[This is a monologue I hurriedly wrote and presented at the May 2005 How to Kick People show, with some regret. Now I'm posting it here, with some additional regret. I think this site will make a nice final resting place for the piece.]
OK baby, I know that look all too well. But before you say anything, I want you to know that, yes, I am aware I've been away for a long time with neither explanation nor apology. But please understand this: some very unexpected things – some very unfathomable things – have occurred since last Thursday evening. And, sure, these three days apart, without any communication whatsoever on my part – have probably caused you a considerable amount of grief. But I assure it has not exactly been a pleasure cruise for me, either. And do you want to know why? No? You don't want to know? Then let me rephrase the question. Do you know why the last 72 hours have not been a pleasure cruise, with all of the various cruise-based pleasures contained within? Because instead of reclining on a deck chair or enjoying nightly karaoke contests, and entertainment from professional comedian/magicians and professional comedian/hypnotists, or doing anything remotely related to pleasure cruises, I have instead spent the last 72 hours desperately trapped inside the electronic cyber-world of TRON.
I see you're crossing your arms now; some would consider that defensive body language. Or perhaps they might consider that the body language of someone who cannot yet comprehend the gravity of the dangers – both real and virtual – one faces when ensnared in the digital tentacles of TRON. Sure, on paper it may look like a lot of binary code – just a slew of ones and zeroes to common eyes like yours – but coursing through TRON’s miserable fiber-optic veins you will find the cancerous plasma of micron-terrorism. Yes, micron-terrorism, and digital-skulduggery. And also hard drive-related hooliganism. You turn one-zero-zero-zero-one-zero-one-one-zero instead one-zero-zero-zero-one-zero-one-zero-one and BLAM! – you’re TRONNED. Unlike relationships, there is no margin for error in TRON.
Ah-ha! You've made a common mistake, my love, and one for which I will gladly forgive you. Yes, TRON is also the name of the video game program I’ve been developing for the last three months. And, naturally, I can imagine one confusing that purely innocuous and imaginary TRON with the very real computer world of TRON seething within the very binary code I've written.
Now, baby, I think "bullshit" is a strong word but, yes, it seemed just as implausible to me as I suddenly found myself no longer Kevin, your seven-year and three-month long intimate partner and common-law husband, but rather Jarvix 12, new molecular citizen of TRON. Why, I expect I was as flabbergasted as you appear to be right now. Perhaps more, even. Please, stop packing your things and sit back down, baby, so you might hear my incredible tale of fantastical computerology.
Now, as you know, the SARK corporation has had me working under a very aggressive timeline to complete the TRON game in time for the holiday release. It was a deadline I daresay I never would have approached within the limits of my sanity were it not for the thankless assistance of TRON's lead visual designer, Andrea. Andrea? You know Andrea. Yes, of course you know Andrea. With the flaxen hair? Are you sure? Hmm, I'm sure I've mentioned her before. Anyhow, I often found myself writing lines of TRON code late into the TRON night, especially on Thursday evenings – and sometimes I worked so late I would sleep at the office or, at one of those nameless, cash-only motels without properly working telephones. As we’ve discussed, I made this sacrifice to avoid disturbing you with all of my various late-night rattlings about the house.
Well, last Thursday evening I must have been so exhausted from my countless hours of game coding that I fell asleep at my computer – face-down, right on the keyboard. Can you imagine my embarrassment? And somehow, my face was arranged across the keyboard in such a manner that my nose and lips input my administrator security password, "ANDREA." Hmm, yes, you're right; that is strange, especially with TRON's lead visual designer also being named Andrea. It's funny, I never made that connection, but you were quite perceptive to acknowledge the coincidence, my love. You know, I've often told my colleagues that they underestimate your intelligence.
Now! I'll spare you the boring esoteric technical jargon but here's what I believe occurred, my sweet turtle: I think my security password inadvertently opened a firewall in TRON, like a kind of virtual gateway between our world and theirs. And here's where the amazing part occurred. While enjoying my well-deserved catnap, I suppose I experienced a subconscious muscle spasm in my hand, which then did spring out and topple over an entire bottle of blended rum I’d been using to clean my monitor. The bottle of rum then drained into my computer's exposed circuitry, which explains why some of my clothing and breath still smells faintly of Mai Tais. I can only speculate that the resultant short circuit caused by the rum, combined with the security gate I'd opened, fused me with my own video game's code at a molecular level, and transported me directly into the cold, electronic brain of TRON. Curse your selfish and unpredictable ways, TRON!
Baby, I don't blame you for crying. I myself was nearly frightened to tears, upon discovering all of my comfortable clothing had been replaced with a tight-fitting circuitry unitard and TRON helmet. It was terrible. I had become, quite ironically, a digital pawn in a game of my own invention. This was no carefully planned, clandestine pleasure cruise – the kind one might spend nestled in the bosom of the only woman who truly understands his intelligence and depth. No, baby – it was a futuristic nightmare of the TRON variety.
