A late-night TV talk show host is going through an existential career crisis caused by an anniversary. 4,767 words. Illustration by John Mann.
"Even a weak man should want to leave a legacy," Andy had said, rather off-handedly, to the man sitting next to him. It had meant nothing at the time, but years later it became difficult for his narrative to escape those ten words that had been so hastily scribbled down moments later.
They weren’t his last words, either. Those had been "Here it is."
And the first word Andy Perry ever spoke was "peas," blurted out at 14 months old from the back seat of his mother’s 1964 Ford Bronco.
Andy had said a lot of things between his first and his last words. It was in many respects his full-time job, and he was very good at it. Every Monday through Thursday night, from 11 pm to midnight in New York City, he stood in front of a large group of people and a few television cameras and said a lot of things that in turn caused people to laugh. That was his job, and at times its sheer simplicity made him feel uneasy on a base level, as if he fundamentally should be doing something else.
He secretly envied people who work with their hands, yet found it hard to verbalize this to anyone who does lest they think he was mocking them. He could watch people cook for hours. And when he managed to escape the confines of the building’s television studio and his adjacent offices, he’d find an inconspicuous hole-in-the-wall restaurant nearby and watch the chef’s hands for hours.
This helped explain why he was an hour late to rehearsals on this particular day in late October.