Tag Archives: dysfunctional

On the Island of Bunga Bunga: All Apples, but None to Be Eaten

Starbucks-birthday-club-freebiesAnd when I opened my eyes, I gasped.

Spitting out a bit of sand, seaweed and pieces of plastic Pacific refuse, I looked around.

By some miracle, I survived. The boat capsized.

But I somehow survived.

OH GOD. FUCK!

A large man in a straw sheath was standing above me.

His stillness and silence are hard to interpret. I could only assume one of three things:

  1. He doesn’t speak English
  2. He’s debating how edible I am
  3. He’s contemplating how digestible I am

Without warning, he sprang at me.

SHITE!!! It’s number two or three! Two or three!

Extending his hands under my backside, he lifted me up. Being as weak as I was, I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t even resist.

Like a dead goldfish, I accepted my fate.

And passed out.

My eyes opened. Above me, bushels of green. The sky was much darker. The sound of children screaming wasn’t far off.

THEY’RE COOKING THE KIDS!! Those poor children are probably SIDE DISHES!!

Trying to break free from the rope by which I was tied down, I gave up the struggle within seconds.

Because, as it turns out, I wasn’t tied up.

I was in a hammock underneath some palm trees.

They know I can’t get far. I’m still very weak.

Technically, no no need to cage me up or tied me down.

I looked around the black sanded beach. The large man who brought me here was heading towards me.

With a coconut in his hands.

OH MY GOD, he’s going to strike me unconscious with the coconut AND THEN barbecue me.

Within minutes, I found him standing above me.

OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! THIS IS IT!!!

I shut my eyes and folded into myself.

Nothing happened.

No head-cracking pain.

No coconut-hitting-the-head thud.

I felt my hands on what I assume was still my face.

Turns out death doesn’t hurt.

In fact, you feel pretty much like you do when you’re alive.

I opened my eyes.

Looking around, I saw the screaming kids.

They were playing tag on the beach.

Hmmm… okay, so I’m not dead. And the kids aren’t side dishes.

I looked back at the man. He held the coconut in front of me, inviting me to take it.

And he really doesn’t seem that interested to baste me.

I clasped the prickly furred orb, and drew it towards me.

It was filled with water. I drank it as quickly as I could.

The prospect of my eminent death, it seems, had made me very, very, very thirsty.

And hungry.

Let’s see… universal sign language for food… OH!

‘Hand with fingers cupped together, pecking at mouth’… I’ll try that. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll understand me.

The man looked at me, fabulously dumbfounded.

Continuing my gastronomical charade, I then tried ‘hand rubbing stomach’.

Still, dumbfounded.

‘Lady, you want food?’, he asked.

‘You speak English!’ I sang with relief, ‘Yes! I’m So hungry!’

‘Well, you only have one choice.’

‘One choice?’

‘Look, Lady, Bunga Bunga is a poor island nation. We survive on IMF loans. We can’t afford luxuries like wheat, meat & rice.

‘And because we can’t keep up with the compounded interest on the loans, the IMF has taken all of Bunga Bunga’s staple foods as collateral, exporting it for profit.

‘So we use the IMF money to only buy necessities– Venti cappuccinos, iPhones & iPads.

‘Is this a joke? Tell ya what– let’s head to Starbucks then, for a Caramel Latte…’

‘Caramel ran out. Hazelnut is ok?’

‘Are you kidding me?’

‘No. We grow a lot of coffee. The IMF  owns that too.

‘So it exports the coffee back to the US, who in turn sells it to the Starbucks corporation, which opened stores in Bunga Bunga. The Bunganese government collects all the rent from the store locations and puts the money in the Bunganese central bank, which then loans it out to the Bunganese people, so we can afford to eat at Starbucks, since that’s the only place we can get food on the island.’

‘You guys wear straw sheaths, live in straw huts, and I bet, probably have no running water or electricity, but you have Starbucks?!’

‘Look, lady, how else are we going to connect our iPads to the Internet?’

