Later that day, we were at the Fox and Hound, one of those faux-Irish pubs. Most Friday nights, we come here to loosen up before heading home and starting the weekend. Tanner had finally started to relax and seemed to put the events of the day behind her.
Tanner put her bottle down, feeling a little looser after drinking most of a beer. I got the impression she didn’t really drink that much; I don’t even think she liked the taste of beer. But she was out with work associates and she wanted to fit in. The mellow buzz had settled on her and the talking at the table had dropped to a lull.
“So, what’s up with that framed issue of Trusted Authority in Snavely’s office?” She asked.
Everyone around the table looked at each other and then back to Tanner, and they all erupted in laughter.
“No really. What’s the big deal? Bobby, you tell me.”
As the laughter died down, I cleared my throat and sat up straight, poised to tell the story. As I began, my tone grew quietly somber.
“It was an accident, really. It was back in ’94, and Snavely was one of the respected editors of Weekly News. You know, the reputable but boring news publication that TMG has; the yin to Trusted Authority’s yang.”
Or is that yang to TA’s yin? I stopped and puzzled over this a second before deciding it didn’t matter and continued.
“Anyway, Lester here,” I said gesturing to the balding man sitting across the table who shyly waved in acknowledgement, “Lester was writing a story for Weekly News.”
“Come on Lester, you tell us the rest!” said Brian, one of the researchers.
Lester took a long pull on his beer and said, “You all suck.”
I laughed and said, “OK, Lester. I’ll tell the story, but you correct me if I go wrong. Deal?”
Lester mocked me saying, “Deal?”
There were smirks and jibes from others around the table, but I could see Tanner was rapt. I continued.
“Lester was doing a story on Intel’s new processor, the Pentium. Lester did a bang-up job reporting the specs of this cutting-edge technology, but the problem was he was a little rushed. When he did a quick spell check in the word processor, he didn’t pay attention to what words it was supplementing for what it thought were misspelled ones. ‘Pentium’ was not in the spelling checker’s dictionary, but Lester didn’t notice. He printed out the story and took it to Snavely.
Snavely didn’t give it a good read, either. It was too close to deadline, I guess. Anyway, he approved the story, and it went to typesetting, then to print, and then to distribution.”
“Duh-dummmmmm,” Brian added for dramatic effect. Brian had already had four beers and it looked like he was just getting warmed up.
I looked around the table at everyone and pulled the small candle in the center closer so that it lit my face eerily. I dropped my tone a little lower.
“So the April 12, 1994 issue of Weekly News hit the newsstands, and as business men opened it and thumbed through the pages, they came to the story on page 19, ‘Intel unveils Penis!’”
More laughter, and Jennifer ordered another round with a gesture to the waitress, but I continued.
“Back in 1994, ‘Penis’ was the closest suggestion the word processor could suggest for ‘Pentium.’ All the way through the story, it talked about this powerful new ‘Penis,’ and that it would revolutionize the industry. I still remember the first paragraph in the story:
‘I was recently allowed into the innermost sanctum of the computer hardware giant, where the Penis was revealed to me. More impressive than its revolutionary design, which is a true marvel, is what the Penis is capable of accomplishing. The Penis will make our lives easier, if not for what the Penis itself can accomplish, but the empowering ways that we will undoubtedly use it.’”
Tanner laughed along with everyone else now.
“The story got lots of unwanted buzz and was covered by major news channels. The Intel Corporation was very forgiving; I bet they even got a good laugh out of it, but the embarrassment that it cost the magazine which prided itself on quality journalism was not so easily dismissed. James F. Trust didn’t want to just fire the people responsible. He wanted to punish them.
He busted Snavely and Lester down to The Trusted Authority. Lester accepted it, right, Lester? But Snavely… Snavely resented it. To go from editor of an award winning news magazine to an assistant editor of a trash tabloid was not something he took lightly. He decided he would exact vengeance on those he held responsible, so he authored the next headline story of Trusted Authority, and that, my dear Tanner, is the issue you saw framed in Snavely’s office. The front page graphic is imposing, don’t you think? The giant mushroom cloud rising from the computer, and of course, the headline.”
In unison, we all said, “Computer spell checkers will lead to World War III, experts say!” and we laughed, Tanner laughing right along with us.
Only Lester didn’t laugh, but Brian nudged him and mussed his bald head playfully, and then he then grinned slightly. The high spirits continued, but Tanner seemed to be drinking it in. This wasn’t just an after work social for her. It was school, and she needed to be a fast learner if she was going to make it.
Life in Sixty-Four Square Feet
©Copyright 2015, Mitch Lavender
Rubik’s Cube® used by permission of Rubiks Brand Ltd. www.rubiks.com
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or undead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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