Read Something Wiki Online

Authors: Suzanne Sutherland

Something Wiki

BOOK: Something Wiki
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Cover

For my parents, Lynn and Walt
And my cool older brother, Sam

One

Acne vulgaris

From
Wikipedia
, the free encyclopedia (
as edited by me
)

Acne vulgaris (or cystic acne,
a.k.a.
looking like a total greaseball
) is a
common
pretty nasty
human skin disease, characterized by areas of skin with seborrhea (scaly red skin —
ew
), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads —
sick
), papules (pinheads —
gross
), pustules (pimples —
duh
), nodules (large papules —
which sounds like some kind of walrus
), and possibly scarring
(oh, great)
.

T
here
was a commercial that used to play on TV a lot when I was little. I mean, when I was really little. I was pretty much a newborn, just sleeping, eating, and wearing diapers. This was back when my older brother was the same age I am now, which is twelve — thirteen in a couple of months, in March. He used to tape-record a lot of shows on TV, which is what people did back in the Stone Age if they wanted to watch something more than once. Zim says the nineties were not the Stone Age, and that he's not that old. Zim's my brother, and he is that old. He's twice as old as I am, twenty-four.

A lot of people think it's weird that my brother is so much older than me. Zim would say that a lot of those people are pretty weird themselves.

Zim is short for Zimmerman.

As in Robert Allen Zimmerman, which is Bob Dylan's real name.

As in, who the heck is Bob Dylan?

As in, some craggy-faced old folk singer who my parents love.

Or, in the wise words of Wiki: an American singer-songwriter, musician, author and artist. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over five decades.

His voice is weird, but his songs are actually pretty good.

Anyway, Zim doesn't live at home anymore, which is okay. Our house is pretty small, and there really isn't room for more than three people in it. Zim has his own apartment downtown that he shares with his roommate, whose name is Swirly. Mom says their apartment smells like pepperoni and toxic waste. She says their neighbourhood, Parkdale, is “kind of seedy,” and she wishes they could afford to live somewhere nicer. But Zim says that rent downtown is expensive, so I guess they can't afford to live anywhere else.

I still haven't been there, to the Parkdale Pepperoni/Toxic Waste Dump. I'm not even sure if Swirly is Zim's roommate's real name. It's probably not. His real name's probably Kevin or Mike or Mark or something. Something boring. I mean, who would seriously name their kid Swirly? Then again, who would seriously name their kid Zimmerman?

My parents named me Jo, after Jo March from
Little Women
. Sometimes I wonder why my parents couldn't just come up with their own names for Zim and me, instead of ripping off a jagged old folkie and a fictional character from the 1800s, which actually was the Stone Age. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn't been named after a figment of some writer's imagination.

Zim says he'll invite me over one day, to his and Swirly/Kevin-Mike-Mark's apartment. Well, once he said it. He said it once. He said we'd hang out with his girlfriend, Jen (short for Jenevieve, not Jennifer), and the three of us would order Thai food and watch movies and stay up so late we'd see the sun come up. He said that he and J would show me around downtown, that I'd get to see all the cool little shops and cafés where they hang out. I'd even get to see the record store where Zim works, which he swears is just like this movie called
Empire Records
(I watched it on Netflix once, it's about this bunch of slackers who save the record store where they work from corporate destruction).

I'd like that, to spend more time with Zim and Jen, and to see the city the way they do.

No, scratch that. I'd
love
to hang out with Z and J (which is what I call them in my head, but never say out loud) and pretend, for even an afternoon, that I live in their world. I've only met Jen, J, once, but she is unbelievably beautiful and completely cool. Her hair was bright purple then, when she came over to our house for Thanksgiving, but Z says she dyes it a different colour practically every other week. Z's hair is always the same colour, though. Dirty blond, usually actually dirty, and also usually hanging in his eyes. J works at a bookstore downtown, and when she came over for Thanksgiving she brought me this amazing graphic novel about a group of girls who are all named Jane and who make radical public art in their neighbourhood. I'd never seen a comic book — or any book, really — like that before, and I was totally blown away. How did J even know I would like something like that? You can see why I'd love to spend more time with her.

I'm dying for Z to have me over, but he only ever mentioned it that one time, and that was almost a year ago. Mom says I have to wait to be invited to his apartment, I can't just ask to visit; it would be rude. I think she'd be just as happy if I didn't hang out downtown. I don't think she's nuts about Swirly/Kevin-Mike-Mark. Or J, really.

Anyway, I wasn't talking about Z, or S/K-M-M, or J and her hair, or my parents, I was talking about this TV commercial.

I get distracted sometimes. Okay, a lot. I get distracted a lot.

I spend a lot of time online, whole hours and sometimes days, just looking stuff up — weird stuff, stupid stuff, boring stuff, whatever.

My deep, dark secret? I edit Wikipedia for fun (I know, I know). I put in goofy stuff that only makes sense to me, private jokes and little stories about my day. I've never told anyone about what I do — my friends and family already think I'm enough of a dork without me telling them that I use an online encyclopedia for a diary. So I put all my ideas and feelings out there online, everything I'm thinking and wondering about, and then some other geek in some other corner of cyberspace a million miles away sees what I've done and deletes it. Usually pretty quickly, too. We geeks work fast. But there's something weirdly satisfying about putting my words out into the universe only to have them disappear in a split second, totally erased. It feels like I'm writing out my secrets in the sand on a beach. Eventually the waves will carry everything back to the water, and all I'll be left with is the memory of the words.