‘You don’t need Starbucks for Internet access! You need an INTERNET CONNECTION!’

‘Yeah, but what’s the point of surfing the Net without enjoying a cappuccino or a nice cold Frappucino.’

‘Give me your iPhone! I want a call a travel agent for a plane ticket OUTTA HERE!’

‘We don’t have planes, lady. We don’t even have an airport.’

‘You have iPhones. You have iPads. You have Starbucks, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE A AIRPORT?!’

‘You don’t need an airport to connect to the Internet.’

‘Look, do you have an American Embassy here?’

‘Yeah, if you go right at the next coconut tree, and past the Starbucks.’

‘Great, so after that Starbucks over there-‘

‘No, the next Starbucks.’

‘That one?’

‘No. Not that one. The one after the one after the one after that one.’

‘Give me your iPhone!’

‘Who you going to call?’

‘The EMBASSY! What’s the number?’

‘You mean the smoke signals?’

‘What?’

‘There’s a smoke signal app we use. See? Right there.’

‘Have Angry Birds too?’

‘Yeah. But they only get mean when the islanders approach them.’

‘JUST SMOKE SIGNAL THE EMBASSY!’

‘Okay, it’s smoking… hold on… it’s still smoking but no one’s picking up. Oh wait! Here you go.’

‘Hello? Is this the American Embassy?’

‘Yes, how may we help you?’

‘I’m an American citizen. My boat capsized and I washed ashore on Bunga Bunga. I need you guys to get me back to the US.’

‘No problem, ma’am. We can arrange to transport you by boat tonight. That will be $5000.’

‘Excuse me? I don’t think you heard me. I am an American. I PAY TAXES. TECHNICALLY, THIS IS A RESCUE MISSION… DO MY TAXES NOT COVER THAT?’

‘No ma’am, afraid not.’

‘Then what the hell to do I pay taxes for?’

‘US taxes cover the enforcement of democracy around the world, so America stays safe.’

‘There’s no money to take me back to the US, but there’s money to give to the Bunganese to spend on iPhones and cappuccinos at Starbucks?’

‘Yes ma’am. That’s part of enforcing democracy.’

‘How so?!’

‘The best way to democratize a people is globalization and unlimited access to online porn.’

‘Are you kidding me?!’

‘No ma’am. The US government developed that strategy after seeing how successful it was with Americans.’

‘BULLSHIT! Have you not heard of a movement called ‘Occupy’?’

‘Did you participate in Occupy, ma’am?’

‘No.’

‘Did anyone you know participate?’

‘No.’

‘See, ma’am. Effective. If you’re dissatisfied ma’am, I’m more than happy to send an email to your local Congressman. Just give me his name.’

‘His name is Congressman KISS MY ASS! I’m calling CNN! The press will hear about this!?’

‘Lady, how you going to call CNN?’

‘You have Internet, you have an iPad, so you have Skype! Take me to Starbucks!’

Five minutes later, we reached Starbucks.

‘Okay, signed into Skype… an old classmate works at CNN and I think, I think, I still have him as a contact on Skype… let’s see… let’s see…searching… searching… AHA! Here we go!!’

Bloop bloop bloop bloop… BLOOP. Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Bloop!

‘Larry! Jesus! Thank God you answered! Have I got a story for you!’

‘Shoot!’

‘So, I’m stranded on this island called Bunga Bunga and get this– I call the US Embassy to help me get home, and they won’t get me off the island unless I pay $5000!’

‘Is Brittany Spears there?’

‘Ah…NO.’

‘Did you see Justin Beiber with his pants down?’

‘Huh?’

‘Brangelina? George Clooney? Menage-a-trois?’

‘Larry! For Christ’s sake!’

‘Listen, there’s no story if there’s no superstar.’

‘What are you talking about? CNN is supposed to cover stories about Constitutional Rights!’

‘Ratings, my friend. Ratings… stars get ratings.’

‘My rights as a US citizen are being violated! Isn’t that a story people should want to hear?!’

