I, however, was not happy with the early end to the evening. My cousin and his wife had just arrived in town for a conference; they were staying at The Empress, a grande hotel on the edge of Victoria’s inner harbour; I joined them for a few more cocktails, regaling them with stories about the hours leading up to my visit. They were kind enough to reserve their reservations concerning my behaviour for the next time we met up.
When we next met, in the dim-lit confines of a swank restaurant downtown, Ben took me aside: we went for a smoke.
“Nick; I’ve gotta tell you that dropping your pants at a party is not ok– especially if you are wearing your wife’s panties. I can only imagine how embarrassed she must have been.”
“Naw… Margo’s cool about such things. I’m sure that she will get over it really soon like and we will have a big ol’ laugh about it all.”
“I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”
“Ben, you gotta trust me here, jus; wait!”
“Anyway, how are you doing these days? You seem to be quite… umm… energetic…”
“Awe man. Things are great! I got a new job– full time, even! They are payin’ me $12/hour to walk around town all day visiting Law offices! Can you believe it? Fuckin’ awesome! I have arrived, Benji-boy! I have arrived!”
Cousin Ben laughed into the glass of Rye and Ginger he’d managed to smuggle out of the restaurant. Ben had recently taken up selling insurance. He was probably making at least three times as much as I, while living in Saskatoon, a place where the cost of living was about one third of what it cost to live on the island.
“Well, that’s good, I guess… but whatever came of Frog Communications, or whatever you called it? That seemed to be a pretty good idea. Lot’s of people want to use social media for their business; it seems like you found your niche there.”
“Well, to be honest, Benji boy, these days I’m putting most of my Frog energies into a subsidiary of Frog Com.”
“Subsidiaries? Are you serious?”
“Oh yeah: there are many!”
“Well, Frog Communications is the engine that drives the rest. I’ve got Frog Construction, which offers tutorials in how to build bookcases and other assorted furnitures, and then there is Frog Freelancing, where I write love letters for folk… have you ever seen the movie Roxanne? Kinda like that. But Frog Water is quickly becoming the cornerstone of the entire empire.”
“Kinda. The idea came to me the morning after an impromptu swim in the ocean just down the road from where we are living these days. As I was eating my breakfast, I couldn’t help but to notice a “sea-change” in the malleability of my hair. It was softer, yet much more manageable than I’d grown used to. I later found that a similar product is available at most hair salons… a salt water solution which added luster and sheen to any head of hair. Now, bottles of the salon shit go for something like $20, which buys ya only a few ounces worth. I drastically undercut all competitors, offering two litres for only $10, plus shipping and handling.”
My cousin and his wife both looked at me as if I had horns.
“Ok. But seriously, Nick. I think you should consider regaining the helm of your fucked up ship. I’ve been working for myself for the past year or so; I know how hard it can be. It’s a rough transition; you have to change your way of thinking drastically. But it is completely worth it, let me tell you. It gives you a freedom which is completely impossible while working for someone else. You get to make your own hours, you write things off… there’s a lot of short-term pain, and a lot of long term gain. Here I am in your little town on the coast, staying at the Empress, eating at a good restaurant…tonight’s on me, by the way, so drink up, and EAT damn it!…I wouldn’t be doing any of this if I was working at a Government Job.”
“Yeah man, I hear you. But seriously, Kirsten, are you interested in buying some Frog Water? I will give you the family discount!”
She laughed uncomfortably.
While I largely ignored Cousin Ben’s advice during our conversation, he had managed to plant a few seed, or tadpoles, in my case. I knew that social media was a phenomenon which was rivaled only by the printing press in terms of both socio-economic and philosophical potential, but I also knew that in my current state, I could sell my services to even the most confirmed of luddites. As I delivered documents in and around downtown Victoria, I though of the future of Frog Communications.
I surmised that I needed the help of a secretary in order to get things going. I couldn’t afford a secretary, of course, so I created on from scratch. Her name was Peggy Legato, a name that rolled off the tongue as easily as a well polished, cat’s eye marble; in more ways than one, Peggy was my masterpiece.
Peggy started off as a figment of my imagination, but she almost immediately became much more than that. I started to refer to her in the third person, which creeped out a lot of people.
I told Margo of Peggy’s adventures; I told my wife that “my secretary” was now friends with this or that musician, and had gone so far as to engage them in a superficial conversation on their personal Facebook wall; Margo scratched her head as I went on, at length about the future possibilities of my new secretary/social (media) experiment.
Joel Osteen soon joined Peggy. Joel, the newest additton to the Frog Team, shared a name with a popular Evangelical Christian self-help writer. Joel was Frog Com’s human resources guy. He moderated several public discussions/arguments between Peggy and I with profound, homespun wisdom. “Joel” was also an avatar, a bi-product of my imagination alone.
Obviously, Joel and Peggy took a liking to one another right away. Their banter coursed through the arterial arteries of the Frog Communications Facebook Page, raising eyebrows and suspicious alike.
Joel was a consummate Human Resources guy. He borrowed lines from seemingly disparate religious traditions; his keen eye saw the ties that bound them all together.
On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Peggy was a staunch Evangelical Christian whore, just off of her first divorce. Peggy hailed from Calgary, but had recently moved to Victoria to escape all the trappings of she and her husbands mutual friends and mutual funds. Luckily, they had no children…
A recent and reluctant addition to Facebook’s primevil wilderness, Peggy was on the hunt; the sole purpose of her joining was to meet men. She was noticeably devoid of even a paltry understanding Facebook’s complicated etiquette. Peggy constantly posted wretched dance hit videos upon the walls of her ‘friends’; even I, her boss and sole creator, was vulnerable to her insensitive and tasteless jocularity. Peggy was clearly out of control; I was forced to de-friend her.
Peggy’s wrath was immediate. She retaliated by requesting almost all of my eligeable Facebook friends as her own. I’m not quite sure what she sent along to them with her friend request, but I’m positive that it was unflattering. I contacted Joel Osteen for guidance.
Joel set to work immediately, mediating Peggy and I’s fractured relationship. He invoked Avalokitasvera, Mohammed and Christ, regaling us with stories of how broken relationships provide humanity with the occasion for healing; it worked. Peggy and I’s relationship blossomed.
All of this discourse was public, mind you. Everyone who “Liked” Frog Communications was privy to the shit that was going down between Peggy, Joel and I. Some laughed, while others grew concerned. I received letters and phone calls from close friends asking me how I was doing.
“I’m just concerned that you may no longer see the line between you and your fictional staff”, was a common refrain. “I see a great potential in the kind of business you are doing, and it pains me to see you publicly compromising your own integrity with all of this drama.”
Invariably, I would laugh.
“Man, this is all just for fun… I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a business man. I hate the fact that I charge my friends for what I do. I know that this is a diversion, but it is so much fun! It helps me to focus on the business, if that makes any sense.”
I rarely received a reply to such emails. And I went on with the drama. Peggy continued to befriend my list and all was well.