Nov. 28, 2009

Continued from Chapter 20: Meetups, Meetups

I say, "RAWWWRR... uhh... yeah, the... uhh... government... transmogrified me..."

I nudge Sen and give her the "Holy shit, you have to help me, what the Hell am I doing, get me out of this" look. She raises her eyebrow at me in a "What the fuck?" sort of fashion.

Greenfin says, in a normal voice, "Hold on a sec, I-" He stops and resumes his deep voice, "Hhhaaggk... I mean... ahhh.. I also recognize you... Agggkk. You claimed to be an alien... Ahh... Ggkka... K." He looks around at the other people.

The people start murmuring to each other, "what happened...?" "think maybe he's not..."

One of them says, "Anyway, uhh, nice talking to you buddy. I gotta go."

Another one says, "Yeah, me too."

And, everyone but Greenfin and Ben walk away.

Greenfin says, "Oh, God damn it!" Then, he looks at Ben. "What're you still doing here? Don't you want to go mingle with your other wood nymphs?"

Ben says, "I figure I'm deservin' of some answers. Who here's an alien?" Nobody raises a hand. He says, "Right then. And, who here's a dinosaur?" Nobody raises a hand. "Okay. Now, what's goin' on here?"

Sen says, "Well, the thing is..."

Ben says, "And don' be fuckin' with me either. I can sense fuckin' a mile away."

Sen starts doing her magical explaining, which I've kind of stopped listening to at this point. Instead, I find myself imagining a crocodile riding a unicorn.

Ben says, "Well... that's certainly troublin'."

Greenfin says, "Yeah, troubling as a megasteroid."

Sen says, "And... we need..." she glances at Stan, "both of your help."

Ben says, "Well, I ain't a fightin' man, but I do carry a few guns'n'knives'n'nunchucks, just in case."

Greenfin says, "Sometimes, I cut my finger when attaching my antennae, so they could probably work as swords..."

Ben looks sternly at Greenfin.

Sen says, "Well, uhh, we're actually holding a boycott, protest-style, and we were hoping to do it Channel 12, get some publicity, you know?"

Greenfin laughs.

Everyone looks at him, even Ben.

Greenfin says, "You're joking, right?"

Sen says, "Desperate times..."

Greenfin says, "Call for throwing your career away? I don't think that's how the saying goes.

Sen says, "We'll... We'll make it seem like regularly scheduled programming."

Ben says, "Like, all kids oriented?"

Sen says, "Like, no swearing, maybe dressing up as funny animals. Whatever you need, Greenfin."

Greenfin looks down. He says, "I don't know..."

Sen says, "Rose here'll sing a song."

Greenfin says, "Hmm... Let m-"Wait, I'm going to do what?! I glare over at Sen. She is looking at me, smiling, and she mouths, "Sorry!" Yeah, an apology. That'll help me out here. Thanks. Everything's all fixed. I try to imagine her exploding, but my heart isn't into it, so instead, I imagine her next to an explosion, all frightened, saying, "Boy, I sure am uncomfortable and as a result my usual level of buoyancy has plummeted. What I am saying is that I am quite unhappy!" Yeah, take that, Sen. (Also, I bet there's a pen spilling ink everywhere in her purse. Ouch.)

Greenfin is saying, "... problem of costumes."

Sen says, "Oh... Hmm..."

Ben says, "I've got a Rambo costume I use fer... I've got a Rambo costume."

Greenfin sighs. He says, "Oh, I guess there's no problem then."

Sen says, "Wait, don't you guys have your own costume people?"

Greenfin says, "Sure, but they're understaffed already, and they have to worry about, what?, a few people a show? Who wear mostly the same costumes? You want a real boycott, you're gonna need something bigger than that."

Well, that leaves me an ounce of hope. Maybe this whole plan will fall through after all. There was some talk of hermicide?

Sen says, "Right..."

Ben says, "It's missin' an ear."

Everyone looks at Ben. There is a pause.

I'll need one of those sticks with a bandanna around the end. In which I'll carry all my belongings.

Ben says, "The Rambo costume, I mean."

The pause multiplies and spreads, like humanity.

