"Theme Week"

Summary: Mr. James' new holiday backfires when the overzealous staff goes all-out, ignoring their duties; Matthew copes with temporary blindness; Lisa wants her own fan club.

Started: 4/15/06 Updated: 4/15/06

Chapter One

Posted by Dale on Saturday, April 15, 2006

The crew of WNYX waited as Beth collected their blue index cards, and then passed them to Dave at the head of the conference table. Jimmy James checked his watch for the fifth time since the meeting began. It was almost six o'clock, and everybody was eager to leave for the weekend. Matthew, as usual, was the last one to finish.

"Thank you for voting, everyone." Dave tapped the stack of cards together neatly. "I hope your creativity in picking ideas for theme week surpasses finding ways to avoid working. So, let's see what you've come up with."

The news director read the first one, and looked pointedly at Bill McNeal. "No, we are not having a 'Nude Day'."
Lisa smiled blandly across the table. "Nice try, Bill."
Dave turned over the next card. "Again.. there will be no Nude Day."
"Bill told me to do it." Matthew confessed.
"You people have no vision." the news anchor accused.
"Moving on." Dave said. "Here we have an example of a good suggestion: 80's Day. Thank you, Beth. This one is a keeper."
"Coolness." she said.
"And what, exactly, is wrong with having a day to appreciate all the splendor of the human body in its natural state?" Bill demanded.
"For you, everything." said Catherine.
"Look, the point here is to make work a little more fun, so I think we should show Mr. James some gratitude for allowing us to do this at all." said Dave as he tore the rejected cards in half.
"Exactly." Jimmy said. "Consider this a reward for..." He trailed off, watching Matthew remove the stickers from a Rubik's cube with Beth's guidance. The little colored squares were stuck all over his face and hands. "..all of the hard work you guys do around here."
Dave continued: "Personally, I was hoping for a Team Spirit Day, or better yet, an Actually Do Your Job Day, but seeing as we seem to lack both motivation and team spirit, I guess that's not going to happen."
"Why don't we all switch jobs." Joe Garelli said. "Just for once I'd like to sit and play computer solitaire, or read the news while somebody else keeps this office in one piece."
"That's patently absurd, and I shall have no part of it." Bill McNeal stated.
"I can fix the elevator!" Matthew exclaimed.
"I rest my case."
Lisa spoke up. "Actually, I think Joe has a very valid point."
"Yeah." the handyman said. "Wait, I do?"
"I think our lack of motivation stems from complacency, and maybe we would have more respect for our work if we knew how much effort is required to run this station. I vote for Job Switch Day, too."
"An excellent idea." Dave agreed. "My vote makes three, and the motion is carried. Congratulations, Joe. Thanks for your contribution."
"No problem, dude."
"How about Pajama Day? That's pretty reasonable." Bill volunteered.
Dave looked at Lisa, who shrugged in response. "Well, it seems rather harmless, so if everyone likes it, Pajama Day is in."

The rest of the group nodded their approval.

"Motion carried."
"This is going to be so much fun!" giggled Beth.
"You have no idea." Bill agreed.

Anxious to wrap things up, Dave sifted through the cards and selected the final two themes.

"Our next theme is Tacky Day, which basically means that everybody can dress as insanely as Beth without fear of ridicule. Turn your clothes inside-out, backwards, unzipped, and style your hair like Don King. I don't care."
"Hold up, when did we pick 'Tacky Day'?" Catherine asked. "Because sister don't play that."
"Just now, since that's mine." said Jimmy.
"Hey, you can't vote for your own day!" Bill objected.
"Yes I can."
"Yes you can."

There were now five cards laid out in front of Dave.

"Okay, the itinerary is as follows: Monday is 80's Day, Tuesday is Job Switch Day, Wednesday is Pajama Day, Thursday is Tacky Day, and Friday will be Party Day. So remember to dress up, have fun, and I'll see you next week. Meeting is adjourned."

The staff bolted from their chairs like kids on the last day of school, and the office was quiet. Only Bill and Lisa stayed behind. Dave looked wearily at his girlfriend, who had been pestering him for days with an idea for a new show.

"Please just drop it." he urged.
"Come on, Dave. Every radio personality has a fan club, and besides, I think the ratings might benefit from a little change." she insisted.
"I just don't think our audience is clamoring for a Lisa's Loyal Listeners club. Besides, you don't even get fan mail like Bill does, or in most cases angry hate mail."
"My listeners care enough to tell the truth, however painful it may be. Ah, good times..."

They both ignored him.

"But Sandy Sterling over at WNJX has her own call-in show, Sandy's Dandy Carpool."
Dave balked. "That's what you aspire to- a gossip show?"
"And we could have weekly contests, with prizes!"
"What kind of prizes?"
"I don't know, like WNYX bumper stickers and tee shirts. Oh, and autographed pictures of me!"
"Lisa, you're a radio journalist, not a celebrity."
"Wait, this might actually work..." said Bill thoughtfully. "But if you really want to get the phones ringing, have naked pictures of you. And in the interest of saving money, I just happen to hold a degree in fine art photography." he smiled.
"Bill, go away!" Lisa said with irritation.
"Fine, I'll consider it. Now can we please go home?" Dave said.
"I hope you're really with me on this, Dave, or it could be a very lonely weekend."
"Hey, if it was up to me, you'd already have that show." Bill promised.

Monday - 80's Day

'Welcome to the 80's!' read the banner strung above the WNYX sign by the door, while a boom box pounded out Eddy Grant's Electric Avenue in the background. A mix of denim-wearing punk rockers and leather-clad vixens in fishnet stockings mingled through the haze with office staffers representing every conceivable fashion trend of the Reagan era.

