Friday, June 11, 2004

One Ring To Rule Them All


More than 7 years at the least.

We knew we were perched on the skin of a bubble that can burst at any time. We took all the right precautions, carefully studied the consequences of our actions and never let our guard down. Let it never be said we were not vigilant.

But, the world, the world.

We were trying to carve out our little hobbit hole of peace. The tranquility of dinners eaten without rising from the table, the evenings of quiet solitude broken only by cats or invited diversions. We had an oasis from the cacophony of the world around. It wasn't much, but it was ours and we were jealous guardians.

What we were doing was against the law and the law finally caught up with us. As the song says, "We fought the law, and the law won." The Second Law of Thermodynamics. The one that says that disorder in the universe is always increasing. Ozymandias, The Forum of Rome, the Great Wall of China - they were all great, shining, perfect creations of man - now they are piles of rubble on the ground. They are wrecks, reminders that everything we build will decay.

Drying off in my shower last night after my bike commute home - the phone rings. Is it Rebecca needing a ride with her end of school stuff? Is it our contractors that will be working on our house? Friends, relatives?

I was naked. Defenseless. Vulnerable. The entropic vultures swirling around my cold skin, chilling me. The puddles cooling at my bare feet.

I pick up the phone, "Hello?"



And fear. My stomach tightens, thoughts race. "Is this it?", "Did they finally find us?", "What went wrong?!?"

No one ever got our home phone number. Not our credit card companies, not our banks, it's not on our checks. We are unlisted, our phone number is blocked. The dike had held for seven years. But is there now a leak?

"Hello, is this J.. L.......?" In a subcontinent accent. But the voice isn't of any of my Indian friends.


"I am calling...blah...blah..blah...offering you...blah..blah....a low cost Discover card...blah blah -"

I cut him off.

"How did you get my number?

Surprised, "From the National Consumer Bureau", he answers.

I stumble, my shoulders sag.

I quickly gather back my strength and recite what I learned in case this day ever came, "Please take us off your calling list and don't call again."

But they are just the advance guard. The scouting party. The entropic vultures are turning and turning in the tightening spiral. All our ceremonies of innocence are drowned in the loosed tide of database fueled lists. Our phone number is replicating like a rabid virus, breaking into all the call centers of evil that our vigilance denied entry previously. The electronic ink is indelible - no Herculean labor can clean these electronic Augean stables. Pandora's box has opened and hope is its only captive.

The Visigoths are heard breaking through the gates of our peace. The Viking long boats with their dragon heads are visible in the mists of the future. Where is the fatted calf to sacrifice? How do we get our nights back? Is the telephone now our enemy? Seven years of prosperity are over. The Telemarketing Barbarians are here.

And they have our number.


At 7:07 PM, Blogger Scott said...

I assume you registered on the Do Not Call list, right? Right? Surely it is mere folly for me to post this link here, because I assume that you, of all people, would have been on this like a snake on Britney Spears:


At 10:07 AM, Blogger Jim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Jim said...

We knew about it. But we did not want anything out there with our number on it. Our isolationism had worked so well for so long that putting our number on any list was anathema. Besides, telemarketers aren't exactly the moral paragons in this world - who's to say that they would not use the do not call list against us when they pay for a new law? If there is anything we've learned in the last 3 years of Bush - anything can be bought, including laws.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Scott said...

I agree - the call list is not a panacea. That said, I did see my calls drop dramatically once I registered. You should do it.

Also, do I get nothing for my Britney Spears analogy? Surely I deserve some props for that. One prop, at the least.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Yeah, we'll sign up if we get more calls. They've been silent the last few days. Too silent.

I woulda given ya props for the Britney Spears/snake simile if I would have understood it. Why would a snake slither over Britney? Were you referencing a popular culture event that I missed out on (very likely)? Now, I could imagine a snakeskin-clad, 40 year old balding man with issues slithering over Britney, but a snake? Like Natasha Kinski? (wraaoir!)

So given unsufficient data to connect the dots in the simile, I must do as Wittgenstein advised "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Scott said...

You're telling me that you don't remember even hearing about Britney Spears performing on TV with a giant snake wrapped around her? You need to crawl out of the cave every once in a while.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Jim said...

You mean Britney Spears performed with a giant snake around her? And lo, I googled spears and snakes (kinda like chutes and ladders, but for adults), and I see she did it at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.

Funny you should mention the cave - I just finished Plato's Republic where he writes about the cave where people only see shadows of the real thing. Just think of me like that with popular culture...though I did watch TV for 2 hours last Saturday for the first time in 6 months.


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