‘What about sexual violation?? And what if it was Tom Cruise who violated you?’
‘Alright. Tom Cruise violated me.’

‘Woah! Any Scientologists with him?’

‘Yeah, ALL OF THEM.’

‘Can I quote you?’

‘Yeah, Larry. Quote me!! BYE, LARRY!!!.’

Bloop. Conversation ended.

‘What will happen now, lady? CNN will eventually find out Tom Cruise isn’t here.’

‘I need press now. Truth, obviously, isn’t a criteria. Log onto CNN.’

‘WOW, lady! It’s already breaking news! Uh-oh… Tom Cruise’s publicist has already responded.’

‘What did he say?’

‘Hmmm… let’s see… let’s see…Well, basically, lady, he’s calling you a stalker. Wait… there’s a video interview with someone who says he’s your neighbor back home. I’ll play it.’

‘She’s always been really quiet, didn’t talk much to anyone. I always felt something was wrong with her. Not surprised she’s stalking Tom Cruise really. She’s probably an Islamic Fundamentalist.’

‘Lady, I don’t think your plan is working.’

‘But I’m not even Muslim!’

‘Hey, look! There’s another video of you, lady! Right there on CNN! Wearing a Mexican hat, jumping around and screaming ‘Ole, Ole’! The caption underneath says: ‘Tom Cruise Terrorist Stalker Yelling ‘Allah, Allah’ in Spanish’.

‘That was a bloody farewell party for a colleague! It was a Mexican theme! Five pitchers of margaritas into the party, everyone was screaming!’

‘Oh shit, lady. Now there’s news that Obama is holding a live press conference about you… look! look! There he is!’

‘My fellow Americans, it has come to my attention that a US citizen affiliated with ISIS, has destabilized the ally nation of Bunga Bunga. In order to protect Bunganese democracy, we will be deploying troops there within the hour.’

‘Lady! You are going to get us into a war! You gotta get out of here!’

‘This is inane! The media’s spinning this into a whole other story!’

‘Lady, you got to go to the Embassy!’

Leaving Starbucks, we trekked two minutes and found ourselves at the embassy, a small straw hut behind iron gates.

‘Good luck, lady!’

‘You’re not coming with me?!’

‘Lady, I won’t see the light of day again if I come in with you! Technically, I’m considered an accomplice.’

‘But you’re my only witness!’

‘Sorry, lady!’

And just like that, he took off.

Stopped by a marine who recognized my face from the news, he immediately handcuffed me and rammed me through the gates. Moments later, I found myself in front of the very man who had answered my phone call not even an hour ago.

‘Listen, I’m not a terrorist! I tried to call you almost an hour ago, asking to be rescued! You wanted to charge me $5000, and so I called CNN, but they weren’t interested in the story if it didn’t have a star attached to it! SO SUE me! I made it up! But AT LEAST it got your attention!’

He remained silent.

‘So what happens now?’

‘Well, the troops are on their way.’

‘So the government is willing to spend TRILLIONS of tax dollars to bring however many thousands of troops into Bunga Bunga, but won’t foot $5000 to take me back to the US?’

‘Protocol, ma’am.’

‘Don’t you want to avert A WAR?’

‘The President hasn’t declared war, ma’am.’

‘It’ll turn to one, because there’s no way in hell the Bunganese are going to accept this!’

‘Until congress approves it, it’s not a war ma’am.’

‘So, basically, we just sit here and wait for the troops.’

‘No ma’am. The American Embassy is being evacuated as we speak. We won’t be here.’

‘Including me?’

‘Yes, ma’am. Helicopters from a US carrier in the South Pacific are on their way.’

‘We’re being airlifted out of here? An hour ago, I couldn’t get a boat ride back home, but you’re airlifting to the US???’

‘An hour ago, it wasn’t an evacuation, ma’am.’

‘Why not send back the troops, avoid a possible war with Bunga Bunga and just take me home?’

‘If the troops are sent back, technically, there would be no need to evacuate ma’am.’

