The Day The

Stood Still
(Or, 24 hours without my Internet Provider)
Written by: Alex Sandell

I awaken prematurely, due to my penis popping out of the hole in my boxers, and rubbing, uncomfortably, up against the zipper of the jeans I fell asleep in last night. I hop out of bed, flip on the computer, and double click my "Netscape Communicator" icon, to go online. It doesn't work. I attempt to sign on a second time. Nothing. Alright, one more try; three's a charm. Still nothing.

You honestly don't know what you're addicted to, until it's gone. I call my Internet Service Provider, and ask what's going on. The lady tells me that the 'net is down across the majority of the state, due to Godzilla wreaking havoc, or something. It should be up within the next 24 hours. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS?!? Now I can't receive emails (if you sent me any electronic mail Friday or Saturday, better send it again), I can't "surf" the 'net, I can't upload any updates. My service provider won't provide my fix.

"Well," I lie to myself, "you can get through it. You didn't even have Internet, four years ago." So begins my 24 hours without an Internet Provider. The first thing I do is call up the friends I probably haven't called since the last time the Internet went down.

"Alex?!? This is a surprise. Computer went down, again?" "Yep," I return, "wanna do something?" "Sure. I was just heading out to the grocery store, so if you wanna come over after that . . ." I look back toward my dead monitor. "Well, I could come along to the store, if you want." "No problem!" A pause, as he covers up the phone, so as to "conceal" what he's saying. "Honey, Alex is leaving the house, again!" "You're kidding!!!" His wife screams back. Jeez, how pathetic have I become?

About 15 minutes later Shawn's car rolls into the driveway, I hop in, (after the 15-20 minutes it takes me to get used to the post-modem climate), and we head off to one of the numerous grocery stores that cover the town. We decide to go to "County Market," and the first thing I notice is a new "1 gram fat" brand "Doritos" called "Doritos Wow!"

Like always, I have to buy every low fat thing, so I can throw it out, two minutes later, when it tastes like a sun-dried sardine. I pick up a bag of the $2.99 Doritos, and feel I've accomplished something. Maybe life without the 'net isn't so bad, after-all.

Still, I can't help but think about how nice it would be to have a drive-thru window right below my CD-ROM, and a cereal-dispenser right above my ZIP drive. All I'd need then, would be a lactating woman, and I'd never have to leave the house again! I quickly shake these thoughts from my head, by eating the entire bag of Doritos Wow! in a period of about 2 minutes. Unbelievably, they taste almost exactly like original Doritos. "This 'Olean' oil is a MIRACLE!" I yell out to Shawn. He just rolls his eyes in that, "you need to get out more," sort of way.

We spend the next few hours mindlessly driving around, playing video games, picking up a few more friends, and eating dinner. At around 5:15 PM, I notice my stomach is really cramping up, and I have to have diarrhea. Is this post-modem stress syndrome, setting in?

We decide to go to the 7:00 PM showing of some movie that ends up being on the crappy screen. We unanimously agree that we don't want to see a movie on the crappy screen, so we get our money back from the cashier with the crappy attitude. "I'm making an exception," (oh the *power* of a minimum wage job) she says, "this one time. Next time, you won't be refunded for being picky." "Next time," I return, "have a nicer theater." Ah . . . face to face confrontation. This is better than unlimited access, and a Christian chatroom!

Deciding to catch the late show of something on a better screen, we leave the theater, and head back to my house, and play basketball in the parking lot for a while. My playing skills seem to have been slightly hindered since last time I had a big, orange ball in my hand (yeah, yeah, I get the fact a dirty-joke could be derived from that comment). My friends keep wondering if my vision is alright, when I say "TWO POINTS!" prior to throwing the ball in a bush, about 10 feet away from the hoop.

Feeling kinda dorky, I go inside, and decide to call Danny "Roadkill" Thompson, guitar-god, and one of the founding members of the seminal punk group, "Sloppy Seconds." It seems as good a time as any, to finish the interview we've been doing for the past couple weeks (coming soon to a Juicy Cerebellum near you!), and talk about whatever and everything else.

