Stanley Bing’s Real Identity Was a Closely Guarded Secret. Until It Wasn’t.

Back in the days when we all worked on Wang word processors and Richard Nixon was still the worst president ever, I joined the ranks of those condemned to wear uncomfortable shoes to work every day. I was a cringing maggot back then, and it wasn’t much fun. Like, one time, right after lunch, I was told, “Go upstairs and wait for Bill.” The chairman! What could he want of me? Cramped with terror, I sat in the lobby for one, two, three hours, guts churning. Finally, at 6:45 p.m., I poked my head into his sacred executive space.

“Janice,” I timidly inquired. “Does Bill want to see me?”

“Bill?” she replied. “Bill went home about four hours ago.”

I found I wanted to write about this kind of thing. But how? As luck would have it, I had friends at a swanky men’s magazine that had a free page in the back section adjacent to the pharmaceutical ads. Ah, I thought, a golden opportunity to speak truth to The Man!

Clearly, I needed a pseudonym.

And so Stanley Bing was born. At that time, nobody but my editors had a clue who I was. I was Zorro, Clark Kent, putting one over on Perry White. But with this cool little secret came the fear — debilitating, crushing, sleep-destroying. Because, you know, I simply could not be fired. I had a mortgage, a little girl about to go to a preschool that cost more than my car each year. I had endured the pleasure of being an actor in New York — pretty much the definition of powerlessness and penury. And now I had a small expense account. I had a few friends. I even had a door. Every two weeks, I got a modest check. A month before, I had been selling typewriter ribbons!

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