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 these government receptions so more of the usual invitees could squeeze in. Anyone the gorilla ever asked about the matter, though, answered: “You can’t be serious! Diets are for those who should have learned a little self-control long ago. That’s not you, surely.” “I just thought my presence might be a bother at times to some.” “My dear friend, have you ever heard anybody 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 too sensitive, the gorilla asked itself? Or was the comment just a tactful way of hiding the awkward reality that other guests regularly felt forced to pretend it wasn’t there? “A penny for your thoughts?” “I beg your pardon,” the gorilla answered with a start, looking down at the 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? Somebody should blow a whistle or something just to give people a chance to collect their wits.” “Why don’t you?” “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 doors onto the terrace, edging gingerly through the press of lobbyists turned public servants and public servants turned lobbyists, military contractors, corporate donors, off-shore accountants, industry lawyers and regulators, special interest fundraisers, and so many others now filling the room elbow to elbow and wall to wall. “Excuse me . . . sorry . . . excuse me . . . forgive me . . . very very sorry . . .” When the gorilla finally reached the doors, it managed to open them and squeeze out into the night air. On the terrace, it found rows of chairs apparently moved outside to accommodate even more guests. And in 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 © 2005 by Geoffrey Grosshans