Greenfin says, "Great. Thanks."

It'll have to be a big bandanna. I am not letting go of my laptop.

Stan says, "I suppose no one's going to bother remembering that I've been asked repeatedly to have my costuming friend make costumes that we've never used? Is that correct?"

Damnit! Stan, now there's a man I can make explode!

Sen says, "Wait... you actually talked to your friend?"

Stan says, "Thank you for the vote of confidence."

Sen says, "How many costumes does he have for us?"

Stan says, "Well, since you've never bothered telling us your whole plan, I've been paying him full time for the last month. If I were a betting man, I would say, 'Quite a few.'" He explodes. Then, the little pieces of him that are left, the little Stan-crumbs, they explode too.

Ben says, "Well, all right then!"

And, it turns out that Stan is the core of all evil in the world. Without him, everything becomes sunnier and happier. Global warming? More like global parties. Swine flu? More like swine piƱatas, filled with tasty, teeth-cleaning candy. Being forced to sing to kids? More like being given a super fast Internet connection with no bandwidth limits, all of my accounts back, and permanent pro accounts on Flickr, Livejournal, MegaUpload, and everything else.

Sen says, "So, Greenfin... are you in?"

Greenfin says, "Ugh... Fine. Okay. If you can make it tomorrow, Thursday's a busy day for some of our folks, so we've got two completely separate crews, and we do an hour of reruns around 6:00pm as we switch daytime crew to evening crew. I can squeeze you in there."

Sen says, "... You want us to organize this by tomorrow?"

Greenfin says, "That, or you can wait a week and do fuck-all online." He shrugs.

Gully says, "We'll do it!"

Sen looks at him.

Gully says, "Uhh... sorry... But, there's no way I'm living a week without Facebook or my personal phone. I've got no other way to talk to my family."

Sen says, "Yeah, but how are we gonna even find enough meetup folks in..." she looks at her watch and says, "... nineteen hours."

Greenfin says, "I... uhh... I've got the names, addresses, phone numbers, places of business, and... other things... of just about every person who regularly attends meetups in the city."

Everyone again looks at Greenfin, mixed looks on their faces (Ben and Gully: horror, Sen: surprise, Stan: awe).

Sen says, "You do...?"

Greenfin says, "What's your username?"

Sen says, "Senbrella..."

Greenfin says, "Ah! You're favorite color is red, is it?"

Sen says, "Yes..."

Greenfin says, "And, how's your mother doing?"

Sen says "Better... How did you...?"

Greenfin says, "Quasi-identifiers, baby. You make enough information available about yourself in any one place, it can be linked to you elsewhere. The Internet is basically a giant treasure map of any person who uses it."

Everyone is still looking at Greenfin (Ben and Gully: horror, Sen: even more horror, Stan: even more awe).

Greenfin says, "So, what next, chief?"

Chapter 21: I'd Give it Three, Maybe Three-and-a-Half, Yawns

Sen casts some kind of spell on Greenfin and convinces him to call anyone he knows who'll be up late at night, and before we realize it, Stan has gone off with him. Ben says he has some friends "from another life" who'll also be interested in helping (yeah, that sounds like a good idea), and he goes off on his own too. So, it's just Sen, Gully, and I traveling back to the Meetup Meetup warehouse on our own. With Stan gone, I'm in the front with Sen.

We arrive at around midnight, and the whole place looks as dead as a horror film from the front, but around back, there are even more cars than there were before. We get out of Sen's car, and Sen knocks on the big metal door.

After a few seconds, it opens to reveal Thomas, and behind him, about 20 people. Theresa and some woman are standing up facing each other and everyone else is looking at them. The other woman has long, dirty blonde hair, but she's wearing this god-awful polka-dotted dress.

Theresa is yelling, "... THAT!"

The woman yells, "This is a free country, and underwater hockey is the best sport in this country, and I can talk about it wherever I want!" Ah. Yes.

Theresa yells, "You're always talking about it. And, I can't even swim!"

Sabina says, "We can teach you how, honey."

Theresa yells, "I don't want to... EUUGH!"

