Volume 33, Number 6, June 1998


The Business


by Lyle Hill

He's tall . . . he's dark . . . some might even say he's good looking. He's sneaky . . . he's conniving . . . and most would call him dangerous. He is Johnny "The Mooch" Rago, and there he was standing on my front porch clutching a dopey looking ten-inch tall doll. I shouldn't have let him in, but once again compassion overruled common sense and I opened the door.

"Hill, I got a great idea that's gonna make us a ton of money," he blurted out before I could even say a single word.

Now you have to understand that the Mooch has a long history of coming up with ideas that are going to make him and his associates a lot of money. But to date, not one has been successful.

"Is it legal?" I asked.

"Yeah, this one's legal," he answered.

"OK, let's hear it," I replied, as if I really had a choice.

"Are you aware" he began, "that the McDonald's Corporation recently ordered 200 million Teenie Beanie Baby™ dolls for a promotion they're running, and that a California lady sold a rare Employee Bear Beanie for $4,600 last weekend?"

Unfortunately, I was aware of this. The current McDonald's Beanie promotion has created traffic jams at every intersection in the city that has a McDonalds on the corner. But before I could even answer the Mooch's questions, he continued.

"And, I'm sure you remember the success stories that were generated by the Cabbage Patch dolls and the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll."

While the Mooch was talking, we had slowly made our way into my living room. And all the while, he had been waving this sappy looking, bald-headed doll in front of me. I don't particularly like the Mooch, and I even trust him less, but maybe . . . just maybe . . . he had finally stumbled on to something that might prove to be worthwhile.

"So here's the plan," he went on. "We develop a line of dolls for the glass industry and you allow your customers to buy one doll with any glass purchase of $100 or more." You now buy a mirror or a windshield and you can buy a Glassie Baby™.

"Go on," I encouraged.

"OK, first we introduce the Artie the Architect doll. He has no ears . . . never hears a thing that anybody says. Then we follow with Sid the Salesrep . . . he's dressed in a funny plaid suit, comes with his own BMW and cries until you give him an order. Next comes Larry the Local as in union local . . . he doesn't do anything that the other dolls can't do but he'll cost you twice as much, and four times as much if you buy him on Sundays or holidays."

"Wait a minute, Mooch," I said, "how will we know how much to charge for these things?" "Not a problem, Hill," he responded. "National Auto-Babies Specifications (NABS for short), will publish the prices. For instance, Sid the Salesrep would list out at $200. You'd sell him at 99 percent off plus $1.75 for the accessory package . . . in this case his little BMW.”

"Do you have more?" I asked.

"Oh yeah," he said as he sat himself down in the easy chair by the TV still holding that inane little doll in his big right paw.

"Our fourth release," he continued, "will be Maury the Metal Manufacturer . . . the zipper on his pants won't work properly and each of his shoes will be a different color. Next will come the rarest of all dolls, Irv the Independent . . . a vanishing breed to say the least. Then we follow with Nicky the Network Guy . . . all the other dolls complain about him to each other but in the long run, they find him to be irresistible. After that, we have Leo the Lawyer . . . the doll with only one hand."

"Where's his other hand?" I asked.

"In YOUR pocket," fired back the Mooch. "Then we release Barb the Banker, Cal the Contractor, Ollie the Owner, Gary the Glazier, and about a half dozen more. We could run with this thing for years."

I was stunned. Maybe that last trip to the slammer had done Mooch some good. He really seemed to have it together on this one.

"Mooch," I said, looking him right in the eye, "I think maybe you got something here. But tell me, which one of the dolls is that ridiculous looking thing you're holding?"

"Oh, this one?" he said, holding up the silly looking doll with no hair and frumpy look. "This is Lyle the Linguist . . . talks a lot but doesn't really say much. I originally was going to name him Lyle the Looney but I didn't want to offend you."

"You have offended me," I replied. "In fact, I'm quite offended."

"Well, I can always change his name to Lyle the Legend or Lyle the Lasher if you like.”

"It's not the name, you idiot," I said. "It's the thought that you think that absurd looking doll looks like me."

"It's a spitting image, Hill . . . a spitting image."


Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.