At work the other day, the internet came crashing down.
The internet on the public machines continued to function—thank goodness, or the patrons would have rioted—but for the staff, nothing was working. Apparently the air conditioner had somehow broken in the server room (though not in the main library; patrons and staff would have rioted), and so we had no access to email, to our files, or to the internet.
For a brief while, perhaps thirty or forty seconds, we took this as a godsend: “Can’t do any work! Whee!”
But the true implications slowly dawned on us: There was no internet. No… internet. It was like being in the Middle Ages. No—the Dark Ages.
No: It was like being in Prehistory. By the time two minutes of no internet had elapsed, our fragile constructions of civility had collapsed. Our primal selves reasserted themselves. I found myself jonesing to slay a mammoth.
Chaos and anarchy ensued. Grunting and crude gesticulations replaced human language. We did not actually resort to cannibalism, but only because we were still fat off the riches from those glorious days of internet access, lo those four minutes prior.
With no mammoths in sight (I should have checked the public computers; you never know what you’ll find), I began cycling through the classic signs of severe anxiety. My right foot tapped continuously. My left eye developed a serious twitch. My teeth ground against each other, till I had the good sense to gnaw on…
…to gnaw on…
“What’s this?” I grunted/gesticulated to Asserty. It was a long, slender, hard object, perhaps the length of my hand, but not even as big around as my pinkie.
The following conversation really did happen:
Asserty: Dunno, but I have one on my desk, too.
Jessica [gnawing]: Maybe it’s for chewing on.
Asserty: Yeah, this little bit at the end here looks… looks almost rubbery, like bubble gum, maybe.
Jessica: You mean this white nub here?
Asserty: Huh… it’s pink on mine. But yeah.
Jessica: [Chews on rubbery white nub. Grimaces.] No. Not for chewing on. [Spits out the object.] Say!
Jessica: This… doohickey thingy, it made some kind of mark on the paper!
Asserty: [Rolls her doohickey thingy against a piece of paper.] Mine’s not doing it.
Jessica: No, you have to use the dark pointy end.
Asserty: …Oh! Hey, neat!
Jessica: You can scribble things in the margins!
Asserty: And draw pictures!
Jessica: And… oh, wow, this is awesome, look at this.
Jessica: It’s like… it’s like I’m typing.
Asserty: But… but there’s something weird with your font.
Jessica: How do you mean?
Asserty: I mean at a glance it all looks like the same font, but each individual character is a little bit different.
Jessica: Oh. So it’s like typing, but not quite as good. Too bad.
Asserty: You could still use it the same way, though. You could still create words and sentences and things.
Jessica: But then how would I email it to people?
Asserty: Hrm… You could… You could make photocopies, and then distribute them to everyone.
Jessica: This thing is really neat. I can’t believe I never noticed it before.
Asserty: Me neither. I mean, I’ve used one before, but only to tie up my hair. It can do so much more!
Jessica: I wonder what it’s called?
Asserty: Mine says… Two.
Jessica: Mine says No-dot-two.
Asserty: Twos, then. These things are called Twos.
Jessica: I still want to know what the rubbery bit at the end is for.
Asserty: Yeah… oh, wow, look!
Asserty: Rub it against some of the words you typed with the dark pointy part.
Asserty: It’s like a delete key!
At this point the internet came back on, so we both abandoned our twos, but I’m still keeping mine at the desk as a curiosity. And I still want to hunt for mammoth.