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The Search for Somebody Else
March 2014 by Somebody

We're finally getting back to normal here in Louisville after dealing with some scary winter weather, aka the Polar Vortex. I managed pretty well here at the office at first, with the help of a couple of space heaters and several extra layers of clothing to supplement the barely functioning radiator, but I finally threw in the towel when temperatures went down below zero, impelling me to spend a couple of weeks sleeping on the pool table in my brother's basement. Bill is the successful one of the family and his heat works a lot better than mine, as it should, considering how much he's paying for his house. His charming wife Fiona was not happy with my extended visit. She's demanding rent money for the time I spent there, and sent an itemized bill with charges for the water I used and the food I ate, but she'll be waiting several eternities for that check to arrive, I have news for her.

The development of the website continues to crawl along at slightly faster than a snail's pace. The web traffic situation remains pretty dismal and I'm still having a hard time persuading people to write for us. Most of our regular contributors continue to have the worst case of writer's block in history. The complimentary gift baskets I've sent them seem to have had little or no effect. On the rare occasion that the phone rings, it's usually a robocall from a local used auto dealership, and my daily routine of rummaging through my email inbox yields only special offers from dating sites and get-rich scam artists.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been taking advantage of our lull in website activity and devoting my free time to improving my web design skills. In the last year I've made it about one third of the way through my pile of computer books, which started out at 57 in number, but has grown to 93. I found most of them in the clearance sections of local book stores (some of which are now out of business), and I got a few others on eBay. Subjects include CSS, CSS3, HTML, XHTML, HTML5, XML, JavaScript, Java, JavaFX, jQuery, ColdFusion, HotFusion, PHP, Perl, Python, Django, Bingo, Ajax, Clorox, ASP, PDQ, MySQL, SQLite, Apache, Ruby, Emerald, Onyx, CoffeeCup, Dreamweaver, Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, Xojo, GlassFish, Photoshop, Flash, PageMaker, Acrobat, ActionScript, Fireworks, C, C+, C++, C#, F#, B Flat, Fortran, QBasic, Visual Basic, Linux, Unix, MS-DOS, Modula-3, and, well... you get the idea. It's been fun reading about all these things, but I'm not sure if I've gained much practical knowledge so far. Hopefully the site will benefit in some way from all this studying.

I suppose the big news for the site here in early 2014 is that I'm getting ready to unleash my secret weapon, which is a fancy site-wide navigation bar at the top of every page, complete with drop-down menus, social media buttons, and the Somebody's Webpage logo. I expect that this new feature will add an air of respectability to the site and make it more user-friendly, and possibly get the attention of some Wall Street investors out there.

I recently got back in touch with my old friend and site co-founder, who goes by the pseudonym Somebody Else, and whose editorials and music reviews have been a mainstay on the site since the beginning. As you may have noticed, his absence in the last year or so has taken a serious toll on the posting of new articles on the site. SE has never explained the reasons for the decline in his writing submissions, but I believe the situation mostly stems from a misunderstanding we had over a dry cleaning bill back in 2012.

It started when one of my credit card purchases at the office supply store was declined. I promptly called CapitalOne, and they told me the card was maxed out because of an $800 payment for dry cleaning services. I remembered that Somebody Else had borrowed the card to have a wine stain removed from his favorite Versace suit, but I assumed the charge would be around $20 or so. So I called SE and asked him in a reasonable tone of voice why it cost so much just to have one suit cleaned. He explained that he had used a specialty dry cleaner, a guy named Rudy Watkins, who had allegedly done dry cleaning work for the likes of P. Diddy, Rihanna, Russell Brand, Cher and President Obama. SE was surprised at the amount of the charge and said the guy told him the bill would be $50, not $800. He apologized and promised to get the money back as soon as possible. A few days later, he walked into the office with his latest batch of writing for the website and didn't mention anything about the money. When I questioned him about it, he responded that the guy's cellphone number was no longer working, and SE didn't know where to find him because he worked out of the trunk of his car. At that point I kind of lost it and told SE not to come back until he had my $800 dollars. SE looked indignant and walked out the door without saying anything and that was the last I heard from him for over a year.