"Good morning, Beth." said Dave, stepping off the elevator in his standard gray suit, with a red bow tie. "I could have sworn Tacky Day wasn't until Thursday."

His secretary was dressed in the most garish outfit he'd ever seen: a flowing red dress with a glittering halter top, shiny silver bracelets on her arms, and pantyhose stockings with stiletto shoes.

"I'm Cyndi Lauper, duh."

Joe Garelli joined them in the hallway. He sported a brown leather jacket, fedora, and a four-day growth of stubble on his face.

"That's not fair, you dress like that every week."
"Bite me, Indiana bonehead."
"Hey doll," Joe interjected, pointing the handle of his bullwhip at her. "It's Indiana Joe."
Beth rolled her eyes. "Why don't you go find your magic rocks or something?"
"Only if you promise to help." he laughed.
"Eww, sick!"
"Nice outfit, Dave." Joe said.
"What are you talking about?"
"You're Pee Wee Herman, right?"
"No, I'm trying to set a good example for my employees."
Joe laughed. "Good luck with that one, dude."

They all turned at the elevator bell. The doors opened in a cloud of white smoke, and Matthew stumbled out wearing a purple velvet suit with a giant collar, a frilly white cravat bursting from the lapels, and retro sunglasses. His hair was dyed completely black. He fought to keep a hold on the harness of a very short, hyperactive black-and-tan dog.

"Do they really need a fog machine in there?" he coughed.
"Dude, you came as Stevie Wonder? That is tight!" Joe said.
"Actually, I'm Prince."
Beth kneeled to pet the dachshund. "Hey, cute puppy!"
"That's Zorro, my seeing-eye dog."

Before anybody could ask him about it, Catherine Duke strolled out with a stylish jaunt, showing off her black athletic tights, a spaghetti strap halter top, and gold belly chain. Her hair was streaked with blonde highlights.

"Wubba wubba wubba, this is Downtown Julie Brown, reporting on who's hot and what's not at W-N-Y-X, the most fab and rockin' radio station this side of New York!" she mimed with a perfect English accent.
"Hey, Cathy, what's up?" Matthew said in the wrong direction. Beth turned him around.
"It's Little Richard, looking fit and fabulous in vivid velvet and snazzy shades!"
"No, I'm Prince."
"Where did you get those funky fresh clothes, prince of pastel?"
"Oh, I wore this to my senior prom."
Catherine turned to Beth. "And where is your best dress from, lady in red?"
"Figures." Joe said, earning a punch on the shoulder from the petite redhead. Beth turned on her heel and marched away. Zorro gave a yap, and scampered after her, Matthew tripping along behind the dog. Everybody followed them into the station.

Bill exited the control booth and came down the stairs. "Hey, Stevie Wonder! Seen any good movies lately? Just kidding, spaz."
"Damn it, I'm Prince, and I will start a revolution to prove it!" shouted Matthew, awkwardly climbing onto his desk.
"Sing Purple Rain!" they all encouraged.
"I don't know the words. But check this out:" He danced around, strutting his shoulders and singing: "She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second-hand store! Raspberry beret... and if it was warm she wouldn't wear it much more--"

The little dachshund ran around the desk, yowling at the off-key song. Matthew lost his balance and fell off with a cry of surprise.


The dog jumped on his chest and began to lick him on the face.

"I thought Michael Jackson had a monkey." said Mr. James, arriving in time to see the commotion.
"For the last time, I'M PRINCE!"
"All the critics love you in New York." Bill quipped.

Matthew stood, wiping his mouth on his purple sleeve.

"Now are you sure you're not Stevie Wonder?" Jimmy asked. "Because that's one hell of a costume, and you have a seeing-eye dog to boot!"
"Pretty sure."
"Then what's with the shades?" asked Beth.
"It turns out that the See Clearly method really doesn't help you see that clearly, in fact it's a lot like the opposite."
"Honey, are you really blind?" Catherine said.
"Temporarily. I had an allergic reaction to the Visine drops, and I have to wear these glasses until I see my optometrist again."
Bill laughed. "Don't hold your breath on that one." Beth gave him a sharp elbow in the side.
"Wait a minute. Aren't seeing eye dogs usually Border Collies, or Golden Retrievers?" Joe said.
"My health insurance company said that all I could afford was a weenie dog." The dachshund barked at the acknowledgement.
"He looks hungry. Here, boy! Have a snack from uncle Bill." said the news anchor, offering Zorro a crunchy green sandwich from his desk drawer.

The dog ran backward between Matthew's legs, and the reporter was whipped into an inverted somersault, landing flat on his back.

"I'd beat a bitch for a Border Collie right now." said Matthew.
"JOE! What the hell happened to my computer!?" Dave shouted from his office.

The group looked around for the first time, stunned to see that all of their machines had changed. The slim keyboards and monitors were now bulky and square, molded in light gray plastic. The glass screens glowed in shades of blue.

"Oh yeah," said the electrician, "In the interest of authenticity, I retrofitted the office with Commodore 64C systems. Welcome back to 1986, everyone."

The news director stormed out, red-faced with anger. "Joe, where are our regular computers?"
"Remember, it's 80's Day. They don't exist yet. I also took the liberty of reformatting everyone's work onto 5-inch floppy disks."
"Lisa is going to kill you." Dave looked around, confused. "Where is Lisa?"
"She's not here yet." Beth reported.
"Sorry I'm late everyone! It took forever to get ready." They all turned in amazement.

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