2000-04-08 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points

By Kevin Boyle

Don’t believe the ferry stuff. Forget the rhetoric, no one wants a faster commute to Manhattan and I’ll tell you why. But before I push on, I must admit that it’s with grave risk that I submit this column for I’m likely to end up like Thomas Edison’s dog.

You remember the story of Sparky, Edison’s dog. The facts are getting lost with time but it’s indisputable that the mongrel helped invent the phonograph and the light bulb, and was instrumental in developing the ideas and products that resulted in the 1,093 U.S. patents awarded the esteemed Mr. Edison. (You think there’d be a flea collar without Sparky?)

What a pair, these two were.

They’d exchange ideas while engaging in the most highfalutin conversation. Of course, sometimes they’d veer off the technical and talk about the most ordinary stuff. Like girls.

Once, after Mr. Edison dated a strikingly beautiful woman Sparky paid him the highest compliment by saying she was a real dog.

But such a happy relationship was not without peril.

One day a stray dog, just walking outside the garage/laboratory, heard some voices. Looking for a scrap to eat, the dog jumped up on his hind legs to peer in the window. To his astonishment and complete dismay he witnessed Mr. Edison and a dog each smoking pipes and worse---talking! The stray heard them opine, between puffs, about the practical application of the reversible galvanic battery.

The stray dog couldn’t believe his floppy ears. He almost barked in shock when he heard the dog---this traitor---say to Edison: "I heard there’s a new kid on the block. We’re in trouble if this guy Einstein gets a dog."

Before you could say fetch, the stray dog ran off to alert other dogs. He had to let all the four-leggers know there was a turncoat. And the traitor had to be eliminated.

The dogs called a meeting (around a fake fire hydrant near a tree) Rin Tin Tin, Sam Breakstone’s dog, and the Beverly Hillbillies basset hound made speeches to a rapt crowd. It was such a serious matter none of the dogs even gave a thought to butt sniffing.

In a unanimous vote, the dogs agreed to kill Sparky.

The very next morning, a pack of dogs waited for Mr. Edison to leave the garage (to go file another patent application). As soon as Edison was safely away, the pack descended upon the garage and overwhelmed Sparky, killing him.

Upon his return, Edison found the dismembered mutt and was understandably distraught. After months of mourning, Edison tried to replace Sparky with another dog, and then another, and then another. But he never found another canine who’d converse. Edison even tried barking and howling but got nothing but indifference in return. (Edison’s attempts were roundly ridiculed at dog runs and kennels).

See, most dogs know how good they have it. They don’t want their so-called masters to know---that’d risk everything. Once, I overheard dogs speaking about Sparky. "Doggone it, that Sparky almost blew it for the rest of us. I mean, how good is life. My owner walks me and picks up my crap." The other said, "Mine, too." When I tried to get them to repeat themselves, to say anything, they scratched themselves and ran after a truck.

I now write knowing I’m no better than Benedict Arnold and Linda Tripp (the Al Stabile-in-drag, former friend of Monica). There’s a good chance every working woman will hunt me down and scratch me to death.

We’ve heard the working woman’s lament: I wish I didn’t have to work...I wish I could be home with the kids...I’ve got three jobs...9 to 5...raising the kids.. and pampering my husband.

Ladies, you’re busted.

You know and I know---we come to work to rest and relax.

After years as a Mister Mom lemme tell ya, it’s a helluva lot easier getting on the smelly A train and putting in a day and a half at the office than it is doing diapers, homework, laundry, Waldbaum’s, and hardest of all---playing and entertaining your kids. Kids are murder. You got a choice, go to the office or entertain the kids who’d exhaust the Energizer bunny.

Not even close.

At least most men admit they don’t have the patience for the kids after a day on the job. You think men work overtime for the money? They just want a better excuse for being too tired to do anything with the kids. I’ve seen working men and women on the A train slap high-fives when a train delay occurs. You know they don’t want a ferry. Job-related stress is tied to how early you get home.

Sure I should keep my mouth shut but just in case I ever get canned I want to demand a raise when I stay at home.

Good thing I’ve had such an eye-opening experience---though it wasn’t easy to come by.

See, I got hired by an Internet company; a dotcom to you hipsters. Admittedly, at first glance, they thought I was a bit ripe, a tad aged, to be getting in the cyber biz but I convinced them I was cutting edge when I told them I hang out with the ever-youthful Dot on Roxbury. But what did I know about computers? Well, I said I could read code and showed them a Harry McGuirk--- Meet the Irish column to prove it. You think getting through Harry’s column would’ve been enough but they weren’t convinced of my competence until I addressed a number of issues.

Security’s a big concern for many Internet users, they said. I said it should be. According to the G-Man the feds are watching us through our cable boxes---who knows what they’re doing with palm pilots and all the new stuff. When I mentioned the G-Man, the president of my company said, "Hey People! The G-Man pulls no punches." What do I know about computer viruses? Nothing. But I know Lew Simon. The next breakthrough in personal computers will be the development of artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence? Oh, you must mean Howie Schwach. Customer service call centers will be made obsolete by robots or virtual reps. Virtual reps?! Hey, now I follow. We vote for virtual reps all the time in Rockaway. You’re hired. You’ll take stock options right? You can exercise the options right after the courthouse is re-opened, or Technodome is built, or the ferry service is started.

Sounds great, I’m Rockaway gullible, where do I sign?

PS: Once the news got out that I had joined a dotcom, it was not a coincidence that the NASDAQ fell 14 percent.

Boyle-ing Points


Phil Mushnick in the NY Post offers look-alikes in his column. How did he ever miss Celtic coach Rick Pitino and Tom-Tom from March of the Wooden Soldiers?

***You know something’s truly awful if it can’t make a comeback. Bell bottoms, platforms, music---they all come back. But nobody ever tries to revive leisure suits or TAB, the first one-calorie drink. (Battery acid has consistently beat it in blindfold taste tests).

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