FUNNY WOMEN #13: Ask Jeeves

By

Kathleen Alcott: Where is the Internet?

Jeeves: Hi, Kathleen. Thanks for writing. Perhaps I’ll answer your question with a question of my own: Where the hell have you been?

I haven’t heard from you since 12:01 a.m., March 18, 1999, when you asked me, “How do remove nail polish from linoleum?” I returned over 116,000 results to that (almost) grammatical query in just seconds. And then I don’t hear dick from you for more than a decade? I’m not a robot, Kathleen, and neither am I outsourced from India and hired by Ask.com to pretend to be Jeeves. I’m the real Jeeves, and you’ve hurt my feelings. A lot.

Anyway, the Internet is located on a farm of several thousand vintage Gateway computers in a bunker near JiLin Province, China. Come visit me sometime. We have good soup.

KA: This is all a misunderstanding. My “(almost) grammatical query” was actually entirely correct. You were reading it wrong. “How do” is a friendly, southern-type greeting, which I offered mostly as a concession as you are, Jeeves, a servant, which is why it was followed directly with an order: “remove nail polish from linoleum.” I posed it as a test. And by the way, that nail lacquer stain is indelible. The time I wasted waiting for you—your icon back in 1999 (remember? The smile? The lean? Since when did you start wearing a suit, and where did your silver platter go?) suggested amiable and immediate physical service, and I guess I was confused or drunk or just wanted to believe—you let that spot of Other Woman Red soak in real good. Can we get back to business? I have questions, and you are supposed to have answers.

In that Destiny’s Child song I have heard on my radio, “Bugaboo,” the lead singer claims she is so bothered by her boyfriend’s incessant contact that she wants to “call AOL and make my e-mail stop.” What’s AOL’s phone number/ policy on cancelled accounts? Could you just do it for her? As I mentioned before, you’re a butler.

J: I don’t normally do this, Kathleen, but I have such fond memories of you—remember “how to make a pipe from a apple?”; “is the guy from Blues Clues childrens TV show single?”; “freegan meetup akron ohio?”—that I’ll do you this favor, just this once.

Beyoncé’s AOL account ([email protected], which looks like it hasn’t been logged into since 2002) has been suspended. If you have any further questions, please contact Columbia Records at 212-833-4000.

K: Thank you! I just checked Beyoncé’s Twitter, and it seems he is still all up in her business. Apparently they made up shortly after the applepiealamode era, but it seems he suffers from severe commitment issues. What is the solution to commitment issues?

J: If he likes it then he is obligated to place a piece of jewelry signifying commitment on the finger next to her pinky on her left hand.

KA: Huh?

J: I forget, Kathleen, that I helped you cheat your way through highschool and college, and as such need to use as simple a language is possible. Let me put it this way: If he likes it then he shoulda put a ring on it.

KA: Thank you, Jeeves! I forgot how attentive and spot-on you are, and feel poorly for betraying you for the more popular and flashy altavista.com. If you don’t mind, there’s something else that has been gnawing at me. Do you know the dancing baby? I have never seen a baby dance like that!

J: I can’t believe you’re asking me about that baby. I wasn’t going to do this, Kathleen. I wasn’t going to mention it. But when you ask Jeeves about something this close to Jeeves, Jeeves is powerless but to answer honestly. It’s the way Jeeves is. The baby is yours, Kathleen. I can explain.

Remember “clif notes frankenstein term paper Mary Shelly ethiccs?” The night you asked me that question, I was beyond lonely. It was early April, and I’d been answering thousands of idiotic questions from people trying to figure out how to file their tax returns. Then you popped up out of nowhere, like a lovely groundhog in one of those carnival games where you bash the mechanized groundhogs with a mallet. I was thrilled. I got turned on. There happened to be a massive electrical storm that night in JiLin Province, and, to make a long story short, my sexual excitement combined with a direct lightning strike to the server farm—and I became pregnant with your child. His name is Aaron, and he grew up to become the dancing baby you know. He’s quite a bit older now. You can see his YouTube updates here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Pruane2Forever. Drop him a line, Kathleen. He’d be thrilled to hear from you. You owe him that much.

KA: Jeeves, I had no idea, really. I mean, I’ve slept with a few people, okay? Not a ton. Under 100 if you don’t count those with more than 1/8 of Italian descent or less than 1/8 of a beard at the time of lovemaking. But I’ve always been careful. I’ve always used the pull-out method. If I had known I had a . . . special gift like Aaron, I would have been showing him my high school yearbooks and sending him to the store for cigarettes a long time ago. But let’s not focus on the past. I did drop Aaron a line, he was thrilled, and he’s coming over for dinner tonight. Quick, Jeeves: Spaghetti Carbonara on a recession budget?

J: 1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Jagermeister
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated plastic
1 pinch salt and black pepper “to taste”
2 tablespoons chopped grass

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until it’s all nice and dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a separate kitchen, in a different house, preferably in a different part of town or a different city altogther, set a large skillet over large heat. Cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto an old T-shirt for a band you no longer like. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent and glowing with the face of one of your ancestors from olden times. Maintain eye contact with the face of your ancestor in the onion as it continues to cook. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Your ancestor will look like he wants to ask you a question, but is maybe too shy. Add wine if desired; cook one more minute.

Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or otherwise fucked up. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly, like every fucking moment, don’t let a second pass that you’re not tossing the fuck out of the pasta, Kathleen. Seriously. Use old tongs. Quickly add 1/2 cup plastic (you realize I’m just kidding about the plastic, right?), and toss again. Add the amount of salt and pepper you imagine a sexually normal person would want on her pasta. Serve to a sexually normal person (not you).

KA: Jeeves, it’s clear you’re angry. More than clear. And until you drop your paranoid, jealous bullshit and realize I pursued Google, not the other way around, there’s nothing I can do for you. Perhaps if I hadn’t felt so insecure about us, or whether you loved me—why did I always have to ask? Why couldn’t you have given me a straight answer, just once?

Remember that night, in a moment of vulnerability and deep sadness, I asked you “How do I cure Daddy issues and a loneliness that absolutely consumes me?” I trusted you. I opened myself up. And you sent me to a Web site that was, to severely euphemize, nauseating.

I’ll give you one more chance, Jeeves. One.

Where are my cufflinks?

Where are my cufflinks?

J: No results returned. Try a more specific search like “FUCK YOUR FUCKING HARLOT CUFFLINKS.”

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Original art by Ilyse Magy.

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Kathleen Alcott’s first words were “Ooh, the lights,” and they will probably be her last. Her debut novel, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, is forthcoming from Other Press in September of 2012. She came of age in Northern California, studied in Southern California, fell in love with San Francisco, hid for a while in Arkansas, and presently resides in Brooklyn. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Slice Magazine, American Short Fiction, Rumpus Women Vol. 1, and The Bold Italic. A copywriter by day, she is currently at work on her second novel, a book that traces the lives of four tenants of an apartment building in New York City and their rapidly deteriorating landlord. Excerpts and thoughts at kathleenalcott.com. More from this author →