Severed connections

Augsburger_Wunderzeichenbuch,_Folio_1 (2)

Imagine it’s Sunday, because that happens to be the day it is. It could just as easily have been Saturday, but it’s not. You know this from a feeling of dehydration and moderate fatigue – both sure signs that Saturday has already happened. There’s still most of this particular Sunday left before Monday sneaks through the door and another standard work week begins. This is good news, because you won’t be paid for any work you do this week, and need a really good dose of Sunday afternoon – with a liberal splash of Sunday night – to find this truth acceptable. Fortunately, the acceptance of truth will be greatly aided by the fact that you like your ‘work’. You do it because you love it, not for financial reward. Even more fortuitously, just exactly how much you love it, and whether or not you might love it more than is reasonable for a fully grown adult, are issues to resolve tomorrow. (If you feel like it, and only after several cups of coffee.) No, today all you have to do is relax and watch your favorite streaming service – the one you’re not allowed to mention in public in case said service views that as co-opting their good name for your own purposes.

Life is good. Even the rain is good. You love rain, and today’s rain is the perfect accompaniment for watching a T.V. show you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone about. Not because they are unaware of the show, but because you really like it, and sense it might put you in the way of some serious teasing if you were to admit to this. Even drawing attention the the fact that you watch it might bring unwelcome comments. Best not to take the risk; your friends can be slightly troll-ish that way.

On this particular imagined Sunday – by the machinations of that particular streaming service that in no way endorses the work you won’t get paid for this week – the show in question has detectives in it. Silly detectives. Not silly like the one you wrote about that time, but silly enough that you don’t mind that there is no way they could have arrived at any reasonable conclusions from the evidence presented in the story. Possibly, if the narrative arc had a smoking-monkey-clone it, you would have accepted it as realistic drama. But that’s never how any episode plays out. Worse luck.

The show has reached its superb formulaic climax: the part where the protagonist-savant-detective explains how he’s arrived at his conclusions. And this in spite of it being clear to the only professional police officer present that there is no way any prosecutor would accept those conclusions as constituting a ‘strong case’. You imagine that, like yourself, the incredulous police officer also enjoys this show, and is too embarrassed to tell anyone that she suspects the genius private detective is probably making it all up. She looks at the savant-detective’s apprentice to see if he too feels embarrassed, but she reads only stunned admiration in the apprentice’s countenance.

As if to heighten the dramatic incredulity playing out before you on the screen, the rain outside picks up. Again you are reminded that you love rain, and today’s rain is perfect. Could there be a rain any more perfect than the one that decided to fall on this fatigue filled, dehydration riddled Sunday? Maybe, but it seems… unlikely.

CRACK! The sound of some long-caricatured pagan god’s hammer blow pulls your attention from the screen. “Crikey,” you think – because you’re trying to keep your mind ‘G-Rated’ after last night’s debacle, and ‘crikey’ is the only substitute you can think of. You’re not sure how you know this word or it’s proper usage. Was it a documentary about two warring tribes in the deep South-Eastern Pacific? However you learned the word, it appropriately signalled the jump-scare you just received. A good word, then. Even if it is does sound a little stupid. You make a note to add it to your arsenal of family-friendly expletives. You test the word out again just to make sure: “Crikey, that gave me a fright. ‘Criking’ thunder!” Not as versatile as its R-Rated counterpart, but acceptable for use before eight at night; especially when children are present. Any children up after this time are trespassing into the world of adults, and you can’t be held responsible for your language if this happens. It has long been your view that after eight-of-the-clock post meridiem, children are participating in an adult world, and must suck-up the consequences bad-language-wise. This might be why people with young families tend not to invite you to dinners at their houses on Saturdays.

You turn back to the T.V. and swear G-Rated fashion under your breath. You’ve missed crucial exposition. How was it that the ‘savant-detective’ figured out that the murderer was a street artist who worked in chalk pastels, and not a different criminal mastermind that also happened to be a celebrated mathematics professor? Clearly, with the ‘chalk-mark-on-the-sleeve’ clue, it could have gone either way. No problem, the remote control – the all seeing eye of home-entertainment – will be able to tell you. Wonderful invention the remote control. It’s almost like having magical powers in a plastic rectangle with buttons on it. Sort of like possessing a witch’s wand, only real, and without the ability transform enemies into  amphibians.

