Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tales from the House of Glitch #3: The Unfriending

The Unfriending

Alicia took the WIFI for an extra $40 a month but skipped the cable, figuring if there was ever anything on TV that she needed to see, she could find it on the internet and watch it on her laptop, and she was right. On the internet she found much more than mere cable could offer. She found companionship and a sense of community that only got deeper the more she never left the room. She had a major glitch, as did everyone in the House of Glitch, where those without glitches need not show their smug, self-satisfied faces. The internet was Alicia's major glitch. She barely made it to the bathroom, holding it in for as long as she could before putting her online on hold and venturing out of her cozy room into the common hallway to the common bathroom where she might run into someone common with their own major glitch and have to strike up a conversation when really, OMG, she just wanted to pee, she really didn't want to actually talk to someone, not someone with a glitch, not without spell-check, not without the ability to EDIT before SENDING. Speaking involved communication she couldn't take back so she preferred to not even try. Her only real friends were online.

Ed couldn't remember ever friending Alicia on Facebook but it was obviously a mistake. How could he have been so stupid.

At first, all his friends were his actual friends, people he knew, or people who knew people he knew, with an actual verified degree of separation between Ed and everyone on his friend list. Then strangers started showing up, people asking to be friended but with whom he didn't share a friend. He was a popular writer who decided to let in people who were clearly fans of his work and who didn't seem like serial killers, but it was with trepidation because he didn't actually KNOW them. Who knew how they would behave. Friending them meant letting their comments post to his page. He had suffered the horrors of friending two old friends, exes, who were horrified to find themselves back in contact with each other, but what was he to do when both requested to friend him? He had to say yes, which turned out to be a bad idea. Neither wanted each others comments to show up on the other's pages so they both unfriended Ed, who found himself with two less Facebook friends. It hurt.

He had crafted his Facebook friend list to include his version of an intellectual elite, the very people he'd like to materialize into a dinner party at the Ritz where he was the host, introducing raconteurs and wits to each other, then sitting back in astonishment at the quality of the repartee.

One day, it happened, a casual comment had somehow turned into a miracle of banter, a dream conversation about a glitch where everyone got the joke and was riffing on it as if it were real, the ultimate back-and-forth repartee Facebook was meant for, and everyone was participating, even famous people on his friend list who never posted anything. He had gathered just the right combination of literates who ALL got the joke and immediately responded with flash and hilarity, like a New Yorker cartoon where a couple of scientists are convulsing with laughter over some formula that takes up the whole blackboard, in on a joke no one else would ever get but them.

Except for Alicia. She didn't get the joke. She thought it was a serious conversation. The ghost of Alicia's dead mother told her to "Go ahead and post, you're swimming with the big boys, you know what they're talking about, you've got something intelligent to add to the discussion, I mean why not," nagged her mother, "maybe you'll meet someone nice." Alicia responded to Ed's Facebook page as though the conversation were serious and the entire concept being batted back and forth was actually possible instead of completely ridiculous figments of the imaginations of the hand selected group of VERY clever people who were Ed's Facebook friends.

Ed and his friends couldn't believe it. To them, Alicia was a cyber version of Penny, the ditzy next door neighbor of Sheldon and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory, a layman clearly incapable of following their BRILLIANT train of thought. All Ed's Facebook friends could do was make fun of her, and make fun of her they did, reply after reply, hilarious, scathing, wicked, entertaining to everyone but Alicia, who perceived herself as being the butt of all these jokes, not realizing being the butt of a joke can be a good thing if you just play along but she couldn't, she hadn't studied improv, she didn't know the "yes, and" rule, she was in too deep, she couldn't keep up, she had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, she tried to be cute about it, sent an emoticon that clearly represented "aw shucks," but they made fun of the emoticon, piling it on, when suddenly, there it was, in her status. Ed had unfriended her.

After Alicia was found catatonic by one of her glitchy neighbors and removed from the House of Glitch to a state mental institution, the neighbor stole her computer and logged onto her Facebook page, saw the unfriending, and sent Ed a message from his own Facebook page telling him what happened to Alicia. Ed felt so guilty he refriended her. "Unfriending someone is sort of harsh," he said. "I know how she felt, but it was the easiest way to remove her comments from my discussions. Blame Facebook."

