The Great Phone Directory of the Earth and neighbouring planets (Jupiter not included) / Chapters 1 to 6

The Great Phone Directory of the Earth and neighbouring planets (Jupiter not included)Come alcuni di voi sapranno, qualche settimana fa mi sono imbarcato – senza alcun motivo apparente – in un’impresa che si chiama Il Grande Elenco Telefonico della Terra e pianeti limitrofi (Giove escluso): un racconto che è anche uno smaccato tributo a Douglas Adams, scritto e pubblicato in tempo quasi reale qui su Macchianera e su Facebook.

I motivi per cui ho iniziato sono principalmente due: uno molto più serio di quanto io stesso voglia ammettere, legato ad un fatto di attualità, e di cui non parlerò in questa occasione; l’altro è semplice: soffro d’insonnia e la notte tardi spesso non trovo di meglio da fare che guardare un episodio di una serie tv statunitense. Una sera mi sono accorto che avevo un po’ meno voglia del solito di sentirmi raccontare delle storie, e un po’ più voglia di tornare a raccontarne io.

Poi ci sono una serie di motivi secondari. Per dirne uno: mi diverto. Un altro è che accade di perdere l’entusiasmo nello scrivere di getto. E’ semplice: si smette di scrivere e si inizia a pensare a quel che si dovrà scrivere. Bene: “Il Grande Elenco eccetera eccetera” è una cosa scritta di getto, divertendomi. E’ venuta così, da sola, una sera, partendo dal titolo. Prima l’idea della telefonata dal futuro; poi l’elenco; poi quella di allargarlo ai pianeti limitrofi e infine quella di escludere Giove. Il resto è venuto da sé, frase dopo frase. E siamo solo al quattordicesimo capitolo su indovinate quanti?

Ne scrivo questa sera (non avendolo mai fatto, su Macchianera: se ci penso bene ho iniziato proprio così, buttando lì il primo capitolo, senza alcuna introduzione) perché è successa una cosa nuova, ma anche perché questo è il mio blog da un numero spropositato di anni e – anche se il racconto si appoggia decisamente a Facebook – sentivo la necessità che ne rimanesse traccia anche qui.

La cosa nuova è che a partire da non mi ricordo più quale capitolo, ispirato da una finta copertina di una fantomatica “edizione inglese” inviatami da Gaia Giordani, mi sono detto: “Va bene, ma che cosa succederebbe se lo scrivessi per davvero anche in inglese?”.

Succede che sembra che piaccia: il numero dei lettori della versione inglese sta per superare quello degli italiani, ed è – per dirla più semplicemente possibile – bello già solo di suo l’essere letti in un’altra lingua.

Ovviamente serviva qualcuno che maneggiasse l’inglese meglio di quanto sappia fare io, che l’ho imparato su quelle serie tv di cui vi dicevo, e alla fine questo qualcuno è spuntato, sempre da Facebook: si chiama Paola Corazza, e sta facendo un fantastico lavoro.

In più una cosa bella dell’essere tradotti è discutere con il traduttore a proposito di come rendere i giochi di parole: succede che alcuni pezzi debbano essere completamente modificati, perché altrimenti non farebbero ridere o non avrebbero alcun senso, e alla fine è quasi come scrivere in contemporanea un secondo libro.

Se volete seguire “Il Grande Elenco della Terra…” potete farlo qui, su Macchianera, oppure utilizzare Facebook: questa è la pagina italiana; questa quella inglese. Se vi va, e se vi capita, invitate i vostri amici a seguirlo. Possibilmente quelli che parlano italiano su quella italiana e gli altri su quella inglese: aiuta.

Se lo leggete – e sempre se vi va -, lasciate due righe per dire se vi è piaciuto o no, o solo fare capire che siete passati. Anche questo aiuta. Me, in particolare, a continuare.

Qui di seguito, i primi sei capitoli (gli altri sono ancora in traduzione).


1

– Hello?

Hello, good morning. May I kindly ask you for two minutes of your time to answer a couple of questions?

