THE OLD GOAT
Once an old goat nearly overdosed on Viagra. That it even felt the need for Viagra baffled many who knew the old goat. It certainly didn’t have a history of difficulties that might have suggested such help was needed. Quite the opposite, its reputation for unflagging performance was well known, legendary even. Ironically, the old goat’s reputation may have been the very source of its troubles. It hadn’t really given much thought to that reputation in the past. A dismissive “either you’ve got what it takes or you don’t” might have summed up the extent of the concern the old goat had shown for what seemed so much a part of its nature as hardly to deserve mention. But that was before it started hearing stories at the office about non-stop “nooners” involving, apparently, most of the staff. Then a mid-level associate abandoned a marriage of twenty-five years to, as he proclaimed, “find myself again” in the back seat of roving taxicabs. What was going on? Now that it began to take notice, the goat wondered if it had been asleep while the earth moved. With increasing numbers behaving as if they meant to out-goat the old goat and write their name in the record books above its own, maybe the time had come to take the question of its threatened reputation more seriously. There was something demeaning, though, about having to prove your status as “numero uno” when there should have been no question about it. The goat didn’t really know where to begin or how to proceed, so little thought had it given to the threat in the past. Increasingly, however, its attention wandered in conferences with important clients to ceaseless shopping plans for bright shirts, gold neck chains, or spice-scented breath sprays, not to mention any number of strategies for following comely new-hires into the elevator. When it caught itself one day trying to read the small print on packages of hair restorer and whisker dye, the old goat realized how far and how fast it was spiraling out of control. This couldn’t go on. Deciding a bold step was in order, the goat contacted a specialist. “I see cases like yours all the time,” the doctor began reassuringly. “You do?” the goat asked in alarm. Had it actually underestimated the number of next-generation old goats preparing to challenge it, then? “Yes, although there wasn’t much hope for the condition until quite recently. Fortunately, it now has a name: OGS, or Old Goat Syndrome. Where there’s a name, there’s always a cure, it seems. Just take one of these pills and call me in the morning.” “I have to ask you, doc, is this pill right for me?” “It’s right for everybody. Emerging research shows OGS doesn’t discriminate when it strikes. Political leaders, baseball players, hedge-fund managers, the guy with the wide stance in the next stall, soon the whole country may be relying on these pills.” That information did nothing to calm the goat’s anxiety. The sum total of its self-image was now at stake. How was it to go on if virtually the entire world was intent on laying claim to its reputation? To retain its supremacy, would it have to make an extra effort and broaden its range of conquests then? Better leave nothing to chance in that case. Scarcely out of the doctor’s office, the old goat gulped down the full bottle of pills, ignoring the doctor’s final warning that if it experienced a sudden loss of vision or hearing, it should stop taking them immediately, for these might be symptoms of a side effect known as “rutting your eyes out and your ears off.” The old goat only hoped that was true. When the doctor’s telephone did ring the next morning, it wasn’t the goat calling but the police. They had a few questions they needed to ask about a suspect they were holding in a string of indecent exposure complaints at locations ranging from daycare centers to retirement homes.
Copyright © 2003-2004, revised 2008, by Geoffrey Grosshans