This month’s journey into fiction has to do with my favourite TV family comprising father, Boner O. Simpleton; his wife, Marg; son, Brat; daughter, Liza, and baby daughter, Meggie. In this week’s installment, the family buys its first home computer. Many thanks to the Coyote Television Network for their kind permission in allowing us to write about America’s favourite ‘toon’ family.
“Dad? Dad? Where are you?” Young Liza Simpleton rushed into the family home on Evergreen Crescent. She was full of excitement, her ever wide eyes looking more startled than usual. Her father, Boner, however, was not in his usual spot on the living room couch and, more mysterious, the TV was off.
“Where is everybody?” Liza was puzzled. It was almost time for the mayhem of the Kittie and Mousee Show and even her brother Brat was nowhere to be seen.
“Hi, Liza, honey. How was school today?” Her mother, Marg, called out from the kitchen over the sizzling pork chops. “Your father had to rush down to Joe’s Tavern for an emergency meeting of the Duff Anonymous Group, but he said he’d be home in five minutes when I told him what was for dinner. Why don’t you come and see?”
“Mom, I’ve seen pork chops before,” Liza replied, shaking her head and sitting down on the couch.
“I have another surprise for you, and it’s not food,” Marg giggled.
Liza got up and walked into the kitchen which was heavy with the smell of pork fat frying. “Yikes!” Her jaw fell open and her tongue protruded from her wide open mouth. “Mom, what happened?”
“Do you like it? It’s the latest in hair styles.” Marg stood in all her glory, her tall coiffure as high as ever, but gone was the old bondi blue hair, replaced now with a very bright tangerine shade. “Makes me look a little like Lucy on TV, don’t you think?”
“Does Dad know?” Liza asked skeptically. “What made you do it?”
“I wanted to surprise your father, so, when I got a coupon in the mail for a free hair dye at Helena and Ruby Stein’s Hair Emporium, I went and did it.”
“Mom,” Liza said, changing the subject while avoiding to look directly at her mother’s hair, “Mrs. Crabbe at school is in charge of a new computer incentive program. You can purchase a new iMac in any colour for 50% off if you sign up tonight at the Computer Fest . It’s called Apple Computer’s Millennium Madness. Can we get one Mom, can we?”
“Gee, Liza, I don’t know what your father will think. Our bank account has never been so low. And I’m not so sure buying a computer from a fruit company is a wise decision. You remember when your father got a new computer at work and he had all that trouble with conflicting IRQs. His boss, Mr. Brunns, bought a dozen computers from that pickle company and they had trouble with all of them. It’s a good thing that those machines were only used in the safety section at the nuclear plant.
“I don’t remember any pickle computer company, Mom. Are you sure?”
“I’m certain they were Dill computers and Mr. Brunns bought them all direct.”
“Mom, it’s not Dill. It is called Dell. Like farmer in the dell.”
“Well, pickle, or farmer in the dell, or fruit companies, surely there must be more high tech hardware manufacturers around. Perhaps that’s why they’re offering the iMac computers so cheap.” Just then, Boner and Brat walked in the front door. Liza ran to greet them, hoping to convince her father of the advantages of a home computer. Liza explained about the promotions and savings, but her father’s mind wandered after her second sentence.
“Mmmmm… pork chops,” was all he said, his mouth watering in anticipation of supper. Surprisingly to Liza, her brother exhibited much more excitement than she had expected. His mind shrewdly calculated the benefits of a home computer. Top priority was that he would no longer have to feed quarters into the machines at Pete’s Pinball Palace. The fact that Pete’s was next door to Shake, Rattle and Roll, a strip club, was a loss Brat would deal with later.
When Boner recovered from thoughts of frying pork chops and returned to reality, he entered the kitchen. He kissed Marg on the cheek. “So, are they almost ready?”
“Boner Simpleton, you don’t love me.” Marg burst into tears. “You didn’t even notice my new hair colour.”
“Hair colour? Oh, yeah. Nice. A little on the red side, isn’t it? I’m washing up for supper.” He walked out of the kitchen while Marg growled her displeasure as she flipped the last sizzling pork chop.
