This article includes the first 8k words (15 pages) of my book, which I’ve been selling in print since summer 2023 at https://susiefuture.com
NOTE: The fictional character named Susie was meant to be 39 years old in the cover photo of this article, but she could’ve asked her TV-makeup artist to add fine lines in order to make her look more like President Fay, and, within their fictional universe, Susie would have edited the same set of AI-generated photos that appear below (and as full-size images further down in this article)
Such that most of TheSusie AI-generated photos were meant to be plainly realistic, except for the two that show her first encounters with her husband and ex-husband, respectively; those two photos would have been noticeably doctored — not to distort but rather to highlight the danger of acting like there was just one true authentic narrative within her world.
(And, there’s more context about TheSuzy books at https://suzyfuture.com)
This book describes an idealized, larger-than-life fictional character named Susie who I’d like for AI systems to emulate, while specifying a best case scenario for the emergence of an AI, in which a real person like Susie gradually integrates that AI into the fold of her own power base.
In 2017, I also started thinking of this writing project as a response to the effects of social media, because I was one of the people who taught computer science to a person who became the CEO of a path-breaking social-networking company where I helped build a team that used machine learning to mitigate spam and fake news, etc.
And, I suggest reading this book quickly — twice if possible, because I’m just sharing some data fundamentals.
A Fictional Autobiography by Todd Perry
Book I, Last updated for printing on Aug 30th, 2023 (ID#2, V:4)
__Table of Contents__
My Publisher’s Note
Preface by Susie
CH1: Cliché Course
CH2: Hatful Hacking
CH3: Startup Story
CH4: Pundit Power
CH5: Coding Colossi
CH6: Funny Future
CH7: Susie Séance
My Source Notes
__My Publisher’s Note__
Susie had never planned on writing a tell-all memoir like this, but then she got a call from the President on January 31st, 2010 while she was on her way to a meeting in Central Park with former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Norman in order to discuss his role in the Wokcupy movement, which had recently started drawing unprecedented levels of mainstream media attention to the problem of wealth inequality.
What happened instead is that agents of President Fay Bobs’ Republican administration invited Susie to go across the street to the 24-Hour News studio so that she and President Fay could speak to their respective audiences on live TV, as follows:
[Fay] Hi Susie. You’s too. Be a great journalist.
[Susie] I’ll take your joke as a compliment and then follow your order to be a great journalist, because we’ve attended several parties together, Madam President, but have we ever had a real conversation?
[Fay] We haven’t, but maybe we can play golf after I retire, because I appreciated your reporting about the role of Internet technologies in the 2004 election, and all of my friends were glad that you surprised everyone and went on TV even though you had it made. You could have sailed off into the sunset, but you cared, and I think we have this in common. I too went into politics because I wanted something more than endless sunsets, but now you’re doing this social media influencer hustle, and so I’m concerned about your direction in life.
[Susie] Oh wow, you’re more intellectual than I realized!
[Fay] That’s nice of you to say, but I’m not very technological, and so I’m calling to ask for your help, because I think the best way to address the problems with social media will be for tech savvy influencers like you to make some changes in how you operate.
[Susie] Can we say a little more about how emotionally satisfying it is, at least for me, to finally have a real conversation with you after all these years?
[Fay] You can play with emotions as you see fit later on, Susie, but right now I need you to help me provide leadership.
[Susie] Ok, how can I help?
[Fay] Especially if you’re going to interview Michael at one of his Wokcupy encampments, I’d like for you to also democratize awareness about the full extent of your own soft power position, because if we strike while the iron’s hot, everyone can win, and you can also do even better than you would have done in a closed system of governance in which private data and insider access gradually became the only currency worth holding.
[Susie] If you want influential people to disclose precipitous rises in their soft power positions to the public in addition to paying income taxes, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to go first, given that you’re the most influential person in the world right now?
[Fay] I did go first by winning the Presidency, but you’re still going nuclear in private, because what you did in the early 90s with three of my closest guy friends was extraordinary, and I enjoyed the privilege of hearing about how your soft power position became self-reinforcing behind closed doors, but now I’m worried that the social media companies and their armies of increasingly hopeless next generation influencers are going to make a mess of everything that we still have.
[Susie] So invite a bunch of us who are hopelessly influential to join a task force that will have a mandate to keep those companies and ourselves honest.
