Walking Away from Representing Tooper, a Parrot


At a friend’s encouragement, I met with a man named Joe to discuss “a once-in-a-lifetime entrepreneurial opportunity.” To be exact, my astute, older, wiser friend said, “This guy’s the next Walt Disney, and he’s looking for a partner.”

Who can say no to Walt Disney? Especially when you’re a miserable, self-hating corporate lawyer working for a joyless and sadistic law firm with a prestigious name and oversized reputation.

Twelve hours later, I walked into a glass conference room to find 15 enormous stuffed animals, five eerily human blowup dolls and various other slightly insane inventions and gadgets. I didn’t know what to expect, but I sure as hell didn’t expect that. A few moments later, a thick man in a much-too-tight Gucci shirt with black curly hair walked in, smiling ear-to-ear. If he said he was “the other guy” from Hall and Oates, I would’ve believed him.

“Hi, I’m Joey. I created all this,” he said, his tiny hand sweeping across the sea of dolls and trinkets. And then, after a 10-minute delusional monologue, he made me offer I’ll never forget. “I’d like you to help me become rich and famous?”

“Let me think about it,” I said, dumbfounded by the absurdity of his abrupt proposal. If nothing else, my five years of M&A experience taught me one thing: Never say yes right away. Especially to an insane man surrounded by stuff animals. And when I say “insane,” I mean insane. Detached gaze; grandiose visions and ramblings; nervous twitches and facial ticks. He wasn’t some sort of polished lunatic like Bernie Madoff. He was in-your-face crazy. No ambiguity. The only thing missing was a tinfoil hat and floppy clown feet.

So why the hell did I meet him two days later and accept his offer?

Today, the answer to that somewhat disturbing question is obvious: I was the most bitter, disillusioned lawyer in the history of the world. I woke up every morning, and went to bed every night, with a relentless, soul-crushing depression. In other words, I hated my life so much that I was willing to forego my secure, six-figure salary and fancy business cards for a chance at doing something creative and entrepreneurial—for absolutely no money. I’m almost (okay, I am) embarrassed to admit this, but there was no guaranteed money in the deal. He refused to sign a contract too. Joey wanted to keep things loose and breezy. “We’ll figure it out as we go,” he said. “But don’t worry, if I get rich, you’ll get rich.”

Here I was, a sophisticated corporate attorney on track to make partner at a top firm, and I was ready to quit for the chance to work with a stuffed-animal-making madman—without a contract or foreseeable income stream. But let’s face it, when misery and boredom conspire against you, you do stupid things. Like call ex-girlfriends. Or surf the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist for possible “dates.” Or throw away your lucrative career to work for a stuff-animal-obsessed loser with a penchant for tight-fitting shirts.

Luckily, due to my intensive legal training, I was still kind of a pussy. Though I said yes to Joey, I hadn’t told anyone else about my bold, life-changing decision. I wanted to think it over for a day or two; make sure it felt right.

The following night, Joey called and demanded that we have a drink to talk business. I was actually excited that he called. I loved his determination and resolve. He really wanted to hit it big. Just like me. We may have been total opposites, but that didn’t mean we weren’t a perfect business fit. The creative, eccentric genius and the hard-charging, rational businessman/lawyer.

I left the office early, around 8:30 or so, to meet Joey at the dark, empty bar inside his sad, budget hotel. I spotted Joey and a gigantic stuffed animal alone in the corner. Once again, his shirt was too tight. I waved, but Joey didn’t wave back. I kept walking; waved again, but still no acknowledgement. Finally, I said, “Joey. It’s me. Jim.”

“Right,” he said. No smile. No hint of embarrassment.

Despite this disturbing lack of short-term memory, I sat down next to him and a bright red and green tucan/parrot named Tooper. I studied the five-foot tall bird for a moment, then cracked a joke, hoping to break the thin and increasingly creepy ice upon which I was suddenly standing.

“What’s the matter, Julia Roberts wasn’t available?”

“You know I dated her for a few weeks,” Joey said. Again, no smile, no irony, no levity. He was dead serious.

“Really. She’s, she’s a great actress.”

“We broke up a few months ago. But we’re still pretty close.”

Before I could respond, Joey barked out his first official business mandate. “Set up a dinner with me and Annette Bening. For tomorrow night. I want her to be the voice of Tooper.”

I just looked at him, searching for some tiny hint of sarcasm—or sanity. But there wasn’t any. In fact, the more I searched, the scarier it got.

“Feel free to use my name. She knows me. We went skiing together in Aspen once.”

It was now horribly obvious that Joey was mentally ill. Even to me. And let’s face it, at that precise moment, I was close to clinically insane too.

“How about Warren? You guys also pretty tight?” I asked, trying to amuse myself. Or at least convince myself that I still understood the difference between fantasy and reality.

“I wouldn’t say we’re tight, but we’re definitely good friends.”