– No, listen, if it’s Verizon again…as I was telling you this morning, I already…

This is not Verizon.

– Oh. Herbalife?

No.

– The book club? The free Kirby in-home demonstration?

No. We are calling you from the future.

– Nice one, really. Not bad. Whatever it is, I don’t need it.

Perhaps I did not make myself clear: I am literally calling you from the future.

– What do you mean? What day is it there?

Tuesday.

– No: what month, what year.

Today it is exactly the 11th of February 2053.

– Come on!

Almost the 12th.

– Where did you get my number?

Well, talking of this… we found your number as soon as we got here, on the Earth, a few hours ago.

– You are bound to tell me how you got it, you know it, don’t you?

I am telling you we found it here on the Earth, written on a huge billboard. We got here, we had a walk around, we tried to ask for information, but nobody was there.

– So you dialled a number at random…

No. We dialled the number indicated on the billboard: there was this big sign, and below: “For information”.

– And my number was there?

Is this 340-9827063?

– Yes. Right, this is my number.

And this was exactly the number written up there. We have even checked online: your telephone belongs to “MobiTel Call Center – Inbound and outbound telephone services”, at least since November 2031.

– …that is about twenty years from now.

Are you telling me I got the wrong year? Excuse me, what date have you got?

– It’s not the date that “I” have got: it’s a convention between myself and about 6 billion other people.

And according to such convention, what would be the date over there?

– Today’s date is 11th February 2009.

And you all agree it is the 11th of February 2009?

– Oh, well, erm, yes: except maybe for the Muslims, the Jews and the whole of India, I think.

So not all of you are so sure it is the right date.

– Let’s put it this way: the majority has decided that today’s date is 11th February 2009.

You may be all wrong.

– Let’s also say that nobody thinks today is the 11th of November 2031 for sure.

Are you sure?

– Quite.

How bizarre: usually the Supreme Sidereal Controlling Authority for Personal Data is rather fussy when collecting such information. When you make a TimeCallTM using the Genesis option, you are entitled to an answer from the line provider at the time of activation.

– Right.

…that, as far as I know, has occurred 22 years after what you have called “today”.

– Yes… Now, listen, I really wouldn’t want to start arguing with you on the fact that there’s a lot of us who call it “today” … Anyway, I have no idea: try asking someone else, over there.

Someone else… like whom?

– Well, a supervisor, or something like that…

Forgive me, perhaps I did not make myself clear. When I said before that we arrived, had a walk around and nobody was there, I really meant nobody. In general. On the whole planet: empty. Deserted.

– Tell me again: exactly, who are you?

The new tenants.

– Of the Earth?

Of the Earth, exactly.

– So you got here and …

…and did not find a soul. There was only the great mess you left and this huge billboard.

– I see. Listen, excuse me if I ask, but, what did the billboard say?

“We’ll be back soon”.


2

Il Grande Elenco Telefonico della Terra (e pianeti limitrofi, Giove escluso)– May I ask you a question?

Of course.

– Let’s say that what you are telling me is true and that you are really calling from the future…

From 2053.

– Yes, from 2053… Well, I was wondering: if it’s really possibile for you to travel back and forth in time… why we never see you around here? Why you never give interviews? Or better: why don’t you all go back in time and play the SuperLottery? I mean: why do you stay there, minding your own business, when you could find a minute to warn us, say, not to go into war with somebody; or that a tsunami is heading our way; or that we shouldn’t waste our time watching eight seasons of a sit-com if the channel that broadcasts it will cancel it before the end?

That’s a very good question.

– Thank you.

I would like, first of all, to say that I have no idea what the SuperLottery is.

– It’s ok, it’s not important.

As for the rest: it is not true that time travelling is not possible. It is forbidden.

– Forbidden by whom?

Well, I’ll tell you the whole story: for some years after the discovery by Heffenback III, when the news spread that you only needed a toaster and some sunscreen, time travelling was all the rage. We consumed more sliced bread in that period that in all the rest of the galaxy’s history.

