“Um, yes, master?”
“Just do it, something is weird.”
She fixed them and we both reloaded the page.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” is a song by the British rock band Queen, featured on their 1978 albu Jazz that was relesed as a single in 1979. Wrtten by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it was recorded in August 1978 at Super Bear Studios in Berre-les-Alpes (Alpes-Maritimes), France, and is the twelfth track on the album.
“OK,” Maya said, “there is no conceivable way that I didn’t see that someone misspelled the world ‘album’ after you specifically asked me to look for typos. I’m fucking fastidious.”
“I’m going to fix it again,” I said.
I fixed all the typos and reloaded the page again.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” is a song by the British rock band Queen, featured on their 1978 albu Jazz that was relesed as a single in 1979. Wrtten by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it was recorded in Augst 1978 at Super Bear Studios in Berre-les-Alpes (Alpes-Maritimes), France, and is the twelfth track on the album.
“The u in ‘August’ is gone now!” I said, getting more freaked-out.
I called Andy.
“Yello!” he said, still clearly delirious.
“Can you go to the Wikipedia page for ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ right now?” I said, without any preamble.
“Yup!” I could hear him rustling around for his computer. I just waited.
“OK, loading up . . . aaannd . . .” I heard the keys clacking.
“Do you see any typos in the first paragraph?”
“Ummm . . . Yes . . . there’s no i in ‘written.’”
“And that’s all.”
“Is this a test?”
“What about ‘released’ or ‘album’ or ‘August’?”
“I have had a very weird day, April, but you are making it considerably weirder.”
“Answer the question.”
“No, all those words are spelled correctly. You do know how Wikipedia works, right, you can change the page. Somebody probably just fixed it.”
I reloaded the page again, all the same typos, no new ones.
“Fix the typo.”
“April, we’re supposed to be downtown to shoot for ABC News in like two hours. There are a lot of errors on Wikipedia and we aren’t going to fix them all today.”
“OH MY GOD ANDY DO THE THING,” I loudly monotoned.
“I already did . . . I did it while I was whining. It is not fixed. Oh, actually, this is weird, ‘released’ is now misspelled. Wait, that was one of the words you listed. How did you do that?”
Maya chimed in, “Put him on speaker.” So I did.
“Andy, this is Maya, the same thing happened to us, but it didn’t require me to make the first change before I saw the second one, probably because April and I are on the same IP address. Every time I fix a typo I see a new one, as well as the one I just fixed. According to the Wikipedia log pages, no one is making these changes. Indeed, according to the Wikipedia log, no one has made any changes, including us, to this page since three hours ago when an editor added a note about the song playing in security camera footage.
“In the time that you two were talking, I tried to fix the final letter, and I didn’t see any more typos. It seems as if we have run into a dead end. Additionally, we are not going to figure this out right now because April has to do her hair in the next half hour and then get on the subway to Manhattan,” Maya ordered.
“Are we really going to still do this TV thing?” I whined.
“Yes,” Maya and Andy replied simultaneously.
“But do you not both agree that this is far more interesting?”
They both did, but then there was the whole matter of the $10,000.
Later, after I had been through a quick rinse and was flat-ironing my hair, I called to Maya from the bathroom, “What were the misspelled words?”
“‘Written,’ ‘released’ . . .” She thought for a second before poking her head into the bathroom. “‘Album’ and ‘August.’”
“I, A, M, U,” I said.
“Hmm?” she asked as she sat down on the toilet. Not to pee or anything, just because there wasn’t anywhere else in the bathroom to sit.
“Those were the missing letters. I, A, M, U.”
“‘I am you’?” she said.
“Well, I am fairly certain that I wasn’t the one ghost-editing Wikipedia from the inside.”
“April, this is a mystery we are not going to solve today.”
“Uggggghhhh!” I said in frustration. “How can you do thaaat?”
“Don’t you want to figure this out?”
“You’re going to be on the national news in an hour, hun. Literally dozens of senior citizens are going to see you, you have to look presentable.”
“This is terrible.”
She laughed. “You do know what you’re doing right now, right?”
“April, picture this if you will. A young woman who has created some excellent fan art for her favorite band gets an email to ask if she can make some official merch. And then that woman doesn’t just not respond, she stops listening to that band entirely. And then remember that you actually did that.”
“I was already growing out of them, I’m embarrassed I ever grooved to those particular tunes.”
“Sure,” she said, unconvinced. “The point is that you hate it when money makes you do things, even when they’re interesting things. And I get that, it sucks to have money push you around, and maybe you’re a little less used to it than the average person.”
“That’s not fair,” I replied, a bit hurt. “Andy is ‘freelancing’ because his dad can just keep paying his rent while he builds his portfolio.”
She laughed. “Yeah, of course there are people who have more than you. Hell, I have more than you. But you still have way more than most people. But whatever. You’re you, and you don’t like doing normal stuff, and the normal thing when someone offers you ten thousand dollars to do something is to do it. Even if it’s stressful and scary.”
“I’m not scared of being on TV,” I asserted.
“Yeah, you are!” she countered.
I checked, and I found that she was right.
“How do you know?”
“Because it’s scary to go on TV. That’s not a ‘you’ thing, it’s a human thing. But you shouldn’t do it for the money. And you shouldn’t do it because you’re scared of it. You should do it because it’s going to be strange. You’re going to see stuff people don’t get to see, you’re going to know how things work, and you’re going to tell me all about it, and I’m going to be fascinated, and we’re going to make fun of the weird newspeople together, and then we’re going to work on this weird Wikipedia shit.
“Also, in a week you will have fifty thousand new dollars, and that is amazing and I’m really happy for you. You do the things you have to do in the order you have to do them.”
Maya has a kind of self-control that almost seems like a foreign language to me. I see her using it and I know it’s real, but it never stops feeling like gibberish to my brain.
“And we’re not going to figure out the Wikipedia shit right now,” I finished for her.
“Nope. I’ll be thinking about it and we’ll work on it as soon as you get home.” She stood up to take a look at my hair.
“Did I do OK?”
“I wouldn’t call it an adventurous look. But the good news is that no matter what you do up here”—she gestured to my hair—“all the rest of this”—meaning my face and body—“is just pure genetically induced hotness.” Her eyes were soft, and not for the first time, I had the sensation that she and I had settled into a rhythm of mutual appreciation that was at once wonderfully comfortable and totally terrifying.
That night I discovered that TV interviews are a terrible way to spend time but an excellent way to make $20,000. I learned pretty quick that I didn’t have to do my makeup at home because the vast majority of time spent on television news is spent making television news look impressive. This included painting an entirely new face onto my face as soon as I walked into the building. Interesting that, when I did tag team interviews with Andy, he spent the “face reconstruction” time eating free doughnuts on leather couches.
To say that I didn’t watch TV news is underselling my position. I actively avoided not just the news but also clips of the news on social media. I believed (or maybe wanted to believe) that I lived in a bubble world unaffected by the kinds of things that happened on cable news.
I was about to get a crash course. Here’s the first thing I learned:
TV news spends lots of time and money looking impressive because it is not actually impressive. After I saw it from the inside, the shine immediately disappeared. TV news studios are just rooms with people in them. Some of the people are cool and nice; others are insecure and loud. It’s basically just like every other room full of people you’ve ever been in, except exactly half of it looks extremely fancy and important, and the other half is just concrete and scaffolding.