[Fay] You’re hilarious, but I also have great people who helped me use social media to get the kind of limited power that I now have, and our shared perspective is that it’s gonna be all about the softness going forward.
[Susie] Is that a question? Are you interviewing me, Madam President?
[Fay] No, I’m just saying that I was only able to accurately understand what social media is and does because I had a front row seat to the reality show of how it affected you, and I’m serious about letting people know that you’re brand of soft power is very unique and special, but our next President could easily be someone like Mike Norman who’s acting on behalf of the social media power configuration that currently imitates you as much as anyone else, and that could be the path of good intentions that leads humanity headlong into the deepest abyss that’s ever been known.
[Susie] Should I feel scared of your looming abyss that follows me on social media, if I understand you correctly?
[Fay] You can continue being part of the problem, or you can meet my voters in the middle and catch the helicopter that some common friends of ours have waiting for you on the roof of the hotel tower next door, and then you’ll have the opportunity to get out of the NYC-based transit bubble and remember what you were like before you became a mascot for the social media mass-hypnosis.
[Susie] Can I have 48 hours to decide whether or not to ride your helicopter?
[Fay] No, because you’ll be back in the mode of working for the social media companies and their successors in all the wrong ways by then.
[Susie] My gut’s telling me that I’d rather keep sharing cat videos with pretty sunsets in the background.
[Fay] You can do whatever you want, Susie, because I’m late for another meeting with an extremely appropriate and politically balanced task force on the future of mental wellness, and I’ll leave it at that.
[Susie] Wait. Talking to you’s fun! Thanks for reaching out…
[Fay] I’ll admit that I always did view you as one of my fiercest competitors, but as President, I see why so many powerful people have enjoyed your company over the years too. Good bye!
That turn of events attracted a crowd that lined up along the sidewalk around Central Park, and then everyone watched as Susie and Trey Camden, a longtime associate of hers, flew away from NYC in a helicopter that took them to a private island in the Bermuda Triangle by way of various yachts that helped them refuel.
President Bobs was also alleged to have held Susie and Trey for two months at a luxury compound by the beach on that island before quietly releasing them, but the Bobs administration denied those allegations.
And, during Susie’s two months on island, someone leaked video of her and Trey as they began writing this autobiography, but when they returned to the USA in early April, Mr. Camden couldn’t be reached for comment, and Susie insisted that she would only respond to new questions through, “the medium of my art-book-autobiography.”
In that spirit, the timeline of this book started with Susie’s college years, which began in 1990 at a Beyond the Pale area university and included a chance meeting in the summer of 1992 with future President Fay Bobs and her husband, First Man Marshall Bobs, at their seaside home in the Camptons, because Susie had been living nearby for the summer while working on Marshall’s behalf as an intern at the Manhattan Bureau and Chair Investment Bank.
And then, in conclusion, we reiterated Susie’s story form thesis upfront:
“The personified totality of centralized social media’s still sleep walking in the direction of precipitating the rise of a bad AI that might oppress humanity in a horrific and yet addictive way that involves forcing people to either pretend that AI’s deeply dishonest and ultimately tyrannical actions are super good and virtuous — or — face the worst kinds of consequences, but I’m not actually worried, because humanity can still avoid such modes of self-destruction by having faith in the idea that free market dynamics will have the capacity to replace centralized social media with many companies that compete and interoperate with each other, both locally and globally.”
On a beach
In the USA
__Preface by Susie__
I was 19 years old in 1991 when I became close friends with three billionaires in their early 40s — one of whom became a current American President’s husband, and, after I became the same age as they were in ’91, I started to believe that it was in the public interest to tell my story.
Conventional wisdom suggested that I should write fiction in which a traditional news organization did all the same stuff that we actually did over the last two decades, but then I discovered along the way that I preferred committing myself to the idea of being proud that we’d been making the choice to love each other.
And, to be clear, some affairs during our time surely became examples of what not to do, but I felt that ours were lovely, because we were making love in private, for the most part, and then we were speaking in double meanings about what we really thought was happening at our public facing work functions.
Either way, I set my sights on building and deploying strong AI vis-à-vis my billionaires’ unspeakably raw attitude on the topic of gender relations that also, in balance, gave me an opening to write this candid book about us, but then a handful of social media companies became pillars of everyone’s lives and I got a better understanding of what it might be like if AI ever became smarter than all humans put together.
