If your list of dream jobs includes La-Z-Boy chair tester, publicist for Idi Amin, bullpen catcher, jockstrap designer or bodyguard to Socks the Cat, you probably can learn a few things from Fred Grimes.
Taking a cue from author Don Novello’s “The Lazlo Letters,” Grimes (a pseudonym for ex-Times reporter David Freed) sent goofy job application letters to various celebrities, politicians and corporations.
Many answered him seriously, and the result is a gently amusing collection of correspondence to be published this week titled “Dear Ernest and Julio” (St. Martin’s Press).
In seeking work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Grimes wrote, “I am not a Mormon. Is this a problem? If it is, maybe I can think about changing religions. . . . Also, would I have to pay for the robe myself?”
In a note to former President Carter, who has helped construct houses for the poor, Grimes suggested: “Why not build houses for the rich? You could call them ‘Jimmy Carter Homes.’ . . . I bet a lot of rich folks would buy them just to tell their friends, ‘Guess who hung my drywall?’ ”
Carter’s handwritten response: “Thanks for your idea. When all the poor have houses, we can start on the rich.”
Grimes also queried Cardinal Roger M. Mahony about being a Catholic priest, but was turned down because the priesthood is “not a job” and because “you indicated in your letter that you are married.”
The Harlem Globetrotters likewise rejected Grimes’ bid for work, saying: “Unfortunately, we will not be able to incorporate the ‘average unemployed American who is white’ into our show at this time.”
In other exchanges, Grimes wrote to:
* The U.S. Postal Service: “You could have stamps that tasted like rocky road ice cream. Or a vodka tonic. People would buy stamps just to lick them.”
* The U.S. secretary of Agriculture: “My backyard is approx. 40 feet by 50 feet. . . . What crops would the government pay me not to grow? I am not trying to rip anybody off, but if you folks are willing to pay big farmers not to grow zucchinis or whatever, why can’t we people in the city take advantage of the same opportunity?”
* The mayor of New York: “A lot of people out here in California say a lot of bad things about New York City. Crowds. Muggers. New Yorkers. . . . I have never been to the Big Apple, but how bad can it be? . . . How about paying me to live in New York? . . . You could put the wife and me up in a nice hotel and pick up our meals for $5,000 a month easy. We could go to the movies or watch the ‘Today’ show or go hang out in Central Park. Then we could come back home and tell everybody how great New York City is. I bet a lot of people would go visit after that. . . . I have not approached any other mayors like Cleveland or Newark with this exciting idea because I wanted to give New York City first crack. As I am currently without work, I could be ready to go out there any time. Just let me know.”