"Want some leftover pizza?"
My stepfather was the ultimate businessman; even in his terrycloth robe and slippers with the squashed heels, he could command his advertising consulting firm from the brink of failure to unbridled success. He had the whole sales thing downthe firm handshake, the warm smile, the good listening. It was the real Peter, not put on, like lots of other guys at his company.
He looked over my shoulder and checked out the screen.
"Ive heard about this Larry," he said. "Some guy bashing our culture online. Anonymous coward."
"Some people think its one of the big televangelists trying to reach the teen market. Or maybe its a bored housewife in the suburbs looking for something to do."
Peter shook his head. "Probably some hacker trying to make a name for himself."
"Ill add that to the list of hypotheses," I said.
"You do that." He handed me a slice of pizza on a paper towel. "Dinner at Katherines tomorrow. That okay with you?"
"Sure. Great." Katherine was my stepfathers girlfriend who had been putting on the full-court press to be the next Mrs. Swensen. I didnt have the nerve to tell Peter I found her as interesting as a bag of rice.
Peter closed the door and headed downstairs to his office. I browsed the Larry archives, then printed out the latest sermon to prepare for Beth tomorrow.
Slip on your Gap jeans, your Nike T-shirt, your Reeboksor maybe even your Cons if you think that makes you cool and ironic in a Kurt Cobain kind of way. Grab your Adidas backpack, ride to school on your Razor, drink your Poland Spring, eat your PowerBar, write a paper on your iMac, slip on your Ralph Lauren windbreaker. Buy the latest CD from Tower, check the caller ID to see whos on the phone, eat your Doritos, drink your Coke. Stare at the TV till youre stupefied.
Is there any time of the day when were not being used and abused by the advertising companies? Can we have an inch of free space, do you mind? Some ambitious kids rent their head spacethe outside, not the inside (although the inside space is certainly emptier)to local companies by shaving ads into their hair for all their friends to see. Its just a matter of time before corporations figure out a way to sell you stuff while youre sleeping. Maybe some kind of vitamin that releases visual and sonic enzymes that run like a ticker tape through your dreamsALL THE LATEST RELEASES NOW AT BLOCKBUSTER ... CHEESIER NACHOS AT CHILIS . . . BY THE WAY, YOURE SNORING. . . .
Am I the only one who sees the irony of sitting in lit class reading 1984, having a discussion of Big Brother watching out for us like its some time way in the future? Some science fiction nightmare thats never really going to happen? Hel-lo? Our lives couldnt be more dictated by the corporations if they gave our schools A/V equipment in exchange for making us watch commercials in class.
Oh yeah, they do that already.
Good thing Peter hadnt hung around for that one. By two a.m., I had fourteen pages of notes for the new Larry club. When I added up all the things Id done for Beth over the years, I figured it was more effort than they put into developing the last space shuttle.
And completely and totally worth it.
Excerpted from The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian Copyright© 2003 by Janet Tashjian. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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