IT HAD been one hell of a meal. The food had been selected with the help of the most imaginative chef in the best hotel in New York. Expenses didn't matter, and the wines showed it. Cigars and brandy. There was a nice air of comfort and warm good will in the room.
The 10 or 12 men scattered around the table leaned back from the remains of the meal before them and continued to talk in slow desultory easy circles. With much laughter, as if they all spoke pretty much the same language and enjoyed the same jokes.
A small thin man seated at the end of the table nearest the door reached over and picked up a spoon from the tray of a bus boy who was clearing up the litter. He rapped sharply on his brandy glass for attention, and stood up in a casual way. The conversation died down as everyone turned in his direction, making small movements of concentration as they did so.
"We all know what we're here for. This campaign we've outlined for you people is a thing that we at the Agency are mighty proud of." He paused and took a sip of his brandy. Coughed slightly and went on. "We've done a lot of detailed customer research for you boys, as well as one hell of a campaign to put the product across." He smiled and leaned over the table, putting the knuckles of both hands on the tablecloth. Nodding to a youngish man seated at his left, he said: "Fred, George is waiting outside in the hall with a couple of the boys from the art department. Give him a shout and get him in here. We're ready." Fred rose and left the room. The man continued:
"George Murdock will make the presentation for the Agency, gentlemen. I'd like to say a few things about George before he gets here, and I don't want to embarrass him by talking about him in front of him. He is typical of the type of man who will be handling your account at the Agency. Steady, creative, with young dynamic ideas. A good man."
Clean Cut Young Man
At this point Fred re-entered the room with a tall slender cleancut man in his early 30's. The young newcomer wore large glittering, dark-rimmed glasses, an Oxford-grey flannel suit, a white shirt with narrow dark blue tie. He was followed by two additional men carrying heavy cardboard cases which they began setting up on tripod holders.
Fred seated himself next to his superior, who placed his hand on the arm of the one who wore the horn-rimmed glasses. He turned to the gathering and said: "Gentlemen, here is George Murdock, who will make the final presentation for the Agency. He will carry it straight on through, and I hope you'll make a few notes on anything that isn't clear. You'll find pencils and paper at your places. After George is through, we'll have time for any questions you might have about the program we've laid out for you." He turned to George, smiled slightly, and said: "The floor is yours, boy. Let's hear it."
George cleared his throat and stepped over to the wall where the charts and graphs were set up. He picked up a short pointer from one of the tripod stands, and began to speak. His voice was extraordinary in its effect. Clear, vibrant, beautifully controlled. It was a voice obviously accustomed to being listened to and one that was made to be used. George knew how to use it. He began slowly and deliberately, pausing occasionally to refer to a chart or a brightly colored graph showing amusing figures as would be done by UPA cavorting up and down the heavy inky-black graph lines.
The audience sat spellbound. From time to time they would chuckle as George tossed in an offhand joke or pun to lighten his talk. They were obviously impressed both by George and by what he had to say. It was equally obvious that George knew what he was talking about and was enjoying the warm feeling of having an audience absolutely in his command. He toyed with them. Changed his pace constantly. His voice rose and fell almost as though he were reading poetry or narrating a fine-art film. He closed in a rush, at just the right psychological moment. On the upbeat, "There you have it, gentlemen. That's the story. It's been a pleasure being here and I'd enjoy staying around to answer any questions you might have, but I've got to get back to the Agency for a small meeting. You know how we ad boys are about meetings!" He smiled broadly and, with glasses gleaming smartly, gave a casual wave and left the room.
The small thin man rose again and asked for questions, but it was obvious that the gathering was completely sold on the program. George had done his work well. All that remained were a few names on dotted lines and the ball would begin to roll.
Outside in the hall, George waited for the elevator. He looked a little tired, close up, and slightly older than he had in the room he had just left. As he waited, he zipped open his attaché case, from which he removed a bulky dog-eared manuscript with many red-lined phrases. The front cover bore the title "Grommet Presentation" in heavy type. Underneath was the notation in smaller type: "Follow script exactly, do not alter a single phrase. THIS IS IMPORTANT!"
He rolled up the script and tossed it into the wastebasket next to the elevator door. The elevator arrived. On the ground floor he stepped into an empty phone booth and reached for the receiver. Al Kermit, fre-lance actor, was calling his agent to see if any calls had come in that day from the casting offices, or if maybe that small part on "Studio One" had jelled.