You seem puzzled. Why didn't I call you? Why didn't I call? If I may respond with a question of my own: would you mind telling me where in the vector-based chaos of TRON one might find a pay telephone? Or when I would find a spare minute in between contending with monstrous TRON battle tanks and engaging in the all-too-aptly named athletic competition, TRON'S DEADLY DISCS, to make a phone call? (Incidentally, Tron's Deadly Discs is so deadly it makes one long for the return of their previous reigning athletic competition, TRON'S REGULAR DISCS.) Perhaps, while giga-jousting with the Evil Lord Overclock at the edge of TRON’s perilous cliffs of External CD-ROM Drive, I should have said, “Hey, Lord Overclock. Sorry to interrupt you but do you suppose I could borrow your phone for a moment? I realize your giga-lance is pressed firmly into my throat and any moment I could tumble to my cyber-death in the molten surf of Lake FireWire, but I would hate to have my girlfriend wonder as to my whereabouts for one moment longer.” Honestly, dear. Be reasonable.
Kitten, you'll forgive me if I seem dismissive, but contrary to my extremely relaxed, even post-coital countenance, I have spent three harrowing, entirely loveless days in TRON. Yes, I said loveless, for the seed of love could never find purchase within TRON's cold, computerized womb. As I said before, TRON is certainly not a sexually-charged pleasure cruise spoken about in hushed tones and code words for months in advance, and then booked under assumed names, unless you consider it “pleasurable” to race light cycles at impossible speeds! I see you're shaking your head, so I will assume your answer is no. Or perhaps you derive great pleasure from running around on wildly colorful grids, while being chased by Arachnitron programs. Or maybe you'd like to have taken my place? Then I could have stayed home with a crooked uterus while you live inside a video game? Perhaps you could have summoned your powers of passive-aggressiveness to save the kingdom of TRON from the iron fisted rule of the Master Control Program, and win the favor of TRON's beautiful queen, Andrea 7. And only then was I granted safe passage home by Andrea 7, in her pleasure cruiser. Excuse me, I mean her pleasure taxi. Her TRON TAXI. TRON-TRON-TRON is where I was. And now I'm here. I see you're still shaking your head. Would it help if I told you last night I karate-chopped Q-Bert? No. OK, I see you still have questions.
Now Baby, I've explained this already but I'll do so once more to cement your trust. The reason I appear to have such a healthy-looking tan is quite simple. You see, the atmosphere on TRON is not like ours here in the brick-and-mortar world. The environment I hand-coded and that Andrea lovingly rendered for TRON allows for two suns – a regular sun and a second, female sun around which the first sun revolves tirelessly. Accordingly, TRON's atmosphere is pleasantly warm, even tropical, and tastefully perfumed. In fact, a mild breeze in TRON smells almost exactly like peaches and cream, and my goodness, try though I might, I cannot seem to wash TRON's silky aroma out of my skin – it's positively bewitching. Oh, sweet, sweet, cruel, bleepy-bloopy TRON.
As for the small purple bruises on my neck, shoulders, chest, pelvis, stomach, and foreskin – those were the result of my tussle with the flesh-sucking Whore Shark in TRON's treacherous SCSI Swamp. And this karaoke contest trophy? Well, that’s used as currency on TRON. I am positively kicking myself for neglecting to exchange it for Earth dollars at customs.
OK, I think that covers it. Oh these? I can’t be sure but you seem to be pointing at this pair of his-and-hers commemorative Carnival Cruise Tiki Statue cocktail glasses engraved with the words “SECRET” on one and “LOVERS” Those were a gift. From whom? Why, the mayor of TRON, the honorable TRONTULUS SILVERTRON…The Third. What's that? Yes, it's true that TRON has a queen – the beguiling, staggeringly attractive Andrea 7 – but it also has a mayor, doesn't it? Perhaps this complication of government accounts for so many of TRON's domestic problems. Remind me to double-check my Pascal code.
Can’t you see, in the end it's all terribly simple and easily explained. Certainly more easily explained than the weekend I missed your birthday because I was trapped inside the magnetic strip of a Diner's Club Credit Card that was used to charge an expensive dinner for two across town. Or the time I was imprisoned in an eight-track tape deck, and returned four days later with amnesia and genital crabs. Or the time my genetic clone fucked your best friend. My dove, I really must throw my hands up. It seems my life is one tumultuous affair after another, with science and technology and Andrea! I mean, TRON. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some rather important computer programming to do back at the office, where the phones have all gone dead. I’ll just grab my eyeglasses and this cologne, and – oh look! I suppose this illustrated copy of the karma sutra will make a fine mouse pad. Good night, and please don’t wait up for me.