‘BUT THIS IS A CATASTROPHE! YOU HAVE TO STOP THIS!!’

‘Should have thought about the consequences yourself, ma’am, before destabilizing the island.’

‘I CAN’T BELIEVE I VOTED FOR OBAMA! AND TO THINK BUSH WAS BAD!’

‘Obama is better, ma’am.’

‘AND HOW’S THAT!!??’

‘He the first president to bring democracy to Bunga Bunga.’

What’s ‘Likes’ Got to Do, Got to Do with It?

You just moved into a new neighborhood, and really want to get to know your neighbors. Suddenly, you get a brilliant idea! Sprinting downstairs, to the entrance of your building, you tack a sign on the community bulletin board, “Party in 3D, Saturday at 8pm”.

Come Saturday, people start pouring in at 8pm– by 10pm, 200 people are jam-packed into your sardine box of an abode, overflowing out the balcony. They’re talking, drinking, dancing– really, really enjoying themselves. It couldn’t be going any better. As you wind through the crowd, making sure everyone’s cup runneth over, random guests cheer you on,

“Great party!”

“Really happening!”

“Wicked music!”

Come Sunday, your apartment looks like Katrina ran into King Kong throwing a hissy fit. But, hey, you don’t care, cause you just threw the party of the century. Mission accomplished…

YOUR NEIGHBORS KNOW YOU… and LIKE YOU.

Monday morning, as you sing to yourself in the most un-Mercury voice possible, “We Are the Champions”, you set off to work. As the elevator doors slide open, you meet a few of the party goers, who begin raving about your shindig.

“That was epic, Mike!”

“It was totally insane, John!”

“DUUUUUDE, it was fierce!”

By now, you should be stoked– and you would be, if…

Your name was Mike or John, or it wasn’t so obvious that ‘DUUUUUDE’ was an eponym for ‘I don’t know your name’.

See, the problem is, though it was a kick ass party, and everyone who was anyone was there…

No one knows you. They ‘liked’ your party, but who doesn’t like a party?

If you really wanted them to know you, remember you and actually interact with you again, you’d probably have fared better throwing a small dinner party for a few people in 3C and 3E. The week after, you’d invite Mrs. O’Mally and the Browns, whom you met at the mail boxes s a few days ago, over for tea.

Replace yourself with a brand, and the party guest with social media followers. Social media is more social than it is media– you can have 1,000,000 people love your page, but that doesn’t mean those 1,000,000 people really know you or care about you.

News flash: People are humans, and humans form relationships through one-on-one interactions. Those interactions are predominantly based on you getting to know them too– ie, seeking their presence in your life necessitates you giving a damn about theirs.

Brands today deal with social media as if it was a billboard space. They think its enough to boost a post, and get more ‘likes’. But in the end, those ‘likes’ are a faceless number of clicks. And as much as ‘numbers’ are the mantra of marketeers, quantity is the LAST thing social media is about.

Because social media’s greatest advantage, is it allows brands to get up close and personal. It takes brands from talking TO a consumer, to conversing WITH a person– having 100 people you know and speak with is infinitely more valuable than having a whole sea of followers who, you aren’t even sure, are really people with whom you want to engage.

The biggest culprit of this massive catastrophe, ironically, is the inventor of social media; to be social, a brand MUST be on Facebook, but…

The way Facebook taught brands to be social, has them acting more like immature frat brothers, than grown-up adult holding a mature conversation. Which, shouldn’t be a shocking surprise, given its founder just graduated a few years ago, and, like his other 20-something Silicon Valley compadres, deals with social and the business of it, as such.

But, for you marketeers out there who still love your numbers, let’s talk fact: on average, less than 1% of your followers are ‘talking about’ you. Worse, if you scroll through people who ‘like’ posts you’ve boosted, you’ll find more than a couple of Juanitas from Guatamala and Marias from Mexico– which would be so bloody brilliant if you weren’t a hunting store selling fishing lines in Cardiff.

