Over the past thirteen weeks, I’ve written to you right here on my blog every Friday. Like Reed Richards desperately waving the Ultimate Nullifier in the face of Galactus in an effort to save the planet Earth, I had hoped that by repeating your name and my stated goal over and over again, this lowly Internet gnat might somehow grab the attention of the sports and pop culture Devourer of Worlds.
That’s supposed to be you, the Devourer of Worlds. It’s a Galactus reference, a classic Fantastic Four storyline from the sixties. Did you ever read comics? Just do yourself a favor and don’t watch that movie, The Rise of the Silver Surfer, because I don’t want you to get any weird ideas of what does and doesn’t work when telling a Fantastic Four story.
I’m getting off track. Bill, consider this my letter of resignation. Obviously, I had hoped to be handing you this letter, in person, some thirty years in the future. In my dreams, you’d have hired me two months ago, and it would have been the start of my illustrious career at Grantland. My rise to stardom was supposed to be so rapid that, after a short while, it would have felt like there wasn’t enough room on the web site for the both of us.
So you’d tell me to go on sabbatical for a while, not having the decency to terminate my contract and let me write elsewhere, but totally unwilling to publish any of my work. So I’d start coming up with all of these pseudonyms, submitting killer material behind your back, right to your own web site. Pretty soon you’d have a whole new team of writers, all of them me, but of course you’d be completely unaware.
And then one day we’d all go on strike. You’d reach out to all of the writers you’d have alienated in your naïve Grantland rebuild, but you know how it goes, hurt feelings, bruised egos. Nobody’s going to give you the time of day. So you’ll have to engage your striking writers, meet their one demand: bring back Rob.
You’d relent, the web site would thrive again, and after a few awkward months of us butting heads, unable to see eye to eye, arguing about even the most trivial of office nonsense, (like, for example, you’d insist on a robust dark coffee in the break room, where I’d keep making a case for a subtler, blonde roast,) we’d eventually get past our differences in an effort to make Grantland thrive.
It would be a golden age of writing about wrestling and action movies and sports, year after year of record high page views and increased advertising revenue. We’d both be rich beyond our wildest dreams. But unfortunately, all good things have to end. You’re quite a bit older than me, and so eventually you’ll be thinking about retiring, while I’ll still be in the prime of my career.
“Rob,” you’ll ask me as you start picking out a senior’s village to move to somewhere in Florida, “I want you take full control of the web site. You’ve done a great job, and hiring you turned out to be the best decision I’ve made. I’ve watched you grow as a writer, as a business man, and I’m proud to call you a partner and a friend.”
And that’s when I’d hand you my resignation letter. It would be uncharacteristically bitter, full of hatred and laced with old resentments. It’ll turn out that I never forgave you for trying to push me to the sidelines back you first hired me. This whole time, I’ve been building up the web site all while cooking the books behind your back, rotting the business from the foundation up. And now I want out, leaving you as an old man to try to clean up the festering mess of a once-great media empire.
Of course you won’t have the energy to do it, so you’ll file for bankruptcy, and you’ll have to hire a whole team of lawyers and accountants. Say goodbye to that retirement in Florida, Bill.
Anyway, that’s how I’d always imagined this going down. But you’re not even giving me the chance. It’s like that What If? comic, the one where Ben Grimm winds up chickening out of the space flight that turns Reed Richard and his friends into the Fantastic Four. I think they let Dr. Doom pilot the rocket instead. Of course this winds up destabilizing the timeline, Doom betrays everyone else, and Ben’s not the Thing, so there’s really nothing that he can do about it except for to sit there in misery, thinking about how things could have been different, if only he hadn’t left his friends behind.
OK, that one was kind of a stretch, but I’ve always had a fantasy where I got to write a resignation letter that both began and finished with relevant Fantastic Four analogies. Or metaphors. I can never remember which one is which, a metaphor or an analogy. Whatever.
It would have been an honor to work with you,