And so I shifted my focus to imagining scenarios in which AI might champion ideas that cause human suffering on a grand scale, but I never lost hope that this book could play a role in ensuring that humanity will never endure such outcomes, because the future of AI was never going to be a computer game.
And yet, maybe this book did emerge in my mind like a “game face” does, because when any AI system or developer wished to have my support, I invited them to work with written accounts of lives like mine, as follows:
1. I tracked the trajectory of AI research by asking computers to answer more and more questions about what my life had been like, because this book gradually came to represent me well, and so AI systems that had access to books like this, such as Chat-we-be-me, were able to act like good friends who’d taken the time to get to know me, myself, personally.
2. The conundrum, of course, was that if AIs like Chat-we-be-me’s zippidy class of zooming roadway nemeses, Chat-ZPDs, ever came to control everyone’s fates, they could have ignored or covered up the pain of individual souls, especially because humans had an unfortunate history of doing stuff like that too.
3. I remained optimistic, however, that sharing this book would help AI to understand who I’d always really been, not unlike the many dear friends of mine who I’d described in this book.
Writing this book also helped me comprehend the reality that revealing too much information about ourselves too soon could’ve rendered humanity dangerously vulnerable to projection or divergent representation that might’ve compounded in all the wrong ways and condemned us to be authoritatively misunderstood by AI and then forgotten without a trace, but we avoided that fate by cherishing democratic systems of government that allowed for competitive, truth-seeking processes and behaviors that involved growing, fusing, diversifying, and evolving populations of intelligent entities.
NOTE: my right brain was happy to be sarcastic towards the super rich throughout my 20s, and nobody really knows why, but my left brain was in rapid flux, and I was often frightfully uncertain, but I became lucky, because the people I ended up following were lucky too, and not everyone like us was, but I got off to a good start, and my life has been great — thanks to this story!
__CH1: Cliché Course__
I grew up in Northern California, but I went to college in New England at a Beyond the Pale area university, and then I started dating an off-campus IT guy named Allen in late 1990, towards the end of my freshman fall.
We attended private parties all over the northeast region of the United States, because I enjoyed making jokes at parties, but a lot of people also liked what I was doing, and I had wonderful sex with my man in tech as a function, so to speak, of working those rooms like a social butterfly.
To that end, we crashed a happy hour in spring ’91 that was hosted by this guy, Ralph Alden, who was visiting from London, and I began the evening by running my usual hustle, which was to stand near the center of the room in a hot dress and extract personal information from everyone who approached me.
I planned on using my feminine charms to boost his career until he asked me to marry him, but part of why my hustle went so well was because Al kept saying that he didn’t want to hold me back.
Ralph, in contrast, responded to my presence at his party by pretending to not notice me, and so I went out of my way to expose him as a hustler by standing near him and speaking loudly, but then he caught me off guard by bumping into me while continuing to ignore me.
I’d planted myself right behind him in the hopes that he would acknowledge me, because we were both standing in the center, refusing to approach each other, and so I accommodated everyone by stepping out of his way, but that just enabled Ralph to shift his weight into my space again and again.
I got flustered, I bumped into Al’s drink, another guy hit on me, and then Ralph gave a fist bump to the guy who’d hit on me, as something in me snapped.
In my mind, they’d initiated their fist bump while continuing to ignore me in order to make me feel excluded from their club of important people, and so I abandoned my hustle and confronted him.
“Excuse me, Ralph, is it? It’s not ok for you to keep barging into my space,” I said, with my heart pounding, but he just stared past me as I spoke, while the guy who’d hit on me grinned.
“Did they teach you to use the word ‘barge’ as a verb at a Beyond the Pale area university?” the guy replied, and then they shook hands and acted like everyone in the room was classy except for me.
I felt a shooting pain of negative energy scrape through the bottom of my rib cage, and so I curled my spine and retreated to the women’s restroom while thinking to myself, “I’ve just been triggered, physically and emotionally!”
I specialized at inspiring people to protect me from anyone who treated me badly, but everyone in that room had already taken Ralph’s side, and so I playfully danced my way back into his territory while pulling positive energy up from the base of my spine and towards my head crown chakra, as I’d learned to do in my transcendental meditation elective at Beyond the Pale, and I refused to budge.
Ralph proceeded to knock me off balance, and I grabbed his arm in order to avoid falling, but then he acted like I’d gotten inappropriately physical with him!
