I open my inbox and discover this email:
I need your help. Come to my office at midday.
Bob… the most famous man in the blogosphere. Years ago, he was going to write an interview about me and my blog. But then he suddenly changed his mind and ejected me from his office. Just because I was the wrong Elvis’ wife. Really! What gave him the ridiculous idea I was married to Elvis Presley?
I glance at my watch: nearly midday. I grab my mouse and a few clicks later, I find myself standing outside the Blogosphere News Building. I swing through the revolving door, enter the elevator and shoot up to the top floor. I find myself outside Bob’s office.
Miss Bell looks up from her desk and jumps to her feet as soon as she sees me. “I am so glad you are here. Bob’s in a bad way. He needs help.” She opens the door and pushes me into Bob’s office before I can say a word.
I stand on the threshold and look. Everything is just as I remember: a whole row of Bob’s profile pictures grin down at me from the walls. An impressive display of blog awards fills both side-bars of the room. And there, to one side, is Bob’s desk. But wait. Something is different. Where is the huge mirror that used to hang next to Bob’s chair?
And Bob? He’s right there at his desk. But why isn't he greeting me with one of his famous smiles? He is slumped forward, his head in his hands. His clothes are crumpled. Yes, Miss Bell is right: Bob looks like a man in a bad way.
He doesn’t move. Does he know I’m here? I say, “Bob?” There’s no answer, so I come closer to the desk and try again. “Bob!” I shout.
Bob finally looks up and whispers, “Sue!” He sounds desperate, a man on the edge, hanging to life by only a thread. There are huge saggy backpacks under his eyes. His lips are quivering. So are his hands. He looks pale and thin. Is that a tear threatening to spill from his eye?
“Having a bad day, Bob?” I ask.
“A bad day?
“A cup of tea will make you feel better!” I say with a smile.
“Tea?” Bob groans.
“Oh cheer up, Bob. It could be worse.”
“No it couldn’t!”
“Oh you poor man,” I finish, running out of things to say.
A tear rolls down Bob’s cheek. Is he going to cry? "
I think for a moment before finding the perfect words: “You look like you’re suffering, Bob."
“I am!” he replies. “Sit down and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Bob Blogosphere is going to open up and share his problem with me. The most famous man in the blogosphere is about to tell me about his innermost suffering. But is that good? Will he expect me to do something?
“It started a few weeks ago, and it’s getting worse,” says Bob. “And I don’t know what to do. This could be the end of me. Oh yes! I am suffering!”
“It sounds like you’re worried, Bob.”
“Worried? Of course I am! Wouldn’t you be worried if it happened to you?” Before I can answer, Bob adds, “But you’re not Bob Blogosphere. Probably no one would notice if it happened to you. No one would care.”
I am confused. “If what happened to me?” I ask.
“Look!” says Bob, thrusting his head towards me. “Look! What do you see?”
“But what’s on my head?”
Could the famous Bob Blogosphere have lice? Surely not. “Hair?” I ask.
“Can’t you see the bald spot?” Bob hurriedly sits back in his chair before I can get a good look.
A bald spot? Bob’s hair is falling out! I want to smile. Is that all that’s worrying him? Then I remember it doesn't matter what I think. Bob is suffering. The smile turns into a cough. I finally gain control of my face and manage to say, “You’re worried you won’t be perfect if you lose your hair?”
“You feel you’re losing control of your life?” I suggest.
“You understand!” he says, smiling for the first time. Then the smile turns upside down and he adds, “I’m Bob Blogosphere. I am perfect. Well, I used to be. Baldness is supposed to happen to other people, not me.”
I’m not sure what to say next. What have bald heads got to do with me? Why did Bob summon me to his presence? What does he expect me to do?
“So you think I can help?” I ask, hoping Bob will tell me how.
“Yes. Didn’t you tell me you write about suffering on your blog? You know, all that sad stuff. Well, I’m suffering. What shall I do? Help me!”