The problem is compounded by brands rambling on with posts that offer no significant value to social media followers– in the pre-digital era of media, we called that ‘filling dead air’. Brands think by keeping up these posts, they are being socially ‘active’ and ‘engaging’ their followers.

But engagement is a two-way activity… and it’s the brand’s job to listen more than speak. The incentive to keep your followers in that engagement is recognizing and sharing the content and insights they provide you.

Because a successfully social brand doesn’t have an audience of millions; it has a front row seat in the audience of 100 people— and it is listens to each one of those 100 everytime they speak. Further, a brand that really capitalizes on social media uses its own pages to post content from each of those one hundred.

The payoff being quite self-evident: if a brand recognizes each of those 100, and they each have at least 500 friends in their social networks, that means genuine brand exposure to and engagement with 50,000 others…think about it, when a brand shares a follower’s content on its own page, that follower will share his or her recognized content with their own networks.

To cut a long and very twisted story short… having the most ‘likes’ might make brands feel secure about their social status in the digital world. But that insecurity should have probably waned their in sophomore year at the University of Grow Up. Punning the words of that ever-so-famous cereal rabbit, “Eh, ‘likes’ are for kids.”

The Unbearables Found Holylocks Jussst Right

Once upon a time, there was a little Jehovah’s Witness named Holylocks.

She had been wandering through the neighborhood, and stumbled upon a quaint suburban home, lined with a white picket fence and two Volkswagens parked in parallel perfectly on the parkway.

Walking towards the door of the house, she thought to herself, ‘Oh this is such a lovely home. I bet the family inside is nothing like the other families with whom I’ve tried to speak.’

Technically,
She was right.

For it was the home of the Unbearables.

There was Unbearable mama, who was only bearable on Percedex.
There was Unbearable papa, who was only bearable when Unbearable Mama was bearable.
And their Unbearable kid, who couldn’t bear them both.

Straightening her crisp white blouse and ironing over her beige polyester skirt, Holylocks rang the doorbell.

Unbearable Mama opened the door.

‘Hello, I’m here to bring you eternal happiness.’

‘Finally! I’ve sent thousands of emails asking you guys to start offering door to door service!’

Holylocks seemed confused. ‘But we already do?’

‘Well then, you should write that on the bottle.’

‘Bottle?’

Unbearable mama scoffed. ‘Grey Goose doesn’t come in a juice box.’ Her eyes shifted left, doubting the assertion of her statement. ‘Does it?’

‘I’m not from Grey Goose. I’m from Jehovah’s Witnesses.’

Unbearable mama gazed through Holylocks.’Oh yeah…Mary, my neighbor, insists you guys make the meanest scotch. I’m not really a scotch drinker, but hell, come on in…’

Holylocks entered the house. It was absolutely immaculate. Mahogany polished floors, large canvas windows framing the external green landscape and high classic ceilings ornamented in the foyer by a dangling crystal chandelier whose chassis mirrored the shape of the spiral staircase under it.

‘I’m so outta here.’ The voice had come from a top of the staircase, where Holylocks saw a short gangly girl garbed in black, lit up only by the florescent green of her spiky teased out hair.

It was Unbearable kid.

Grunge-ing down the stairs, Unbearable kid imprinted each cream carpeted step with the sole of her chunky black leather boots.

‘Who is this,’ she said interrogating Unbearable mama while inspecting Holylocks with her darting blue irises, which seemed to be suffocating between all the melting black eyeliner and eyeshadow.

‘You’re not going anywhere. I told you, you’re grounded.’

Unbearable kid continued to inspect Holylocks. She then turned around and climbed the steps, making freshly new boot imprints atop the old ones. ‘Bitch.’

Holylocks gasped, as she hadn’t realized the comment was directed at Unbearable mama.

‘Why don’t you go and practice throwing up. If you become good enough at it, Vogue might hire you.’ Percedex may have caused Unbearable mama’s tongue to trip, but its biting sarcasm was still impeccably coordinated.

‘Ah, I can come back another time.’

