Misery Loves Company
Then I returned to my office and stared at my computer screen, trying to get at least ten column inches’ worth of writing out of five column inches’ worth of material. A basic journalism rule of thumb is: the less you have to actually say, the more poetically you say it. I wrote an opening quoting some anonymous pundit (whom I may have invented) calling Super Bowl Sunday America’s number-one religious holiday, and explained how sports bars, like any church, see increased attendance as the holy day draws near; and as I tried to think of a way to somehow force “acolytes” or “advent season” into the metaphor one of the editorial assistants, so young he’s not even allowed to drink yet, walked up to me.
“Hey, Jennifer, did you Google Chris Farley?” he asked. His tone of voice was one that people use when they ask “did you do that thing you were supposed to do, and you’ll be in trouble if you didn’t?”
I responded to the tone more than the words, and so felt a tad guilty when I said “No, I haven’t.” Even as I uttered the words my brain ruffled through its short-term memory, thinking “when was I supposed to Google Chris Farley?” and “isn’t he dead?”
“Do it,” said the editorial assistant. “Google-image search for Chris Farley.”
I didn’t mind an excuse to take a break from my sports-bar story, so with a mental shrug I did as he suggested. A bunch of little pictures appeared on the screen, but my at-work monitor has such low resolution that none of them really looked like anything to me until the editorial assistant clicked on one of them, and it expanded to full size on my screen.
“Aaaigh! That’s disgusting!” I cried.
“Isn’t it?” he said. “I can’t believe somebody posted his death pictures on the Web. That is so gross. I wish I hadn’t seen it.”
“Me too,” I snapped as I closed out of that screen. “So why the hell did you show it to me?”
“I don’t know,” he said with an embarrassed chuckle. “I just wanted someone else to see it.”
And you know what’s really sad? As annoying as that was, I know exactly how he felt.