Unlikely 2.0


   


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A Sardine on Vacation
Episode Sixty-Nine

"You ought to see that movie," Frank says to McNulty at the bar one evening.

"Not a chance," McNulty responds.

"I might like it," says Honey.

"I don't think you will," says her husband, "it has that actress you can't stand."

"But it's based on a true story," says Frank.

"I think the names of the characters are the same," McNulty replies. "It wasn't the same time period."

"An important dramatic moment depends on a cell phone," says Frank.

"There weren't cell phones in 1985," says McNulty.

"There weren't," exclaims Joe T, the bartender that night. "I could swear I had one."

"You didn't," says McNulty. "Joe, you have no sense of history."

That's one of his tragic aspects.

"Didn't see you, Sard," Frank shakes his fin and buys him a drink. "I think you'd like the movie. It's on DVD."

"I had a DVD player in the 1980s," says Joe, "I'm absolutely certain of that."

"Not quite," says Wal-terr, who had just walked into the bar with a young woman on his arm who couldn't have been older than fifteen.

"You'd say anything to contradict me."

"Could you give me and my lady a nightcap?" Walter asks and then whispers something to his girlfriend.

"She's a bit underage," says Joe.

"For drinking?"

"For anything," says Frank.

"You're not going to serve me," says Wal-terr, incredulous.

"No."

Wal-terr stalks out of the bar.

"He's right, Joe," Frank reluctantly informs.

"Are you sure? I must be living in a time warp. I thought I had all those things my whole life."

"Just like you believe you've had all those women you told us about," says Frank.

"Don't let Antigone know about that," says Joe. "You know how jealous she can be. My old girl friends could all be dead and she'd still think I wanted to get back with them."

"We know how you are with old girl friends, Joe," says McNulty, who rarely joins in these kind of conversations.

There was a pause.

"Is anyone going to see my movie?" Frank asks.

No response.

"I don't believe it. Every time I say I like something, no one wants to see or do it."

"Don't you have a Facebook account?" asks Joe.

"Of course."

Frank needs all the friends he can get.

"What do your friends think about your recommendations?" Joe asks.

"Maybe an occasional 'thumbs up'."

"Not enough of them to make you feel good?"

"No." Frank pauses. "Sard, do you have a Facebook account?"

It won't surprise anyone to hear this. The Facebook concept of "friend" makes the Sardine recoil in extreme revulsion.

"It's only a virtual friend. You're taking it more seriously than you should."

The idea of having more people around me—physically or virtually near me—has been the single aspect of life that the Sardine tries to avoid.

"I have over eight hundred friends," Joe declares. "Many of them are Sardine followers."

Part of the rapidly forming Sardine Public?

"Wal-terr and Benny McSelf have accounts," says Frank. "Benny needed one because he's an entertainer."

Benny's recommending himself, you're basically saying.

"It's the essence of the guy," says Frank.

The essence of the Sardine is the opposite. Recommending oneself is the height of self-centeredness. Recommending to others what one likes is nearly as distasteful.

Logged-In Public: You're a fuddy-duddy. Why don't you become a monk or hermit? Go live in the Himalayas or the Kalahari?

First, too many people are climbing, and dying, on Mount Everest. Second, the Sardine burns easy when exposed to the sun.

"If you join Facebook," says Frank, "we could be friends."

Aren't we something like that now?

"It would make it official."

Maybe when Facebook gets a "thumbs down" icon, the Sardine would consider it. And when you could communicate with someone on it without being designated as anything more than "an interested party".

L-I P: You're not recommending it, if we hear you right?

You didn't hear right. The Sardine cares nothing about the petty inconsequential thoughts of the members of the cyber-social network. Friends should be seldom seen, heard from a little more than seen, and shouldn't recommend anything, whether it's a good book, movie, or restaurant.

L-I P: You don't listen to anyone, not even your friends.

I listen. I may follow their example and try what they have tried. What I have tried from observing others' behaviors, may be enough, and, in fact, may be the best indication that those people are the Sardine's friends.

Frank chugs the rest of his beer and storms out of the bar. He calls back:

"I'm no longer going to recommend your column to anyone."



Bob Castle is the unveiled author of A Sardine on Vacation.