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As I go through life, creating less and less and merely existing more and more, I stumble upon things I wrote anywhere from one to twenty years ago, and I always get this feeling that I am, somehow, merely existing more and more and creating less and less. It’s a crushing feeling. Until I remember that I have The Wren Forum, and the The Wren Forum is full of genius! (This is a form of faux flattery that gets me through the long, sunny California days.)

Exhibit A: A story I wrote on a whim in 1994, just a few months after I moved to L.A. and, by happenstance, also began working at Disney as the receptionist for BVHE IS, which was at the time situated in a warehouse in Glendale. I literally had nothing to do all day. Even when I had something to do, I still had to pretend I had something to do. As you’ll see.

I imagine this story is somewhere in the three-ring binder I created for all my new Disney friends sometime in 1996, collecting the best of our stories and e-mails from our two-year romp through the IS department. (Damn, we ranthat place!) I called the binder tome In the Company of Geeks, and it sits like a treasure in my still-doorless, drawerless buffet.

Here’s the story and its e-mail wrappings in their original glory. I only had a desire to change one tiny thing, but I didn’t. No, it’s not the misspelling of Lamborghini. A shiny new penny to the first person who can guess what it is I would have changed.

* * * * * * * *

Author: Steve Lekowicz at HVFS3
Date: 12/13/94 11:15 AM
Priority: Normal
TO: Carol Cichon
TO: Michelle Ferrara
TO: Steve Rowley
Subject: A Clandestine Bamboozle
——————————- Message Contents ——————————-
The reason I’m typing this is because there are some people here waiting for
Lloyd, and I have to look busy. So let me tell you a little story…

There was a woman named Horace who, though her name was atrocious, was as
beautiful as her father was ugly. Her ugly father, Grant, was a collector of
rare promotional items, like Coca-Cola dim sum organizers and Filter Fresh

One day, Grant decided to take a long journey in search of The Gilded Beer
Huggy, a very rare item originally given out by MCI to its satisfied customers.
(It was rumored that there was only one Gilded Beer Huggy in existence.) So
Grant set off, leaving Horace behind to watch over the condo.

Horace found her freedom to be delightful, and day after day, she pranced about
the condo in her bare feet, humming lightly-tuned Kenny G songs to herself and
eating Snack Wells fat-free Cream Cheese Delights.

In her third week of solitude, however, she became moribund. She lacked her
previous verve and delight in life. So she set off for the Alpha-Beta to find
adventure. There, in the snack foods aisle, she saw the most handsome man ever.
He turned and saw her. He held a box of Snack Wells reduced-fat Fudge Blops.
Their eyes connected (Horace’s and the man’s, not Horace’s and the Blops’.)

After a brief affair in the bulk foods section, Horace decided to run away with
Linda (for that was the man’s name) and live forever with him in his
rent-controlled bungalow in the Sierra Madres. Just as the two were leaving the
Alpha-Beta, however, a small, pitiful cry rang out from a dark, poorly lit
aisle. Horace was beckoned by name into the dimness, where she found herself
surrounded by Hostess baked goods and Simply Fruit multi-packs. She leaned over
the dark figure calling her name… it was her father, Grant, who had become
stuck in a mass of eucalyptus honey from a broken jar he’d knocked off the shelf
in his quest for the Gilded Beer Huggy.

Horace was torn. She so wished to help her father from the mass and tend to him
in his older years, but she equally wished to run away with the handsome Linda.
Her mind tossed like a salad with Bac-Os and those quaintly-sized Pepperidge
Farm seasoned croutons.

With blind confusion, she dashed to the back of the store. There, she met an old
woman who was gently fondling a package of bratwurst, and the woman said to her,
“Young lady, heed my advice. Care for your father, for it was he who gave you
life.” Just then, the voice of an equally old woman (thumping an olive loaf to
test for ripeness) said, “Follow your heart, dearie, for it will wither if you
do not.” The two old women glared at each other, then leapt upon one another in
a vicious fight. Horace could only watch in horror as the two old ladies
battered each other to death with meat products and newspaper coupons and,
inexplicably, court summons.