Moral: Never listen to your parents.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tales from the House of Glitch #2: The Arsonist

The Arsonist

Arnold knew who did it. It was one of those kids, the ones who hung out on the porch, like that one who kept lighting his lighter and putting it out, obviously a flame freak, like the one who started the fire in the dumpster, just for kicks, fire department and everything, they never caught the guy, but he knew who did it. It was one of those kids, the ones that hung out with Jamie, the guy in the attic, in the primo spot, the only room with a view, and he'd been there for years, always with the good bud, maybe even a dealer, which would make sense, that they all got high before setting the dumpster on fire. They musta thunk it was real funny, well hah hah, how do you like them apples? He knew Jamie would tell him who started the fire because it was his fault for getting them high before they must have set the dumpster on fire, even though Jamie was in Ballard when it happened and it was only when coming home on the 44 he saw the fire trucks and the cops. Jamie didn't know what happened and took no responsibility for what anyone else did upon leaving the House of Glitch, stoned or not, but Arnold didn't see it that way. It was one of his favorite dumpsters to dive, ground zero for one of Seattle's finest collectors of things other people threw away, and if that preoccupation occasionally warranted actually stepping into the container to retrieve something, so be it. The hapless pranksters just wanted to see flames but had instead angered Shiva, goddess of dumpsters, the holy land had been violated and the heathens must pay, and the only possible connection to anyone in his universe was those kids on the front porch who must have smoked a joint with Jamie.

And so he stormed off to give Jamie a piece of his mind. Jamie, meanwhile, didn't know what the fuck was happening with Arnold, whom he considered a benign sociopath who lived on another floor and needed to be spoken to softly. He didn't like Arnold's tone of voice and was particularly upset about being blamed for something he knew fuck all about. If one of the kids who actually set the fire hadn't come by to separate Arnold from Jamie, someone would have gotten punched, so it's a good thing he was there, though he actually didn't know either of them and was just there to see Angie, who also bore no responsibility for the torching of Arnold's shrine to Shiva.

Arnold never got revenge but Shiva gave Jamie a bad case of the crabs when he mistook her for a cheap hooker.

Moral: You never know when you're going to piss off one of the Gods so you may as well do whatever feels good.

Tales from the House of Glitch #1: The Ghost of Angie

The Ghost of Angie

Rodney loved Edna, his old girlfriend in Philly, loved her so much he knew he needed to do something special to keep him in her mind, after all, Seattle was a long way away, and Edna couldn't be certain if Rodney was really coming back, not knowing if she should save herself in any way whatsoever for his potential return. He was in Seattle for a gig lasting a month and found a boarding house much cheaper than a motel. The House of Glitch was just the right distance from the U where he dug the Chinese food.

He decided the something special for Edna should be postcards, incredible postcards, from all over town, historical sepias of the canal before the locks and magnificent full color sunsets of Mount Rainier with the grasshopper loading cranes in the Puget Sound behind the Bainbridge Island Ferry. But that wasn't enough. Using the most of his massive cartooning ability, he blocked out a story in perhaps twenty frames, where the first postcard would seem to have a mistake in it, a mistake that wouldn't make any sense until the arrival of the second postcard days later, something incredibly clever, reminding her what a treasure he was, a unique talent she would want forever in her life.

He finished the first five postcards, each more elaborate than the last, each one guaranteed to successively boggle her mind to the utmost, until the arrival of the next which would outdo them all. He put on the stamps and left the postcards on the kitchen table to run to his room, grab his backpack, turn out the lights, and lock the door. When he got back to the kitchen, the postcards were gone and Angie, one of the other residents in the House of Glitch, was frying an egg.

"Where are my postcards?" asked Rodney.

"I gave them to the postman," said Angie.

Rodney ran outside and tried to catch the postman but it was too late, he was already driving down the street.

The whole thing was ruined. The postcards would make absolutely no sense when they were received all at once. They had to be received one at a time and in the proper order. Now he wouldn't look like a genius to Edna. He'd look like an idiot.

Rodney came back into the kitchen. Angie was eating her eggs. "You don't have to thank me," she said. Rodney picked up the frying pan and beat her over the head with it several times.

Edna got the postcards and thought Rodney was a genius anyway. She wrote him back but he never got her postcards because he was in jail, where he remains to this day, for the murder of Angie who just thought she was doing him a favor, and whose ghostly presence haunts the House of Glitch to this day whenever someone makes breakfast.

MORAL: Never do anyone a favor.