Hiya, Frank—T. J. Eckleburg here, from the optometry practice you did the ad campaign for. Listen, it’s been a while since the billboard went up, and to be honest with you, I’m not thrilled with the results.

The thing is, it hasn’t actually brought in any new business. Yes, I appreciate that your market research shows there’s been a significant uptick in people questioning the ethics of their actions even as they continue to debauch themselves—that, underneath the revelry, they feel an undercurrent of shame. And that’s… fine, I guess. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really translate into people seeking out my vision care services.

Whenever I introduce myself now, people say, “Oh, T. J. Eckleburg? Aren’t you the guy with the creepy billboard that represents God?” And sure, I guess I’m thankful for the name recognition, but it’s not exactly the image I’m trying to project. I wish they would say, “Oh, T. J. Eckleburg? Aren’t you… the optometrist? Who offers quality care at a great value?”

Maybe some of the language I used in our initial conversations could have been clearer. I wanted an impression of dependability, that I’m always there for my patients. Not just that I’m always there, period, in an ominous, omnipresent sort of way. And I’m realizing that there’s a big difference between “looking out for you” and “watching over you.” So that might be on me.

See, when I ask my patients, “Number one or number two?” I don’t want to send them spiraling about the sinful luxury of choice, fearing the latent sense of moral rot inherent in the abundance we carelessly pick and choose from, casually discarding the options that don’t suit our needs. I just want them to be able to see properly.

It’s true that there are plenty of things many of us would prefer not to look at too closely: the cracks in the facade of a seemingly perfect marriage; the profound hollowness of the nation’s postwar decadence; the confusing thrums of desire we might feel for a handsome elevator operator. But those are abstract concepts. I think most people enjoy being able to clearly see physical, concrete things in the real world: a big pile of nice shirts, for example, or a beautiful woman who isn’t your wife. My customers deserve to have these sumptuous images properly focused on their retinas, and all I want is to help make that happen.

I have to say, I also question your choice of location for the billboard. Right in the middle of the most bleak, desolate stretch of road on Long Island? It just doesn’t feel representative of the clientele I’m trying to cater to. I know I didn’t necessarily have a Times Square budget, but I’d hoped we could have been a little more strategic. I don’t want my business associated with an area so deeply depressing that people choose to speed recklessly through it.

I’m just trying to sell eye exams and spectacles, Frank, that’s all. I do understand that frames are an apt metaphor for the way we unconsciously frame how we see the world, shaping our universe by what we choose to focus on—and, perhaps even more importantly, what we choose to look away from. But on a functional level, frames are what hold the lenses to people’s glasses, and they come in a variety of styles. And I want people to buy them from me.

This billboard’s got everyone all keyed up. I told a man he was nearsighted the other day and he stood up out of the chair and socked me in the jaw. “How dare you call me that!” he cried. “I choose to live in the present moment. Sure, I like to have a good time now and then, but that ain’t a crime!” Then he marched out of my office and tripped over every chair in the waiting room, because they all just looked like blobs to him. That simply isn’t tenable for me.

It’s disappointing, I had been so excited to work with you guys after I heard such great things from my friend who works for the dock light company. Getting a product to be synonymous with the very notion of desire itself? Now that’s a marketing strategy! But I don’t really get the value of positioning my brand as “knows what you did.” Maybe if I were a psychologist?

Look, I don’t think you understand how badly I need new customers. There are awesome parties happening all the time, and I’m not rich enough to get invited to any of them. They got these bands playing a new type of music—you wouldn’t believe some of the chords they come up with. The champagne flows like the waters of the Long Island Sound and there’s more fresh fruit than anyone could possibly know what to do with. Me, my life isn’t worth a hill of beans. I hate my shrill wife, and I hate my shrill mistress even more. I spend all day staring into people’s eyes, Frank, and none of them ever really see me. Don’t I deserve to feel joy too?

I’m afraid I’m going to have to express my pain the only way I know how: by shooting you in your swimming pool. But don’t worry, that violent act will also be an elegant, succinct encapsulation of the tragic consequences of yearning for the unattainable (in this case, I suppose, a successful rebrand of a family-owned private practice). I’m getting the sense you love stuff like that.

Plus, it might drive a new wave of morbidly curious customers to my optometry business! A man can dream. Hell, I’m an American—it’s all I know how to do.