When I got into the office last Wednesday, there was a resume on my desk along with a post-it from Human Resources asking that I interview a paralegal candidate. I took a look. Lloyd Dobler: a 36-year-old who had once lived in England. Something about his name seemed roughly familiar, but all I noted at the time was his complete lack of relevant experience and his listed objective: “I don’t know. But I know I don’t know.”
It wasn’t until he was escorted into my office hours later that I realized it was the Lloyd Dobler. The protagonist from one of my favorite movies, Say Anything ….
“Lloyd!” I exclaimed. “What are you doing in America? Why would you want to be a paralegal? What happened to your kickboxing career?”
He raised his hands, still inside his overcoat pockets, and asked, “Don’t you want to ask me about how a fictional character could manifest himself inside a Seattle law firm for an interview or anything like that first?”
“Well, I … “
“Or how about the fact that I’ve aged in real time since Say Anything…’s 1989 release?”
“You look great, though.”
Lloyd was right, of course, and I was wondering about precisely those issues, but interviewing candidates is a non-billable task and I needed to hit my hours for the month so I decided to press on.
“I’m sure we’ll get to all of that in time,” I said and picked up his resume.
“So. Why a paralegal? Retiring from kickboxing?”
“I tore my A.C.L. and that was the end of kickboxing”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “When was that?”
“About ten minutes after the movie ended. I tripped on a piece of ice in the aisle of the British Airways jet.”
“Man, that sucks.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. But you know what? I didn’t even care. I was with Diane. That was all that mattered to me. And she was starting school and I wanted to be there for her.”
“That’s great,” I said. “So. Is she here in Seattle now? You guys married?”
“Married! Did you really think it was going to work? She’s about a million times smarter than me. All she cares about is personal success. And she carries the genes of a criminal floating around inside of her.”
“You sound like Lane Meyer from Better Off Dead … now.”
That comment didn’t sit well with Lloyd and he put on some sunglasses, lowered them to the tip of his noise, and peered over the top of the frames to indicate his disapproval.
“Well, I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”
“Yeah, and I’m sorry I caught her blowing her Celtic folklore professor the second week we arrived in England.”
“She did that?”
Suddenly, I just couldn’t speak. The failure of a love that seemed so clear to me at sixteen caught me off guard. And Lloyd, who was far angrier and assertive than I remembered, watched me squirm in silence. Then he leaned forward with a look mixed with coyness and pity and said, “I was your hero, wasn’t I?”
“You were going to be just like me. You were going to find a girl just like Diane.”
“Actually, Diane was always a little too white-bread for me. Something about her mouth, but yeah.”
“And then you went off to college and wore an overcoat and tried to do the right thing and wear your heart on your sleeve and things just didn’t work out the way you thought they would.”
“Right,” I admitted.
He stood up, leaned over my desk, and extended his open palm before me. “And that was because …?” he asked, waiting for me to fill in the blank.
“Because girls like guys like Joe.”
“Exactly, my brother!”
He raised his hand. We high-fived.
“So how’s your nephew?”
I didn’t know what else to say. It was terrible to see your hero fall, but at the same time, I felt somehow liberated. So I continued with the interview.
“So why do you want to be a paralegal?”
Lloyd flashed me his McCartneyesque eyes and said, “Well, I’ve tried buying things sold and processed, and processing things bought and sold, and …”