‘No, no, no… don’t mind her… why don’t you make yourself comfortable while I get us some glasses so we can crack open that bottle of Jehovah’s Witnesses of yours.’

Holylocks ignored Unbearable mama’s comment, assuming she was joking around with her, and sat on the plushly embroidered sofa in the adjacent living room. Just then she heard keys clanging against the door, struggling to penetrate the lock.

A tall man walked it.
It was Unbearable papa.

He didn’t notice Holylocks.

‘Hello, I’m Holylocks.’

Searching the air to determine where the voice came from, his eyes rolled towards the sofa and landed dead straight on Holylocks.

He must have been a doctor, Holylocks thought. He was examining her very intently.

She also must have thought him to be a gynecologist. His examination was of her upper chest cavity.

Then unbearable mama came back. Without waiting for the question, unbearable mama answered it.

‘She’s from the Jehovah’s Witness Company.’

Unbearable papa turned around and, as usual, ignored Unbearable mama’s unrequested reply, only interested to listen to questions he actually prompted. ‘What’s for dinner?’

‘There’s a cyanide casserole in the fridge. Why don’t you go heat it up?’

‘Leftovers again?’

‘I don’t complain at night about getting leftovers after you’ve come back from fucking that bimbo slut…’

Unbearable papa strolled towards the kitchen, his voice carrying through the hallway, ‘Holylocks? Tell her God doesn’t like it when she calls her mother names.’

Unbearable mama screamed back, ‘Stepmother! She’s not my mother!’

Unbearable mama sat next to Holylocks and opened a small silver box. Holylocks’s face turned at the sight of all the rainbow of pills inside. Looking at Holylocks looking at the pills, Unbearable mama felt ashamed.

‘How rude of me. Would you like one?’

Holylocks cleared her throat. ‘No, thank you. If this is a bad time, I can come back.’

Unbearable papa came back. ‘Stay. We insist.’

Looking at Unbearable mama, he raised his eyebrows.

Unbearable mama looked at Holylocks. ‘Well she did bring the booze. That makes for the ambiance. But the abortion you wouldn’t let me have is still in her room…’

Holylocks looked at them both blankly and automatedly began her scripted speech. ‘Are you feeling lost? Unhappy? Do you feel like even though you have everything you want, something’s missing? Do you know what that something is?’

‘Yeah. The glasses. I forgot them in the kitchen.’ Unbearable mama got up to get them.

Holylocks reset her memory and turned to Unbearable papa, re-reciting her automated script again. ‘Are you feeling lost? Unhappy? Do you feel like-‘

‘You know what I feel like? Going upstairs.’

Holylocks lowered her head and gazed at the Persian rug, which she didn’t know was Persian, as she didn’t know a place called Persia even existed. ‘Oh… please stay and listen what I have to say, it isn’t going to take long. In fact, from what I’ve seen here, I am sure that God brought me to this very house because you are in great need of me showing Him to you.’

Unbearable mama came back in and set three short glasses on the coffee table.

‘Oh, I’ve seen God.’ Unbearable papa leaned in towards Holylocks.

‘You have?’

‘All the time. Upstairs.’ Standing up, Unbearable papa extended his hand to her.

Holylocks’s religious intuition rattled and she started to suspect Unbearable papa’s intentions.

‘We can show you God too. Upstairs.’

Holylocks felt a surge of internal relief, followed by a tsunami of guilt.

How terrible, she thought, for her to think Unbearable papa may have been making an indecent proposal, when he all he meant was for Holylocks to go upstairs with him and his wife so they could both show her God.

‘REALLY? REALLY? You have no idea how much it would mean to me!’ Holylocks jumped up and grabbed his hand, reaching out with her other hand for Unbearable mama to hold.

Clasping her hand, Unbearable mama, along with Holylocks and Unbearable papa, walked towards the staircase.

Holylocks stopped a few steps up and turned to them. ‘Have you shown your daughter God? She seems like she’s in awful need of seeing Him.’

Unbearable mama smiled. ‘That would be illegal.’