A couple of months after SE left, I began to feel guilty about what I had said and tried to get in touch with him, but he wouldn't return my calls or emails. So I decided, "Just give him some time to cool down, he'll be back." Several more months went by and I did the best I could with the website on my own, writing as much as I could in addition to the web design work and publishing the meager offerings of our other contributors.

After about a year, I began to worry a little bit about SE's wellbeing and decided to take a more proactive approach. I found the address of his girlfriend Kathy, and paid her a visit one Saturday afternoon. She told me that she had broken up with SE several months prior, mostly due to his newly acquired out-of-control party lifestyle. He had been staying out at all hours of the night, dancing at clubs and cruising in his new convertible with various women who looked young enough to be his daughters. She thought he must have gotten a large windfall of cash from somewhere because of his new car and fancy clothes, and also because most women wouldn't give him the time of day before that point in his life. Kathy didn't know how to get in touch with him anymore, but she said she didn't care because she was dating a nice lawyer named Delvin who made her feel special. She parting words were "If you see that jerk, tell him I said don't ever call me again."

SE had been working at the Majik Market at the time we had our falling out, so I decided to see if he was still employed there. I stopped by and found Ted Crawford at the checkout counter, who writes the TV blog for our website, and who has worked at that convenience store for as long as I can remember. (It was Ted who helped Somebody Else get a job there after SE was laid off from the ball bearing factory.) He looked like he had been caught off guard by my arrival, and began to apologize for having not written anything for his blog in several months, and offered a variety of excuses, which included taking care of his girlfriend's kid, and investigating his mother's possible involvement with a terrorist organization. I told him no problem, all the other contributors, myself included, had been slacking off on their writing contributions in the last couple of years, which was understandable, given that they weren't being paid for their work. I mentioned that I had been thinking about paying contributors a little bit, maybe 2 cents per word, which is not a lot, but Ted seemed to like the idea. He said he's been wanting to move his TV blog in more of an autobiographical direction, and do less of the television show reviews. I told him that sounded like an interesting idea (especially given his tendency to confuse reality with fantasy) and it didn't matter to me which kind of writing he did, as long we were getting new content on a regular basis.

I got around to asking about the state of SE's employment at Majik Market and Ted said that SE had gotten canned a few months ago, because he had taken a lackadaisical attitude about showing up for his shifts, and then had stopped showing up altogether.  Ted said he had been sorry to see him go, but it was probably for the best because SE's girlfriend Kathy had pressured him into getting a job there in the first place and he had never really wanted to work there. Ted speculated that SE must have won the lottery or something, because he still occasionally came by the store for energy drinks or breath mints, and he would always be wearing fancy clothes and seemed to have plenty of money even though he didn't have a job anymore. He didn't know how to get in touch with SE, but said he spent a lot of time dancing at an establishment downtown called Club Godzilla.

I showed up at the club the following Friday night hoping to find my estranged compadre. Club Godzilla occupies the lower floors of an old 10 story brick warehouse that was renovated, I was told, by a couple of entrepreneurs who bought the building for cheap and saved it from demolition. The place is easy to recognize because of the giant logo over the club's entrance, which includes a cartoonish stylization of Godzilla's face. I got there at around 10:00 pm and went inside to look around. The dance music was loud and reminiscent of the kind I liked back in the early 90s, and the walls were decorated with neon signs and novelty items. There were lots of young, stylish looking patrons, a few of them bouncing around on the dance floor.