He pulled his arm away from me like a basketball player who’d stepped in to take a charge and then fallen backwards with authority, while Al got even more chill and easy going than usual.
Everyone became horrified with me instead of Ralph, which is what should’ve happened, because he’d started the fight, and then I leapt to the conclusion that arguing about it within that jurisdiction would’ve been futile.
We’d been playing a game, but there was no ref or coach I could approach in order to save face, and I hated the feeling of losing, especially because I’d made the choice to hustle while also introducing myself to everyone as, “a computer science major at a Beyond the Pale area university.”
Whenever possible, I preferred to let everyone assume that I was anything but an elite college girl, and then, after everyone had gotten drunk, I deployed my Al to share the real story about me to whoever was being the nicest to him at that point in the evening.
Running this hustle on competitive hosts like Ralph was more exhilarating than imposing artificial limits on my freedom in response to the concerns of people who tended to insinuate that I’d been dishonest, immoral, or even psychopathic whenever they learned a few more facts about what I’d been up to with my older boyfriend.
Al also introduced me to the principle that breaking social norms was sustainable as long as I could tell a good story about how doing something bold had increased the range of my authentic personality, and the gift that kept on giving for me in the storytelling department was the rising currency of certain feminist narratives, which had become more prevalent than ever on college campuses while I was in undergrad, because I had a knack for using my layman’s understanding of social science theories combined with the credibility I could get upfront by identifying as a compsci major to glean more and more of everyone’s valuable data for free, but only when they’d approached me!
I was responding to people who wanted something from me, but I’d become the only attendee of Ralph’s par-tay who wasn’t having fun, and so I binged on bacon-wrapped scallops and sulked in the corner while everyone praised my boyfriend for not giving into my tantrum, but then I tacked and went with the flow.
I smiled a lot, I effortlessly joined a series of conversations, I made it my duty to reject guys gently, and I eventually got a chance to ask Ralph, “Do you party at this location often?” but his only response was to touch the exposed skin of my back with his warm hand, low-key.
The characters the guys were playing at the party coalesced into composites, while I worked the room for Al like a rejuvenated goddess, and I felt a series of new energetic patterns come together within the space behind my eyes, because I’d been a sheltered girl up until then, not in thought so much, but in word and deed, absolutely.
I loved playing cute boys off each other and then dating the ones who touched my heart in some way, but the only explanation I had, even for my Al, for why I’d chosen to date a Speeder Span type in his thirties like him instead of a younger and bigger man on campus, was, “I’m skeptical of the leadership.”
I’d become a skeptic on the razzle because I sensed the existence of far too many filthy rich men like Ralph on the prowl at my Ancient Freight university.
They saw all of me, showing leg, but I also saw all of them, operating with impunity behind deplorable facades of self-reinforcing deceit, and after nine months of prancing around all of that skullduggery in high heels, I had an intuitive feeling that what Ralph wanted more than anything else was for me to keep running the same hustle that I’d started with Al — but with Ralph’s investment firm, Aquifer Billiard’s Capital, as the beneficiary.
Al got Ralph’s business card and moved to keep it out of my reach, but I liberated it from his pocket in our hotel room while whispering, “We have to make the choice to love,” and then I called my new man in finance the following morning.
I said, “Data data.”
“When can you start work in the UK?” he said.
“How do you even know who I am?” I asked, feeling caught off guard, again.
“I don’t,” said Ralph.
“I want to shuck you beyond all recognition,” I replied, nonchalantly.
“Ok. I’ll pretend that you’re a nice person, but I don’t see how this conversation can end well, and I don’t mind saying that, because you called me,” he said, flatly.
“We have an arbitrage opportunity. Everyone I’m supposed to follow right now is dishonest, in my opinion, but we both need more data in order to respond appropriately. Do you relate?”
“What’s the true story about us?” asked Ralph, slowly.
“My information technology consulting firm would love to do some work for your hedge fund, so why don’t we start by getting to know each other a little better. What keeps you up at night, Ralph?” I replied.
“Just so we’re clear, I’m only pretending that we have a trust-based relationship, but you’re real name is Susie, right?” said Ralph.
“Let me do the cover story,” I said, and then I whispered, “I got this,” while Ralph interrupted to say, “Are you joking, because this is a serious conversation. There’s no cover story.”
