Today, I went to a five-year old girl’s birthday party.
At twenty-one, deciding to be in direct proximity to balloons and a hired clown might be considered a little strange. But I happen to be the kid’s godfather and I was guilty about forgetting her birthday last year, so I was left with no other choice.
Also, “What harm could there possibly be in a birthday party?” I guessed the worst that could possibly happen is that I might go home with an upset stomach in case the food was terrible. Or that my face might hurt from too much smiling at children. Or I might end up utterly humiliated because of one of my own indecent curiosities. Which is what exactly happened to me at the end.
At the party, which was just a few houses down the block, I was mildly surprised to be reunited with old friends. There was Ruth’s brother, Harry, who used to be my best childhood buddy and with whom I had not spoken to since he went to study in the States. The tirelessly cheerful Andie, another childhood pal, was also there. She was draped in the arms of Ruth’s other, older brother Homer.
There we were in a table at one corner of the cramped backyard garden, swilling bottles of beer, ignoring the noisy crowd of about a hundred children in paper hats. “Where’s the clown?” I asked for no apparent reason other than to break the silence in our table.
“Somewhere inside the house, fixing his makeup,” Andie said, twirling Homer’s hair with a well-manicured finger. “Do you still work in a call centre?”
I told her yes. Then Homer wanted to know if I know a lot about computers, because Harry has been having trouble with his old computer. Apparently, it won’t upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 because of his anti-virus software. “Maybe you could have Victor take a look at it, Harry?”
I felt a little offended, like I was the local handyman that people invited to parties so that they could casually drop a line about leaky faucets. But as Harry led me to his bedroom upstairs, I began thinking about how I could twist the situation to my own advantage.
I went to work as soon as I sat in front of the computer. I ran the Windows 7 compatibility tool and found out that the machine has Kaspersky, an antivirus known to block upgrades to Windows 7. I downloaded the removal tool and successfully uninstalled the antivirus. When I asked Harry for the Windows 7 setup disc, he said he had to go downstairs to get it from the shelf. And would I like him to bring us a couple of beers? Yes, I would.
Exactly two seconds after he went out the door, I proceeded with my evil plan. I opened a browser page and before I could finish typing “downelink.com” on the address bar, the history dropdown appeared. Aha. I quickly stole a look at the door to check for Harry, and then I hit Enter on the keyboard.
The login page loaded. I placed the cursor on the email address field, and without typing anything, I hit the down arrow key. An email address appeared on the dropdown: ***firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, I knew it. I made a mental note of it, for later at home.
Just as I was about to close the browser page, secretly sniggering from what I found out, something happened. Or rather, something did not happen. The cursor refused to move.
I began shaking the mouse frantically. No response. I tried to bring up the task manager. Still nothing. I could not think clearly about what else I could do because I was starting to panic. By the time I managed to consider hard-rebooting the computer, and I was just about to press the power button on the tower, it was already too late. Harry was already at the door.
Holding two bottles of beer in one hand and the setup disc on the other, he stood by the door, staring at me and at the computer monitor. There on the screen was Downelink’s login homepage. Frozen. FML.