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My response to Abraham’s post from last week.
Couldn’t it have been like this?
Adventures of Ogden – Man of the Suburb: On The Issue Of Carpet Squares
Most of his life, Ogden reflected, was comprised of experiences that he really enjoyed, or marginally enjoyed, or merely tolerated. Rarely did he find himself doing something that he really, really didn’t want to do.
This evening was one of those times.
He was in a mini-van heading downtown on a chilly night with a group of Christian men – men in his weekly Bible Study / Accountability group. He knew these men well and genuinely enjoyed their company.
T hey had decided that they would drive together for tonight’s ‘activity’, and he was the fourth to be picked up. The men greeted him as he sat in the middle row. And then he heard the driver (his name was Jerry) ask Tyler in the front passenger seat , “Where next?”
Tyler was the leader for the evening. When he heard the activity suggestion three weeks earlier he’d run with it and made it happen. When Tyler had called Ogden, Ogden could have thought of any number of excuses to help him get out of this excursion, but for some reason (he hoped that it was in accordance with God’s will), he’d said “Yes, ” knowing full well that he would dread it and wish he couldn’t go.
Tyler apparently had the route all figured out in his head: “Well, first to church and then we’ll pick up Terrence. He’s expecting us at seven.”
“You’ll see,” Tyler responded cryptically.
Four minutes later they pulled into the parking lot and Tyler ran in. It was Friday night, some other activity was happening. Ogden wished he was staying for it – it didn’t matter what the event was.
In only took a couple minutes and Tyler was coming back to the van, carrying a bundle. He sat down with the bundle in his lap.
“What’s that?” asked James. James was sitting next to Ogden. He’d been pretty quiet.
“It looks like . . . Carpeting squares.” said Jerry, as he pulled out of the parking lot. Ogden tilted his head and looked – indeed it looked exactly like 1 foot by 1 foot carpeting squares. From the preschool room.
“Good guess,” replied Tyler.
“And why do we need those.” Ogden could tell that Jerry was troubled by what he feared would be the answer. The question was a statement.
“We’re going to sit on them”
“Ah.” And there was a pause, and then Jerry spoke up again, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“You’re afraid we’ll look silly.”
“Unfortunately, I agree.”
“Ah. So . .. “
“So, I really wanted Terrance to come, and he was extremely hesitant. I couldn’t really figure out why, since he said it wasn’t our destination. I finally got out of him that he was afraid of being cold, sitting on the sidewalk. I came up with this plan and he finally agreed. You see?”
“Yes,” Jerry replied, apparently still not convinced. He looked into the rear view mirror and asked “James, what do you think about this?”
James did not respond immediately.
Their planned downtown destination for this Bible study was the sidewalk just in front of ‘Reggie’s’, a ‘high-class cabaret establishment,’ otherwise known as a strip club. It had been James’ idea.
Reggie’s had been the kind of place frequented by James before he’d become a Christian, and for three years after. He had not been there as a patron for the last five years, but he had only lately told the group about this vice. Ogden knew that sanctification in this arena of James’ life had been difficult. James had earlier stated his opinion that a group of men praying just outside this club might have a positive, if intangible, effect on at least a small number of individuals. At least it wouldn’t hurt. Ogden had found himself in reluctant agreement with this. James was hoping that their presence on the sidewalk there would make a statement.
So it was only natural that Jerry would want James’ opinion on the carpet question.
“Well,” James finally replied, “It’s not as if we want to look at home there.”
No, indeed they did not. So the issue was resolved.
So, after picking up Terrance, they made their way across the river and it wasn’t that long before Ogden found himself sitting on one of those carpet squares and praying hard that any ridicule thrown their way wouldn’t be that difficult. And then he chided himself.
That isn’t the point, is it?
So he prayed that good and God’s glory would come of it. For someone.
Fifteen minutes later, a man drove by. He’d been forced to circle around a bit; it was a Friday night – parking was scarce. As he drove by the front door of the club he’d been trying to make his way into he saw …what is that? A group of men sitting just outside with a . . . yes, that was obviously a Bible. He looked at the faces and –
He recognized one of them, and then another. His heart rate shot up. He decided not to take the left turn he had planned. He found himself praying that he’d not been recognized. He headed north and crossed the river back towards home and his wife. The tears started as he got on the highway.
He never went back.
You can count this kind of carpet sitting as something I’d add to my list.
The Adventures Of Ogden: Man Of The Suburb
Ogden asked me to forward this to all of you.
To: RCS&DOASM Organization
From: B. Moss – Supply Chain Services – 225-7N-09
It is a pleasure to announce the appointment of Sommerset Bickner to the position of Redbrick Operation Supply Systems Manager, Supply & Redbrick Materials Operations Divisional Management, Demand Chain Process Services, effective May 15, 2001. He will report to Ogden Fenfert.
In this position, Sommerset will be responsible for the design, implementation, testing, development, direction, organization, management, deployment, maintenance and design of our transportation, supply, purchasing and manufacturing redbrick systems processes and will directly supervise the Supply Management Systems Organization Process Supervisory Administration Team. Sommerset and his team will work closely with Division Center Marketing Plan Divisional Management and Area Demand Chain Regional Systems Operators to provide effective and robust processes and charge-groups in support of business requirements.
Sommerset joined the Company in Fipsburg, Idaho in the September of 1982 and since that time has held positions of increasing responsibility including Sweeping, Driving, Chair Management, and Customer Service Supervisory Advisement Appointments for Eyeware Materials & Product Directorial Control for CSTD. In 1987, he took a year off from this position to play the role of the King in Broadway’s “The King and I”. In 1994, he was appointed Supply Management Directional Operations Lead Project Leader, Corporate Regional Supply/Demand Chain Management and assumed his most recent position as Supply Lead Management Operations Managing Director, CHIN in 1998. It was in this role, when in 1999, Sommerset became well known in the company for making the bold statement: We should try to increase sales!
Sommerset has a B.S. in Garden Administration, a certificate in Developmental Developmentation, a Doctorate in Nursing and is APITS certified. At no time in his career has Sommerset been incarcerated for felonies committed in the state of Minnesota.
Sommerset will report to the author, until Ogden Fenfert finishes his current project (The Administrative System of Systems Administration,) at which point Sommerset will report to Ogden, as stated above.
Sommerset will be located in building 225-6W-12.
Please join me in congratulating Sommerset and extending to him your support and cooperation in this important assignment.
Redbrick Computing System & Departmental Operation Administration Systems Management,
Demand Chain Administrative Logistics Operations Process Development Management and Services
The Adventures Of Ogden: Man Of The Suburb
Ogden nervously looked around the room of six people, all seated around a large conference table. He looked up at their supervisor, Somerset, who was standing at the podium about to begin the meeting. He looked ill at ease as well.
“I have asked Ogden here to attend our weekly group so that he can begin his investigation.”
“Investigation?” asked Jim, incredulously, “Of what?”
“You know good and well of what, Jim. One of us deleted or destroyed the pre-production FASER database. Now whether this was an accident or . . . intentional, we need to determine how and why it was lost, in order to prevent losses of this sort in the future.”
Ogden studied the eyes of everyone present. This news obviously sat well with no one. But almost certainly one of them had caused this to happen. Everyone who had access to the data was present. And as he looked around the room, there were plenty of possible motives.
Perhaps Thelma, the nearly retired programmer of the legacy system which was being replaced by FASER, deleted the file with the thought that nothing could replace the work that she had done so well (or so she thought!) in the late eighties.
Or the culprit might have been Fred, the developer of the current system. Somerset had just told Ogden that he had great plans for this database. Perhaps Fred was not interested in all of that work.
Still, it could have been Beatrice, the designer, champion and overall mastermind of the tool. Recent rumors spreading around the Demand Chain organization had led Ogden to believe that the numbers which this new database were reporting were not nearly as favorable as Beatrice had hoped. Perhaps she had killed the file before the unpositive numbers were made official.
But what about Perry, the departmental data specialist? Wasn’t it common knowledge that he disagreed with the way that the data formulas were being calculated? Hadn’t Ogden, just last week, sat across a lunchroom table from Perry and heard him voice this opinion?
“Ogden, it is well know around the organization,” Perry had said as he finished up his ‘Mexican Surprise.’
“It is well known that the Faser Cart_con_diff_extra field, which is what the whole reporting scheme is based on, should take into account the work_day_Actual_to_Exact_pallet field. Not including those factors skews the data by as much as 14 percent. But no one is willing to admit it. And I’ll be darned if this goes out like that!”
As the department meeting continued, there were many unanswered questions. But a few things were certain. The FASER (Formalized Account Servicing of Expedited Reporting, pronounced ‘Phaser’) database was no longer there, and (conveniently for the culprit) since the database had not yet been placed on a server that was regularly backed up, there was no way that the file could be retrieved. It was permanently gone.
As Ogden left the meeting, he felt that the first thing to do would be to check the room which held the server on which the database had been kept. He entered and looked at the machine. It looked unremarkable – there was nothing to note about it. He went to leave the room but something caught his eye. He looked again and saw a slip of paper lying behind the server. He picked it up and turned it over. It said:
Note to self: Faser – Check the dictionary.
Two questions flicked through Ogden’s mind: First – Could this be a clue? And secondly, can you retrieve fingerprints from a piece of paper?
Join us next month for the exciting conclusion!
For this week’s Friday Challenge: Bring Rock‘n’Roll to the Star Trek Universe – My submission.
I don’t know . . . does the basic plot here seem familiar to anyone else?
Aug 19th, 2022
An outdoor New Jersey amphitheatre: Cheering teenagers and young adults – thousands of them. Banging drums. Keyboard pulsing. Electric guitar playing arpeggios. A singer, with a strong voice singing bright, haunting, quick, instantly memorable melodies.
And twenty thousand feet overhead, un-noticed, a large dark harshly angled craft from another solar system. It was listening.
Two months later. . .
Benjamin Fenfert sat down in the coffee shop in the north suburban Twin Cities and was pleased at how he easily he could relax these days. His multi-city concert tour had finished only two weeks previous, and unlike other tours, he was able to wind down more quickly. It helped that he had cut his hair and was dressed like a normal human being, so few recognized him. Those who did just smiled and nodded. Or maybe they were just being cordial.
He pulled out his current paperback and began to read. Five, ten, twenty minutes sped by and then he noticed that someone was standing in front of him, looking down at him . . . .
To: Commander Maddox
From: Lieutenant Commander Data
I am breaking from my normal method of communication with you and sending this message on a secure channel. No doubt you have heard some, but not all of what you are about to read.
You will be pleased to know that your theories involving my positronic neural network, transporter technology and time travel have been proven correct. You will perhaps be more pleased to learn that I was able to employ them to save perhaps thousands of humans from the spacecraft that threatened us (as I am sure you are aware) with it’s strange and damaging form of radiation. The Enterprise D just happened to be in orbit around earth for shore leave and the Captain ordered us to look into the matter . . . .
All of the senior officers were present in the Observation lounge. “Okay” said Captain Picard. “What do you have for me?”
Wesley Crusher responded. “Reports from several nationalities of local but significant damage to buildings under the flight path of this ship. No deaths or injuries yet, due to quick responses to emergency evacuations, but it is only a matter of time.”
“I see” said Picard, and then thinking aloud “But what is it’s purpose?”
“I have a theory.” replied Laforge. “Call it crazy, I think this could be some kind of communication – like a musical language.”
“It can’t be!” exclaimed Ryker “It’s too rhythmic. Too pulsing. And it isn’t like any music I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah, well, me neither,” agreed Laforge, “But there is a clear melody in what they are broadcasting, and –“
“They are obviously a danger to all of earth” said Worf, nearly growling, “I recommend they be destroyed.”
“If I may” began Data, just before Troi began stating the obvious response to Worf. The captain nodded to Data.
“I think I may have discovered something of potential importance. I was listening to the sounds emanating from this ship and thought it sounded familiar. I then recalled from my human cultural history research that there was a similar sound in a kind of music popular on earth in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. I scanned several thousand instances of this form music and I have isolated the sounds to be very similar to that of a musical Rock group with the name Bulwark, which was popular in the 2010s and 20s. My working theory is that this space craft visited the earth at that time and are now back and . . . . looking for them.”
“I see.” said the Captain “So what do you propose?”
“I have an idea.”
And after a few minutes of discussion – “Make it so.”
Back in the coffee shop and the year 2022 . . .
Benjamin wondered if he should simply keep his face in his book and ignore the man who he was pretty sure was staring down at him. But,no, sooner or later, he would have to look up. So he put on cheerful face, looked up and said, “Um, . . . . Yes”
Even before the other man spoke, Benjamin could tell that this was going to be an interesting conversation. His face seemed to be covered with some kind of make-up. And his eyes looked odd. . . and the way he was standing. Too stiff. But when he spoke, he was very polite:
“You are Benjamin Quinton Fenfert?”
Benjamin looked around. Thankfully, it seemed that no one had heard him.
“Yes, I am”
“May I sit?”
“ . . . . Sure.” Why not? He didn’t have any other plans.
The other man sat.
“To make sure I am speaking with the correct person . . . you are primary singer for . . a musical group named ‘Bulwark’?”
He had never heard himself described that way, but “You got it.”
“I am glad to have found you. My name is Data.”
“Data, huh. . . a unique name.”
“That is not the only . . . unique thing about me.”
“I gather that.”
Surprising, he took my claim that I was from the future in stride, after I provided him evidence that I was an android by surreptitiously taking off my hand and did other non-human activities. And then, quite reasonably . . .
“So. . . ,” asked Ben after he’d had a few seconds to process all of this “What does this have to do with me?”
“Yes, a fair question. The truth is, we need you. And your music. In the future.”
As I explained to him the plan of bringing him back to our time period, I expected a rejection of the plan or at the very least, great concern. Instead, he just smiled.
“Okay. . . . I’m in.”
“You are able to agree this quickly. You trust me already?”
“Not remotely. But I was just beginning to think that my life was starting to get too predictable. I need something new in my life. But there are some conditions.”
“Let us discuss them.”
“If you want a sound that will be like my typical music, we will need my full band.”
“I see. How many?”
“Oh, . . . let’s say five guys. I doubt we need the orchestra. But the five are scattered around the Midwest. It’ll take time”
“Oh, we have time. Time is not the problem. We will just collect the other musicians, transport to my time period, you can do your . . . rock music and –“
“Oh, we don’t play ‘Rock’. We play Rock’n’Roll.”
“I . . . but I thought – ”
“No, Vox, I mean, Data. Rock music and Rock’n’Roll are not the same thing, although this is a common misconception. The generally agreed way of discerning between the two is like this: A kid likes Rock’n’Roll because he likes to hear it, or sing it, or dance to it, or whatever. Rock, on the other hand, is chosen by a kid for the primary purpose of bugging the kid’s parents. So while parents might disagree with their child’s tastes when it comes to choosing the Rock’n’Roll that they like, they don’t fear that their teenager is lacking a soul (for example) or wonder if they should start keeping a gun under their bed, as they do when their kid starts listening to Rock. Does that make sense?”
It did, but Data was still curious.
“So . . . only young people listen to Rock?”
“Oh, no. But even a thirty year old guy, or a forty year old, when he hears new Rock music, thinks – “Boy, my parents would hate this! Alright!”
With that understood by me, he packed up and we began the fairly tedious job of collecting all of the Bulwark band mates, who required long hours of explanation to get them to help with the mission. I feared that some of them would not want to enter in, but in the end, all of them were excited at the prospect of this very different kind of ‘gig’, as they called it.
Finally we all transported directly to the Enterprise.
“Welcome aboard” said O’Brien, “You’re wanted in the observation lounge”
And five minutes later they were all there.
“Well, I imagine you have lots of questions” said Picard “but at this point we don’t have time to answer them.”
“How about just one?” asked Benjamin “Forgive my ignorance, but why can’t you just . . . you know, broadcast our music to the ship.”
Laforge answered him, “Believe me, we have tried. Apparently they don’t have radio-wave technology.”
“So what we need to know is. . . how long, after we get you down somewhere, will you need to set up.”
“About an hour, why?”
“They are flying at a low Earth orbit in a predictable search pattern. They started over the state of New Jersey and have been slowly circling the earth ever since, leaving destruction wherever they go. Fortunately they haven’t gone directly over any large cities or thousands of buildings might have been destroyed.”
“And we would have had to destroy them first” stated Worf, with no glee in his voice. Almost.
“Yes.” said Data, “Their. .. sound emissions apparently do not affect biological life. And the affected swath is very narrow.”
“But we have projected that they will be over Albuquerque in two hours.”
“Well, no harm – “ began Derek, the drummer, but a look from Benjamin stopped him from speaking further. But not from chuckling to himself.
And so our Commander Laforge projected the ship’s path to match the required time specifications and chose a little town in the Rocky Mountains. We transported all of us, the band and its equipment to an outdoor theatre there and they began to set up.
Word got around town and soon there were thirty-seven people sitting in the chairs waiting to see what was going to happen. Finally, after several ‘sound checks’ the band got on stage . . .
Benjamin walked up to the microphone, “Okay. . . . Hello- . . !” and he stopped, looked off stage at Data and whispered, “Where are we, again?”
“Egnar”, Data whispered back, at the same time as Laforge and Troi.
“Hello, Egnar! We are Bulwark and we are gonna save this town and this planet!”
An outdoor Colorado amphitheatre: Cheering teenagers and young adults – dozens of them. Banging drums. Keyboard pulsing. Electric guitar playing arpeggios. A singer, with a strong voice singing bright, haunting, quick, instantly memorable melodies.
A few members of the audience found themselves smiling, then moving to the rythm of the music, and then calling their friends to transport themselves in to Colorado. And so the audience grew.
Bulwark had fun.
And twenty thousand feet overhead, not un-noticed, a large dark harshly angled craft from another solar system. It was listening. It was satisfied. It had found what it was looking for.
And when the show was over. It went home.
For the most recent Friday Challenge.
For the record, since his inception Ogden has always been an Alternate Universe Jamsco. And much of this story has truth in it.
The Adventures Of Ogden: Man Of The Suburb:
Two Surprise Visits
8:30 AM – January 1
The phone rang. The phone rang again, and Ogden woke up. And he groaned. His whole body, mostly his head, ached. He remembered why and then groaned again.
The phone rang a third time. He knew who it was, it was his fiancé, Gretta.
In the middle of the fourth ring, thinking it was too early, he picked it up and pressed the green button.
“Hi, Ogden, how are you feeling?” There was amusement in her voice.
“Not . . . Not great.” He said, just barely managing to keep himself from groaning again.
“I can believe it after the show you put on last night.”
“It’s nice that you show me such sympathy,” he said, not angrily. He was aware that her amusement was reasonable.
“Y’know” she continued, “it’s too bad it wasn’t recorded. That video would have gone bacteriological.”
“I think you mean ‘Viral’”, he said soberly.
It had all began so innocently. A simple plan: Potluck at church, followed by family board games in the fellowship hall, a midnight communion service, and then over to a friend’s house for a little New Years get-together . . . .
6:30 PM – December 31.
“Hey Ogden,” said Nathan, and Ogden greeted his brother as he walked up the steps to the side door of the church and shook his hand. It was fairly warm, nearly 30, but getting cooler quickly.
Ogden then looked down and shook hands with Emily, his six year old niece. She smiled “Hi, Uncle Ogden!” Ogden noticed two things:
First, that Nathan, as usual, had been more punctual that he was. Ever since Nathan had started going back to church again, he had been pretty regular. This had been an answer to prayer.
The second thing Ogden noticed was that his sister-in-law wasn’t there – at least not there at the door to greet him.
“Kristen?” he asked.
Nathan’s smile left his face and he shook his head. She still had not darkened the door. At least not in the last twenty-two years. That was another matter for prayer.
As they entered the church, Ogden tried to come up with a new subject. “Potluck, huh?” he said, looking grim. “I don’t know . . . it’s been a long time”
“Oh, c’mon, Vox, I mean Ogden! You’ll never get a more decent meal than when a church full of decent women try to outdo each other with their best recipes.”
As it turned out, Nathan was right. Ogden’s favorite had been the chicken pot pie and the Oreo cream pie. And soon it was game time.
It’s too bad Gretta isn’t here, thought Ogden. She would have enjoyed this part, but she had to work at the hospital all night.
Ogden, never great at games, was soon several points behind the others at the Speed Uno table, but he was pleased with the soft spoken peace that he saw in the eyes of his brother as they played.
As might have been expected, Emily fared much better. At the table next to them, she got involved in a series of table hockey games and was winning her games in the mini- tournament, much to the surprised chagrin of some of the older kids.
And then Ogden was looked past the hockey table and he saw her – Kristen – his sister-in-law, looking a little uncomfortable as her eyes darted around the room looking for Nathan.
Ogden stood up, smiled awkwardly and their eyes met. He started to head to her but then realized that it would be better if –
“Nathan!” he whispered. Nathan looked up, followed Ogden’s eyes and then nearly knocked his chair over as he quickly went to his wife. Ogden watched as Nathan and Kristen stood looking at each other for a second and then she said, “Okay.”
Ogden gathered by Nathan’s silent response that much meaning was poured into that word. And the rest of their conversation was blocked from Ogden by the cheers for another Emily-win.
And soon they were all heading into the sanctuary for the communion service, and when the moment happened, Ogden couldn’t help but glance sideways as the plates went by. Kristen didn’t partake.
Ah well, at least she was being honest. Perhaps she felt she wasn’t ready. So a matter for further prayer.
Soon the service was over, and they were standing in the foyer. Ogden’s cell phone rang.
“Ogden,” –it was Gretta. “Can you go outside and look at your car?”
Ogden made his way through the departing groups of people, and soon he was outside. There she was, standing right by his Geo Prism.
“How-?”, he began as he made is way to the top of the steps.
“They sent me home! Too few patients! Sally gave me a ride here.”
“That’s great. Can you come over to WHAUGHWHOAH – “
Ogden had slipped on the top step. He feet flew in front of him and sideways and he tumbled and rolled down the fifteen steps to the sidewalk. People gasped and got out of the way. Later, Ogden was pretty sure that his head only hit two or three of the steps.
Three seconds after he came to rest at the bottom, Gretta was there leaning over him, saying “Are you okay?” But he could see that she was barely able to keep herself from laughing. And then he heard some teenagers twenty feet away were not fighting the temptation and were openly laughing and applauding him. “Awesome!” one of them shouted before they were hushed by 92 year old Constance.
“Yes, I’m . . . fine.” he said, slowly getting up. Mostly.
Several people moved close to further inquire to his state of physical being. A stranger handed him his cell phone – “Found it on the third step from the top.”
With Gretta’s help, he hobbled over to his car, said Goodbye to Nathan and his family and Gretta drove him home.
And as she kissed him on his forehead just before she left him for the night, she smiled and asked, “So I was wondering, Ogden, . . . what’s up with you and holidays?”
Adventures Of Ogden – Man of the Suburb
Minnesota’s tallest building is the fifty-five story IDS building, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. At street level of this building, there is a large open area called the Crystal court. In this court, since it is December, near the three-story waterfall, and next to the Minnesota Item Shop there is a very tall Christmas tree.
Near and a little hidden behind this tree stands a young couple. It is Ogden and Greta. They have just been to the Macy’s seventh floor display (Ogden’s first time, Greta’s thirteenth) and ten seconds ago Greta’s heart started to pound as she is just now noting a very serious change in Ogden’s demeanor. And very loving words.
Tears come to Greta’s eyes as Ogden suddenly smiles and he pulls out a small jewelry box and says “Marry me? Marry me, my wonderful darling friend.”
And he takes her hands in his. She smiles too. She has, of course, recognized the Austen movie reference. She knows that it was a throwaway quote (made by herself) from the same movie that had ignited there friendship last spring, but she also knows that in the movie, Emma has no verbal response to this proposal.
So Greta simply says “Yes, I will.” And they embrace. And Ogden opens the box, takes out the ring and puts it on her finger.
And then they realize that there is a girl, maybe eight years old, standing right near them, looking up at them. And she asks, inquisitively, “Did you just ask her to marry you?”
“Indeed, I did.”
“What did she say?”
“She said ‘Yes!’”
“I’m glad. That makes me happy!”
“Me, too” said Ogden.
“Me, too” said Greta.
In his pocket, Ogden has mapquest directions to “The Old Spaghetti Factory.” Ogden has never been there, but has learned from Greta’s mother that it was Greta’s favorite restaurant to go to every time they visited her Grandmother in Minneapolis.
A week early, referring to this:
It was late in the afternoon on the fourteenth of October 2008 when Ogden received the e-mail message:
“The Redbrick Detail database September midmonth load is done.”
Not for the first time this decade, Ogden shuddered. The last time he had read a message like this it was on that fateful day, exactly ten years ago – the day of the Scarneycreelpy Disappearance.
Ogden heard a noise behind him and turned just in time to see the figure of a man in a business suit carrying a briefcase move past the door of his cubicle in building 223. So, Ogden thought with fear, he was the next person to experience an October sighting of the ‘Seventh Floor Ghost’.
He quickly stood up and walked out of his cube and looked down the hall, but he was surprised at what he saw. This was no floating apparition, but a solid walking man.
“Mortimor?” Ogden asked.
The figure stopped and said with a cheerful and distinctly un-spooky voice, “Yes?”
“Mortimor Scarneycreelpy?” Ogden asked again.
“That’s me. How’s it going, Ogden?”
“But we thought you were – . . . Where have you been since 1998?”
“Oh, didn’t you guys know? I took a position in I.T. Maybe I forgot to mention it. I’m over in 772 now.”
“Oh.” said Ogden, trying to sort things out.
“I’m just over here to do my yearly warehouse feasibility study”
“Well . . . that explains it.”
Still confused, Ogden walked back into his cube and sat down.
And thus the mystery of the seventh floor ghost was solved.
This is the first Ogden story I ever wrote for my department. You can read about why I did this here.
It was October, and the folks on the seventh floor of JamsCorp’s building 223 knew what that meant. For the past several years, there had been sightings of a non-corporeal entity, in the shape of a man in a business suit carrying a briefcase, floating through the cubicles in the early evenings of the fall. Seventh floor employees feared more sightings this year.
Old-timers on the floor (JamsCorpers who had been there for more than ten years) recognized the account given of this apparition to be a fairly good description of a man who left for work one Thursday evening and never was seen in the Demand Chain Department again. This Thursday was the thirteenth of October 1998. The man’s name was Mortimor Scarneycreelpy.
And the next day, on his computer monitor, his coworkers found the ominous message:
“The Redbrick Detail database has been updated with September data.”
It gave some of Ogden’s coworkers chills to look at the message. This meant that the dreaded data was ready for querying.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 8 - July – Reunion Run-on
Ogden picked up the phone.
“Hello, Ogden, this is Verna. . . . You know, Your Great Aunt”
“Well, Hi, How are you – “
“Well, not that great, frankly, but you probably don’t want to hear about my joint problems or my difficulties with my hair stylist, or the fact that I can’t find comfortable shoes to save my life, especially blue ones. But the real reason I’m calling, Ogden, is to ask you if you could play your flute for our family get-together next month.”
“My flute? But I don’t – “
“Yeah, we’re getting together a small orchestra who are going to be playing a medley of “Fiddler on the roof” songs, you know, like “Sunrise, Sunset”, “I wish I were a Rich Man.”, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and other songs from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” . . . or did I already say that? Anyway, the piece is for eight instrumentalists and we have seven, but we need a flutist and I said to Cousin Thurman, ‘Let’s get Ogden, he plays the flute and I think he plays the piccolo, too’ and Thurman said “Get that boy up here!” and I said ‘I’ll call him on Tuesday’ because you know that we play Bocce on Mondays, and we were out this weekend on our trip to Branson, but of course I had to explain all of that to Thurman, because he doesn’t know our whole schedule, and why should he? He’s got his own life to live, what with his Polka group touring all over his part of the state. Did you know they had nearly 80 people at one of their . . . concerts or whatever you call them. I think it was a county fair or something, they do a lot of those and boy, are they a hoot! But he’s going to play he accordion since we don’t have a trumpet player and he says that he can make his accordion sound like a trumpet and I was thinking, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an accordion sound like a trumpet, but ‘idle beggars can’t choose the color of the dice they throw on a rainy day’, I always say. But the other thing I was going to ask you is, what is going on with that database system you guys got going down there? My boy (you remember he works for JamsCorp too, and how proud I am about that) (I mean, Ned of course, our youngest. Freeman still works for the US Forestry Service) Anyway, My boy, Ned, was saying that he can’t seem to figure our what’s happening, what with that detail table being monthly, and then going to a kind of weekly form of monthly and then real weekly weekly and then . . . well, I don’t know. Maybe you could help him out? Maybe you could call him or something and tell him who he can call. I know, I know, you’re probably busy trying to woo that pretty lady you brought to the pot luck . . . what’s her name, Gretchen? No, Gretta! She’s a cutie! But anyway, can you bring your flute to the reunion?”
“Well, I’d love to, Aunt Verna, but I don’t play the flute.”
There was a pause for a few seconds.
“No, I play the clarinet, but I think “
“Yes, but I”
“Can you make it sound like a flute?”
“Well, . . . not . . . really but here’s the deal: I think Cousin Bonnie plays the flute.”
“. . . She does?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well, I’ll give her a call. Thanks for your help. And say ‘Hi’ to your mom for us. And Gretyl!”
“. . .Uh, I will, Nice talking to you.”
“Bye, Ogden, see you at the reunion!”
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 7 - June – Investigative Journalism
“Hi, I’m Guy Goodmountain. I am an investigative journalist for “Heads Up!” a nationally syndicated news program. Do you . . . recognize me?”
Ogden, who had come to the door of his home, interrupted from reading an anthology of poems by famous computer scientists, had to admit that he didn’t really recognize the large-jawed journalist.
“Would you be willing to answer a few questions for me?”
“And would it be all right if I recorded our conversation” Guy pulled out a microphone.
“Well, what is this about?”
“Oh, you could say it’s about . . . artwork.” replied the journalist, and he cleared his throat.
“I . . . I guess that would be okay.” agreed Ogden, getting a bit nervous.
“Mr. Fenfert, what are your feelings about art, in general?”
“Well, I’d have to say . . . ” and over the next few minutes Ogden responded to Guy’s emotionless questions. The general thrust of what Ogden said was that, although he himself wasn’t an artist, in general he liked art and respected artists.
“That’s interesting, because just this week we received a phone call from the American Society of Artists for Corporate America. I would assume that someone so . . . respectful of artists as yourself would have heard of the A.S.A.C.A., haven’t you?”
Again, Ogden had to admit that he hadn’t heard of it.
“They provide artwork for large companies to place in the hallways of their corporate offices.”
“Many companies including . . . your company.”
“I . . . see.”
“Does this sculpture art look familiar to you?” Guy suddenly produced a picture of a large dark piece of twisted and smashed-up black metal on a thick black metal podium. Ogden did indeed recognize it.
“Yes,” he replied, starting to feel a little perspiration on his forehead
“So, you’ve seen it before?”
“Yes, at my office.”
“This work is entitled “Youth strangulation” and was created by Biff Trippenbinkle last year. Did you know that?”
“And do you recognize this?” again, Guy pulled out a piece of paper with a picture of the same piece of artwork, but this time, above the black hulk of metal, taped to the wall was a homemade sign that said “This could happen to your vehicle. Please don’t drink and drive.”
“The A.S.A.C.A called us and let us know that some . . . person decided that it would be humorous to put up this posting which we can only assume was meant to suggest that the artwork looked like a car wreck.”
“Did you put up this poster, Mr. Fenfert?”
“I did not,” Ogden replied, truthfully, although he wasn’t telling the full truth. He had thought that the metal looked like a twisted car and had mentioned it to his department. He was pretty sure he knew who had put up the sign, but he wasn’t going to say that into a microphone.
“Did you find this funny?” asked Mr. Goodmountain, pressing. Ogden now noticed a video camera, mostly hidden by the “Heads Up!” van parked in the street. The camera was focused on him.
“I – ” began Ogden, but his interviewer interrupted him.
“Did you know that the artist meant for his work to symbolize children living in hardship throughout the world?”
“I wasn’t aware of -”
“Do you it funny that children around the world are suffering, Mr. Fenfert?”
“I most certainly do not. I -”
This time Ogden was interrupted not by Guy, but by two vehicles moving at a fairly quick pace towards the Fenfert home. One was a police car, with siren’s blaring, the other a van with the logo which read “Who Dem Cops! Investigations”. Ogden feared the worst.
But when the policemen came up to them holding handcuffs, it was not to Ogden, but to his interviewer that they spoke.
“Mr. Goodmountain, we are placing you under arrest for insider trading.”
As they were bringing Guy, now handcuffed, to the squad car, the “Who Dem Cops!” microphones were in his face.
“Do you realize that many of the families who owned stock in your company and lost thousands own pets?”
“How does it make you feel that cute little puppies may go hungry as result of actions you took?”
