of Facebook,
someone who unfollowed me on Twitter
is still my friend there. Weird. Time to Google
for mean girls from high school and ex-boyfriends.
Are they fat? I make a good argument
for restricting internet at work.

By work’s end, I’m satisfied that at least on Facebook,
I’ve won the argument. I gained two followers on Twitter,
and found one fat ex-boyfriend, with many thanks to Google.