Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Helluva World (A People Person - Part 2)

I hadn’t been on the job four hours before Gene appeared breathlessly in my cubicle saying he’d just heard form a Yemeni caliph willing to pay six figures for a California virgin if we could deliver her within 72 hours. “Yemeni Christmas!” I exclaimed, unable to resist the pun. Gene just looked at me quizzically.

I tried another tack; “How many?” I said.

“How many what?” he said.

“Caliphs,” I said, "and how many of them are from Caliphornia?" But he didn’t get that one either, as I’m not entirely sure you do either. Groucho Marx might have gotten it, but he’d gone to his final reward decades before. I told Gene never mind, and was struck by how nonsensical that expression is. Why do we English speakers not instead say, “Don’t mind”? It makes no sense to make the sweeping statement “Never mind,” for who knows what fate might have in store for us? It could be tomorrow that the most dire emergency will present itself, and that we most assuredly will want others to be very attentive indeed to our predicament.

That said, I began dashing, if you will, from chatroom to chatroom. A fascinating discussion was going on in one of the BDSM ones between a Mistress Tyrant and slave joe; she was making him eat the contents of his own nostrils, and then thank her for having done so. But I couldn’t allow myself to be deterred, however amused.
I finally found a likely prospect on the site of a record company that had a couple of hot boy groups under contract. She identified herself as tiphanee. She was about to turn 14, she said, although she had been well “developed” since 12. She liked movies and cute boys and music and cute boys, and cute boys. She disliked her parents because they didn’t understand her, and her younger brother because he smelled gross and was retarded, though not, I was able to ascertain, in the literal sense.

I told her I myself was 15, and looked like Justin Bieber. It was 1994, and Justin Bieber wasn’t a tingling in his father’s loins yet, but I have long been blessed (or is it cursed?) with the gift of prescience. She wasn’t pleased, of course, having never heard of Justin, so I told her I also looked a lot like the cutest member of her favorite boy group, not that I knew New Kids on the Block from Shinola, or a hole in the ground. She was excited to hear this, though, and said we could indeed meet face to face.

The problem being that she lived in Naperville, Illinois, near Chicago. I asked Gene if the company would reimburse me for airfare, and he said of course. I grabbed a vial of chloroform and several handkerchiefs and called a taxi to the airport. After flying to O’Hare and renting a Korean subcompact, I arrived 15 minutes early in front of the Burger King on the southwest corner of Route 34 and N. Eagle Street, where tiphanee had agreed to meet me. It was bitingly chilly, and there was no teenage girl there, well developed or otherwise, but only a sad-eyed guy of maybe 56 or 57 in a much warmer jacket than I was wearing, one of those inflated-looking ski affairs.

Just to be polite, I asked how he was doing. He was the type who feels called upon to try to answer rhetorical questions, and said he’d been doing a lot better before reading earlier in the day that sometimes professional executioners put too little anesthetic in the pharmaceutical cocktail of paralyzing agents and cardiac arresters they give condemned prisoners, with the result that the prisoner then suffers excruciating internal burning as the potassium chloride enters his bloodstream, but is unable to scream because paralyzed. “And they don’t call that cruel and unusual punishment,” he marveled bitterly.

“Yeah,” I agreed, shaking my head. “It’s a helluva world.”

[Concludes tomorrow.]

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