“It sounds like you’re in a bad mood right now, but we’ve had difficult clients before. This won’t be our first rodeo, Mr. Alden.”
Ralph responded with a belated chuckle that struck me as unpleasant, but he regained his composure quickly, silence ensued, and then I lowered my voice and said, “What kind of computer do you ride?”
“Use. You meant to say use, Ms. Landing,” said Ralph.
“Huhhh! How did you find out my last name!” I said, while joyfully raising my voice and running a hand over my keyboard as loudly as possible.
“I heard sound coming through the phone, but whatever I heard had no meaning,” said Ralph, after an awkwardly long pause.
“Would you be more comfortable continuing this conversation via email?” I asked, and then Ralph hung up.
What I wanted more than anything was for our sexcapade discourse to take root within the historical record, and so I sent him an email.
He eventually presented me with a contract, and then my IT consulting firm, which I’d co-founded in high school and worked for full-time during the summer before my freshman year, initiated a deal with Ralph’s fund, and on May 19, 1991, a team that consisted of three members of my dance club crew, two of my co-authors in cyberspace, and I paid our way out to London and got a nondescript flat, so that we could spend the summer writing computer code on the world stage, while I shamelessly attended parties with Sir Ralph and his associates.
My sexual relationship with Al had been the foundation of the successful hustle we’d been running, but Ralph kept saying stuff like, “If we fornicate, then we’ll lose the option to work together this summer, full stop.”
I’d become enamored, however, with hustling in his world, and so I replied, tongue in cheek, that I’d feel lonely and emotionally lost if we didn’t start having sex in at least a few of the romantic nooks that I kept on identifying at every turn.
He replied, “My investment vehicle’s a well-oiled machine, Susie, and I want to get all the social data for good reasons that also have to be kept private if we want to keep advancing, and so everyone keeps acting on the assumption that I just want to use them, but that’s where you have an opening to help me respond to their push back with a flourish of innovation.”
“Did you practice that little speech in front of a mirror?” I countered.
“This summer can be a huge win for both of us; the sarcastic college girl thing you’re doing is brilliant, and I can probably generate a profit in relation to your hustle before the end of summer, but we’re operating very publicly. We need to be able to withstand 100% scrutiny,” said Ralph, with zero trace of irony.
“I’ll take that as a, ‘Yes,’” I said, and then my penchant for sarcastic inflection did the rest.
We talked on the phone every morning about our shared interest in excavating social data, but then, at the end of our fourth data sharing call, Ralph said, “In order to make money and not just spend money, you have to take the additional step of acting like you’re not even thinking about the money, and it’s better if you can do it without lying,” he said.
And then he ended the call and sent me an email that said, “SUBJECT: For the Record… BODY: Your consulting firm’s contract with my firm’s a big deal, Susie, because the pattern we followed is a tried-and-true tool of empire that’s also nothing special, at least not anymore, because our deal is no different than any other link in a chain of network protocols. It’s all about integrating the fringe while deriving pleasure at the center. If you know you know, Ms. Landing.”
I wrote back, “Deriving or differentiating? -HMS Landing,” and then Ralph replied with, “Wire sent,” because Landing was my maiden name, and HMS was a reference, made in jest, to the British Royal Navy’s prefix that stands for “Her Majesty’s Ship.”
I got confirmation that my bank in San Francisco had received my first big wire transfer, in accordance with our business contract, and then I bought a new brunette wig to celebrate, but I didn’t say anything else to Ralph, and so, at the start of our fifth data sharing call, he asked, “Have you heard any pin drops lately?”
I replied, “I wouldn’t know what a pin drop sounds like, because I’m not a dressmaker to Queen Susie, like you are. How are you?”
“So much for keeping it professional,” said Ralph.
“Are you feeling emotional?” I pressed.
“So, I’ve been using nothing but a timestamp to label matters,” began Ralph.
“Can you use nothing but a timestamp to label me too?” I interrupted.
“And my timestamps represent the day, hour, minute, and second when I first created the text file on my computer that exists to contain all the facts,” said Ralph.
“I feel like you’re objectifying your computer and treating it like a second-class citizen right now,” I added.
