For a brief moment, Thomas Watson Kennedy was my intern.
I didn’t need an intern, but when I saw Thomas Kennedy’s application I couldn’t resist the opportunity. For one, I really liked the idea because it’s my theory that when you have an intern you have officially “made it.” So, when I saw the application, which I later found was sent to the wrong address, I immediately gave Thomas a call. I would be lying if his last name wasn’t part of his allure. I made up a list of all the people he could know or could be related to, and with each name I added, I became more excited. I would have a Kennedy as my intern, and it would change my life forever…for a year… for a small portion of a month.
When I called the Kennedy boy I was so nervous I actually had several heart palpitations. I dialed the number about a dozen times, only to get to its last digit and hang up. What would I say? How would I address him? Mr. President?
“Hello?” said a voice from the other line. I must have dialed unconsciously.
“Um…hello. Uh, could you please put Thomas on the phone, please?”
“This is Tom.” The voice didn’t sound like a Kennedy’s.
“Could you please put on the other Thomas? Thanks.”
“Nope, it’s just me. Tom Kennedy.”
I immediately hung up the phone. Tom? Just plain and simple Tom? Plain and Simple Tom who wakes up in the morning and goes right to the bathroom. Plain and Simple Tom who has trouble parallel parking, gets too nervous and finds a lot instead. Plain and Simple Tom who was much too plain and simple to be a Kennedy. But his resume was so deceiving. It just oozed Kennedy.
Now, I could have done either one of two things: I could have forgotten that I had ever received Thomas Kennedy’s resume via Quaaludes. Or two, I could have pretended that Thomas Kennedy was, in fact, a real Kennedy and used him as my intern to fulfill my lifelong dream of “making it.”
I dialed him up again and told Thomas that I wanted him to intern for me – an “Accomplished author.” I stressed “accomplished” so much and said it so many times that I finally understood why there were two c’s in the word. He was a bit confused as to how I had received a resume from someone who was in his third year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania, and I explained to him that the name “Thomas Kennedy” was at the top of everyone’s list, even the lists of accomplished authors like myself. “You can call me Tom,” he said over the phone. “I’d prefer not to,” I replied.
Before Kennedy arrived at my office everything was in place. I positioned three stuffed moose heads on the wall, letting him know that I was a sportsman, while psychologically letting him know that I was man capable of handling large guns. I made sure my desk was cluttered with stacks files, on which I stamped in bright red words, “Extremely Important Files.” On the wall behind me was my diploma from Connellsville High School, but under the right lighting, and from where Thomas Kennedy would be sitting, it looked like it was from Cornell. The capper was the small glass of bourbon on my desk, which was actually coke diluted with water. To think, all this completed 20 minutes after the mayor of Boston had left his office.
Thomas Kennedy was 6 feet tall with striking black hair and equally striking brown eyes. His black suit had a hint of a pin stripe, which was brought out even more by the silver in his tie. I wasn’t wearing pants. “Would you like some bourbon?” I offered. “No thanks,” he said. Close one. God, he was handsome. Was he a Kennedy after all?
“You look kind of young,” Kennedy said.
“These eyes, Thomas,” I sighed and paused for effect, “these eyes have seen more than my face shows… bourbon?”
“Uh… no. Spent some time at Cornell, huh?”
“Yes,” I answered. I loved the way he just glazed over my fake degree, acting as if my time at Cornell was just another “thing” in a whole mess of things. His calm manner made me believe for a few minutes that I had actually went to Cornell. I even started to talk about my roommates from Cornell and how we stayed up late every night talking about how much we loved going to school there. “I think we should get started right away,” I said. Thomas Kennedy then took out his notepad and pen, like he was about to take a dictation, which, in turn, gave me chills. I didn’t even have a dictation planned, but I made one up anyhow. My eyes welled with tears. I had officially made it. “Tom,” I said, “let’s get out of here and work somewhere else.” Tom went for the door. “No, no,” I said, grabbing his muscular arm, “through the back window… It keeps me humble.”
Throughout the week, Thomas met me at select public locations because I told him the office environment wasn’t stimulating to the mind. I gave him menial tasks, often handing him sheets of paper while saying, “Fax these somewhere.” The aloofness in my demands only aided to my accomplished author persona. I also began wearing an old pinstriped New York Yankees hat everywhere, thinking that pretending like I was both from New York and a Yankee fan would add to my mystique. Every now and then I would throw in a baseball metaphor. Something like, “It reminds me of Mantle legging out a triple.”
Kennedy believed I was constantly testing him mentally, and thought that when he eventually passed the tests, I would give him some amazing responsibility. I was slightly attracted to his tenacity… and that’s all. I swear. Part of each day was spent introducing him to random people on the street. “This is my intern, Thomas,” I would say as groups of people walked away from me. “Thomas Kennedy,” I added a little louder, watching them all come back at once. “How did you snag him?” a random person asked. “I’m an accomplished author,” I answered, looking over at Thomas who was shaking hands and kissing babies in such a way that could only be classified as genuine. He was so…perfect.
Thomas Kennedy left me after one week, not because he found out who I was, but because he thought the internship was paid. He probably thought that because I said it was. I pleaded with him to stay, and it wasn’t because I had fallen in love with having an intern, but I had fallen in love with Thomas Kennedy. I had become entranced by his charisma, his charm, the way he entered a room and controlled it, his panache with the ladies. I was so upset at his departure that I threatened not to write good letter of recommendation, but I knew I would have given him the world if I could. He had to be a Kennedy. He just had to be.
“Well are you one, or not?” I asked before he left.
“Are you a Reiss?” He asked.
I told him I was.
“Then that should be good enough, right?”
I realized he answered my question with another question, and made me feel good in the process. I didn’t even have a clue what he meant. So politically savvy they are.
By : Seth Reiss