A GENERATION FOUND ITS SPACE
Prompt: My Generation
By Andrew Paul Grell
“You’re just not getting it. We can do anything because we’re all different, but we’re all connected. Like the Borg.” Betty Bliss looked at her interlocutor, trying to see if her reference lit up any neurons. She played it safe, waiting for a response.
“From Star Trek, The Next Generation. Now that was a generation. When Captain Kirk hosted a performance of Hamlet on the Enterprise, he wound up killing the lead. But Captain Picard was all about Shakespeare on the Holodeck. The Borg went around assimilating species into its hive-mind. They could do anything.”
“And this has to do with your dog’s leash how?” Caryn was getting exasperated.
“What do you mean? What’s wrong with Altair’s leash?”
“Young lady, as you can see, we find ourselves entangled. You have an extenda-leash. They’re not allowed in New York City. A New York City leash can’t be more than six feet long. This is why. Fortunately, Aldebaran likes your dog. If your generation can do anything, do you think you can do something about our situation? It looks like they’ve managed two Turk’s heads, three half-hitches and a double-knotted bow. Impressive.”
Betty took a drag on the box-mod vape she had on a lanyard around her neck. Caryn managed to fish out a Parliament and get it lit with one hand.
“I never knew that about leashes. What a dumb law. A dog needs its freedom!”
“So do we, don’t you think? My generation believed in following the rules because doing that made everything better for everyone. Not perfect for everyone, but better than the alternative.”
“Oh yeah, your generation. The Greatest Generation. All they did was clean up the mess left by the previous Greatest Generation screwing up the Treaty of Versailles. The conference didn’t let Hirohito attend the negotiations because he was ‘colored.’ That worked well. And yes, people in my generation do go to high school and we actually learn stuff.”
“I think we’re blocking the path, the little trucks are having trouble getting by.” Minuet City was the high point of post-war Bauhaus, 75 apartment buildings plopped down in a park-like environment carved out of Manhattan’s East Side, all with regulated rents. Little, tiny utility trucks, little, tiny snowplows, and public safety on used Segways. Sixty years after it was built, during an effort to de-regulate, dogs were allowed in the complex to attract market-rate tenants. Much to the surprise of many of the original tenants who may have chosen to live in Minuet because there were no dogs. Another generational conflict.
“I’m Caryn, by the way. We need to figure out how to move.”
“Betty. I agree. We should move forward. If we pivot to the left, we should be able to make the most progress”
“Whose forward, and whose left? And can you manage that without the GPS on your phone? I see it’s in your back pocket and you probably can’t reach it until we’re untangled.”
Betty ignored the barb, not out of politesse, but because ‘crotchety’ just didn’t register on her radar. “Without stepping on the dogs, rotate your body to face north, and I’ll face south. Great. Now take six tiny baby steps backwards. Fabulous… Altair! Cut that out!” The goofy Vanilla Lab puppy was trying to spar with Caryn’s Maltese. “We have to do this very carefully. Two more baby steps to go. That’s it. Now I’m going to orbit counter-clockwise. I’m going to start walking backwards; you tell me when we get to where they park the Segways for the night. Super. I think we’re out of everyone’s way.” Caryn and Betty both took hits on their respective get-highs.
“Is that man recording us?”
“Sure. It’s what we do. How do you think we get content? You never heard of Pizza Rat? You may become a star, and me too, Frump and Dilettante and their dogs.”
“That’s the last thing I need. Just be careful not to step on any paws. You know dogs have major arteries running through their forepaws, right?’
“We both should be careful. Show a bit of cheesecake if you can, it might boost hits and likes. I understand that Pizza Rat has an agent now. Is my nipple showing or just areola? Can’t violate FB standards.”
“I suppose you’re decent enough for that Satanic monstrosity.” For all that, and considering the foursome’s situation, Caryn actually did manage to pull down her hoodie zipper a couple of inches.
There was a crowd forming up around them. “Watch how this works, Caryn. They’re all recording us. Some people are great cellphone videographers, most just suck. The combination of good vid plus share-happy friends gets us out there. When it gets to the curators and influencers, you have your shot. Then you show up on the podcasts and Youtube. The rest is up to you. We’re a coolocracy now, the cool people wade through the muck and anoint the cool stuff.”
An extremely self-assured man migrated over to the situation.
“I’m Devon Jackson. I was Master Rigger on the Constitution for 15 years. I think I can get out one or two of those Turk’s heads.” He gave it a good shot but couldn’t free the interspecies scrum. He took out a knife.
“This may be the only thing for it.”
“Not on your life,” Betty keened. “I got this leash at Fetch, it was $275. Plus tax.”
“How’s that ‘We can do anything thing working out, Betty? Explain it to me.’”
“Look at what we’ve already done. You can videocall anywhere in the world for free. Watch any movie ever made. We’re putting an end to discrimination. We’ve got a shot at Global Warming. Look, don’t try to understand us, don’t dig us, don’t grok us. We’re not just kitten videos. We’re getting electronics to neurons interfacing. Maybe I could upload myself before I get old.”
“Nice speech, sweetie. To bad we can’t implement any of this because we’re tied to each other. Because of your leash.”
Betty had managed to free her phone. “Okay, that’s now, sure. But we’ve got 176,231 views and 79,236 shares; we’re going to get out of this. Hold on. A casting director, if he really is one, just messaged me. He says he wants the ‘old broad’ to come in for a look-see. Want his deets?”
“Not really, no. I’ve heard about Weinstein and his casting techniques.”
“C’mon, Caryn. Forget about this generation stuff for a minute. You really think someone is going to make you fuck him for a dog food commercial?”
“Well.” Caryn looked down at her partially pulled-down hoodie zipper. “You know what? Here’s my Hotmail address.” Betty successfully stifled a chortle. I guess you’ll get it on your PC when you get home.”
“Ladies, are these dogs registered?” It wasn’t a real Segway the Minuet Public Safety rent-a-cop was riding. It had three wheels. Caryn had always wondered who you had to piss off or how bad you had to screw up to get tricycle duty. The world would have been a marginally better place for all parties if this guy had been assigned to bike patrol.”
“Help yourself, dude. The tags are in there somewhere.” Fake-Segway guy pulled something out of one of the dozen cargo pockets in his pants. A buttered bagel. The man got down on his hands and knees, crawling in between 12 legs. He transferred the butter from the bread to the leashes; it was moments before the leashes slid free. Gordius was defeated by the sacrifice of the watchman’s breakfast.
It was two weeks later that Caryn finished taping at MovieStream’s East 23rd Street studios. She decided on lunch at the Shake shack in Madison Square Park. Lunch had to wait. Caryn saw Betty and Altair in the park’s dog run. The older woman kept her head down and just listened. She was sure she heard “Let’s see if Part 2 can go wide…”