A blinding flash and deafening hammer strike interrupt your search for the rewind button. The house rattled that time. Still, the power didn’t go out, and all windows remain intact. It could have gone worse, like that time when your neighbor used the sound of thunder to throw a brick in your wondow. Anyway, you love a good electrical storm, especially when there is torrential rain involved. (Your neighbor hasn’t thrown a brick at you in centuries – figuratively. You haven’t even worried about that happening in weeks. She even smiled at you last time you saw her.) This has to be the best Sunday EVER.

But wait, what’s this? The T.V. appears to be having a tantrum. No, not the T.V.; it’s the unmentionable streaming service. It’s refusing to load. No problem, just give it a couple of minutes. Hmm? The supposedly ‘Smart’ T.V. thinks that you have no available network connection. Obviously the T.V. is not as smart as it believes – it was just using that ‘unavailable connection’ only moments ago. This is most vexatious. But no worries, you’ll pick the wireless signal on your tablet device. Surely a tablet device is smarter than any T.V. can be? It may even be smarter than you are. You’d never say that to its touch-sensitive screen, though.

Nope, no luck there either. Nor is there any joy with that most genius of conveniences: the Smart ‘phone’. You are beginning to exhibit signs of hysteria. As luck would have it, there are no savant-detectives around to notice this. Which is just as well, because you feel a bit embarrassed, and would hate to end up framed for some crime based on such a narratively implausible observation.  Oh well, you think, it looks like you’ll have to kick it Old-School and fire up the computer as a last resort. Well, semi-Old-School. All you have left is a Lap-Top. That’s still a fairly archaic technology, though.

The computer grinds through its startup routine. This is taking forever. When the ‘forever’ finally ends, you find that the internet connection remains unresponsive. “Crikey-crikety-crike-crike-crike,” you exclaim. You check the room where you keep the modem and wireless router. FUCK! The internet is completely down. Judging by the smoke billowing from the modem, it’s not going up again, either. And it’s Sunday, so there’ll be no chance of a new one in this sleepy town until tomorrow.

The rain pelts down. You hate rain.

You break into a cold-floppy-sweat. A realization begins to dawn, the kind of dawn painted by a sun with a face on it. An unhappy face. “NOOOOOOOO,” you scream, “MY SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES.” There is no point in any attempt to hide from the truth. Your online life – a life carefully cultivated over the last few years at the expense of real human contact – is gone. Your connection to it is severed. And all of your carefully accrued ‘connections’ in your online life? Well, you are severed from those too. You are a raw, bloody mass of severed connections. It truly is the end of days, just as the guy who keeps trying to give religious literature said.

Yet, perhaps there is still one last hope? Of course! How stupid of you to forget.

You race over to where you threw down your Smartphone in blind, hysterical panic. Hope slowly rekindling, you flick through the menus that will permit you to access the internet through the device’s sim card. You normally have it switched off – its slow compared to the wireless connection, and you hate wasting valuable social media time. Even one minute in the social-media-sphere is an eternity; time you prefer not to waste while your sim card tries to get its shit together. Seriously, the internet is like Narnia. Time passes differently there, best not to waste too much of it in the ‘real-world’.

Your last hope crunches through precious online minutes as it tries to load the necessary page. Success, a message! …. An internet connection error message. Your shoulders slump in defeat. A perfectly timed flash of lightening frames you in inky silhouette.

You hate electrical storms.

You are lost. Alive, but not quite alive. A zombie. A half-being that couldn’t even get it together to die enough to become officially reanimated. The half-animated dead, is that what you are? And what does that amount to? It’s not like you can Google it and find out anymore.

You catch your reflection in the window, and you wonder again who, or what, you are now? Perhaps asking the same questions in a circle will provide answers? If only you could ask them to the world – preferably as a status update or tweet. And then, despair overcoming you, you break down in deep, mournful sobs. You know what you were this morning before your world went dark: for this morning you were Arthur Wingsmith, and you had such beautiful dreams. If only you still had the internet to look up how to grieve this loss properly. Maybe you have an Encyclopedia around somewhere? You read somewhere on the internet that they were the ‘proto-web’. Perhaps you have a whole set. A.G. – for appropriate grief – has to be one of the volumes. That’s how encyclopedias work, right? All of them have volumes ordered according to category? Volume A.G. has to be where you’d find Appropriate Grief, yes?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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