December 22nd, 2000 by Clark Humphrey

BENNY BUCKS, THE WANNABE DOT-COM MAGNATE, is working late as usual in the offices of his Internet company RevolutioNet. He’s giving a speech to his 17 employees in the conference room, some of whom are noticably antsy about still being on the premises after seven p.m. on Christmas Eve.

It’s one of the moments he lives for. An opportunity to rally the troops to his side, to lure the stragglers and naysayers with the sheer power of his presence, to solidly reunite the vanguard of his revolution.

Just what that revolution’s supposed to be has changed at least twice in RevolutioNet’s eleven-month existence. As of the company’s most recent reorganization, it’s now going to offer an online brokerage and database site for business-to-business contracting and services. (Fortunately, the TV commercials he’s already paid for simply promote the company’s brand image as “America’s Next Revolution,” without mentioning any products or services.)

The latest reorg meant his site-development and IT staffs had to restart almost from scratch. But Benny can take dishing out that kind of work. He works harder and longer than anyone in the office, as he always tells everyone. Of course, he has every reason to.

Even with the company’s recent turmoil (an emergency cash influx from investors, who made him cede significant control to an executive chairman), he still knows in all certainty how he’s going to push RevolutioNet toward its pot of gold, the IPO that will set him up for life–muscle and elbow grease and a lot of hard motivating.

Which brings him to this latest moment of assertion.

Standing his six-foot-four frame upright and proud, he first thanks his staff for having worked so hard this year, especially after the reorg and the latest delay in the site launch.

He adds that the site still has to be online in time for the bowl-game commercials he’s already bought. Therefore, he’s asking his staff to all come to work the following day, for the usual 12 or more hours. He’s confident everyone will enthusiastically agree, because the ongoing Internet revolution their work represents matters far more than any petty personal interest.

Most enthusiastically agree. Some grumble under their breath but say nothing.

Only Pratt, the semi-obese and unkemply-bearded head progammer, demures out loud. He whines something about a young son who hasn’t been well lately and is just out of the hospital and has been looking forward to a real Christmas at home.

Benny roars out a denunciation and an ultimatum. Christmas, he bellows from within his tieless $300 Barney’s shirt, is a decadent holiday for the little people, for the welfare cases and space cases and sentimentalisic losers. RevolutioNet needs forward-looking people who will give their total devotion to the cause of revolutionizing the very foundations of human society.

Anyone who doesn’t come to the office on December twenty-fifth, he proclaims, need not enter on December twenty-sixth or any day thereafter.

That was a tough one to have to tell ’em, Benny shouts into his cell phone upon leaving the office an hour later. But I had to. You’ve gotta impose discipline on these cattle, I tell ya Charlie. Or else they’ll just wander around the pasture and chew on their own half-digested food all day.

On his way to his car, he passes by the little independent coffee shop next to the office. Through the window, he sees the shop’s staff and some of the regular customers putting up cheap kitschy decorations, probably for an in-house holiday party. Benny couldn’t care less about these petty people and their petty entertainment; but he decides he needs more caffeine for the long night’s work ahead.

But once inside, while the ever-inefficient help struggles to fulfill his order, he gets into a time-wasting chat with one of the regulars–a New Agey hippie-dippie lady who calls herself Flies-With-Eagles; even though from Benny’s viewpoint (as he tells his cell phone, even in her presence), she looks like the only Indians her pasty-white skin has ever met are the faces on her cigarette packs.

She offers him a cup of her special egg nog. She tells him if you drink even a little of it, you’ll get whatever you want for Christmas. If you drink enough of it, you’ll get what you really need for Christmas.

All Benny can tell for sure is it’s got rum in it, and he never turns down a free drink. Or a couple, or so.

Around his third or fourth or whatever, while the cafe’s PA plays a compilation tape of novelty Christmas songs (“Merry Christmas in the NFL,” “I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas,” the Singing Dogs’ “Jingle Bells”), Benny can notice Flies-With-Eagles smiling at him, with that smug annoying grin he’s seen umpteen times on hippie-dippie types who are SO sure they’re in touch with the universe and he isn’t. Benny takes that matronly grin as his cue to get the hell outta there, which he does (remembering to take his to-go coffee and his change).

As he leaves, he shouts into his cell about the egg nog. For something from that mediocre coffeehouse, it was surprisingly good. The right amount of booze, and a weird but oddly appealing flavor set. Probably some of those weirdo health-food-store herbs and shit. He sets the phone down just long enough to climb into his (actually, the company’s) Mercedes SUV, remove the fraudulant handicapped-parking card from inside the windshield, and speed off into the night.

Much later that evening, Benny’s at the PC in his loft-condo home, poring over contract documents. He’s searching for a way to get out from under the investors who’ve asserted greater control over his company. The search is long and the documents dull, and the several special egg nogs Benny’s had aren’t exactly keeping him alert.

He begins to pass out in his Dania leather chair; his mind racing with thoughts of his dream–to run his company his way, toward that triumphant IPO–and of all the goddamned meddlers interfering with that dream. Ambitionless toadstools like Pratt; goody-two-shoeses like little Demographic Debbie, the annoyingly yuppie-perky executive chairman imposed on him by his investors.

He fades away obsessing that there must be something he could do to be rid of her.

Yes. To be rid of everyone and everything that stood in his way, that would be the greatest present he could get. Even greater than a genuine Rolex.

On that thought, he crosses over into Dreamland. Just then, a cold gust bursts through the room. The power goes out and back on. Benny opens his eyes to see a scowling face staring from his flat-screen PC monitor.

It’s a streaming video of his boss and enemy, Demographic Debbie, in all her blow-dried, day-spa-tanned glory.


REMEMBER: It’s time to compile the highly awaited MISCmedia In/Out List for 2001. Make your nominations to clark@speakeasy.org or on our handy MISCtalk discussion boards.


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