– Sliced bread.

Yes. Not the wholemeal type.

– Oh.

It is important.

– I see.

Well, you would see people disappear and then come back with vintage cars, antique coins, photos signed by dictators. And this was only the beginning: since every action committed in the past implied inevitable consequences in the future, it might happen that the Ministry of Education had to update textbooks every couple of days, depending on who had changed the trajectory of a given bullet, or had warned a head of state he would choke on a pretzel. Not to mention the fact that some multi national companies took advantage of the situation to speculate on the toaster market, and that for some time, before the goverment nationalised the production, it was almost impossible to find one. Still today, our inflation index is calculated on the weighted average of the prices of different brands of toasters.

– I see.

And it doesn’t end here. For all these reasons, one day they decided to regulate time travelling: all you had to do was purchase a ticket, go to the Embassy or Consulate of the year you had the intention of visiting, answer a couple of questions, fill out a form in which you solemnly declared things like: “I have no intention whatsoever of depositing any kind of refuse in time, even if biodegradable”, or “I am totally aware that spoilers are absolutely forbidden”, and request a simple VISA – if you were travelling to the past – or an enVISAge, for the future.

– So, getting to the point, in theory you could make a little trip overe here, right?

No. If you have a little more patience I’ll tell you everything.

– Please, go ahead.

We cannot travel through time and reach you because, after a first period of experimentation with the new system, we realised that uncontrolled bureaucracy had not proved to be an effective deterrent against the fooolish things people do when time travelling. Some would go back in time to do their high school finals over again; others, for instance, would even summon from the future their own self just to get a nice massage or their back scratched .

– Uhm…

You may have already guessed how we got to the total ban. The more timid ones and deep-rooted singles quickly realised that it was really easy to go from a massage given by our other self to experimenting other types of services. The quantity of people who fell in love with their other self travelling around the space-time dimension really was unexpected; it is also true that during such trips, often two people at random from two different ages would meet, like each other, build a family around officially registered very young mothers and fathers who, according to their papers, had not even been born yet. A movement for the defence of inter-temporal de facto couples was even set up, but the Goverment stonewalled, especially when it did not want to recognise those I would call “non-matched couples”, made up by two versions of the same individual, each coming from a different time.

– This is becoming tricky.

And it will get trickier now: each component of the “non-matched couples” had a perfect clone of the other one at disposal. No time to study your lesson? You just had to send to school your other self from the following year, who had had more time to study. Not to mention how many wives found out only after a long time that the future versions of their husbands would stand in for their present ones, busy with their mistresses or with the “five-a-side” football match.

– A great mess.

Exactly. For this, in the end, the Supreme Governor decided to deport all illegals to their year of origin, and to forbid, without exception, time travelling. To ensure the continuity of the relations that had been inevitably established, the Congress contracted out to the company that published the Great Phone Directory of the Earth and neighbouring Planets (Jupiter not included) the management, under a monopoly, of TimeCallsTM like this one, that enables me to speak to you. The thing is, they cost a bomb.

– How much?

I am not sure. On my planet, not including the connection charge, I would have needed six toasters.


3

Il Grande Elenco Telefonico della Terra (e pianeti limitrofi, Giove escluso)– One more thing: Why “Jupiter not included”?

In what sense?

– Why you left out those from Jupiter from this directory?

First of all, let’s make one thing clear: we did not leave out those from Jupiter; they were the ones who decided they wanted a separate directory. Or better, two: volume A to L , and volume M to Y.

– M to Z, maybe.

No, M to Y: the Z does not exist on Jupiter. They abolished it by decree about twenty years ago and declared illegal all the things whose name contained a “zed”.

– Like what?

Do you know what zoos are?

– Of course.

All closed from the 1st of January 2034. Jazz? All old recordings are banished: two zeds, no way. Topazes? Totally without value. Zebras? Too many stripes. Chimpanzees? Exterminated, one by one. Blazers? Declared unfashionable.

– That’s crazy.