“Well, Bob, I’m more familiar with child loss than bald heads. I don’t really think I can help…” I stop. Bob is looking at me with pleading eyes.
And then I have an idea. I do have experience in this area. Of course, I don’t have a bald head. I may be going white, but my hair isn’t falling out. No, I am thinking of my make-over man.
“My husband Andy had the same problem,” I say. “He tried everything to get his hair to grow back.”
“What worked?” asks Bob eagerly, sitting up straight and leaning towards me.
“Nothing?” Bob sinks back into his chair.
“He learnt to live with it.”
“I couldn’t possibly live with a bald head,” protests Bob, shaking his head. “I’m not an ordinary man. I’m famous.”
“A buzz cut,” I say.
“A buzz cut?”
“Andy decided to get a buzz cut.” Bob looks blank, so I explain. “The hair is clipped very short. The head looks sort of bald all over. Impossible to tell which bits are naturally hairless.”
“But I don’t want to be bald all over!”
“Oh it’s a fashion statement. A very modern look,” I reassure Bob. "Isn’t it time you had a make-over? You can’t get stale. You need to be a man of the moment, a today man. Anyway, buzz cuts aren't just for bald men.”
Bob cringes a little at the word 'bald' so I add, "Full heads of hair are sooo yesterday."
“You think so?” asks Bob, reaching into his desk drawer. He brings out a mirror and starts pushing his hair off his forehead. “Do you think I’d suit a buzz cut?”
“Of course!” I say. “It’ll make you look cool.” (Or maybe just cold.)
Bob is smiling. “You think so?”
“There’s a blog you could look at for some ideas. Now what was it called? Stone heads? Potato heads? Egg heads? I’m not sure. Something like that. Anyway, it’s all about fashion for bald… I mean, buzz cut men. Get some new clothes too. You could have a whole new look.”
With one hand, Bob enters the words ‘potato heads’ into the computer. With the other, he picks up the telephone. “Miss Bell, please make me an appointment with the hairdresser. I have decided it’s time for a change. I am a trendsetter. I am going to amaze the world.”
Bob tosses his phone onto his desk and adds, “I can just see the headlines for the next edition of Blogosphere News: Wow! Cool Buzz Cut Bob. The story will be perfect. My hair will be perfect. I will once again be perfect.” Bob is lost in thought. He is smiling.
“Well, I’ll be going,” I say, as I rise from my chair.
Bob suddenly stands up. He starts towards me and then stops. He opens his mouth and then closes it. He tries again. I hear a strange strangled sound.
“Was that a thank you?” I ask.
Bob turns red and gives a small nod. “I must replace that mirror,” he says, recovering his composure.
As I walk to the door, Bob adds, “Do people really come to your blog to read all that sad stuff?”
“Yes,” I answer. “It helps, you know, to find out you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s good to have someone to talk to.”
“Well, yes, I imagine it is,” mumbles Bob.
I decide to take advantage of Bob’s sensitive moment. “Any chance you could write about my blog in the Blogosphere News, Bob? You could mention all that helpful sad stuff.”
“No, I couldn’t possibly do that,” says Bob firmly. “Sad stuff… People will wonder why I’m writing about such things. I’m perfect you know.”
I sigh. Will Bob ever change?
I head back down the elevator, and through the revolving door… Soon I am back at my blog, Sue Elvis Writes. What an afternoon! I am worn out. What I need is a glass of red wine and a few squares of chocolate. I lean back in my chair and think of Bob, perfect Bob in perfect control of his perfect life. I wonder…
- Will Bob’s new look be a success?
- Will buzz cuts be the new trendy look?
- Will Bob cope when he discovers those lines I noticed around his eyes?
- Will Bob ever admit he's not really in control of his life?
- And will Bob ever want to know all about ‘that faith stuff’ I write on my blog?
Nah! It doesn't seem possible. But who knows?
Stay tuned to find out!