Across the Street and Into Egghead

Doing my maybe-funny satire of the Molson commercial reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of for a long time… Seven or so years ago, there was an internal “Bad Hemingway” contest in the spirit of the various “Bad” contests that were all the vogue at that time. I entered it with the following story. It completely failed to win anything, which calls into question both the humor value of it and the advisability of my posting it here, but what’s a blog good for if not posting writing of questionable value? I promise – this is it in terms of attempted humor writing. There’s a reason I’m a programmer. (See if you can get all the ancient technical references. “AT?“ Does anyone even remember those?)

Across the Street and Into Egghead

In the city of Redmond there stands a cafe that the natives call “Egghead,” meaning “one who is too smart for his own good.” No one knows why they call it that, but the waiters there serve a tall double skinny half-caff latte capped with white foam to rival even Harry’s American Bar and Grill. It is there that the old fighters go to sit and swap tales of happier days, of bits and bytes, of Pentium math errors and offensive dictionary translations, of Gates and his victories.

It was raining, a gray rain pattering down on the soiled concrete like the beads of sweat from a bullfighter’s forehead. Nick Adams walked across the street and into the Egghead. The Egghead was full at that hour of men and women talking the talk of people who did not know pain or want, who had Pentium Pros and knew nothing of the terrible loneliness of getting by on only an ancient AT. Nick sat.

“What would you like, senor?” the old waiter asked.

“OS/2.” Nick replied.

The old waiter laughed and spat insolently.

“We have no OS/2, ingelse.”

“Then I’ll have a Macintosh.”

“I’m sorry senor but we have had none of those since the war.”

“None?”

Nada.”

Nick tried not to think of the OS war, but it was always there in the back of his mind, like the aftertaste of cheap beer at a frat party. Before the war he had been happy, spending his hours typing on his Apple ][+ and playing Microsoft Decathlon and writing his AppleBASIC programs and it was like being in love for the first time. But now it did not matter. He had lost everything in the war and the memories swarmed around him like flies on a beached whale. He remembered the hard drive crash, the endless “Abort, Retry, Ignore,” the cruel laughter of the men of the PSS, then nothing more. His machine was gone now and he would never have it back.

“Then I’ll have a Windows 95.”

“The Windows 95 is weak and no good, senor. Would you not prefer a Windows NT?”

Nick stared into the dark void that was Microsoft. He longed for a Windows without crashes or bugs, GPFs or hourglasses, one strong enough for a man but made for a woman, a clean, well-written Windows. But the war had settled all that. It did not matter any longer.

“I’ll have a Windows NT, then.”

“Windows! Windows! Windows!” a balding man across the room bellowed like a bull who knows at last that it will die.

“Who is that?” Nick asked as the orderlies dragged the man away.

The waiter sighed the sigh of the old and said “That is Senor Ballmer. Once he was a great fighter and did many great things in the war. Now he sits in the corner and drinks his Starbucks and dreams the dream of Windows Everywhere.”

“How sad.” said Nick.

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