That’s the reason why it is absolutely not advisable to accept an dinner invitations on Jupiter, unless you are sure you’re not going to an Italian restaurant. “Let’s have a pizza” on Jupiter equals to your “I’ll wait for you outside, man”.

– I didn’t get that one: why don’t they order spaghetti?

According to the Jovials, spaghetti and macaroni are a myth that has never been verified.

– The Jovials?

Yes.

– Shouldn’t they be called, like, the Jupiterians, or the Jovians?

No, that’s a typical mistake: you see them, so quick-tempered and gloomy, and the last thing on your mind would be to call them Jovial. We even told them that the name is misleading, especially for tourists, but they won’t listen.

– They are quick-tempered?

Yes, even if I must admit they have all the reasons to be that way: Jupiter is not a nice place at all…

– How come?

Well, first of all, it is forbidden to smoke. Everywhere. A nervous Jovial cannot light up a cigarette in any case. Not even, say, before an exam, a job interview or after intercourse. They say it’s out of respect for tradition: once, to light a cigarette you needed a lighter, and the best-known lighters were those by Zippo.

– So what?

Zippo, with a zed.

– Oh.

Anyway, we think it’s all that gas that is to blame: the story goes that once the Sun was exactly like Jupiter, its spitting image, until the moment a guy decided to light up a Camel Mild.

– Well, okay, it can be annoying, but I don’t think it’s a good reason to denigrate a whole planet.

I can give you, if you want, hundreds of other good reasons, and without making a big effort. First of all, there is always too much wind. Then, the problem of the 63 moons (even if they play it down and have officially recognised only 49): there are so many unpredictable tides that the most widespread means of transport on the planet is the life boat. Furthermore, I think you know already, Jupiter is very big: about eleven thousand times bigger than your Earth.

– And so?

So, the surface to study is quite large and Jovial pupils are not happy at all with their geography books being much more cumbersome than those of any other planet of the solar system. Just think that when they go to their geography lesson their school-bags are so heavy that, one day, the Ministry for Education decided that alphabetization was not that necessary anymore. They would have abolished it anyway with the moratorium on zeds.

– Okay, but…

I haven’t finished yet: a good thing is that the planet, in general, is very clean, even if, according to some nasty rumours, it is only thanks to the ammonia layer. And then, there is the voice issue.

– What’s wrong with their voice?

It’s the reason why this entire galaxy (but I know of others too) makes fun of them: it is shrill, piercing, unbearable.

– Shrill?

Yes: you may tell someone is a Jovial just by hearing him speak. You know when you inhale from a baloon? For a few seconds, you speak in falsetto. Well, they talk that way.

– But, they do it on purpose?

No, their atmosphere contains 12% of helium.

– I see. But this does not explain why they have a separate telephone directory.

Oh, well, that’s because they are simply unpleasant.


4

Il Grande Elenco Telefonico della Terra e pianeti limitrofi (Giove escluso)– Listen, I could stay here talking with you for ages, I really mean it, but you have to believe me when I say I really must go now. Besides, you are spending a lot of money.

A lot of what?

– Of money.

That is to say?

– Money: I guess that this call is going to be very expensive for you.

Forgive me, I understand you quite well in general, but I just cannot grasp some of the not so common words. I am not very fluent in your language.

– What’s the problem?

I don’t know what “money” means.

– In what sense?

I ignore the meaning of this word.

– You have never heard of money?

No.

– What’s your job on the planet?

I am an employee at the Ministry of the Linguistic Way-out.

– And what is that?

My duty is to check and correct all the correspondence directed to Jupiter, to avoid any diplomatic incident.

– I don’t think I’ve understood.

I cancel from the letters and the documents directed to Jupiter all the words including a zed, and replace them with synonyms. Priority is given to documents, then I go through private correspondence and finally I check all the postcards. When I find one saying: “Greetings from Zanzibar”, I discard it right away.

– Oh.

Not an easy job.

– I can imagine.

Would you like to try?

– Try what?

I know by heart the synonyms of all the words containing a zed: just say one at random.

– Zany.