We end up talking for about two hours, and when we finally finish chatting, I notice my fingers aren't sore. Plus, I SWEAR I heard him laughing, but I can't recall seeing "LOL" written anywhere. Odd . . .

I ramble on past the 8:45 PM deadline, and my friends take off to the late show, as I sit on the phone, listening to all the secrets behind one of my favorite bands, and guitarist, revealed. I can't wait to get this thing online!

After hanging up the phone, I'm alone. Seriously, completely, and absolutely alone. No harddrive humming. No immature men playing basketball outside. No cheery little "I'm a chipmunk, not a gerbil, you asshole" soundbite, indicating I have a new email. Not even a ringing phone. It's just me and my dead computer. Looking at each other like two lifeless corpses. The blinking lights on my modem are all that seem to be alive. I think they're taunting me. Where's the alt.depression newsgroup, when you need it?

I run into my room, jump onto the bed, and read the TV Guide tribute to Seinfeld I had picked up at the store, along with my Doritos Wow! brand nachos. Once again, I notice my stomach rumbling. I feel sick. Withdrawal symptoms from the World Wide Web . . . this is too much.

After reading the magazine from cover to cover (that crazy George), I jump into a novel I picked up about a month ago, written by the guy that did "L.A. Confidential," called "The Big Nowhere." Well, the name is appropriate. After finishing 70 pages of the novel, and the entire magazine, it occurs to me that I never once "scrolled" down, while reading. My eyes just did it for me!

Trying to run past my evil, blinking modem, without looking at it, I call a friend up, and ask if she wants to go get something to eat. She does. We go to Perkins, where I realize I definitely don't have an appetite, and my diarrhea is back. Maybe I'm actually coming down with the flu.

After describing my stomach cramps, my friend decides she doesn't really feel like eating either, and we decide to go walk around a graveyard. The experience kind of makes me uncomfortable, because I keep expecting some animated GIF to come popping out at me.

We forget about the dead, like everyone always does, and my friend drops me off back home. The second I enter the house, my hands start shaking and I feel a terrible craving . . . a need . . . to go online. I run to the computer, and try to hook up, but find the connection's still down. "It's a TRAGEDY!" I proclaim, to the open air.

Feeling sort of down, I drag myself back into my room, where I sit silently (excluding the occasional stomach rumble) in the dark. I feel like doing something, but don't really know what to do; unless there's an http:// before it. How many emails have I missed? My virtual world is falling apart!!!

I need something to soothe me (and Tums didn't help), so I decide maybe a little light reading might do the trick. I pick the Doritos Wow! bag out of the garbage, and read the back. After telling me how much I'm 'sposed to like the product, and how amazingly well this "Olean" cooking oil makes it taste just as unhealthy as real Doritos, I notice a small warning. It's right below the ingredients.

It reads: "This product contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and nutrients."

"Olestra?!?" I read about that on the 'net. After hearing people's testimonials about how sick it made them, and finding out that it may cause cancer, I swore I would never eat it. I thought it was "Olean" in my Doritos. What's the deal, here? After further inspection (i.e. reading the ingredients), I notice "Olean" is just Frito Lays brand name for "Olestra." Never trust a corporation. Do they actually think the public isn't aware that shit smells the same, no matter what you call it?

I move my eyes to the right of the bag and see a "let us know what you think" number. I call it and let them know that I think it makes me poop a lot. I dunno, if you don't like being scammed by corporations, maybe you'd like to call 1-800-483-7486, and tell them the same thing.

Then again . . . who are you? You're dead. My Internet is down, and I'm writing this in pen, on the back of an old email, sent from one of the disappearing netizens, that just yesterday, I knew so well. I'll check now, and see if the IP is working again. If it isn't, I guess I just sketched out a story to myself, on a piece of paper, using a blue pen, with a chewed-on end. If it is back and running . . . you'll be hearing from me soon (actually, you just did).

1998 Alex Sandell [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]. No part of this may be reproduced, without permission. Plus, the world is already overpopulated, so reproducing anything seems like kind of a futile gesture now, doesn't it?

You know the routine, just click it.