Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard,
And mostly what I need from you.
- Billy Joel, "Honesty"
Of all the coffee shops in this dump, Cloves 'n' Hornrims had been my favorite of late. What they conspicuously lacked in passable coffee and/or free wifi was compensated for via the outdoor seating with an absolutely magical view of the woods behind the shop. It was right in the middle of town, but you'd never know it from the scenery or the silence of the surroundings. Lately, I guess I'd also developed a bit of a crush on the barista who worked the weekday morning shift. Not that she noticed or cared; that's the universal way of the barista, after all. Is there any more elusive sort of woman in the four-figure-annual-income bracket? Bookstore employees, perhaps?
Anyway, this morning, I was sitting out back on the edge of these gorgeous woods with a paper, a coffee and a smoke. Of course, I wasn't really reading the paper. Too much running through my head to make room for any further meaningful data.
My cell rang.
"Syrius Bidness here."
"Mr. Bidness, it's Rev. LaRock. Quite pleased with your standing in the polls this past week?"
"Well, Rev, to be honest, and with all due modesty... when the final numbers came in, I felt I probably should have done a lot better."
"Not to worry, Mr. Bidness. We did some analysis of all of the entries that beat you last week, and we discovered an interesting trend I think you'll want to hear about."
"Oh? What's that, Rev?"
"None of them featured shitty hip-hop songs about LJ Idol."
"Awww, fuck you, Rev."
"I tried to tell you, didn't I, Bidness? 'No hip-hop battles,' I said. 'Hip-hop just doesn't go over with all these women readers in the 30-45 demo,' I said. 'Besides, you sound like Weird Al,' I said. 'Write some shit instead about how your first girlfriend was killed in a freak scrapbooking accident, the very week before you were gonna propose...'"
"Rev, whoa, man. Do you realize you're screaming?"
"'...and that dead almost-fiancee of yours is now a goddamned ghost, no, make that ghost fairy, no... make that ghost faerie, one that constantly whispers bad financial advice to you, and dances about on your receding hairline whenever you put whipped cream on your hot-chocolate-chai-latte while listening to some song or another from Live's Throwing Copper,' I said..."
I had to hold the phone out from my ear at this point. I could practically feel him spitting through it.
"'Make sure you quote some totally irrelevant lyrics at painful length at some tearjerker moment in your entry... that technique always goes over well with these fucking people,' I said..."
"Rev, look, calm down. Stop with the swearing. Man, I think you've got LJ Idol voters all wrong."
And if a double-decker bus crashes into us
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.
And if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us
To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.
- Some emo pussy, ca. 1986
"...Did you fucking listen, Syrius? Did you? Did you ever? Well, I hope you're fucking listening now, you insolent, impotent megalomaniac, because I'm the one who knows how to run a fucking campaign, and I'm sick and tired of you fucking it up for yourself... for both of us."
"Rev, listen, and listen close," I said calmly. "Seriously... Throwing Copper? Man, Live totally sucked in 1994, and they suck even worse now. You know that as well as I do."
"What does it fucking matter? Do you not hear what I have been saying? This is not about me, this is not about you, this is not about you disliking x or y or z, it's about you winning. You want to win? Then you will do what it takes to get the entire voter base off, every minute of every day. You don't stop lickin' and flickin' until they've all creamed their jeans into a sopping, sticky mass-mess from nostalgia or puerile 'identification' or whatever..."
"Rev, really, now. I'm a little offended by such a graphic metaphor. I find it needlessly vulgar and more than a little misogynist."
Rev's tenor had reached such an angry amplitude that he was unable to hear or pause for my remarks. "...It's not about you, asshole. You want those votes? Then your head goes down there and stays down there, no hesitation, no complaining, I don't care if your tastebuds are sanded smooth and your beard eventually has to be shaved off from the smell, do you hear me? And what the hell would you know about music anyway, you delusional little piece of shit? I suppose you'd prefer the fucking Cranberries or something?"
"Listen, Rev... I don't think I will be needing your services this week. I know you're under a lot of stress right now, what with the other election. We'll speak again when you've regained your sanity. I'll talk to you soon."
I promptly closed the flip. The last thing I heard, at arm's length from the earpiece, was the Rev madly shrieking "Zommm-BEH, zommm-beeEHH, -beeEH, -beeeeEH, motherfucker!"
Uh now ah feeeeel it cuhhhhhmn' uh'back aggehn,
Lahk uh rollin' thunduh chasin' thuh win'.
Forsus pullin' from thuh centuh of thuh urrrrrrth agehnnnn,
Uh cuhn feeeeeel it.
- Live, "Lightning Crashes"
"Puh-too-weet?" said the moderately-sized meadowlark on my shoulder.
"I don't know, Beaky McGee," I said, sliding the cell phone back into my pocket. "I just don't know. Maybe the Rev's right. Maybe I have the wrong idea being in this silly contest. I probably don't stand a chance. I thought I really had it right this time... I thought I knew how to win the whole thing. But now... well, now I'm losing every last bit of hope I had."
"Well, the whole thing's been a bit... meta so far, hasn't it? Week after week, 1500 words of me and the Rev playing out an LJ-Idol-themed remake of My Dinner with Andre... even I'm getting bored with the Rev... all this associated and carefully crafted multimedia every week that no one bothers with, the lulz be damned... and the only other character of even moderate significance this season has run off and won't come back to me no matter how I beg. How can I possibly be surprised at the downward spiral in votes? How could I possibly expect to maintain reader interest just dragging on like this, week after week?"
"Gosh, that's awfully nice of you to say, Beaky. But I don't think everybody feels that way. Obviously, I'm simultaneously saying nothing of real use, and tl;dr'ing them to death... even worse, I'm committing such violence using their very own club."
"Puh-too-weet. Puh-too... puh-too-weet?"
"No, it's just no use, Beaky. Too bloody recursive, self-referential, masturbatory. This kind of thing just don't play in the sticks. The writing's on the wall for me, I'm afraid. At this rate, I probably won't last another week before the backlash hits... for the second year in a row. No, Beaky McGee, my meadowlark friend, I'm afraid it's just hopeless. I'll never be the next LJ Idol. What was I ever thinking? I should just give up now and quit the race while I've still got my dignity."
I hung my head and began to weep quietly.
"Toooooo-weet! Puh-too-weet. Tootootootootoo-tooweet."
"Hrm, what's that, you say?"
"Saaaaaay, Beaky McGee, I... I guess I hadn't thought of that."
"Too-weet, too-weet, tootootootoo-weet-weet-weet."
"Wow, Beaky, the more I think about it, the more I think it's... the more I think it's absolutely crazy. But... by golly... it might just be crazy enough to work. Maybe... maybe it's not so hopeless after all!"
"Beaky, you may just be a genius! Oh, how can I ever repay you?"
Before Beaky McGee could answer, the cell phone rang again. I picked it up.
"Mr. Bidness? Mr. Syrius Bidness?"
"I have important news. You may wish to sit down."
"Mr. Bidness, I know this may come as a great surprise, but you... you are a father."
And don't be afraid of the snark.
At the end of the contest is a trophy .gif,
And the sweet "Puh-too-weet?" of a lark.
Snark on through the wind, snark on through the rain,
Through your entries overgrown.
Snark on, snark on, with the weekly theme of "hope" gratuitously mentioned,
And you'll never snark alone,
You'll never snark alone.