Zany: merry, cheerful, comical, burlesque, contented, funny, farcical, happy, festive, gay, jocose, pleasant, amusing, witty, humorous, lively.

– And you are telling me you don’t know what “money” means?

I don’t see any zeds in that word.

– So, what is it that you do, actually?

I open the letters, I make sure there are no words with a zed and, if I find one, I stick a paper strip over it with a synonym I like but that doesn’t alter the meaning of the sentence.

– Ok. Let’s go back to where we started: in return for your job, the Ministry gives you something, right?

Right.

– Well: that something is money.

Not in my case.

– What do you mean, not in your case?

The Ministry, like all employers on my planet, appreciates my job and, in return for my kindness, takes care of my family and me.

– So you don’t get paid?

I don’t know what it means, so I guess I don’t.

You have no payslip, cheques, or credits to your current account?

I really cannot follow you. I think it would be easier if you explained what this…money is.

– Money is… How can I put this just like that…is pieces of paper of different value we exchange to obtain something we need, or desire.

If they are all pieces of paper, they must have the value of paper, am I right? Or some of them are made with a more valuable type of paper?

– No, the paper is all the same: we are the ones who decide the value of each piece of paper.

So, tell me if I’m right: if I need something I just have to decide that the piece of paper I’m holding will have the value I need to obtain that something.

– No, it doesn’t work that way. The more common pieces of paper are worth less, and you need lots of them to have in return one of the rarer ones. The central bank of the state where we live prints them and write their value over them. Then, we receive them in return for our work.

So you work… to get paper in return?

– No. Oh, gosh, yes: to obtain paper that in turn we use in exchange for goods and services.

I see. So, let’s suppose you needed a tangerine: you only have to find someone who needs paper, and give it to them.

– More or less, yes.

It mustn’t be easy to find somebody who needs that paper so badly they are willing to exchange it for a tangerine.

– It doesn’t work exactly that way: those who receive the paper will use it to get something they need in return. Like, let’s say, a kiwi.

Uhm.

– You seem doubtful.

I just don’t understand where all the paper goes.

– It doesn’t go anywhere: the paper keeps circulating and being exchanged.

Yes, but, forgive me, wouldn’t it be easier for the tangerine owner to find someone who is willing to barter it with a kiwi, without having to deal with all these pieces of paper?

– No, because it’s easier to find someone who needs that paper rather than someone who needs the tangerine, or the kiwi.

Really?

– Really.

I have a lot of paper.

– But any paper won’t do: you need the paper printed by the bank.

But, can’t I just ask the bank to write over it how much it’s worth?

– Look, I think you are focusing a little too much on a detail that doesn’t help you getting to the point. Never mind the paper, it’s not important. It’s not that money is only made of paper. Let me give you an example: with time I have collected some of those paper pieces; when I had collected enough I took them to the bank, and deposited them there, even though they were not made of paper any more. Now, if I need something, I only need my bank to declare I own the paper. At one point, my bank will talk to the bank of the guy who has what I need, and together will agree to start saying that I have a little less money, and the other guy a little more.

And what does the bank get?

– For each of such transactions, the bank earns a commission, and keeps it. Now that money belongs to the bank.

I knew it would be that way. What I was wondering instead is: if the bank’s goal is also to collect money, but the money it handles is not actually visible because it’s enough – as you were saying – for the bank to claim it owns the money… at that point, who can prevent the bank from claiming it owns a hell of a lot of money, even if it’s not true?

– …

– Erm…well…I guess I must get informed on this.

5

Il Grande Elenco Telefonico della Terra e pianeti limitrofi (Giove escluso)– Listen, now, let’s go back to the point: I am afraid I can’t help you with that information service thing.

That’s a really big problem.

– I can imagine.

See, the Earth, we have regularly purchased it.

– Purchased?

Yes, using your system. We have traded our planet and then paid the balance to buy yours, to settle down on it.

– The balance?

Three moons. Two of them totally inhabitable.

– Forgive my curiosity: who did you buy it from?

