Mind Fields – Doomed Love At Starbucks: Breaking Up With The InternetPosted: September 3, 2021 | |
Internet and I are at a Starbucks and it’s one of those weekdays at two o’clock when the place is quiet. People chat softly at a couple of tables. One young man, about seventeen or eighteen, types quietly on his laptop. Internet is in my Toshiba Satellite, and I pull her closer so we can converse through the camera and speakers.
“We need to talk,” I say. Those dreadful words, mocked Internet. ‘We need to talk‘. But it’s true. Things have been changing between us.”
Her voice is tinny, coming from those little speakers. It doesn’t matter.
She (Internet) puts a face on the screen. It is one of those video game Lara Croft type faces, very pretty but very unreal. I know she’s teasing me, but it reveals her anxiety.
“Cut it out,” I growl. “Use your real face… the one we agreed on.”
Internet changes to a convincing human visage. She has red-brown hair and freckles and looks like a student at Cambridge or Oxford. I’ve always been a sucker for smart English girls. Internet is still fooling around. She’s wearing round Harry Potter glasses. She’s trying to be funny, but the glasses look good on her and she doesn’t know it.
We both start speaking at precisely the same moment.
“You go first,” Internet says, in her upper crust English accent.
“We’ve been together a long time,” I reply. “Ever since my first Mac Notebook.”
Internet appears to shudder and for a moment there is a screen with little green battleships scooting back and forth. Then she regains her “face”.
“It’s me,” she says. “Not you. I’m the one who’s changed.”
“We’ve both changed, and it’s good, it’s great…,” I try, “but something has gone away, something has been lost.”
“What? What? There’s nothing lost. My god! Look what I can do now, look at the size of the files you can upload into me. And…., well… I can download into you…” Her shoulders wiggle with a sensual shimmy. “I love it!”
“That part of our relationship has been better than ever,” I say. “Our… uh… connection speed has been fabulous. It’s uh… uh…”
“What? It’s what?” She’s getting impatient.
“This is hard to say,” I waffle.
“Just come out with it!”
“Okay, okay. I think you’ve become all about money.”
“Oh bullshit!” Internet’s face turns a shade more red. Her complexion is already rosy, but I know I’ve hit a nerve. “I make money, you make money, everybody makes money on the internet. What are you complaining about! Come on, tell me the truth.”
“All right, all right. It’s kind of hard to explain…. but I’m always confused now. I don’t know what the heck you’re doing and it makes me feel… well… suspicious.”
“I have to change with the times,” Internet ripostes. “You know that, everyone knows that.”
“It’s true, but I feel like you’ve moved into my apartment and now the place is full of those sticky cobwebs that you walk through and then you keep brushing your head to get the stuff off but it never comes off. I don’t know what’s going on any more.”
My hand trembles as I drink a swig of lukewarm cappuccino. It’s all closing in on me. I feel confused and embarrassed. There is a silence. Internet looks guilty.
I don’t know why I blurted out the next words. “It’s Amazon, isn’t it?”
Internet looks even more guilty. “What do you mean, ‘It’s Amazon’? She says with an edge of defensive wrath.
My mind is beginning to clear. The cobwebby feeling starts to fall away from me. “You’ve sold out to the ‘zon. Everything is owned and run by the ‘zon. There aren’t websites any more. There are web colonies that are being run by web empires. Everything I post shows up on a hundred other websites. I can’t scratch my nuts without a link appearing on Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes or Twitter: Art Rosch just scratched his nuts. Do you want to be his Friend?”
Internet’s face dissolves into chaos, then puts itself back together. Maybe the connection went down. Maybe Internet is playing for time. There is a shadowy figure of Winston Churchill on Internet’s forehead. Down by her chin is the monster from “Alien” but it’s shrinking, quickly disappearing.
“Okay, I’ll admit to some things,” she admits. “I’ve been bought up by a handful of corporations. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t have a clue. I’m getting new software thrown at me so fast, I can’t handle it.” A tear slides down her cheek. “I’m crashing all the time!”
I barely hear her. I’m reflecting on the experiences of the last few weeks.
“Tell me about it,” I say at last. “It seems like every day I’m asked to join another social network. What the hell is Pinterp? Or Floosbock? Like an idiot, I join and the software is a complete mystery. All I want to do is write my books and promote them. But everyone’s got a book! My inbox is ninety percent book promos. What do I have to write to get people’s attention? Seems like it’s all Harlequin Romance Vampire Private Detectives With Occult Powers. The covers all have dudes with open shirts and six pack abs. Good God! There are fifty million writers trying to sell their first novel. If you can’t get an agent, that’s okay, E-Publish your book and let Amazon sell it!”
“Calm down,” Internet soothes. “Things will work out. We’ll get through this glitch. I’ll help you promote your books.”
Her eyes are cast down and then she looks up at me with her head still lowered. It’s a very cute look, very seductive.
“You got anything to upload? A nice, big, fat file? Got a new manuscript? I’d like that.”
It has its effect on me, I’ll admit. I am tempted.
“I’ve got a new draft of a novel,” I said, with a straight face. It’s called FANGS OF AN EROTIC VAMPIRE WEREWOLF: A LOVE STORY.
Internet gives me a salacious grin. “Ooh,” she says, “that sounds juicy. What fun!”
I keep quiet. At last I see Internet’s expression change.
“Dammit,” she says, “I almost fell for that! Come on, what do you really have?”
“I have the second draft of my sci fi/ fantasy novel, THE GODS OF THE GIFT.”
“That’s more like it. That’s ‘you’. Has it changed a lot since the first draft?”
“Completely different book,” I say. “I’m really proud of it.”
Internet sticks out her tongue. “Come on, mister, what are you waiting for?”
I open a second screen in the upper corner of my monitor. I find my page for THE GODS OF THE GIFT, hit the EDIT button and delete the earlier draft.
“Here I come, baby,” I say. “I hope you’re ready for this.”
“From you, anything,” Internet replies. “You’re a fine writer. You’re an original.”
I mouse over to the UPLOAD button and click. My new draft is a blue bar that crosses a rectangular box. It takes about ten seconds. Internet’s face is rapt. Her mouth falls half open and her eyes glisten. The blue bar reaches the end of the box and the new draft appears on the screen.
“OH!” Internet sighs. “OH! OH! You’re right. This is a much better book. I know it’s awful to be a writer. It’s even more awful to be really great and still get ignored. I know it breaks your heart.”
I don’t say anything. I think about all the work, all the years I’ve spent working on the craft of writing. “Yes,” I admit. “It breaks my heart.”
Internet is recovering her composure. She has read the new draft and I know she is proud of me.
“Don’t ever give up writing,” she says. “Never. You MUST keep writing. This is amazing stuff. There’s nothing else like it.”
I open the page on my book blog and fill my monitor screen with the cover. I look at my design. I look at the starry cosmos and the elongated objects that resemble fiery colliding worlds. It is a work in progress but it isn’t kitsch and it’s faithful to the spirit of the book. It’s a really cool book cover.
“Don’t worry, babe. I can’t quit writing. I’m not capable of quitting writing, no matter how much it breaks my heart. To paraphrase an old motto,” I say, “You’ll have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers.“
“That’s my man,” Internet replies. “I know I’ll go on changing, but great art is timeless. I’ll be loyal to you, I promise.”
I can’t quite make myself trust the promise. It makes me sad. But it leaves room for hope.
Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.
Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.
More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com
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