Thomas rushes in. He says, "So, I think that's settled. Our bake sale will be next Saturday."

He looks at both Theresa and Sabina. Sabina sits down.

Thomas says, "So, next up, our guests have returned, hopefully with some news." He waves us in.

We walk in, Gully closing the door behind us. Everyone looks at us.

Sen says, "Yes, we-"

Sabina stands up and says, "I, uhh... I need to go..." she starts walking towards us, and says, "the uhh..." she walks past us and to the door, which she re-opens with a yank. She says, "uhh... bathroom. So, I'm gonna..." She walks out and starts shutting the door. As it closes she calls, "Shoot me a PM if you're interested in underwater hockey!" And then the door shuts with a CLANG.

There's a pause.

Thomas says, "Uhh... So, as you were saying..."

Sen says, "Oh... right. Yeah, we got a slot for 6:00pm tomorrow on channel 12."

Oh, God. I almost forgot. I'm going to have to sing... Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Sen says, "Which isn't a lot of time, but if maybe everyone leaves work at 5:00pm sharp, we can all show up there by 5:30, and have half an hour to get ready."

Thomas says, "Yeah, I can maybe get Kurt to take over for me at CLTs."

Francis says, "Sure, Maurits owes me a favor from when he kept giving sandwiches for free to that girl Jetta."

Theresa says, "Not a problem at all from my end."

Other people also concur.

Sen says, "Great. There's... one more catch." She pauses. She says, "Since it's a kids show, the deal is, we gotta all dress up and be all kids-show-y."

Theresa says, "Oh, wait, I've got a one-on-one with Johann, my boss..."

Francis says, "Actually, I think that Maurits is dead..."

Thomas says, "I'm allergic to cuddliness..."

Other people also discur.

Sen says, "Great... Need I remind you all that you might lose all all of your accounts online?"

Thomas says, "... I mean, as long as there are tissues around..."

Francis says, "Wait, I saw him earlier today, and he was perfectly alive..."

Theresa says, "Shoot. I keep forgetting that I was promoted. I'm Johann's boss."

Other people also recur.

Sen rolls her eyes. She says, "So... We'll all meet at 5:30 tomorrow at the channel 12 studio?"

A few people nod a bit; others say "Yeah..." No one is particularly excited.

Sen says, "Fantastic, I-"

Upside, inside out she's livin' la vida loca

Sen says, "One sec...," then into her phone, "Hello?"

There is a pause.

Sen says, "Oh, how did you-"

The pause invites her best friend to have a party.

Sen says, "Oh, that's-"

The two pauses prank call a third pause (a creep that works at Pausa John's and who keeps trying to hang around whenever he delivers a pizza [they always order a large topped with pausage]).

Sen says, "Perfect. I'll get you a list as soon as-"

The third pause calls the pausice, who assign Pausective Fillion to the case.

Sen hangs up. She says, "That was... Greenfin. Everyone interested give me your Meetup.com usernames, and he'll e-mail you a script by morning."

Theresa says, "You want us to give information to Greenfin?!"

Francis says, "Or, maybe that wasn't Maurits I saw earlier. Maybe that was Cornelis. Maybe Maurits really is dead..."

Thomas says, "I'm allergic to things that allow Greenfin to contact me."

Sen sighs. She says, "Remember all of your accounts...?"

The two pauses are caught and by way of punishment are forced to live in a pausoleum for two years in a sitcom, "Let me know when you're done pausing; oh wait, too late: I died!" (with closed captioning).

Thomas says, "Fine!"

Francis mutters inaudibly.

Theresa implies "..." without speaking.

Sen says, "And, I'll need the names of anyone you hope to bring with you, preferably all the names of the people in your meetups."

And, after that, it's just a lot of scribbling of things down on paper and people mentioning usernames ("I'm sexwithelphants!" "I'm thatsdisgustingyuckyuckyuck!" "I'm dontjudgeittilyouvetriedit!" "I'm whosaysIhavent" ... and so forth.)

When Sen is done, she starts walking toward the door.

Thomas says, "Hey! Aren't you going to stay for the rest of the meeting?"

Sen says, "Are we invited?"