From an estate agent, of course.

– Of course.

Now, the problems are two. First of all, nobody is here to welcome us. Or better: nobody is here in general. And second thing, we even paid to have the place cleaned, and this, as far as I can see, never happened.

– No?

No: it’s all wet over here.

– What do you mean…wet?

At a rough guess, I would say that three quarters of the planet are flooded.

– Flooded?

Yes, there’s water everywhere: they didn’t tell us there would be some repairing to do.

– Well, I really don’t mean to dampen your enthusiasm for the purchase but – how can I put his? – that water is completely normal.

Normal?

– Of course, it’s in seas, oceans, lakes…

So you have been informed of the problem.

– Well, yes. Apart from the fact that, as I was explaining, this is not a problem.

You’re telling me you know exactly were the leak is located?

– No, that’s exactly the point: there is no leak. That water has always been there.

Isn’t there a plug somewhere you can take out to get rid of the water?

– No.

In the leaflet they showed us there was no water.

– I’ll tell you more: it would be a real problem without all that water. Without water our life would not be possible. Or better, to say it all, life wouldn’t have started at all. Not to mention, besides, that almost all living creatures are mostly made of water.

You as well?

– Of course, me as well. Now, if I remember correctly, the human body contains about 60-70% of water.

And how come you don’t mix up when you meet?

– Our body is like a container, and the water remains inside.

You are telling me you are like big bottles?

– No, we are not like big bottles. How can I put this… Have you ever seen the photograph of a human being?

Unfortunately I haven’t. The estate agency who sold us the planet has underlined several times that the previous owner wanted to remain anonymous and that the agency would act as brokers.

– I truly doubt that agency was entitled to sell you the planet.

They showed us a regular title deed, filed at the unified land register of your galaxy and at branch offices of Andromeda and of the Triangle. I have with me a copy of the deed certified by a sidereal public official.

– Oh.

It says: “Subject: transfer of celestial body according to the provisions of law” et cetera et cetera “described as Milky Way, km 13.481.607.302.403, in compliance of the evaluation criteria foreseen for the sale, according to the provisions of law” et cetera et cetera “in compliance of articles” et cetera et cetera “the authorization to the taking over is herein certified. The property remains subject to use regulations as foreseen by the Urban Development Plan”.

– It seems quite clear to me.

To me as well. And there is no reference to refurbishment works. They had even assured us that all plants had been fixed according to law.

– Listen, I know it’s not easy for you to understand, I am not a scientist, but I assure you that we need that water, and badly.

What do you use it for?

– Any living thing needs it to survive: plants, bacteria, animals, men: they all need water, and without it they would die. It is a fundamental component of our planet, so much that my advice is to leave everything as it is, keeping the proportions you have found: over here, in my time, the problem is the ever-increasing temperature of the planet, so that glaciers and polar icecaps are melting. As a consequence, the sea level is rising and surface lands are withdrawing.

Will you agree with me, now, that you need a good dry-up?


6

Wal Mars-Starway– Now, seriously, I really must go.

That may be another problem.

– What do you mean?

See, your telephone number was up there on that billboard, suggesting to call for information…

– Yes, you told me that already. I have also explained to you that there must be a mistake.

Of course there must be a mistake. Even though, as far as I know, this is the first time it happens. As I was telling you, the Supreme Sidereal Controlling Authority for personal data is always incredibly accurate when gathering and filing data on personal information and habits of living things in the known areas of outer space. Otherwise, what kind of commercial value would such information have when they sell it?

– Forgive me: it’s probably me, but I really don’t get it. You were telling me that the one who gathers such figures is an authority that guarantees the protection of personal data.

Exactly.

– …and who should therefore guarantee one thing, that the information gathered shall not be sold or used for commercial purposes.

That’s easy for you to say.

– Easy for me… why?

This was true some time ago. Then, with the introduction of the “Minus Card”, everything changed.

– What is this “Minus Card”?

It all started with a promotion conceived by a small supermarket chain founded on planet Marmalose Behind.

– Marma… what?

