Everyone that crossed William’s path was always amused by what he did for a living: he was the marketing manager in a company that sold condoms called Phalanx. He was very popular at parties, telling one and ten stories about the funny things that happened both in his department and in the factory where the condoms where actually made. He even knew some other stories about people that had called the Phalanx hotline in order to ask silly questions that no one ever knew if they were real or false.
The point was that he had a lot of fun at work and out of it. However, for a person that saw condoms so often at work, he didn’t really get to use a lot. In one of those ironies of life, William had not had a real sexual encounter in a long time. He was a very busy person and he always failed to have time to party or socialize except for the events hosted by Phalanx. The few times he met people was in those parties but they were always funny for a while but not for the long haul.
Every single Monday at the office, they held pitching sessions in which any of the employees of the company could present new ideas to make the product more attractive. Normally, they would laugh a lot more than do actual work but sometimes, once every six months almost, they got a very clever idea that could easily become a big thing in the world of condoms. Anyhow, it was a very fun thing to be in and most people were very serious about their ideas.
There was the typical things like making condoms into different sizes or different flavors and colors, but then they were the crazy people telling them to sell condom certain foods in supermarkets, or not only having flavors but also smells, which everyone thought was absolutely awful. They laughed a lot the time that someone proposed to print images on the condoms and even the possibility of personalizing them with your signature. It seemed like a good idea but it wasn’t.
There were some good ones like having a guy dressed like a penis or condom in some popular area and make him do funny dances and stuff and then handing out pamphlets about how important it was to use condoms. Others had made proposals about the packaging and image that they were really considering. As in any industry, they needed to keep innovating and doing different stuff or they would get obsolete.
But there was one presenter William remembered for weeks after they moved on. William had always identified as a straight man but somehow that man had captivated him and he had no idea why. It was something more than looks and his idea. It was something he could really pinpoint.
The man’s idea was very simple: in each one of the condom packaging’s, putting a drawing of a different position in order to kind of make it like a challenge towards the couple that was going to use the prophylactic. Everyone received the proposal to mild enthusiasm and only William seemed to be distracted by the guy that was in front of him. For weeks, he had him inside his head moving around, appearing in the weirdest moments and it was a long time after that, when they were executing some of the ideas people had pitched, when he realized why he thought of him so much: he knew him.
That day, after all work was done, he went to the archive room and asked fro the file on that man. Apparently, he had been working in the office for as long as William had been there. He was his same age and had gone to the same college too. The difference was that that guy hadn’t been able to ascend in the company whereas William had climbed that ladder a lot faster than anyone else ever before. He was very talented at what he did.
When he got home that day, he was relieved to realized he didn’t like the guy for his looks or something like that but because he unconsciously knew something weird about him. He couldn’t really remember him from any of the classes in college but apparently something inside his brain did remember him and had been curious to reveal that.
As tired as he was, William relaxed that day with a bubble bath. He was so tired that he fell asleep inside and only woke up because he was slowly sinking into the water. When he got out of there, he just dried himself up and fell asleep naked as he was on the bed, above the sheets. He must have woken up at four in the morning only to crawl under the covers because of the cold.
After the weekend, he stumbled into his old college partner in the elevator on the way to his office. It was kind of an awkward moment: there was some tension between them but William had no idea why. He knew now that he wasn’t interested in that guy physically and that was the only thing that had been weird before. But now everything was tension and looking down to their shoes and it was very strange.
For the rest of that day he didn’t really pay attention to anything else because his mind was still trying to understand what had happened in that elevator. He tried to remember anything about that man but he just couldn’t remember him in college. Maybe crossing him one or twice in the hallways but that was it. He was so distracted during the pitching session that day, that he missed every single one of the funny presentations. His fellow managers would laugh and he would just smile.
The following day, he was lucky enough to have dinner with a friend from college he had not seen in a while. She had always been one of his best friends back in college and now she worked out of the country in a job that paid very well. So they got together and talked and laughed and drank and ate. It was a very fun evening. When the dessert was brought to them, William remembered the man from his office and instantly asked his friend about him. He described him as well as he could and she was surprised by the degree of detail he was able to give her.
His friend had no idea of whom he was talking about. Then, William looked for a picture on his cellphone and showed it to her. Crazy as it seemed, William had taken a picture of the file on the guy in order to remember his face the next time he saw him and now he got to show to his friend so he didn’t see how awkward it was.
Then, she immediately recognized him. Trying not to laugh at her friend for having some random guy’s picture on his cellphone, she reminded him that that guy had been a good friend of the people they used to hang out with during college. He would even go to some parties with them although she didn’t even remember his name. He wasn’t a particularly social person but she knew she had seen him a number of times around there with them.
William thought about that for a long time. He looked at the guy’s picture that night before going to bed and then spent a good half hour trying to sleep but really thinking about why he had no idea of who that person was. The next day at the office, he got the rumor that many people were being laid off because the company had decided to wipe out a whole section in order to make room for new people that were going to be in charge of social media and such.
As he went to get coffee, he saw the guy from college with a single box, eyes very red, standing in front of the elevator. He had no idea why, but he walked towards him and asked what was wrong. The guy was obviously surprised to see William but he just answered the question: he had been fired. William offered to help him with the box and in the time from there to the first floor, he was able to remember who that guy was.
They had kissed once in a party. William had been very drunk. He was sure to have vomited at least a couple of times that night. And somehow, in between all that, they had kissed. He gave the box to the guy and told him to call him if he needed any help. The guy seemed confused by that and honestly William was too. He didn’t know why he had said it but he thought it was the right thing to do.