THE CALCULATOR MAN

 

I was just minding my own business, crossing October Square on the way to the bash at the Lemon Club to listen to the soundtrack from Million Dollar Hotel, which theyíd gotten in advance. Suddenly, there were two men behind me, both screaming at the top of their lungs.

"Whatís the problem?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing", said one of the guys, looking a little embarrassed.

"Oh, yeah?í retorted the other guy. "Wait until you hear this thing! You wonít be able to hear the vocals!"

"Not again," I groaned. "Iíve been hearing that forÖ..forever! Youíre not telling me anything new".

"Iíve got facts", he answered. "You canít argue with facts." He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. "Letís see, Bono lost his voice four times on the PopMart tour. Weíre talking crummy vocals on ten other shows. OK, 100 shows. That adds up to a percentage ofÖ.oh, no. I donít believe this. I didnít bring a single one of my calculators. Iím sorry, Iím having terrible Calculator Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms. Iíll be back in about half an hour or so. Iíve got to have those things".

He dashed off into the Wireland sunset. The other guy and I looked at each other in disbelief. "Whatís with this guy and calculators?" I asked.

"He told you, heís addicted to calculators. Heís driving me crazy. He thinks theyíre more important to the human race than the invention of bread".

"Good grief! Whereíd he get that idea?" I asked.

"Itís not an idea, itís an addiction, pure and simple. People develop the craziest addictions. My neighbor is addicted to apples. My other neighbor is addicted to Danielle Steele novels. And my wife is addicted to perfume. Iím telling you, itís total madness. Heís been making speeches every night in the square about the percentages of deterioration of Bonoís voice. Honestly, I canít believe he forgot to bring his calculators and remembered to wear his clothes".

"Oh, well, then, Iím going to have to be a bit late to the party. Iím sorry, it canít be helped. I have to make a few phone calls. Iíll see you later".

"Later", he said, and he was off to the club. I called up the Neptune UFO Force headquarters. They were still very proud of their UFOís, which glistened in the moonlight.

"Look", I told the Commander, "weíve got a calculator addict making crazy speeches in October Square every night, and heís driving everyone nuts. The Wireland Scientific Society will be issuing a condemnation of calculator abuse tomorrow. This could start another one of those silly disputes. We canít depend on Venus to bail us out of trouble every time this happens. You know what? I think the Saturnians would just love this guy. You know how they like dour Earthlings. Since you guys are neutral in the Interplanetary Chamber of Political Disputes, could you call up the Saturnian Ministry of Culture and ask if they need an Earthling worker?"

"Sure, no problem", he said. "Iíll call you right back".

Five minutes later the phone rang. It was the Commander. "Oh, theyíre desperate for someone like this", he said. "They were thinking of contacting the Wireland Employment Center by way of us because of our neutrality. I think theyíve got their Earthling. Weíll be there in about a half-hour. Can we identify him by looking for a guy with a calculator?"

"Yes".

The Neptunians showed up a half-hour later. Just then the calculator addict showed up in the square. He was wearing a chain around his neck with a calculator on it. Around each wrist were two smaller calculators. Another calculator was mounted on his belt buckle. "If you donít recognize the calculator man youíre blind", I said.

"Yes, indeed". He walked up to the calculator addict. "Hey, did you know that Saturn is desperate for an Earthling worker at their Interplanetary Calculator Exchange? Theyíll pay good money for one. Would you like to do it?"

"Oh, yes, itís right up my alley! Just thinkóI can put my reports on the Saturn Interplanetary News Network so everyone in the Solar System can get my facts!" He walked off with the Neptunian.

"Oh, this is so clever", I muttered under my breath. "We didnít tell him that CDís are illegal on Saturn. Heíd better have that piece of paper he was showing us or he wonít have any numbers at all".

I ran off to the Lemon Club. Once in, I ordered a nice, big cold glass of lemonade. Someone ran up to me, alarmed. "Hey, thereís a rumor that there was a UFO raid here this afternoon", he said. "Do you know anything about this?"

"Oh, the Neptunians came and took the Calculator Man to his new job on Saturn. I canít imagine how anyone could get addicted to calculators. I lost mine the day after I found out Iíd passed my chemistry exams. They bore me stiff. Anyway, no more of those dumb speeches. Letís party!"

 

Patricia M. Hefner, 1 February 2000