Thomas looks around at everyone else. Theresa shrugs. Francis does a half-nod, half-shake diagonal movement. Someone else scratches her ear.

Thomas says, "Sure!"

Sen says, "What's left on the agenda?"

Thomas says, "We gotta decide what color to make our banner at the bake sale."

Theresa yells, "Blue!"

Francis yells, "Half magenta, half hot pink with a swirling shape in the middle made out of old rose and burnt sienna!"

Theresa yells, "No, blue!"

Sen says, "I... think we'll pass. We have lots of work left to do, actually." She smiles serenely.

Thomas looks at her with wide eyes and a frown. He says, "Please...?"

Sen says, "Sorry," and she starts walking out, with Gully and I in tow.

Chapter 22: Show

As we get into the car, Gully says, "So... uhh... What do we have to do?"

Sen turns to me. She says, "Well, Greenfin says his writers are all gonna be busy, but he's gonna write a script for us... he just can't write music, so... that's up to us."

Oh, God.

Sen says, "For Rose's song."

I say, "Do we really need me to sing a song?"

Sen says, "Greenfin is really excited about it."

It's times like this I wish I had an identical twin sister in show business.

Sen says, "I'm sorry, Rose... I panicked."

Gully says, "Couldn't... uhh... couldn't one of us, or... someone else... do it for her?"

Sen sighs. She says, "He wants it to be Rose. I think..." She looks down. She says, "I think he has a bit of a crush..."

... an identical twin sister who was into weirdo green men.

Sen says, "I mean, not that he's going to ask you out on a date or anything..."

"Hey, esoR. I met this awesome boy. All you have to do is make a fuck out of yourself on television in front of thousands of kids." "Oh, awesome, Rose. That's what I want to do every day!" "Great. Also, I need to borrow all of your money again." "Oh, super! You know how I hate money. You're the best sister ever!" "I know, esoR, I know."

Gully starts laughing. God, that laugh.

Sen looks up at me. She says, "Sorry."

I say, "Oh... uhh... no problem. Whatever I can do to help..."

"Hey, esoR? Do you mind slapping me around a little bit, getting some sense into me?" "Hey, no problem, Sis!"

Sen says, "Great. Okay, so let's had over to Stan's place. I've got a key, and he and Greenfin are gonna be there later on."

I say, "Uhh... Sure."

Gully is still laughing.

Sen starts to back out, but then she stops. She says, "Oh, one more thing."

Oh, God.

Sen says, "You're gonna be a giraffe."

***

The following three hours are a blur of caffeine, falling asleep, murmuring things that are probably not lyrics, and at some point, Stan and Greenfin coming in and disappearing into Stan's room.

***

Either it's a dream or Gully is really good at writing kids music, all coming up with rhymes and jingles. He even does voices, or is a dog, I'm not completely sure.

***

I wake up to the same scene as last night. I'm on one of the couches alone, with a blanket on me. It's 7:30-ish, and Gully's asleep on the couch next to me. Sen is behind me, eating an apple. She smiles and mouths, "Good morning."

Then, she hands me a piece of paper, on which is written this:

Who wants to lose their identity?
Not me, not me, oh oh, not me!
Who wants to lose their identity?
It'd be like eating a bumble bee!

Who wants to lose the Internet?
Not me, not me, nor you I'd bet.
Who wants to lose the Internet?
It is, you know, where we all met!

You know, kids, we all love the Internet, like we love our parents, but some people want to keep us away from it, or take away what belongs to us there. BOOO!

Now, we know that you're all good little girls and boys, so here's how you can help! Go find mommy or daddy (or aunty or uncly [or grammy or grampy]), and tell them to go to this website here:

...

Then, we can all be happy!

YAAAAY!

Everyone together now!

Who wants to lose their identity?
Not me, not me, oh oh, not me!
Who wants to lose their identity?
It'd be like eating a bumble bee!

Who wants to lose the Internet?
Not me, not me, nor you I'd bet.
Who wants to lose the Internet?
It is, you know, where we all met!

...

Sen smiles at me and nods her head a little bit.

Today is gonna suck.

***

Nov. 29, 2009 →

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