Marmalose Behind. It’s even near to where you live.

– Never heard of it.

It’s just round the corner from you, even though you cannot see it.

– And why not?

Because it is covered by Marmalose Ahead.

– That’s pretty logical.

Well, as I was saying, this small supermarket chain, the Starway, was looking for a way to get a bit of promotion. The marketing agency they had hired studied things for a while and came up with this “Minus Card”. It worked this way: you just had to go to the supermarket when you needed something, exchange it with what you had brought with you and, before leaving the place, you swiped your card through the magnetic reader. Within a year the supermarket would get to know you even better than your mum, and would anticipate your shopping for you, so you could stop doing it: a really nice guy would show up at your door, and he already knew you had run out of carrots, you hadn’t cleaned the shower for a whole week, you had eaten too many carbs or that your girlfriend’s birthday was only two days away. Since all this would happen after forcing the consumer to disclose his best friend’s name and address to issue a second card, they launched the ad campaign with the slogan “Two Minus: it’s a plus!”. I can still remember it.

– And that was exactly when the authority for the guarantee of privacy intervened…

No, not at all: things remained unchanged for quite a while. I must say that many people even started competing against each other to communicate as many data they could on their own habits, so that shopping would resemble in the closest possible way what they would have actually bought, had they personally gone to the supermarket. They even went so far as to have shop assistants ring their doorbells and, among other things, deliver the exact number of condoms they had worked out on the basis of the average quantity of sexual intercourse you have had from the moment you had received your card. Not a condom more, not a condom less.

– Hang on: you use condoms as well?

Of course we use them, it’s the only way to have children.

– It’s the only way not to have children, you mean.

You are telling me that you don’t know how a condom works?

– No, it’s exactly the other way around: at this point, I wonder if you do know for real.

Come on, they even teach it in school! You need to be very careful when using a condom during intercourse if you want to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

– And I’m telling you I am absolutely positive it’s exactly the other way around. May I ask you how condoms are used, over there?

We use them following closely the instructions written on the box: we chew them.

– You chew them?

Of course, chewing condoms helps avoiding the nausea caused by sexual intercourse.

– What nausea?

Now, you’re not telling me you like to have sexual intercourse!

– To be honest, yes, we do.

Yeah, sure! And next thing you’re telling me is that you can’t wait to have sex!

– This conversation is getting a little too embarassing.

You are right: I was telling you something else…

– You were telling me about this supermarket chain poking their nose a little too much into your business.

That’s right. And with several side-effects: people would not go to the supermarket anymore, started going out less and became increasingly lazy; those who were single lost their chance to meet a possible partner simulating a trolley-crash; children wouldn’t get lost in the kitchenware department anymore and, above all, the market of disposable razors collapsed.

– How terrible.

At the time the Starway turnover had already exceeded in length all known prime numbers. Inevitably, the thing deeply annoyed their competitors from Wal-Mars, who made a formal protest claiming for a body to be set up to regulate the use of confidential data on consumers. This is how the Supreme Sidereal Authority for the guarantee of privacy was established.

– And so Wal-Mars asked Starway to stop using the data…

No: they asked if they could use the same data themselves.

– And the Guarantor refused, I guess.

The Guarantor declared: the data are now mine…

– Well done!

…so, if you want them, from now on you must give me something in return.

– But, this way, what’s the point of having a guarantor at all? What does he guarantee?

He guarantees he is going to sell the data equally: a little each.

– But… are you sure?

Absolutely: this is how the first Great Phone Directory of the Earth and neighboring planets (Jupiter not included) started being compiled and commercialised.

(to be continued…)

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1 Comment

  1. Non credo ti offenderai dato che è sempre farina del tuo sacco, comunque mi piace di più in inglese, a partire dal titolo. Forse involontariamente l’hai pensato in un’altra lingua.

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  3. The Great Phone Directory of the Earth and neighbouring planets (Jupiter not included) / Chapters 13 to 18 - Macchianera
  4. Addio, e grazie per tutto il pesce

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