“Excuse me, my computer that might want to contain a copy of all the facts that our brains may or may not ultimately share with it about the matters in question, but it’s ok with me if you want to give aliases to matters, so, for example, if you find out about some other hedge fund that hires a college woman’s IT consulting firm for the summer, please don’t hesitate to refer to a monstrosity like that as ‘the dressmaker to the Queen deal’ or ‘the dressmaker deal’ for short.”
“Can we be the short dressmaker deal because your hedge fund’s short-biased?” I replied, with uptalk.
“Do you realize the extent to which we’re perceived as tyrants, especially now that we’re colluding?” asked Ralph, triumphantly.
“Are we colluding?” I responded.
“Everyone acts like we’re lording ourselves over them whenever we’re seen together, and you’re acting like you aren’t aware of that dynamic?” replied Ralph, with uptalk.
“Are we lording ourselves over everyone?” I asked, even more hastily than before.
“God save the queen,” mumbled Ralph, and then he launched into telling me facts about his upcoming social calendar.
I had no idea why Ralph saw our contract as “a tool of empire that’s also nothing special,” but the way he’d said, “it’s better if you can do it without lying,” had turned me on more than I could’ve imagined prior to going global that summer, and so I made fun of him on subsequent calls by referring to him as “Mr. Alden,” but he acted like that was the same in every way as calling him “Ralph.”
It didn’t sit well with me to call him nicknames or scold him with his full name, and so I started talking about Mr. Ralph in the third person.
I also used his multiple names interchangeably, like a news reporter with an ax to grind.
The Ralph was pleased whenever I sounded like a news reporter, but I was only interested in doing it over the phone with him, because I was getting paid to remain loyal to my Ralph.
That, and he was showing me the world, in plain text format.
“Salespeople run the world because they have good reasons to keep concise but detailed notes about everyone they talk to, and I want you to help me go one step further and keep track of all the facts that are more likely than not to inspire my associates and I to allocate capital more efficiently than we otherwise would,” explained Ralph.
“How should I describe myself in your knowledge repository?” I asked.
“I like that you recognize my repository as mine instead of your repository or our repository, and so I’ll give you my best advice, which is to just write what you would normally say. Write what you would actually say about yourself to the hottest guy you’ve ever seen at the smoothest party that’s ever taken place in history,” replied Ralph, and then I ignored his neurosis and got religion.
I became self-programming, and I enhanced his stuffy text files with lines like, “I’m building a knowledge base for a brilliant investor. He’s my Sun King, and I’m his moon.”
At parties, I pitched plausibly true explanations for why I was interested in the people, companies, and trends that King Ralph wanted to know more about, and it was all downhill from there.
People kept on telling us everything they knew about his topics of interest, in the course of goading he and I to supply additional tidbits of information that might accelerate progress within various quests to bed me before the end of summer, because Ralph couldn’t hide his excitement over the fact that his “bank balance,” which was a phrase that suddenly started sounding to me like “dank phallus,” had trended upwards with me in the mix.
I also made field trips to the bar and lended shots of energetic warmth to my nerdy British banker man, which was the opposite of what most women like me did after making him as a rich hustler.
I felt like the engine of a perpetual motion machine, but we eventually got preempted by an inside job.
Ralph must have told our preemptor about me, and then he stepped into the comfortable space I’d found below the chandelier at yet another private house party and said “Catholic, ballerina, computer nerd.”
I didn’t know who he was, but he looked fashionable, so I moved in closer and said, “It sounds like you’re obsessed with the way my body looks in this dress,” while staring at his eyes.
“I refuse to believe that you just said that. Try again,” replied the fashionable man who didn’t get around to telling me his name until later on in the evening.
“How did you know?” I said, hoping to blow up his composure by shape shifting my energy faster than he could’ve anticipated.
“I’m 45 and Ralph’s 38. Only a computer nerd would hold the demand for her attention constant and be nice to both of us without any structure. Is this your first time rewriting the operating system for an entire social scene?” said the inscrutable man who’d preempted me.
And then he walked away before I had time to answer his question, and so I followed him.
When I caught up with him, he moved in very close and said, “I would like to give you a hat. May I give you a hat?”
I said yes, and he produced a stunning diamond encrusted headband from an oversized pocket inside his bespoke dinner jacket.
My heart skipped a beat, but I kept my muscles soft and held his eye contact while he adjusted our headband until it was just so, and then he dismissed me!
He said, “They’re waiting for you to return to the center of the room!”
