Once an 800-pound gorilla wondered if it should go on a diet. It had similar thoughts every time it found itself having to press against the wall at government receptions so that more of the usual invitees could crowd in. Anyone the gorilla ever asked about the matter, however, answered: “You can’t be serious! Diets are for those who should have shown a little restraint long ago.” “I just thought my presence might be a bother at times to some.” “My dear friend, have you ever heard anybody at these gatherings voice the slightest concern about your presence? You shouldn’t be so sensitive. Now, if you don’t mind, I see a congressional aide over there I need to have a quick word with.” Was it in fact too sensitive, the gorilla asked itself? Or was the comment just a tactful way of hiding the awkward reality that other guests regularly felt the need to pretend it wasn’t there? “A penny for your thoughts?” “I beg your pardon,” the gorilla answered with a start, looking down at a new face looking up into its own. “A penny for your thoughts. You seemed like you had something you wanted to get off your chest. Though who’d hear you over all this noise, eh? Somebody should blow a whistle every now and then just to give people a break from all the glad-handing and backslapping and a chance to get their glasses refilled or to reach for more canapés.” “Why don’t you blow a whistle?” “Never thought anybody’d pay attention. Now, I’ll wager you could get their attention if you wanted to, an 800-pound gorilla like you.” “Tell me, do I look overweight?” “Aren’t you supposed to be this big?” The gorilla wasn’t sure whether the question was genuine or a joke. Nonplussed, it excused itself and began to head for a set of large glass doors onto the terrace, edging gingerly through the press of lobbyists turned public servants and public servants turned lobbyists, military contractors with military brass in tow, corporate donors with a favor to ask, industry lawyers and government regulators, special interest fundraisers, off-shore accountants, and so many others now filling the room elbow to elbow and wall to wall. “Excuse me . . . sorry . . . forgive me . . . sorry . . . excuse me . . . ,” the gorilla mumbled as it squeezed passed, hoping not to offend. When it finally reached the terrace doors, the gorilla labored to open them and slip out into the evening air. There it found rows of chairs apparently moved outside to make room for the growing number of guests inside. And on the chairs sat a score of other gorillas, some much larger than it, and all staring off silently into space. All wondering, perhaps, if their size too was a bother to anyone inside?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans