Love In The Time Of Apps

Love In The Time Of Apps

Jay Begler

Copyright © 2014
Jay Begler
All rights reserved

ISBN-10: 1492853011
ISBN-13: 9781492853015
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013923760
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina

For Linda

CONTENTS

Part One: The Original Sheila

The Sheila Bolt

The Data Snatcher

The Human Cliché

Comedic Incompatability

Part Two: Love In The Time Of Apps

The Best Revenge

Romance In The Forties

Sophie’s Choice

Part Three: The Host-Pital

The Fashionable Policeman

Sheila’s Avatar

Host-Pital Speak

MED-TV

Part Four: The Road to Rating Purgatory

Pressed By The Press

The Poster Girl For Green Technology

Part Five: Great Moments In Medicine

The Electric Enema

Physiological Schizophrenia

Part Six: The Two Sheilas

Funny Girls

Compassion

The Obrah/Vinfrey Show

1 -800-DUMP PHIL/ 1-800-KEEP PHIL

The Divorce Emporium

Part Seven: The Low Lifes

The Solo District

Divorcing With The Stars

The America’s Most Unwanted Show

Jiffy Lipo

The Impromptu Funeral

Part Eight: The Trial Of The Century So Far

Grasping Lawyers’ Balls

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Epilogue

Author’s Note

Part One

The Original Sheila

The Sheila Bolt

S
heila Goodwin, the “Original Sheila” as she came to be known once she became famous, was struck by a spectacular bolt of lightning as she was trying on a dress in the large communal dressing room of a suburban clothing store named “Vogue.” Moments earlier, she had slipped on a black couturier dress and was pleased by what she saw. She thought, “This has to be the most perfect dress in which to attend a funeral; black, conservative, but revealing my thin figure, not too long, not too short, expensive but not ostentatious.” It didn’t matter to Sheila that there was no particular funeral on the horizon for her to attend. The important thing was to be ready just in case someone passed unexpectedly and she had to make an immediate appearance. This dress, in Sheila’s words, was for an “impromptu funeral.”

Sheila lapsed into a momentary daydream. She was in her perfect dress, walking at the head of a large and impromptu funeral procession with a bevy of celebrities and noted politicians. A second woman, who was also dressed elegantly in an identical dress and waving to an adoring crowd, walked next to Sheila stride for stride. Sheila could not make the woman out, but she seemed very familiar. Paparazzi and others called, “Sheila, Sheila, over here; love your dress.” For reasons neither Sheila, nor anyone else, could remotely imagine her daydream would actually become a reality. And, the most amazing aspect of her dream come true was the identity of the woman who was walking beside her.

Daydreaming about becoming famous was not unusual for Sheila. For most of her adult life and certainly during the waning years of her marriage to her recently estranged husband, Philip (“Goodwin”), one which shifted from a partnership to a contentious competition, Sheila longed to be famous. She believed, however, that celebrity would elude her, mostly because she had never accomplished anything out of the ordinary or had any special talents. That realization did not diminish her desire. If there were a God of Fame, she certainly would have prayed to him or her or it. For a time, Sheila even tried to conjure up an image of the God of Fame, but the best she could do was a gigantic Oscar statuette standing imposingly below the famous Hollywood sign.

As Sheila was wrapped within her celebrity reverie, a low-flying, small black cloud, which to all eyewitnesses, not one exception, resembled a profile of Abraham Lincoln wearing a baseball cap, drifted over Vogue. The cloud stopped and hovered above the store for several minutes. Then, with a clap of thunder, which sounded like a sonic boom, it discharged a single bolt of lightning. The bolt cut a large swath through the roof of the building immediately above Vogue’s communal dressing room and slammed down upon Sheila.

The bolt, however, was not a mere run of the mill, make your hair stand on end, stop your heart, burn your shoes bolt, but according to lightningphiles (there are such things, even a Journal of Lightning Technology, called “JOLT” a “Trade Paper”) the largest, longest, most powerful and ferocious bolt ever recorded. JOLT’s editors were so impressed by the bolt and by the woman it struck that they named it the “Sheila Bolt.” Sheila and her bolt ultimately made it to the Guinness Book of Records:

“History has recorded strikes of extraordinary positive giant lightning bolts, EPG. These bolts, though extremely rare, are thousands of times more powerful than ordinary lightning bolts. One such bolt struck the Central Region of Russia in 1906, destroyed 200,000 acres of a forest and was alleged by some to have caused Lenin, who was hunting for truffles at its outer edge, to develop tinnitus. More recently an EPG occurred in the United States striking a woman named Sheila
Goodwin. (See Medical/Physiological Anomalies-Sheila Goodwin Page 364)”

If being struck by lightning was all that had happened to Sheila, there would have been some general scientific interest in the event and possibly two days of news stories. Sheila would have been famous, by Andy Warhol’s calculations, for far less than the 15 minutes allotted to her and the scope of her brief notoriety would have been local at best. In this case, however, the bolt totally encompassed Sheila and was nothing short of mystical. Unlike a true bolt of lightning it did not, to use an observation articulated by most network newscasters who thought they were being clever, “disappear in a flash.” Its light, large and rectangular in shape and about six feet thick, reached from the dressing room’s floor up through the hole in its ceiling. One observer later wrote in her blog that the light was, referencing Kubrick’s 2001, “monolith like.” Her observation spurred hot debates by other bloggers who fancied themselves as film critics. Inexplicably, the “monolith” had a life of its own and remained in place without any known power source for many months.

According to some of the women in the dressing room, Sheila appeared to float up and into the light and remain suspended in it between the floor and the ceiling. After about 30 seconds, she fell unconscious out of the light and onto the floor. When she did so, Sheila was totally enveloped by a self-sustaining, ultra-bright, cocoon of light. Virtually everyone in the room ran to where Sheila was lying to assist her, but not before taking photos of her on their smart phones and transmitting them via Apps all over the globe. Thus, for example, seconds after Sheila hit the ground, Zaya while drinking a Diet Coke in her Yurt on the outskirts of the Gobi desert received Sheila’s photo and patched it over to Nomin who was participating one village over in a FaceTime conference with Max Schnell the licensing agent for her hot new $95-a-jar face cream, “Mongolian Mud.” As soon as she passed the photo on to Schnell, who lived in a garden apartment across the street from Vogue, he made a mental note, which was not a mental note at all, but an App by the same name, to remind him to check up on Sheila to see if her celebrity might create some licensing
opportunities. Nomin then replied to Zaya with the Mongolian characters for holy yak shit: “OMG.” Onlookers, clutching their garments tightly against their bodies, formed a circle around Sheila and stared in disbelief. As if on cue they all whispered “OMG.” Stories about one person saying “Holy yak shit,” were never confirmed.

Many of the women in the dressing room (and one voyeur) who looked directly at the light for more than a few seconds were temporarily blinded. Most of them ran out of the dressing room with their eyes closed and their hands in front of them for protection, since they were unable to see, pausing only when they inadvertently touched a garment whose fabric felt good to them.

For several minutes, the monolith of light also emitted an unusual sound. Those who heard the sound fell into two camps: people who said it sounded like “zap” and people over 50 who said it sounded like “aarp.” One woman said it sounded like “crap,” but her account was not deemed credible because she wanted Sheila’s dress and suspected that it might be singed. Whatever its sound, the decibel level of the bolt was enormous, equivalent to that of a significant explosion. Smoke began to rise from the dressing room’s floor and filter quickly into the store. Patrons, dresses in hand, ran in panic for the nearest exits. Vogue reported over $60,000 worth of merchandise gone and never returned.

EMS workers arrived at Vogue within minutes of the lightning strike and were bewildered by what they saw on the floor: an intense cocoon of light in the vague form of a body. Understandably, the EMS workers were reluctant to put their unprotected hands in the cocoon of light, which might have been radioactive, electrically charged or otherwise dangerous. After several frantic hours, with policemen, firemen, and members of both the Environmental Protection Agency and Homeland Security conferring with each other, it was decided that the phenomenon surrounding Sheila was merely light and not dangerous. Nevertheless, this large disaster entourage waited for the arrival of personnel from some unknown federal agency. A large black van appeared. When its doors opened, several men and women dressed in stylish Hazmat suits bearing the initials UFA, for “Unknown
Federal Agency,” as well as Ralph Lauren Polo logos, lifted Sheila onto a stretcher, hung her Louis Vuitton purse on one of the stretcher’s handles, and placed her in a waiting ambulance.

Within 24 hours of the Sheila Bolt, news of the strange self-sustaining light that surrounded Sheila together with photographs of her ensconced within her cocoon of light were carried on every television station and social media site in the country. Virtually everyone on Facebook, for example, received an Instagram photo of Sheila from a friend with a notation like “Irving likes a photograph.” A video taken at Vogue and uploaded into YouTube went viral within hours. A film studio issued a press release that it was planning a movie about the event and had several “hot prospects,” for the leading role. Sheila, a woman essentially unknown outside of her suburban locale was about to become famous. And though Goodwin didn’t know it at the time, he was on the cusp of becoming infamous.

The Data Snatcher

I
n news features about him, Alex Pragat was characterized as a “Data Snatcher.” The term refers to the commercial practice of collecting, organizing and selling the vast amounts of data about individuals that is found on the web or extracted from their computers via software programs often called “spyware.” While Pragat had many competitors, his company, Pragat Corporation, was the largest, most successful and, given its aggressive methodology, most controversial data extraction company in the country.

So sophisticated and powerful were Pragat’s tools that with a few key strokes its researchers could produce a person’s dossier so steeped with personal information that it was likely that anyone who read it would know more about the individual in question than his friends, neighbors, or even his wife. To test the efficacy of and to improve its data snatching software, Pragat’s researchers would, on a daily basis, extract data about and track a specific group of people, all of whom were actually named “John Doe” or “Jane Doe.” Over the years, the researchers learned so much about their various Does that they began to feel a special kinship with them. When one John Doe died of cancer, for example, the staff made an anonymous gift in his name to the American Cancer Society.

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