As Horace left the carnage behind her, a light dawned upon her. The light was
from the Store Directory, whose fluorescent light was on the fritz. As the
Directory flashed and buzzed, one thing on the list drew her attention the most:

With that revelation, Horace left the damn Alpha-Beta, her ugly father Grant and
the inaptly-named Linda, and bought a Lambourghini, in which she rode out the
rest of her happy years.


* * * * * * * * *

Well, those people have come and gone, but at least my story is done.


* * * * * * * *

WELCOME BACK TO 2006. I see I still use rows of asterisks to separate text ideas. And it turns out I want to change one more tiny little thing. But not here. Oh, no. Here, the story remains pure. But a shiny new nickel to anyone who guesses the second change.


Robb Expounded Thusly:

I really want to win those coins! Just imagine what I could do with 6 cents!

I would guess that one of the changes would be the MCI beer huggy (possible change to AT&T?)? And the second would be “Alpha-Beta?” Maybe a less obscure no-longer-existing supermarket?

Nice story. It’s renewed my faith in ominously omniscient weirdos.

Do I win?! Boy, I hope I do!

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 • 9:20am • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Oh, nice try, Contestant Robb. But that 6¢ is gonna remain in the money booth… FOR NOW!

No, the changes I’m looking for are more for stylistic or humor purposes. Think changing “walking down the big walkway” to “strolling down the big walkway.” Yes, the changes are that useless!

Hint: One is a product, another is a repetitive repetition such as the example above.

Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 • 10:32am • Permalink

SSneaky Expounded Thusly:

I am guessing you would have changed the rather pathetic description of the “dark, poorly lit aisle.”

As for the product, I can’t imagine that you would want to specify Bac-O’s without saying Bac-O-Bits….

Monday, June 26th, 2006 • 2:56pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Excellent effort! Kudos! How true that “dark, poorly-lit aisle” is at once redundant and, as you can see, grammatically incorrect. (The story is missing the hyphen.)

However, Bac-Os are, indeed, Bac-Os. If anything, I know my product names! See Betty Crocker’s Bac-Os page. (That the page uses a tilde instead of a hyphen in the Bac-Os name is merely stupidity masquerading as marketing. Which is, I suppose, also redundant.)

Shall I now reveal what I would have changed? Well, since I doubt anyone else will be playing my fascinating little game at this point, I might as well reveal the answers and award myself the 6¢, depositing it in a college fund for Mrs. Crocker’s destitute children.

CHANGE 1: The Snack Wells fat-free Cream Cheese Delights should, for humor’s sake, be Snack Wells fat-free Creme Cheese Delights. Creme is funnier than cream, and besides, no snack product, especially one that calls itself “fat-free,” is going to contain a single microgram of real cream at all. It would also be illegal. And, yes, Snack Wells is officially Snack Well’s. Or is it? On the boxes, it’s Snack Well’s, but just about everywhere else, including the Nabisco site, it’s SnackWells. So no possessive, plus GeekCaps. Huh! Guess SnackWells is some kind of software! They sure taste like it…

CHANGE 2: All that reference to “light” in the next-to-last paragraph: “As Horace left the carnage behind her, a light dawned upon her. The light was from the Store Directory, whose fluorescent light was on the fritz.” Now, repeating the second “light” works for me in a mildly amusing way. Though “it” would certainly be okay, and much tighter. But without question, the the phrase “whose fluorescent light was on the fritz” should be changed to “whose fluorescent bulb was on the fritz.”

And that is all. See? Ground-shattering, history-making changes, both. Thank you two for playing, and Godspeed and Godspeedingtickets to you both.

Monday, June 26th, 2006 • 3:34pm • Permalink

SSneaky Expounded Thusly:

That’s horrible! I must admit I would NEVER have caught the Creme/Cream name. Creme is a much more realistic sounding name.

As for the lighting situation, very few fluorescent bulbs live by themselves, as they usually travel and reside in pairs. A more appropriate phrasing would probably have been “whose fluorescent fixture” or “bulbs” at the least. 😉

Thursday, June 29th, 2006 • 11:04am • Permalink


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