After watching the three vehicles drive away, it took a few minutes for Ogden to calm down, but he finally managed it.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 7 – May – Bravery
Ogden’s fourth date with Gretta was not so much a date as pleasant walk in a park. They spoke of good and noble things and they laughed. At one point they found themselves sitting on a bench near a playground.
As they talked, Ogden found himself watching two pairs of people. One of these was two college age guys throwing a football around, the other was (Ogden assumed) an older brother (age seven?) standing around looking somewhat bored while his younger sister (perhaps three) played with dolls on the grass.
But Ogden watched as the boy watched the two guys with their football, and neither of them was that great at throwing a spiral, and they commonly dropped their catches, but they were having fun.
And then a very quick but notable thing happened. The guy who didn’t have the ball started running and indicated that the guy with the ball should throw it ahead of him. Which he did. And as he released it, Ogden saw the thrower’s eyes go wide with fear, and he yelled “Hey Ed, Don’t -”
Ogden looked to see what caused the thrower’s tension. ‘Ed’ had apparently not heard his friend’s exclamation, and was running to catch the ball. And he was not aware that he was heading straight to where the little girl was sitting. He was only a few feet from running her over.
And now Ogden was yelling “Hey, watch out –“
But then (it all happened quite quickly) he saw the seven year old boy put his hands up and take three step to put himself in Ed’s path and then Ed, completely unaware of his proximity to the children, tumbled over the boy. And fell just short of the little girl. And the little girl played on, not even aware that she just barely missed injury.
Ed was momentarily confused and perhaps a little angry when the other guy came running over.
“Dude, you nearly killed that girl!”
“I – what?”
“My bad for throwing it, but you gotta watch where you’re going. This kid just saved her by stopping you.”
“I . . oh.”
The other college guy turned to talk to the boy. “Pretty brave, kid.”
The boy smiled, with an expression that showed that he was aware that he had just done a good thing. He talked with the two college guys for a bit and then they resumed their game of catch – at a safe distance.
Ogden had to say something. He went over and said to the boy – “Excellent. You just risked pain and injury to help your sister. I can only hope that I might do something that brave someday.”
The boy nodded and Ogden walked back to Gretta. He said “Someday, when I have sons, I’m going to tell them this story.”
And Gretta smiled.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 6 – March – A First For Emily
Nathan pulled into the parking spot and turned off the car. He took a deep breath. He looked out across the parking lot. Well-dressed families were walking into the front door of the church. He looked at his watch: 9:52. Eight minutes until the service started.
He looked into the backseat of the car and smiled nervously toward the only other passenger – his five-year-old daughter, Emily. She had just been jabbering as they drove in – indeed, she had hardly stopped talking during the seven minute ride from their home. But now she was silently watching her dad – wondering what he would do. She had never been in a church.
But she wasn’t what made him hesitate. He knew that if they went in, she would jump in with both feet, just like she attacked everything new.
No, she would be fine. So what was it? As Nathan thought about it, he wasn’t sure at all why he suddenly had lost all interest in entering the building. He had left their home boldly enough, with his wife watching him from the dining room table. She had no interest in religion of any kind. This was perhaps reasonable given what another church had done to her family. But that was decades ago. In another state. She couldn’t forgive.
Nathan knew his brother, Ogden, would be happy to see that he had gotten this far. He knew Ogden was praying, perhaps everyday, that Nathan would try church again. But now Nathan’s heart was beating fast and he was sweating and he did not want to face the odd glances he felt they were sure to get as they walked through the double doors.
No. Maybe next week, he thought. I’ll just tell Emily that we’re going to go do a little shopping and then we’ll head home.
He put the key back into the ignition and was just starting to turn it-
Nathan turned to see a young girl, about Emily’s age, looking through the back window at Emily. She yelled through the glass again, “Aren’t you coming in?”
Nathan saw the torso of a man walk past the car and beckon the other girl. “C’mon Emily.” The other girl smiled again at Nathan’s daughter and followed her dad.
Nathan’s daughter giggled, “Hey, she has my name, too!”
Nathan took the keys out of the ignition and opened the door. He hadn’t asked for a sign, but if he had, he couldn’t have expected anything better than that.
He watched with thankfulness as his daughter excitedly unbuckled her seatbelt and they went inside. And for the first time in seven and a half years, Nathan worshiped. God met him.
There were two kinds of movie that Ogden never missed – and they showed the two sides of his sense of taste: Willis and Austen. To clarify, he never missed an opportunity to see a Bruce Willis movie and he had made attempts to see every Jane Austen novel adaptation. Whether he showed pride or shame about these two divergent appreciations depended on the company he was keeping at the moment.
And at the moment of this story, he was at the end of a choral rehearsal, keeping company with the other members of the newly formed church choir that performed every second Sunday during the worship service. The precise moment of this story was just after the choir director had stated, “Please feel free to take ‘He Is Here’ home to practice before next Sunday. Indeed I encourage you to do so.” (There were a few chuckles.) “It may help us iron out some of our . . . imperfections. Go in peace.”
And the Basses, tenors, alto and sopranos started gathering their belongings and standing up.
“Perhaps it is our imperfections which make us so perfect for each other.”
Ogden looked up to see who had spoken this. It was the new Soprano; the director had introduced her a couple weeks ago. She sat in the row in front of him, two chairs down. Ogden was never good with names – what was it again?
She had made the “imperfection” remark offhandedly, almost to herself. The younger girl next to her looked at her curious, obviously not catching the reference. The new soprano seemed to be a bit embarrassed that she had spoken something so (on the face of it) odd.
Strike one, thought Ogden, is that I can’t remember her name. And strike two is that I can’t remember the next line. So –
“That’s from ‘Emma’, isn’t it?” He said, not too loud, but loud enough for her to hear.
The new Soprano, turned around and smiled. Ogden remembered: Her name is Gretta. The same name as his friend’s dog and he had earlier noted that she sort of had hair like a cocker spaniel. Very cute, he had thought, but he decided that it would be unwise to mention to her this memory-helping image, at least at this point.
“Yes,” she replied. “Wow, I was pretty sure no one would get that.”
“It’s a very good scene.”
“I agree. My sister says it’s too obvious and trite. I mean, of course they’re going to get together, but – ”
“But that’s the way it is with all of Austen. You know there’s going to be a happy ending, but the skill is in how she writes how they get there.”
“Yes. And what’s wrong with a happy ending?”
This moment was 8:07. Ogden had been impatient that the rehearsal had gone long, but now he wasn’t looking at the clock. As others finished conversations and left, they talked. They talked plot and character and scenes and motive. Ogden noted once or twice others noticed them talking, but he wasn’t aware of much else.
So when the director, standing at the door, said “Can you two make sure the lights are off and this door is shut?” Ogden, who liked the sound of the words ‘you two’, was surprised to see by the clock on the wall that it was 8:58. Obviously Gretta was, as well.