After supper, Liza convinced her parents to attend the computer fest at school. Their emergency savings of $162 were kept in a pink piggy bank above the refrigerator. Hopefully the money would be enough to make a deal that night. When they arrived at the Springtemps Elementary School, the parking lot was full. They followed the crowds, as directed by principal Skinhead, into the cafeteria cum computer fest area.
“Let’s see,” said Marg. “There are four choices here–the fruit company, the pickle company, the old car and telephone company, and a southern company. What do you think, Bonee?”
“Some choice. You can’t get near the fruit place with that clamoring mob, pickles give me indigestion and I heard that the old car and phone company is going bust. That only leaves good old American know how. Forget about them foreigners. When I buy a computer for my loved ones, I want only the best. And the cheapest,” he added in a whispered aside. “Marg, make sure you don’t let go of that piggy bank.”
“You know, Boner I could use some help. I’m carrying Meggie and the piggy bank. Suppose you help by taking the piggy bank. It weighs more than Meggie.”
The computer rep smiled broadly as they approached and held out his hand. “Is pleasure to be meeting you.” His slicked back dark hair and pencil thin mustache glistened with newly oiled luster. “You want maybe new computer, ja? This is our new model, the Nonameo. Has latest colour. Not beige, not putty, is called white off. It not one piece unit,” he emphasized with sneering derision. “We give you 17 units. Is more for your money. Is very powerful. Is so powerful cannot sell it in my home country.”
“I thought your sign said Alabama. That’s still a state, isn’t it?” Marg asked, a trifle confused and suspicious at the same time.
“Nitch, not Alabama. We from Albania. Make best computer in world. 1000 hz, 1000 rambs, und disk speed is 78 rpm. Can play old Perry Como records und, most important, it have Premium IV chip. Special price for you,” he said, pointing to Boner, “$1000 US, less $500 computer fest discount und less $250 Albania-America friendship pact discount. You pay 300 American dollars plus tax.
“All I care about is how fast it can it play Softmicro’s freebie game Balkan War Zone or ARA’s Cold Steel, Hot Bullets,” Brat said in his most serious tone.
“Wait, Mister,” Liza interrupted, “You made a mistake. That price should be $250 plus tax. And don’t you mean Mhz and ram, and isn’t the chip called…”
“So sorry. My Englich not so bad. Many apologies. We give you another $100 discount. Now you pay only $150 and forget tax. K.O.?”
The Simpleton’s looked at each another, totally confused. “I think he means O.K.” Liza said finally.
“You sign purchase agreement here, Mr… ?
“Boner O. Simpleton.”
“The ‘O’, what it mean?”
“Nothing,” Boner answered nonchalantly, but then his eyes narrowed. “Hey, I can’t read this writing. It’s all gibberish and very small. Marg, get my glasses”
“Is Albanian 100% guaranty. Is safer than Bre-X stock.”
“And you’re sure it has the latest technology?” Marg questioned. “I don’t want to be left out in the cold with an operating system that is outdated.”
“Ja. Is total compatible with Commodore 64.”
“Sold!” Boner said, signing on the dotted line. “But,” he added, “we insist on taking it with us tonight. Just in case you skip town, we’ll have the goods.”
“Is good joke. You will have the goods, K.O.” He continued to chuckle to himself as he passed out the parcels. Seventeen parcels, as he had mentioned before, each with a letter or strange symbol on the outside.
“Dad, aren’t the drives and stuff supposed to be inside the CPU?” asked Liza from behind her allotment of four parcels.
“Liza, please! Don’t embarrass us in front of the sales rep. We got a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime deal. I don’t want you to mess it up. Just smile and wave goodbye. With the money we have left over, we can stop at the Quirky Mart and get a treat”
Balancing their parcels, the Simpletons made their way out of the cafeteria . As they passed Neilsen, he shouted out his famous, “Haw! Haw!” Only baby Meggie looked troubled as she sucked on her pacifier, holding on to Marg and the Premium chip parcel. She scowled at the computer sales rep from Albania. There was something very unsettling about him. Then she stopped sucking for a moment and realized what troubled her. It was his single, thick, black eyebrow.
The sales rep was smiling, too. He counted out the $150 in small bills, quarters, dimes and nickels. He put them all into a small burlap sack and headed out to his Yugo in the parking lot. “Is thinking different,” he chuckled and burst into laughter.
Ralph J. Luciani