An Unbearable Factness of Being

Everyone in the office knew that the perfect informational rhythm of the Polystyrene had come swerving into a five-car pileup of a halt when they heard Editor-In-Chief Grosby shouting from his office, with ear-mutilating finality: “UNPUBLISH THAT BITCH.” In the mind of any other human being a series of questions might arise, such as which “bitch” should be unpublished and why the terse nomenclature was required. But the Polystyrene was a journalistic vessel no longer piloted by humans but by biological automation. Somewhere in the building, a journalist trained to exclusively communicate in howls and exclusively navigate by echos rammed its hand unto a keyboard, and all offending material was now so much nuclear waste, piled under a man-made mountain.

Soon the antibody processes of the Polystyrene had identified the microbial infection which was making them regurgitate valid information, a nuisance which Editor-In-Chief Grosby sought to eliminate as quickly as possible. His heart was tearing itself from its gory restraints, as he imagined the ad revenue, the sweet delicious ad revenue just drying up. All of it gone. The culprit soon meandered into his office, a look of defiance – or perhaps consternation with a recent meal – upon her otherwise cheerful face. Grosby’s heart slowed. Perhaps he could reason with her. Perhaps she was salvageable. He could make her understand.

“Lisa,” he said, “Daddy would like to know what the matter with this is.”

Mr. Grosby raised a perfect laser printout of the latest Polystyrene blog article, rammed down the throats of its approximately 27 decillion subscribers, by none other than Lisa Grosby. It was a particularly inoffensive-seeming article about Bolt-From-Above Soda, a Christian soda that had contributed so much money to the Polystyrene within the past twelve months that Mr. Grosby had managed to add a new month the Calendar with it, which he lovingly named “Lisa” and with which he hoped to generate even more profits from an unprecedented 13-month publishing cycle every year.

“It’s just that article about their new Soda.” Lisa said enthusiastically. “I found out that one of the ingredients is this artificial sugar called Bile and it sounded nasty. So I thought I’d write a hard-hitting piece of journalism on the subject! Like you used to do! But then some guy with really long ears pulled it down and screeched at me. I couldn’t understand what he was saying at all, and he’s clinging to the ceiling.”

Mr. Grosby shrank back into his seat. Any mention of his previous dalliances into that torrid realm of “facts” made him sweat. He reached into his desk and procured a Bolt-From-Above Max, part of the near-unlimited supply the Polystyrene kept in its offices. He consumed all of the bilious concoction in one gulp.

“Lisa, honey, I know you’re still young and all–”

“I turn 13 in a month! I’d turn 13 sooner if you hadn’t bought that month from the soda people!” Lisa petulantly replied. Oh dear. More facts about things. This was a cancer and it was spreading. Mr. Grosby drank down another BFA.

“Honey, I had to take your article down.” Mr. Grosby replied.

Lisa spread her eyes very wide. Now she, too, reached into her father’s desk for a Bolt-From-Above Max and she, too, drank it all in one go.

“But why Daddy! You said I would be a big media person just like you!”

“This is a learning experience, it’s okay. Like the time your rabbit died.”

Lisa quickly seized another BFA. She gulped it down in one go, crushed the can in her little hands and began to jump up and down. “YOU SAID HE RAN AWAY.”

Mr. Grosby was ready to tear his hair out now.

“Look sweetie, see, this is what happens when you try to write things people don’t have to know. It throws everything out of sorts. The article is not bad, you’re just too little to really know how to write it. Look at this. This sentence here,” he pointed it out, “‘An article published by the Ameran Scientific Journal claims that in quantities of 250 miligrams or more, Bile can degrade the human stomach lining.’ See this? You could’ve written the same thing, but in a much friendlier way.”

Lisa frowned. “Friendlier? Like how you were friendly and told me my rabbit ran away when he really died!” She shouted, stomping the carpet.

“Well, see, we effectively are saying the same thing. I told you the rabbit ran away, and you have no rabbit, and that’s all you needed to know to be happy. In that sentence, does the reader really need to know how much Bile is bad for you? Isn’t it just okay to say ‘According to the Ameran Scientific Journal, Bile, consumed in excessive quantities, could result in nausea and headaches for certain people’?”

“But you didn’t even mention the miligrams! Or the article I sourced! One time you told me if I really wanted to impress the plebeians, I should link an article source!” As if in protest, Lisa took in a deep breath and puffed her cheeks.

“Err. Stop listening to me. Except for this right now, okay?”

Lisa shook her head, breath still held.

“What I mean to say is: stop listening to things I said in the past that are inconvenient now. That’s the essence of journalism. And miligrams is so European, use ounces. This is an Ameran institution you’re going to inherit, honey.”

Lisa’s face took a beet-like coloration.

Mr. Grosby’s face sank into his open palms. It was time for the nuclear option.

“I’ll buy you a trip to Tipsyland if you’ll edit the article exactly like I say and don’t make a fuss about it.” He said sternly, his coddling tone now gone.

“Deal.” Lisa said, grinning.

The extortion successfully completed, Lisa frolicked out of the room, celebrating all the magical new animal friends she would meet in Tipsyland. Perhaps she might even meet her rabbit, who had certainly run away and not died.

All was finally well again at the Polystyrene Media offices.

“George, get down from the ceiling.” Mr. Grosby shouted. “Jeez. Werebats.”

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