“Oh my goodness” she said, standing up, “I missed my ride!”
“That’s okay,” said Ogden. In fact, it was great. “I can bring you home.”
“Oh, but I’m not going home, I have to go to the university library to study. I’m a grad student, you see.”
“Ah, well I can bring you there. It’s just a little farther out from where I live.”
“I, …thanks, okay”
And so they went. And Ogden walked her to the door of the Library. And then Ogden, who had never been a big dater, took the plunge.
“Say, I was wondering – any chance you would want to go out for coffee tomorrow night.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“I see . ..,” replied Ogden, disappointed, but then goofiness and a confidence that surprised him made him continue: “Might I ask why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am thus repulsed?”
“And I might as well enquire why, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your better judgment.”
Ogden laughed. He was impressed.
“Wow, you really know it.”
“Well, it’s another great scene.”
“But the reason I ‘thus repulse’ you is that I have a Bible study tomorrow evening.”
“Ah, I see”
“But I am free Friday”
Ogden smiled. So was he.
Ogden was taking his monthly fast walk around the building complex with his coworker, Phil.
“I walked in from the parking lot with the Vice President of Demand Chain Operations this morning” stated Ogden, with a little pride in his voice.
“Oh, yeah? What did he have to say?” asked Phil.
“He said that he liked my tie,” Ogden replied, proudly again. As usual (since it was the third Wednesday of the month,) Ogden was wearing his favorite tie, which had the repeated phrase, in many sizes and colors:
“Bloggers can’t be choosers”
“Your tie, huh? He didn’t mention your green shirt?” asked Phil.
“Uh, no, I guess not. Just my tie.”
“Huh, that’s odd. That’s a pretty nice shirt.”
Ogden wondered what the big deal was, but just replied, “Yeah, well, maybe green isn’t his favorite color.”
Later that day, Phil was eating lunch in the cafeteria with some people from his department
“Hey, I heard something weird about our VP today. A friend of mine saw him in the hallway and he got the distinct impression that the VP didn’t approve of the shirt that he was wearing.”
“Really?” asked Fatima “That is odd.”
“Evidently, he thinks that green shirts are unprofessional, or something.”
The next day, Fatima and some people were waiting for a few late people to join them in a meeting room. The topic of company administration came up and Fatima said, “Say, a friend of mine knows somebody who got in trouble with the VP for wearing a green shirt.”
“Really? What wrong with a green shirt?”
“I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what I heard.”
On Monday the next week, Ogden received an email which was sent to his whole department. It said:
******** Important Memo *******
As many of you have already heard . . .
It has come to our attention that company employees have been reprimanded by our Vice President of Demand Chain Operations and threatened with demotion for not wearing clothes that follow standard dress code. We are not entirely sure what this dress code is (details to follow as soon as we have them) but it has been determined that he definitely does not like green apparel of any kind.
We recommend that you dress accordingly.
Again, as soon as we have more detailed guidelines regarding appropriate business wear, we will pass them along to you.
Ogden saved the email and thought to himself, “Whew, I guess I was lucky. . . and he seemed so pleasant.”
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 3 – November – Giving Thanks
Ogden woke up, and it took a few seconds to gain his bearings. He was in a car, in the back seat, and his younger sister, Terry, was looking at him, trying to stifle a grin. Why was he waking up in a car? And then he felt the pain in his hand and he looked at it, very clumsily bandaged.
“You fainted,” said Terry, obviously trying not to giggle.
“I fainted?” Ogden asked
It came to him quickly. Whole family together for Thanksgiving, a little touch football outside, listening to the uncles doing dueling jokes, chatting with Terry’s new boyfriend Chad. Dad had offered to let him carve the turkey and . . . . that’s all he could remember.
“You cut yourself on the carving knife”
Ogden was now experiencing a faint memory of seeing a good amount of blood, but he didn’t want to think about it.
A voice came from the front seat “That’s right. A pretty impressive cut. Your aunt Janice ran screaming from the room” Ogden looked up. Chad was driving them to the hospital.
“Well,” said Ogden, sitting up a little, “It looks like my reaction wasn’t that impressive either.”
There was a pause in the conversation.
“So I assume we’re going to the hospital”
“That’s correct,” giggled Terry, “Mom said she’d hold off on serving the food until we get back.”
“So I’m screwing up the big meal for everyone.”
“Believe me, Ogden” said Chad, “No one’s blaming you. They were all feeling so sorry for you, and your Grandma called you a hero.”
“Ah.” That sounded like Grandma. So kind. More so since Grandpa had died.
So now, thought Ogden, this is what was going to happen. They would soon be getting to the hospital, the nurse would hear about his hand, they would wait three hours, the doctor would finally see him and sew him up, which would take twenty minutes, during every single minute of which Ogden would be liable to faint again. It would hurt. And they wouldn’t get home until 7:00, by which time everyone would be irritable and trying somewhat unsuccessfully to hide it.
“So, what happened?” asked Anna Joy, Ogden’s ten year old daughter fifteen years later, “Was it as bad as you expected?”
Anna was sitting between Mom and Dad on the couch, happy to be allowed to stay up and talk to them when her brother and sister were already in bed.
“No, actually. The wait was only about an hour, I was able to handle the work on my hand without losing consciousness and we were sitting down to eat before 4:30. And I think the visible happiness was authentic.”
“What about your hand?”
“Well, it healed pretty quickly, but you can still see the scar, see?” Ogden showed it to his daughter. The scar was faint but evident.
“And that was an interesting meal. I couldn’t use this hand, so Grandma offered to cut everything for me.”
“I imagine that was a humbling experience for you as a twenty five year old,” said Gretta.
“It was indeed,” replied Ogden. “But Grandma loved helping out. She still does.”
“Why didn’t you help him,” Anna asked her mom.
Ogden chuckled, “Oh, we hadn’t met yet.”
“Oh yeah,” said Anna. It was always sobering to consider your parents before they’d met. What if they never had?
“But here’s the interesting thing,” said Ogden, “I had taken a dim opinion of uncle Chad from the first day I met him. My immediate opinion of him was that he was someone who only liked to talk to people and was too interested in making himself look good. But my accident caused me to see him in a different light. He made a real sacrifice when he offered to drive me to the hospital. He really was quite helpful. I had been too quick to judge. I thank God for that lesson.”
“I like Uncle Chad!” said Anna Joy.
“So do I, now. And I am actually glad that I cut my hand, because it gave me an opportunity to rethink my opinion of him.”
“So that’s why they never let you carve the turkey!”
Happy Thanksgiving from the Responsible Puppet.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 2 – October – Catch 22
”What’s up, Doc?” asked Ogden, as Somerset walked into his cubicle. He always said this when greeting him, because Somerset had a doctorate in database reconfiguring.
