Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Everyone Follows Advice

The Internet told everyone to start his or her novel at the end. Everyone had been asking and asking and asking the Internet where to start every day for eight weeks, and finally, the Internet had complied, shouting the answer at everyone over an advertisement for margaritas.

But everyone was still not satisfied. Everyone did not know the end, and asking everyone to know that seemed utterly absurd when everyone didn’t even know where the novel began, let alone what it was about.

“All you care about is your stupid blog novel,” the Internet continued, when everyone persisted with his or her absurd questions. “What about me?” the Internet asked. “When was the last time you asked about me, how I’m doing, told me you loved me?”

“But I do love you,” everyone said. “Everything I write,” everyone pointed out, “it’s for you.”

The Internet wasn’t satisfied.

The Internet went away, shut down, disappeared.

Everyone continued trying to talk with the Internet, clicking the mouse over and over, typing on the keyboard. Nothing. Everyone shut down the computer and restarted. The Internet didn’t care.

Everyone stood up, walked in a circle beside his or her desk. Everyone had been taking the Internet for granted, he or she had to admit. The Internet was always there for everyone, ready to answer any question. Everyone needed to do a better job of showing his or her appreciation.

But what could everyone do now? The Internet wouldn’t even talk with everyone.

“Internet’s off,” said Sam, everyone’s coworker, as everyone exited his or her office.

Everyone nodded.

Everyone hadn’t seen Sam in a couple of days. Everyone hadn’t seen anyone except for the four kids and the dog at home, and that only for a fleeting minute or two, for the last forty-eight hours. How could the Internet be jealous when everyone spent nearly all his or her day and night with it?

Sam stood up from his or her desk. Sam had the office next door to everyone.

Sam and everyone walked past Alice, another coworker.

“Internet’s off,” Alice said.

Sam and everyone nodded. Alice stood up from her desk, joined them.

Then came Pat and Max and K. and Morgan. The Internet was off. They had nothing to do.

They walked to the elevator, took it to the lobby.

Everyone decided to buy a Handsome Cola. Everyone was on a diet, and Handsome Cola had zero calories. Everyone would walk to the convenience store on the corner three blocks away, which would count as exercise. Sam thought that a good idea. So did Alice. And so did Pat and Max and K. and Morgan and all the others who had joined them. They would all walk to the convenience store and buy sodas.

Everyone wanted to explore new ideas as he or she was drinking the cola, come up with an ending--and by extension a beginning--show the Internet that he or she was listening to its advice, applying it. Everyone was a good friend.

But everyone couldn’t take the Internet’s advice because everyone couldn’t write. Everyone couldn’t write because everyone couldn’t think. Everyone couldn’t think because Sam and Alice and Pat and Max and K. and Morgan and all the others had decided to join him or her at the convenience store and they were talking.

They were talking about the Internet. They could not believe it, how the Internet could take off on them just like that. They’d thought they’d forged a solid connection. They’d been talking, corresponding, every day, for years, and now this. “You never really know a person,” they said. That’s what the Internet was teaching them--that everything you know about someone, or think you know, could be a lie.

And that’s when the beginning began to unfurl for everyone, as he or she was drinking Handsome Cola and listening to all the others talk. Everyone would write about what he or she had thought was known and had proven to be false. Everyone would write about love, about his or her departed spouse, about the meaning of life. Everyone would start here, at the convenience store, with his or her coworkers, talking about a mutual acquaintance, how they had been disappointed in love and friendship. Everyone would drink cola and become a writer. Everyone would blog.

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