Olympian gaze

Bossart: an Olympic Staring Team gold medalist. Like most elite athletes, Bossart trains continually to stay in top form. It is fortunate, or unfortunate depending on how you look at it, that Bossart was assigned to our branch office. While some of our staff are awed by the skill with which Bossart executes his penetrating stare, others are not. Keefer, our accountant, ignores Bossart's staring; Heinze, sales manager, can catch a nap while Bossart stares; when asked about Bossart's staring, Crowley answers, ''What?'' But Miss Frinchini, glancing up from her computer and finding Bossart staring, will shout: ''Stop staring at me, Bossart!'' - which, if Bossart is, he does, for Miss Frinchini brooks no dallying. Only Rosencrantz, antagonist from the start of the rise to prominence of staring as a legitimate sport, and of Bossart's apparent shameless attempt to make staring an art form in the private sector, remained adamant.

In fairness to Rosencrantz's complaint, it is true that whatever position Bossart sits in, or any expression on his face, or whatever he does or doesn't do, gives him the similitude of staring. In all honesty, however, I don't think Bossart is actually staring much of the time. I believe that all those years of training for the Olympics made him merely appear so; as a runner seems to be always running and a skier to be always skiing, but you do not chide them for it.

I explained these things to Miss Frinchini and to Rosencrantz. Miss Frinchini , after doing battle with her inclinations, finally accepted the situation for what it was. But an unregenerate Rosencrantz continued to suppose Bossart, whether waking or sleeping, to be exercising an unnatural and unlawful proclivity. It should have surprised me when one morning Rosencrantz got up from his chair, marched to Bossart's desk, hoisted the stack of file folders Bossart was processing and dropped them on the floor.

I censured Rosencrantz for his deed, counseled him at length, and he seemed to relax a little. I emphasized how none among us is free of peccadillos. ''But the fiend's always staring,'' Rosencrantz cried unconsolably. ''The monster sits there staring without mercy. And he's always wearing that gold medal.''

''Bossart,'' I sighed, ''is a staring genius. He has honed his talent to the apex of perfection. While you and I can probably never attain Bossart's brilliance in staring, we can observe and learn.'' I added what I hoped was a nice touch: ''What Bossart with his potential is doing in our branch office I can't imagine.'' My words must have reached Rosencrantz, for finally he returned to his desk and resumed his drafting. But the next time I looked up, Rosencrantz had stalked to where Bossart stood at the file cabinet and dumped paper clips over his head.

Now that several weeks have passed without incident I am taking heart. Having Bossart's desk facing the wall away from Rosencrantz, and Rosencrantz's facing the wall away from Bossart has improved the mood of the office. For a while, Rosencrantz complained that Bossart looked in the mirror and reflected his stare back at him. I explained to Rosencrantz that he would not know this unless he turned around and looked. Since I had the mirror moved to another wall things are better.

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