”You wanted help for the departmental outing?”
”Oh that’s right. I didn’t want to have this responsibility, but Susan said, “Just do it,” so here I am.
”So do you have any games?”
”Would you believe I do have one? I was thinking that we could come up with a game that gives people several catch phrases from popular media and asks them to name the TV show, commercial or movie that each catch phrase came from.”
”Hey, that sounds like a good idea.” said Somerset “Should we try to come up with a few now?”
”If you have time.” said Ogden, happy to get the help. But after working for several minutes, they found that their idea was trickier to implement than they thought it would be.
”Boy, I’m having difficulty coming up with any more of these, and we only have three so far,” stated Ogden
”Yeah, I’m an engineer not a media buff. They’re great, but I fear that three phrases won’t make for a very good game, know what I mean?”
”I agree. Everyone is gonna ask – ‘Where’s the beef?’”
They pressed on for a few more minutes.
Suddenly Ogden shouted “Noonan!” and Somerset turned around to see the technical support “Smart Guy” Doug Noonan, who had just walked past the cubicle, come back.
”Are you talking to me?”
”Do you know any catch phrases?”
”Whatcha talking about, Ogden?”
”We’re trying to come up with some well known – “
”Actually, I need to run – I’ve got to stop a query on Fatima’s machine. It keeps going, and going . . .”
”Oh. . . Never mind.” said Ogden, understanding the urgency of the problem.
”I’ll be back” said Doug, but Ogden feared they wouldn’t see him again for awhile. Fatima’s queries were always a mess.
Ogden picked up the phone and said “Maybe someone else could help us.”
”Perhaps, but who you gonna call?”
”Say, I know,” suggested Somerset “What about Bob? He’s always quoting movies.”
”Good Idea, and he’s probably over there right now.” Ogden turned his head and yelled, “Say Bob?”.
Bob sat on the on the other side of the cubical wall from Ogden.
”Yep?” came Bob’s reply.
”Can you come over here? I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse.”
Bob came around and poked his head in “Go ahead, make my day.”
”I’ve been put in charge of the departmental outing,” began Ogden
”Ooh, I hate it when that happens”
”And I’m trying to figure out a game for it that uses catch phrases.” Ogden pointed at his computer “See?”
”I see nothing.” said Bob, squinting. Ogden looked to see that the screen saver had come on. He wiggled the mouse and the short list came back on the screen.
”We hardly have any ideas. Can you help us?”
It was at this point that they all heard the sound of Bob’s phone ringing.
”Doh! There’s my phone. I’ll have to get it. May the force be with you,” said Bob as he left. Ogden and Somerset watched him go.
”No luck there, I guess” said Ogden
”Hey I know!” blurted Somerset “What about that funny movie that was out a few years ago about the wacky database administrators. What was that called again?”
”I’m not sure I recall the movie.”
”‘Query This!’, That’s it!”
”I don’t think I saw it. Was there a catch phrase in that one?”
”Sure! ‘Select this, buddy!’ Don’t tell me you don’t remember that!”
”Again, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t see that movie.”
”Oh, but everyone was saying it for years. Its funny how a phrase like that can be used in everyday conversation.”
”Uh, yeah. . . its funny.” And with great hesitation, Ogden put it in the list.
”Well, that’s four,” he said “Maybe we should quit for now.”
”Yeah, maybe we’ll just have to sit on it for awhile.”
This they did and a few days later Ogden decided that maybe their party didn’t really need a game.
For those of you playing at home, there are 22.
The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
September – Cafeteria Conversations
(The first of a new monthly series written by Jamsco and brought to you by the Responsible Puppet)
Ogden was in the corporate cafeteria at his workplace, reading “The Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. He was just finishing his slice of pizza (a regular Thursday ritual for him), when two older ladies sat at the table just behind him. They were in the middle of a conversation.
”So my daughter Susan just rented that Robin Hood, Men in Tights, that Mel Gibson movie and she said didn’t like it. She said it was too silly and the attempts at humor were not funny.”
”What?” thought Ogden. She was not speaking quietly and he didn’t have to eavesdrop to hear. “She must mean Mel Brooks.” He tried to ignore them and get back into his book.
The other lady was puzzled “I thought that movie was more of an adventure and a romance. I don’t remember it as trying to be funny.”
“Oh, I think you’re thinking of the other Robin Hood movie. The one with Kevin Co – , oh what was his name. Kevin Connery. That’s it.”
”Kevin Costner,” whispered Ogden to himself, “Costner”
“Kevin Connery? Isn’t that the guy who was James Bond?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“But I didn’t think the Robin Hood guy had a very good British accent.”
“That is strange. You’d think they’d pick a guy with a good accent for James Bond.”
Ogden wasn’t aware that he we crumpling up the pages of his book as he listened.
“Well, the last movie that I saw with Kevin Connery was that Indiana Jones movie. I think it was ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Evil Temple.’ or something like that. With Harrison Ford.”
“Now Harrison would have a good British accent”
“He would?” asked the other lady.
“He would?” thought Ogden. He started to pick up his lunch.
“Yeah. Well, wasn’t he one of the Beatles? You know, the peaceful one, or whatever?”
“Oh, that’s right. He was the one who knew that other singer, who got them into drugs. Bob D-, What was his name?”
“Bob Dylan!” whispered Ogden.
“Bob Denver.” The lady said. “That’s it.”
”No, Bob Dylan!” said Ogden somewhat out loud and with somewhat of an upset tone in his voice.
”Excuse me?” asked the two ladies cheerfully, turning around to look at him.
Ogden forced himself to smile as he turned around and he said, with as much pleasantness as he could muster, “It was Bob Dylan. Bob Denver played Gilligan.”
“Oh,” said one of the ladies.
“Oh.” said the other. “Well, thanks, obviously we didn’t know that. In fact, I didn’t even know that the Beatles were ever even on Gilligan’s Island.”
Ogden bit his lip for a second. He stood up with his tray and said patiently and calmly, “No, the Beatles didn’t know Bob Denver, they knew Bob Dylan. And I think the Beatle you’re thinking about was George Harrison, not Harrison Ford.”
“Oh, yes.” said the second lady.
“Thanks for clearing that up for us,” said the other.
“You’re welcome” said Ogden, anxious to leave, “Bye now.”
As he left, Ogden noted Phil, a fellow departmental person, just now entering the cafeteria with his bag lunch.
The two women watched as Ogden walked around the corner. When he was out of sight, they grinned at each other and then laughed. One of them looked at her watch. “That was pretty good. Less than 3 minutes. Should we try for two and a half?”
“You bet!” whispered the other, seeing Phil sit down behind them. And then she said loudly “But if John Denver was on Gilligan’s Island, Why didn’t he sing more?”
“What?” thought Phil.