Jody was at a party on a motor boat with the famous actor Clint Gabble. All the people who mattered were there--people such as Jody’s runaway parent and the meaning of life, Jody’s fake parent, Clint and Jody’s hair people, and Clint’s costar and girlfriend Gina. Jody’s defunct sibling Star was even there in spirit.
Jody’s runaway parent had been married to everyone but had given that up for the meaning of life. Now everyone’s former spouse was rich and successful and gorgeous.
Jody’s fake parent was an actor Jody had hired to pretend to be everyone in a more palatable form. Jody’s fake parent had been a member of a Greek organization in college and had ties to all of humanity but most especially to those who were career politicians or CEOs of multinational corporations, whom she or he tracked through newsfeeds provided by the Internet.
Everyone, by contrast, knew no one--or at best, the coworkers at her or his office. Everyone considered the Internet her or his closest friend. The Internet, however, had so many other friends that its relationship with everyone was perfunctory.
Jody’s fake parent sat in a circle that included Clint, Jody, Gina, everyone’s spouse, and the meaning of life. As they drank Popsi Cola, the fake parent talked about the time she or he had last had dinner with the president of a small European country. The president was a snob, the fake parent admitted, but also a lot of fun once she or he downed a few Popsis. The people at the table nodded. They knew the power of Popsi.
Everyone’s spouse and the meaning of life knew the power especially well. Everyone’s spouse raised an eyebrow. The meaning of life gestured to the right. “It’s been a pleasure,” everyone’s spouse announced, rising. “So nice to meet you again.” The spouse proffered a hand to the fake parent, who shook it.
“Don’t be a stranger,” said the fake parent.
The meaning of life and everyone’s spouse exited to the right. None of the people at the party paid attention. They were people who mattered and had little time to worry about others, except in regard to gossip.
“Why did you divorce?” Clint Gabble asked the fake parent.
“Jealousy,” the fake parent admitted. “We were both close to the meaning of life and couldn’t manage to balance the relationship, busy and successful people that we are.”
Gina nodded. “I understand,” she said. “I almost never see Clint anymore.”
Everyone’s officemate Sam stepped onto the boat wearing a swimsuit reserved for risqué movies. As an interloper on the scene, Sam understood that the only way to be considered rich, fit, and successful was to create a buzz--and that meant controversy.
Sam was at the party to find the meaning of life. With Sam was everyone. Everyone was there to meet all the people who mattered, but most especially her or his spouse.
“Where’s the meaning of life?” Sam demanded.
Everyone thought Sam a turn-on when she or he was demanding in a swimsuit.
“Let me handle this,” everyone told Sam. “Where’s the meaning of life?” asked everyone, mimicking Sam’s forcefulness in a superficial and unsatisfactory way.
Everyone noticed Clint Gabble sitting next to her or his child Jody.
“May I sit?” everyone asked. “I’m very tired.”
Everyone wanted to appear as if she or he were used to the presence of famous people, yet everyone also wanted to gush over how much she or he had liked Clint’s movie The Real Mr. Keen. The movie had had lots of sex in it, and everyone had been turned on. Clint’s coworker--what was her name?--was a beautiful woman.
Everyone saw Gina next to Clint. It was the woman from the movie.
Sam ran a hand through her or his hair, but everyone did not notice.
“I liked your last movie a lot,” everyone noted. “You were really cool.”
“Thanks,” Clint Gabble said.
Jody gave everyone an evil eye.
The fake parent sighed, as if to begrudge the fawning fans people who mattered had to put up with.
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.