SE was nowhere to be found, so I went to the bar and ordered some coffee. The bartender said SE was a regular on Friday nights, and should be arriving any minute. I sat down at a table and fooled around with my new smartphone for a while, looking around for SE every so often. After an hour or so of waiting I was ready to call it quits, and as I walked out the front door of the club, a black limousine was pulling up to the curb. Several of the club goers outside were looking on with interest and talking to each other, as if expecting some type of celebrity. The limousine driver walked around and opened the back passenger door. There was an audible gasp from the crowd as Somebody Else stepped out, smiling and looking like a character from Michael Jackson's vision of paradise. He was wearing a blazer covered with shiny metallic sequins, a black silk shirt, black and white checkered pants, and polished white shoes. He held a cane in one hand, and was topped with a wide-brimmed white hat with a black ribbon, the style of hat favored by pimps in the 1970s.

When SE saw me approaching, he greeted me with a big smile and a pat on the back, and said, "Hey! Good to see you, my friend." I complemented his interesting outfit and we got caught up on the recent events of our lives. I apologized for getting bent out of shape about the dry cleaning bill. He said, "No worries. All is forgiven," then pulled a checkbook and pen out of his coat pocket and started writing. He ripped the check out of the book and handed it to me, and I stared at it open-mouthed for a minute. It was for $2000, which was $1200 more than the original dry cleaning bill. "That's very generous," I replied, "but where did you get all this money?" I half-suspected that he had become involved in Louisville's notorious drug underworld.  SE looked around cautiously and explained in a low voice that Prince William and Kate had sent a nice greeting card with a hand-written apology for the rough treatment he received from the MI5 during his trip to report on the royal wedding. The card had been followed by an electronic deposit of 7 million dollars into his bank account. It was an unlikely story for sure, but SE has always been a truthful guy, so I took him at his word and didn't press him any more on the subject. It seems doubtful that the royal family would pay that kind of money to somebody out of the kindness of their own hearts. I'm thinking that SE might have learned something about William and Kate that they want kept quiet.

At that point, our conversation was interrupted by several young, attractive women who surrounded Somebody Else and demanded that he go inside Club Godzilla and dance with them. He flashed them a million dollar smile and began walking with them toward the club, and he waved at me to come along with them. We went in and sat down at a table, and SE ordered drinks for the girls and joked around with them for a while. One of the girls, named Rebecca, I think, set an exotic looking cocktail down in front of me and said with a mischievous smile, "drink this, you'll like it." I generally don't drink much at all these days, but the loud music and the party atmosphere were putting me into a festive mood, so I figured what the heck, one drink won't hurt anything.

By that time the girls were pulling SE up out of his seat and leading him to the dance floor. The DJ saw them approaching and announced over the speakers, "Heeeyyyy everybody, look out! It's Somebodeeeee.... Ellllllllsse!"  Clouds of mist from the fog machine began to drift out across the dance floor as SE started dancing energetically. I've never been a stranger to the dance floor, but that night I was content to sit there and sip my drink and let SE have all the glory. He was having a great time out there, surrounded by his group of young ladies. Every couple of minutes the DJ would shine a bright spotlight on him as he whirled around and the light would reflect off the shiny metallic sequins on his blazer, turning him into a sort of human disco ball as he reflected little spots of light around the room. It was a pretty spectacular thing to witness.

The periodic bursts of light from his coat, the thundering beat of the techno music, and whatever was in my drink seemed to have a combined hypnotic effect on me and I started to feel highly disoriented. Everything began to look hazy and the music started to sound like I was hearing it from far away. I don't remember much of what happened after that except for stumbling around on the dance floor in a daze and attempting to dance with a couple of SE's girlfriends as they laughed hysterically.

I woke up the next day in my bed in the back room of the office, where I've been living recently, thinking that maybe the previous night had been a dream. When I looked in the bathroom mirror, a lipstick print on the side of my face confirmed that it had been real. I'm guessing I had a pretty good time, even though I don't remember much of it. Be that as it may, I think I will steer clear of Club Godzilla in the future. My partying days were over a couple of decades ago, and I've got piles of work to do here at Somebody's Webpage. I can see why that lifestyle appeals to Somebody Else, but it could be his undoing if he's not careful. I'm hoping he'll get over his midlife crisis soon and get back to being a full-time contributor and editor for the website.

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