What was I talking about again?

Right, the commercial. So this commercial used to come on pretty much every ten minutes in between the shows Z taped. He watched stuff like
Saved by the Bell
, which is about teenagers who pretend to be serious some of the time, but mostly just act like idiots. There's this one episode where a girl named Jessie takes a couple of caffeine pills 'cause she's stressing out about mid-terms and having to perform that dumb song “I'm So Excited” and the pills make her flip out and cry. I somehow doubt that popping a few over-the-counter pills would make you that sick. Z says he practically lived on Red Bull while he was in university and he turned out fine.

I'm not kidding about the commercial, though; this thing played all the time, you couldn't miss it. When I got a bit older and I started watching Z's tapes, I started seeing this commercial practically every day. When I was little we were the only family in the neighbourhood that still had a VCR, which is what you use to play video tapes. VCRs make a lot of noise, and you have to rewind the tape before you can watch it again from the beginning and that takes forever. I don't know what VCR stands for, but I bet wonderful Wikipedia does.

We finally got a DVD player when I was eight, about a million years after everybody else did. But I still like watching tapes sometimes, even if I do have to rewind them when I'm finished.

It drives my parents crazy that I can't tell a story straight through from the beginning to the end, but it's not that I don't try. It's just that sometimes I think the funny little moments in between are more interesting than the big ending.

Like sometimes when I read a book, even if it's one I really like, I don't read all the way to the end. I could probably guess what's going to happen most of the time anyway. And besides, if I don't get to the end, the book is still kind of alive for me. The story isn't finished yet.

But that has nothing to do with this story I'm telling now. At least I don't think it does.

I'm going to try one more time.

I am. I
am
.

… I forgot what I was going to say.

Two

Absent-mindedness

From
Wikipedia
, the free encyclopedia

Absent-mindedness is where a person shows inattentive or forgetful behaviour. It can have three different causes:

  1. a low level of attention (“blanking” or “zoning out”) —
    huh? what?
  2. intense attention to a single object of focus (hyperfocus —
    hyper?
    who's hyper?
    ) that makes a person oblivious to events around him or her; or
  3. unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events
    like everything about being twelve
    .

O
h
, right, the commercial. Duh.

The commercial is about a boy. It's about a boy with these giant crimson zits that're practically pulsating all over his face. He's got massive, disgusting pimples from his chin to his forehead.

They're everywhere.

Everywhere.

It's gross.

And he's talking about how people don't see him for who is, how they only see his acne. He's looking right at the camera and he says, “People think that I eat too many chocolate bars, or that I don't wash my face.” But he's got this accent, I don't know what kind, and it sounds kinda sad but mostly just silly.

Later, I found the clip on YouTube and sent it to all my friends. It was pretty popular, it already had like a hundred thousand views. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it was funny.

At Stacey's tenth birthday party that year, her mom put out bowls of red and pink Smarties. Stacey's birthday is February 13, so her parties always wind up being kind of Valentine's Day-ish. Anyway, Trisha licked a couple of the Valentine's Smarties and stuck them to her cheeks and said, “Pee-pull theenk I eat too men-y choc-o-lit bars.” She sounded just like the commercial and it was hilarious. We all laughed so hard. Chloe even peed her pants a little, which made us all laugh even harder. But then Chloe got mad because she said we were making fun of her. We weren't really, but when you're stuffed to the brim with chocolate and ice cream cake and Doritos at one of your best friend's birthday parties, and one of your other friends is angry like a cartoon character with smoke coming out of her ears 'cause she's just peed her pants, it's pretty hard to stop laughing.

Mom brought tea tree oil home yesterday for my face. She said that she'd picked it up at the health food store down the street from where she works and that the girl who sold it to her had raved about how good it was and how well it had worked on her skin.

“I think we need to treat your skin organically,” she said. “I read this article about holistic acne treatment and it had some really great ideas.”

And then I thought about the commercial and wondered if this meant I wasn't going to be allowed to eat chocolate ever again, so I took the little bottle from her and went up to my room before she could tell me any more about how, according some magazine she picked up in her doctor's waiting room, munching on wheatgrass was going to solve all my problems.

Not that I have that many problems.

I know how lucky I am, really.

Most of the time.

I went on Facebook and saw that Trisha was online. We chatted a bit about school and stuff and I asked her how her piano practising was going. I knew she had a big exam coming up. She said it was fine, but that she was really getting bored of the pieces her teacher made her play.

Me:
What would you rather be doing?

Trisha:
Anything but Für Elise.

Me:
I had to google that. You're really playing Beethoven?

Trisha:
Yeah, it's not that hard.

Me:
We should start a band.

Trisha:
Uh-huh, and what do you play?

Me:
I could totally get my brother to teach me guitar. I don't think it's that hard.

Trisha:
When's the last time you saw your brother?

Me:
His birthday.

Trisha:
Yeah, and when was that?

Me:
… a couple months ago.

After that I made up an excuse and logged off. I like Trisha and everything, but she can be kind of blunt, like she doesn't realize she's being mean. Well, not mean exactly, but not nice, either. I don't know, it's complicated.

BOOK: Something Wiki
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