I'm Flustered -- I'm Furious -- But I Can't Argue With Applause -- By God, You're Hired Again!!!!

I’m the serious man with the big telephone of your life – I’m limousine waiting and hushed silence for disagreement, my beautiful rich mouth is always full of the last word. You’re hired – but on thin ice! Did you know that no one’s ever spoken to me the way you have in the last twenty years? And I love it! But I don’t want to hear you talk like that ever again. Do you hear me? I’ve got cigars and you haven’t any! I’m everything that happens when you go upstairs! I’m the playbill king with the pack-em-in penny-ante subjects of the kingdom of SHOWMANSHIP.

I’ve got it! You’ve got it! If you’ve got it, then I want it! And if he’s got it, then that’s one more I haven’t got, so go get it for me! And the only way this works is if I keep getting it, and keep the it I’ve got, and roll up your little It into a ball to glom onto the bigger ball of my Itness, and shut your little mouth for the biggest sounds of my kingpinnery! Shut up, you’re hired! Stop it at once, for employment! I’ll smack you till your teeth rattle with paychecks! You’re meeting the king early, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get bigger than the king — no one’s bigger than the king!

Now go ahead and rehearse it, just like I told you. Just like I told you. Just like I told you. Just like I told you. Just like I told you. I’m so confident I’m going to turn my back, red velvet dining room, crystal decanters, big vaudeville hats, haughty Gibson girl entourage, guess who keeps the lights on, big gulp of water before opening the paper —

It’s all set up! It’s the array! The night is opening for my magnificence, and everything’s perfectly normal! Normal face, normal show, normal audience, everything I expect is here, for my noticing. Me! The king of this big place, the father of footlights, the Broadway-jointed florist who wraps up the chorus girls into neon bouquets, where every woman’s face is my announcement. And now it’s time for you to start!

I say! But also, I never! I’m all tuxedo disruption! I’m looking around wildly! I’m standing up! I’m mugs! I’m now just waiting a minute here! I’m coming down to the stage to scold my bad babies with lightning, I’m frowning all of the money I have, I’m all eyebrow astonishment, I’m clouding stormtrails down the aisle, ushers swept out of the way, everything stand still for the movement of me —

How can this be? There’s applause, everywhere, bigger than my shirts even, and the one — I melt — the one thing I can’t — it’s applause — the mostliest sound of all, and you brought it to me — I can’t fight applause, not applause, not when they’re all clapping — but I’m so angry — but they’re such applausement — I’m frozen chamber, apple in the lung, holding quiet, the great king of kings is Clap, I’m merely a vessel, darling one, to conduct applause from seat to stage, a servant-king only, bluster dissolved in hand, two-year contract and top billing, no more storm in me, face for pleasing, gentle telephone, loyal always, but I just can’t — and another thing — no more struggle now — you can’t argue with talent — I always argue with talent — I never argue with talent — what am I standing in this hallway for? Oh, that’s right —

Damn! Damn! Damn! Put the starch back in my heels, won’t relax for anyone else, but you brought money and clapping with you, the two inarguable sounds, convert the silver-dollar-Daddy to “Yes, kitten” with a greased pigeonwheel —

I just came down here to give you a piece of my mind — you’ve changed it.