Casey looked around. "Why?"
"Because I said so."
"Trust me, Casey. They are eight sizes too big. Lose 'em."
"You were wearing them last week," Casey protested.
"I'm me. You're you. Take them off," Dan explained.
"Do glasses even come in sizes?"
"I mean, to be eight sizes --"
"Casey, seriously. They make you look hung over. They do not make you look cool."
Casey sighed and took off the glasses. "What would make me look cool?"
"I could stop at the mall. They've got this store in the back. It's called Smooth Sailing. I could look for --"
"With a 'g'."
Casey rolled his eyes. "Dan."
"You gotta help me."
Dan sprawled out on the sofa and glanced around the office. "Okay. What are you going for?"
Casey shrugged. "Coolness."
Dan sighed. "What are you going for, specifically?"
"I want the press to notice that I'm cool."
Dan sat up and positioned his hands as though he wanted to strangle his partner. "Casey. What image are you going for that you consider 'cool'?"
Casey looked at him blankly.
"Five minutes to air. First team to the studio, please."
"Saved by the producer," Dan muttered. "If you want my help, Casey, you're going to have to meet me halfway."
"I am meeting you halfway," Casey said as they stood and left the office. "Asking for help is the first step toward recovery."
"That's just the first step. I need half."
"Like -- figuring out what 'cool' means, and then being that."
They ducked around Kim, skirted a cluster of desk chairs scattered around a half-finished poker game, and opened the door to the control room. "Wouldn't that be most of the way?" Casey asked.
Dan shrugged. "No."
"I'd be confirming you were cool."
"Confirming you were cool. Major, major step, my friend."
"I'm serious. You can't just be cool and then proclaim that you're cool. You gotta have someone on the other side confirm you."
Casey slid into his chair and started to fool with his earpiece. "There's another side?"
"And I am on it."
"It's like a club these days?"
"It's always been like a club," Dan said.
"It hasn't always been like a club."
"There's a reason you didn't know about the club."
"Guys," Dana said over the intercom. "Did you get the change on Tampa Bay?"
"I'm totally cool, Dana," Casey answered.
"Okay. Dan. Did you get the change on --"
"Thirty seconds plus, and room for Berenbaum after the break."
"Thank you." Dana leaned back and turned to Natalie, who was staring at Casey's image on the monitor. Casey was trying inexplicably to get his hair to stand on end. "He's trying to look cool," Dana explained.
"Really?" Natalie grinned. "That's so cute." She leaned into her microphone. "Casey, are you trying to look cool?"
Casey looked up quickly. "Is it working?"
"Maybe if you get a new cut," she suggested.
"It is not my hair."
"Of course it's not just your hair."
"That's right. See, I told -- 'just'? What do you mean 'just'?"
"It's your demeanor, as well."
Casey sighed dejectedly and smoothed his hair back down. "Okay," he said.
"Three minutes," Dave called.
"We've got a change on Tuscon," Jeremy announced.
"Hewlett?" Dana asked.
"Feed it to Casey in the 20s."
"Which of you is taking the figure skating?"
"I've got it," Dan said. Then, to Casey, "Oksana Baiul is totally cool."
"Please don't ever invent rhymes involving ice skaters."
"Did I rhyme?"
"What's not cool about the glasses?"
"In two," Dave announced.
"Seconds?" Dan asked hopefully.
"I need your help, Danny."
"Why do you need to be cool?"
"So I can pick up chicks."
"Well, first of all, don't say that."
Casey's eyes widened hopefully. "And second of all?"
"Be somebody else."
Dan turned to face Casey, peering around Alison as she smoothed his hair. "If I'm going to help you, you've got to trust me," Dan said.
"I trust you."
"You've got to realize that I'm cool."
"I know you're cool."
"I'm incredibly cool."
"I realize it."
"I can take the figure skating story and make that cool. That's how cool I am myself."
"It's all trust, my young friend."
"Could we get on with this, please?"
"Sixty seconds live," Dave announced.
"Well, first we've got to do a show," Dan said.
"You're on television, remember. The other guys aren't."
"So I have one up on them."
"Well -- until you figure in your hair and every word that comes out of your mouth. But television puts you somewhere in the vicinity of equal ground."
"You gotta trust me, Casey."
"I do trust you, Danny."
"Guys?" Dana said. "It's not that I'm not moved. But if you don't stop talking about this now, I'm going to come in there and anchor the show myself."
"Thirty seconds live." The taped intro sprung to life in the background.
"Tease Cincinnati," Dana reminded them.
"And change Tampa Bay, I know," Dan assured her.
"I want to be able to walk down the street and have women notice me," Casey announced.
"Well .. they do. That's why you need to lose the tie."
"I don't wear a tie when --"
"I usually don't wear a tie when I'm walking down the street."
"Unless I'm going somewhere important, and you know how often I have to --"
"This is going to be excruciating," Dan announced.
"You're not helping, Danny."
"I wasn't trying to, Casey."
"In three -- two -- "
"Good evening, from New York City. I'm Casey McCall, alongside Dan Rydell. Those stories plus: We'll bring you Johannson in Georgetown, Sarris in Cincinnati, and mutiny in Montana."
"We'll take you out to Dallas for a muddle of a huddle, and we'll take you to Los Angeles for an impromptu duel with Oksana Baiul. All that, coming up after this. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around."
"We're out," Dave announced.
"Ninety seconds back," Elliot added.
Casey looked at Dan. "'An impromptu duel with Oksana Baiul'?"
"Didn't I ask you not to make rhymes out of the names of --"
"You've gotta trust me!"
"I'm not sure I want to trust you."
"I don't think you're ever gonna be cool."
Casey sighed. After a moment, he started to grin. "Okay, but I can put together a blueberry muffin like you've never seen before."
"Well .. good, then," Dan said.
"Feel better now, Casey?" Dana asked.
"I can bake, Dana," Casey said. "I'm a damn good baker."
"I'm just saying."
"Get the haircut anyway," Natalie said.
"And stop at the mall," Dan added. He shrugged when Casey looked at him. "Couldn't hurt."
Casey sighed, and started to fuss with his hair again. What a place this was.
25 January 2001