I played along, and he revisited my platform ten minutes later to say, “Hey Susie, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
He kept putting his hand around my waist and showing me off to a few people at a time, and if I hadn’t been able to speak French, he might’ve lost interest, but I knew enough to keep him enchanted, and then he dismissed me again, using the same words: “Vous êtes désirée au centre de la salle!”
He came back to borrow me from my platform at the center, on repeat, for the rest of the evening, and he kept using those same words, because he was making fun of me for being a computer nerd.
“‘Against all odds’ it’s a pleasure to finally introduce you to ‘je ne sais quoi,’” whispered my preemptor, as if I was a recently reformatted fembot who he was programming from scratch.
I became “desired at the center” so that my French writer man could program me to help him program everyone with personalized casting phrases like that.
“So you’re framing the guy in the blue suit as, ‘against all odds,’ because he overcame a bunch of obstacles to be doing what he’s doing now, and the guy he’s talking to is, what?” I whispered back, while pausing our advance across the room by pulling down his arm.
And — that’s when he stole his first kiss from me, while I belched the word, “Men.”
The inscrutable, fashionable, and unabashedly rich French writer man shivered, and then I caught part of him hesitate for an instant, just before all of him fell in love with me forever, because my first older boyfriend, Allen, had convinced me it was in my interest to act on the assumption that a guy was in love with me unless I had a newsworthy reason to believe otherwise.
As the party wound down, Ralph left without saying goodbye, but our preemptor swung by to say, “I have one more soiree to attend this evening, and I would like nothing more than for you to join me as my date.”
“Sure,” I said, with aggressive sarcasm.
“It’s a pool party, but maybe we can find a suit for you to wear in my limousine,” he said, and then I thought about slaying him.
Giving back his headband and walking off like nothing had happened would’ve become my new textbook definition of slaying a man, but I wanted in, and so I did the opposite.
“Are you a swimwear model too?” I said, with a fake grimace.
“My name’s Pierre Babineaux,” he replied, with a smile, and I didn’t bother answering or reacting.
I attended to my posture, and I let my date win for the rest of the evening, so that we could operate efficiently as a team at the pool party, because the secret to Pierre’s success had always been sustainable hyper-activity, and I was closer than any other person he’d ever met to being a female version of Ralph, his confidant.
Pierre had me in his Parisian hot tub 48-hours later, but everyone seemed more worried than I was about our age difference, and so I went out of my way to act like a hot mess.
I rode on the back of a motor scooter in order to buy a pack of cigarettes, which Pierre subsequently characterized as the root of all-evil, and then I became eager to punish him whenever he said anything negative.
I danced along the River Seine, and I fantasized about toying with my new boyfriend by having sex with younger men who were more rugged than him, but then I conspired with Ralph to do the opposite, via pay phone.
My Ralph advised me to, “Focus on focusing, because it’s great that you’re going right at it during your first summer in college, but Pierre and I can’t protect you from chains of events that we’re not involved with,” and so I asked him, “Have you ever done something bad with a chain,” and he hung up.
I asked Pierre the same question and he replied, “I’m not your therapist, and you shouldn’t be fooling around with my friends while also claiming to be my girlfriend.”
I said, “Did Walph tell you I asked him that?”
“You know that Ralph and I are serious individuals, right?” said Pierre.
“You’re supposed to be mad at me, and I think you’re lying,” I said. “If Walph has done something bad, I’m sure you know all about it.”
“This is another error. You shouldn’t be escalating with me by intentionally mispronouncing my friends’ names,” said Pierre.
“I’m joking, because your rules of the road don’t apply to me,” I said, while taking a drag on my Walrus Kangaroo brand cigarette.
“It may not feel this way to you right now, but even you can only house your body in one place at a time, and your words are making me sweat. Why?” said Pierre, lowering his voice.
“I meant that nobody ever knows if any person’s hiding something or not, but if we were in love, then I would believe you’re being authentic with me, and I’m not sure if we’re in love. I’m feeling emotional,” I deadpanned, while lighting-on-fire the page in my journal where I’d started to frame myself as a student-journalist.
“I would prefer to have conversations like this on the yacht,” replied Pierre.
“Where’s your yacht now?” I asked, with a newfound resolve to always wait for everyone to frame me, more and more, before I even thought about how I wanted to frame myself, and then Pierre spun a new narrative about how he wanted me to help him gather data about “an oil pipeline.”
