Hows work going: what Annette liked to text him in the afternoons. He’d send back: same old. Nobody knows anything here. Texted because the boys had let the trash overflow, or given out quarters left and right without asking any customers, “Hey what game is eating them?” Before he would have yelled and sighed and gotten 100% Invincible with the door to the bay open.
Instead he’d sit alone in the back, put his feet up on the desk like a big shot and scroll through her texts.
Gian wanted a date. Or any kind of real, live meeting. He was ready. They had something between them. Plus, he’d already prepped for it, jotted some Conversation Points on the backs of yellow invoice paper from the arcade office. He carried them around and read them like a pocket Bible. (That Dress Is Nice; A Lot Of People Hate W, What About You; The New York Post Is Fun To Read Right.) It was just, Annette never had time. She tutored at night and on the weekends. But what Senior Citizens were so busy during the day that she couldn’t tutor them then? Annette said they (Senior Citizens) were a lot busier than you think. Gian told Ma it was a little unbelievable and she said, “You don’t think I have things to do during the day?” Then she turned back to the TV and added, “You look like Jim Lehrer now, right after he signs off the news.”
Annette made two more videos (showing off her jewelry collection; pretending to give the viewer a haircut) and said to him over the phone, “I have a channel now. You should create a profile and subscribe.” Gian had no idea how to be a guy in the Internet Web World but Annette insisted, saying, “It’s easy.”
Step by step, she coached him over the phone: how to create Gianboy59 as a YouTube account and as an email and subscribe to her (MysteryWhispery’s) channel. He signed in and his new Internet Name was up there in the right-hand corner of the screen. He looked at it like one of those curvy funhouse mirrors, wherein lived your second, kind of whacky self. Gian got high; Gianboy59 got tingly. Gian watched PBS with Ma; Gianboy59watched YouTube by himself. Gian couldn’t sleep; Gianboy59 went out like a light. Gian had yet to go on a date with Annette; Gianboy59 texted MysteryWhispery every day.
He bought a hardcover thesaurus and pored over it. He rewrote his Date Notes (That Dress Is Amiable, etc.) He typed out very Infrigidated comments on MysteryWhispery’s new YouTubevideos. You are Optimum baby I’m so Somnolent. MysteryWhispery wrote back, I love it. Can’t get enough.
On their next call he did most of the talking, his reworked notes spread on his lap. At the end of the call she whispered, “That was like a massage.” He whispered back, “I’m Ebullient and Buoyed by you.” From her soft breathing he knew she was asleep. He told Ma the next morning that his days hadn’t been this Lustrous since Julie.
Ma, who was watching TV, said, “These comedians on TV do live performances.” She didn’t turn her head.
“Yeah, so?” Gian said.
“I thought she could come here and do a live performance.”
“You know, since everything’s so lust-er-us.”
“She’s not a comedian.”
“She could still do her performance here.”
It was like talking to a parrot. “It doesn’t work that way.”
Ma turned the TV up.
“This is my favorite,” she said. Gian shook his head. Ma smiled her I Couldn’t Be More Pleased smile.
Gianboy59left 38 comments on MysteryWhispery’s videos. Well-wishes: I hope your having an AMPLE day!! and, Wow, who’s that Bonny Lady and Im Swooning over your videos. He’d get this rush of joy (like cocaine: legs twitching, mouth dry), seeing her on screen. After one really Monstrous day at the arcade, he settled his fingers on the keyboard, closed his eyes, and then typed his most Transparent questions: what do you use ESC for? how do you make the screen less bright? And the next day, right under his message, she explained how.
Annette texted him: I want to tell you something. Personal. Pls check your email.
He spilled Lo Mein on Julie once. At the time, he was sure he had ulcers from a monthly coat quota and from Sal, the Number Two In The Store, being up his ass. He was also sure that Julie’s unspoken wish for a Strong And Silent boyfriend wasn’t helping his anxiety. He admitted all this to her, in the middle of their Chinese and rented movie dinner, and she looked at him blankly, shoveling General Tso’s into her mouth. Actually, he didn’t spill it. He picked up his paper plate filled with Lo Mein and frisbee’d it at her. He also screamed, “Say something, you fucking bitch!” He was high in a whole different way back then. But his heart was on Interactivity.