Apprentice
It’s More Than Décor

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Jacob Clifton: C | Grade It Now!
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Lesson Seven: Speak My Language

Lenny brainstorms about a theme ("dance, art, musical") and Lee says he loved the drums at 14, and would love a theme about music and dance. Lenny says they can only have one theme, either or, and Leslie would prefer "music" over "dancing." Before Lenny can further narrow their theme to, like, "Dance Hits of the Mid-'90s," Charmaine begs him to focus on their meeting with the Ace execs, whose names she tells him again, and the fact that they will be arriving in five minutes. Lenny's response: "Okay, we should get speakers and a nice stereo..." and Charmaine's like, "Maybe we can think about some things to ask the executives? I'm just trying to make you aware of the time." Lenny's response: "I'm thinking music is a good theme..." Charmaine interviews how "upsetting" she found it that he was so oblivious to the exec meeting, because not only are they the client, but also the judges -- "Lenny didn't care." I think the point she's missing is that it wasn't about ignoring the executives, it was about ignoring her.

Stay with me here, because it's going to get weird for a second: I am as likely to become a Scientologist as I am a lesbian. However, that doesn't stop me from being fascinated by them, or reading their literature, or watching their films. So that's the context, because the thing that's going on here was -- no matter what else -- something best explained in my experience by L. Ron Hubbard himself, which is that: the first word you don't understand is where you get off the boat. You just stop reading. You might look at words, or hear the person talking, but you don't really hear what they're saying. It stops mattering. And generally, I think, you have to then convert it to a deal where whatever you just read without understanding is just "stupid" or "poorly stated," and then you've successfully overcome the whole mess. And with Lenny, you have somebody who's doing an ongoing translation in his head and admits he's not thinking totally in English yet. And then you've got Charmaine, who has the sharp voice and the accent happening, and I honestly think he's only hearing about 15% of what she says. Now, girlfriend talks a lot, so that ups his percentage considerably, but I still think he's as likely to ignore what she's saying out of hand than to actually weigh it and manage her, because he's intimidated by the largish task of understanding her speech, so he opts out. We've seen him wave off other people's questions and doubts when they're not on message, or unnecessarily complex, and I don't think there's been an episode where Lenny didn't actually tell her to shut up. Specifically Charmaine: "Stop talking." I like Charmaine, and I have no doubt that's occasionally something everyone thinks -- Bryce bleeped over this same moment last week -- but they do make a point of showing him saying it to her a lot, and my hypothesis is that this is where all the trouble is located this week. Charmaine's too much trouble to listen to; therefore, she's not worth listening to. Which would make sense except that, well, she's generally right, and her priorities are generally correct, so it's less like ignoring Markus or Brent, and a lot more like being an arrogant prick.

Gold Rush sits down with the Ace and B&GC people, and there is total silence. Lenny looks around, everybody looks at everybody else, there is much staring. Again: it's a combination of Lenny not thinking of anything to ask them, because he didn't make time to think about it, and Lenny not wanting to speak in front of the execs. Which kind of bums me out, because his English is really good, but it's still something he's weird about. Charmaine finally breaks the silence, by...fucking up. "...We want to know more about Helpful Faces For Friendly Places." The executives look at each other, and Paula, the Ace Hardware person, smiles fakely: "It's...actually New Faces For Helpful Places." Charmaine writes it down and asks Lenny whether he didn't have a question he was dying to ask. He says he is very interested in learning more about Ace Hardware, which could not have less to do with the task. He has the impression that it's a "small-town shop," and very small for some reason, and keeps underlining its homey, just-folks appeal, which is wrong. They're all like, "Huh? It's actually quite large." The guy exec tells them it's "significantly larger" than the room they're all sitting in, and Lenny tells him that was a very good answer. Tarek stares, terrified, and the executives are just like, whatever. Lenny looks at them kind of frighteningly, because how do they know that's just his face, and Tarek gets the willies about being in that room. He interviews that the Q&A would have gone a lot longer if any of them had any idea what their objective actually was. This is going to be awesome. The guy exec asks them "specifically" what they want to know, and Lenny mumbles something and continues to stare at them. It's like The Office, only less funny. Silence, faces, icky, act out.

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