I nodded sympathetically, then told Joey I had to make a phone call. I stood up and walked out the door. I haven’t talked to him since. It’s been ten years.

I’m no longer that insane. I’m no longer a lawyer. I promise you, there’s a correlation.

(Photo: http://www.bitterlawyer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/parrot-tooper.jpg)

Read more from Jim Steele.

21 Comments

  1. Bill Dugan

    March 4, 2009 at 6:56 am

    It’s a lucky thing this asshat didn’t hook up with the other yutz.  He would have had nothing to show for it other than a 5 foot tall stuffed doll in a bar.  I once met a lawyer who it turned out was certifiable.  Once she told me her cat called her up regularly on the phone at work to talk, I knew it was curtains for our relationship.  After she said that, I could think of nothing but making an exit.  I carefully figured out where the door to the room was and how I could get out of the room without incident.  Once I got out, I never looked back.  I left all my stuff at her apartment, and figured she’d give it to the cat.  Wow, what a loser!

  2. Ace in the Hole

    March 4, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Dude, that was Alma!  And she’s been hurting ever since.

  3. Alex Hump

    March 4, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Could be–it seems Dugan has porked some real winners in his time.

  4. Damon

    March 4, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Good article entertaining. Glad to hear you are not that insane anymore man.

  5. BL2Y

    March 4, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Maybe we should match up BL1Y with Dugan’s old squeeze.  She’s probably willing to put up with his antics and he’s probably interested in banging anything that moves.

  6. Anon

    March 4, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Is BL1Y now posing as BL2Y?

  7. Anonymous

    March 4, 2009 at 9:41 am

    LOL!  Totally can relate too.

  8. Anonymous

    March 4, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Perhaps he’s gotten a battlefield promotion, now that some of the 2Y’s and 1Y’s have been laid off.  He is probably smug that 1) he is not getting laid off and 2) he is getting laid.

  9. Alma Federer

    March 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    You men don’t respect me or any woman.  I feel for the woman who Dugan dumped.  Chances are she was the normal one and was trying to get rid of Dugan.  One thing’s for sure–Ace in the Hole, you will never have the privilege of using me as your semen receptacle; I am way too smart for that to ever happen –ever!.  And BL1Y and Dugan are just too new on the block to realize that we women have to be respected for who we are, We bring far more to the table than mere femininity.  We are smart and strong too.  So, fellas, go on holding your own.

  10. BL1Y

    March 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Alma: I’d respect you for who you are, if you weren’t a bitter, whacked-out bigot.

  11. Ace in the Hole

    March 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks Alma – good to know that if I were ever (i) divorced from my lovely & mostly sane wife, and (ii) stoned enough to mount a rhino, you won’t be inviting me over.  That’s one more crossed off the life’s big dangers list!

  12. Big Law Tool

    March 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Good stuff.

  13. Alma Federer

    March 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I will have you dunces know that those men who have been lucky to spend time with me have lavished me with many a dozen roses, and other nice gifts.  They appreciate what it is I bring to the table.  I view a good man as a rarity, and treat him with the respect that he deserves.  You oafs, on the other hand, are like the dummies from Animal House; trying to look up our skirts or cop a cheap feel and then tell your frat boy brothers that you got some.  How utterly juvenile that is.  BL1Y is a petulant dork, impressed with himself because he’s working for a big NYC law firm.  Ace in the Hole seems to be living in a dream world, thinking his state of bliss has been achieved because he has a half sane wife that is attractive.  Well I am fully sane and VERY attractive, thank you very much.  And I really have a great following of men that always come back, even once I’ve determined they are useless to me.  That is a living testimonial for what I bring to the table.  Dugan and the other dopes are just plain crude; I envision them going around smelling women’s panties for fun.  Can you imagine those dopes at a law firm outing?  I can’t even think about them as men.  Well that’s enough for now.  I am confident that other women too meek to reply are out there laughing at you wormy guys.  Learn to stand up for yourself like I do.  Women will respect you more.

  14. Anon Female

    March 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Alma, let’s hope that these couple tools are just a small percentage of what we have to pick from out there.

  15. Emma Dean

    March 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    You can add me in, too, Alma–these guys are really at the bottom of the barell.  I will rather not be with a guy than to be with any of these guys.  Having survived 3 years of law school with turds like them, I now know that I will be single before subjugating myself to them.  Of course, I want a home and family, but not at the expense of my own well-being.

  16. SDL20

    March 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    mark it a zero

  17. Cheeks

    March 4, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I almost quit to be a bartender last week.

  18. Anonymous

    March 5, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Imagine that—a few “vajayjays” getting together to gang up against us!  Men, be strong!!!!!!

  19. John

    March 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Wassup.

  20. Miss Thang

    March 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    yeah, I always planned to marry another lawyer, until I started browsing this site.

  21. Ellen

    December 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

    FOOEY on this! These men are all alike! FOOEY!

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