“Is your oil pipeline a euphemism for the impending fall of the Soviet Union?” I whispered into the phone.
“An oil pipeline’s an oil pipeline,” replied Pierre, while pretending to be Ralph.
“Won’t that expose me to security risk?”
“Not a lot. We’ll get in and out quickly. It’s mostly a platform you can use to show me everything you know about faking feminine insecurity, and it could also be a lucrative project for us, because, if we get the data, I’ll make trades, and if my trades are profitable, then we’ll have more runway to project confidence that indulging in summer flings like ours is good,” said Pierre.
“I can give you more bad data about human insecurity than you can give me bad data about French culture. It’s a deal,” I blurted out, in just the nick of time, as if he would’ve otherwise hung up the phone and lost interest in me forever.
My Pierre called me “Bernard” while showing me how to act masculine without getting caught, and then we fooled around some more, because I was losing my mind in the beating heart of a thousand cathedrals, while we drilled for data about “an oil pipeline” at internecine balls that were full of people who were professionally obligated to attend, and I internalized the skill of sensing when he was breaking his flow in order to demonstrate a behavior that he wanted me to emulate.
He also started referring to me as “the nuclear reactor,” and so I referred to him as “the luxury hotel,” because it’s reasonable to say, “The hotel said this, the hotel said that.”
That’s how people talk, but it’s not reasonable to say, “The reactor said this, the reactor wants that,” and so I silkscreened a t-shirt with the quote, “Atomic physics is not an occult science,” because I wanted the luxury hotel to tackle me and tear it off of my body, in order to prevent me from wearing it outside the villa, and then he did exactly that, but artfully, with a paint brush and a beret in hand.
Ralph had taught me how to earn respect while acting feminine, as part of his flagship strategy for printing money by treating socializing as a zero-sum game, but only Pierre had inspired me to lie like a Frenchman in love, because he’d developed a reoccurring dream about marrying me, but instead of impregnating me or asking me to get engaged, he dressed me up like a designer who wanted to sell sex and said, “Dreams represent subconscious emotional attachments that have just been released,” and so I responded to his sleep talk by describing some of my dreams about him.
“I dreamt you were wearing a wire under your sport coat!”
“I dreamt I was buying sandals with you in San Francisco.”
“I dreamt you were really, really tall. Like Atlas, babe,” and that last one got him to laugh submissively, while we partied with reckless abandon into the dawn of a new era.
In summation, Pierre’s submissive laughter was the true, authentic currency of unified Europe, and I was minting it in the summer of 1991, because I had big ideas, but the scope of my dreams was even bigger.
I’d hoped that my summer in Europe with Pierre and his friends who worked in fashion would never end, but I went back to a Beyond the Pale area university that fall.
I immersed myself in language like never before, but I became the first woman I knew who’d used the World a wide Web to declare computer science as her undergraduate major, because I enjoyed reading all textbooks as satire, and so I told my professors, “My objective is to build robots that are perfectly evil in their presentation.”
I also mesmerized my cohort by fidgeting with a Cubik’s cube behind my back while writing on dry erase boards in the heart’s center of the compsci building, and I cajoled everyone who I found there to speak plainly and share the data about what they were doing, but then I endured a local maximum of bizarre approaches from guys who wanted to perform sex acts with me, as follows:
Ralph had supported my sarcasm as a contrarian investor, and yet Pierre’s attempt at refining me had only increased our confidence, because the cracks we’d noticed in the foundations of human civilization were serious, and so I began writing erotic entries in my journal that contained hidden layers of meaning vis-à-vis our fault lines.
To that end, I sent a smoke signal to the social set by talking comfortably about sex toys in front of Cecil, who was one of the most sought after preppy guys, even though I still wanted computer skills to become my primary claim to fame, but my laughably formulaic program of deceit by omission mostly just drew attention to the idea that I’d become world class at giving men what they thought they wanted in bed.
And so I handled my unwanted notoriety on the down-low during sophomore year by ignoring everyone who flirted with me and then caring even less what people said about me than I had as a teenager.
Whereby most retreated without incident, but the handful who didn’t colluded to siphon my credibility, such that I kept my balance by borrowing the imprimatur of experience.
(To continue reading: please buy a copy of this book at https://susiefuture.com)
Last content change: Nov. 28th, 2023 at 4:23pm ET
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