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In 1968, just before an important person's birthday, a woman had a baby. To be accurate, she had two babies, but this article deals with only one in any detail. The woman was Poxilla Muckerbag and we will begin with the account of the birth of her sons. Poxilla was pushing her shopping trolley and tandem stroller toward her home, a snug, cheerful retreat beneath a concrete flight of stairs that had once been the emergency exit from an illegal gambling house that had been demolished some time ago. Due to the overloading of these carriages with a fascinating variety of articles gleaned from the streets that she wandered, she could push only one at a time. Thus her progress was oscillating and rather leisurely. On this particular afternoon, she approached her domicile even more slowly than usual, for she did not feel her usual self. The fact that her usual self was only capable of a slow motion shuffle may convey the glacial rate of her movement. She wondered whether that half of a family size Supreme pizza that she had eaten for breakfast might have been in the dumpster for a bit too long, or the numerous swallows left in the accompanying cans and bottles that had washed it down had contained other than leftovers.
No, it was the miracle of life, for Poxilla was about to become a mother. She sank onto the bench of a bus stop as what she thought were stomach cramps became sufficiently grievous to stay her journey. Miraculously, a person who seemed to be an environmentally conscious obstetrician taking the bus home appeared. In fact, this person was another bum, but Poxilla's revelation that she was not in the throes of gastrointestinal distress strongly inclined her to the former interpretation. The other bum, when apprised of her state, was willing to play the part, for he had always thought that some unlikely event would occur that would remove him from the life of sloth and bad intent that he had grimly pursued. Relying only on those primal instincts that saw our distant foremothers through the gauntlet of parturition, these two unfortunates became three. Poxilla clutched her offspring and asked her saviour to name the newborn. "Julius!", he cried, "And he will be a hero!".
The euphoria that was produced by this exclamation faded as Poxilla realized her ordeal was not at an end. A second neonate rapidly increased the ad hoc family to four. Although they did not know this at the time, they were witnessing the exceedingly rare phenomenon of [|asynchronous pregnancies], for the second baby was rather small and immature. The obstetrician (for let us be generous and consider experience to be a qualification) was not up to a second christening and threw up.
So Barf Muckerbag came into the world.
The childhood of Barf Muckerbag
Great adventures foster strong attachments, but the other bum managed to resist the fairytale ending and left Poxilla and her two babies in the rather messy bus stop. In this he made the wrong choice, as so often in the past, for he would have been hailed as a Good Samaritan, offered detox and opportunities to reform. He would have become a citizen in good standing and the author of an inspirational memoir. So much for the other bum. The welfare system that had supported Poxilla through her solitary years now found her and her babies, transported them to hospital, got them into reasonable shape and gave them a new tandem stroller and the tenancy of a nice little flat. It was not much more comfortable than the gap beneath the stairs, but it was somewhat larger.
Julius Muckerbag grew up to be a hero, or at least what is considered a hero. He had a knack for the more violent sports and had a brief career during which his picture appeared regularly on the back pages of the newspapers as a sportsman, then on the front pages as a criminal, then not at all. His obstetrician would have been proud of him. Little Barf was not so talented. He did okay at school but he didn't worship his brother Julius, mainly because Julius beat him up and made fun of him. When Julius moved out of home to beat up and ridicule other people, he was relieved, but not happy. Although he didn't know it, he was in an existential crisis. So ended the childhood of Barf Muckerbag.
The inspiration of Barf Muckerbag
Barf had almost navigated the choppy waters of adolescence preparatory to sailing into the open sea of adulthood. He had nearly completed a diploma in child care quality control. Unfortunately, his practical exercises had given him the distinct impression that most large child care organizations were run by people with the moral instincts of drug dealers or Third World politicians. He was sitting on a toilet, wondering whether he was going to have a shit or just sit there straining. He wished he could be like his brother, who amused himself while sitting on the toilet by sending obscene messages on his mobile phone to the young women with whom he had sex. Barf didn't have any young women to whom he could send messages. His mobile phone had run out of battery power. All at once, the pressure of a full day's farts that he had suppressed while sitting in class drove the accumulated fecal matter out with a violence sufficient to alert anyone in the vicinity of the toilet block of his evacuation.
He leant back against the cistern in profound relief, serotonin flooded his brain and he became a genius. Of course he didn't stay a genius for long, this was one of those flashes of genius that, if the momentary genius is lucky, actually produces a worthwhile idea and not the chorus for a really bad pop song. Barf was lucky. He suddenly knew that there must be many notorious sports jocks sitting on toilets punching obscenities into their mobile phones. His keen powers of observation had taught him that there were even more wannabe sports jocks who also sat on toilets and punched their mobile phones in emulation and an almost unimaginable number of wannabe wannabe sports jocks... Suppose he could somehow connect all these guys, most of whom didn't have a young women on the receiving end, with all those young women who were not at the moment sexually involved with one of the very few notorious sports jocks or other famous people? Suppose he could make just a tiny bit of money every time a connection was made? So child care be damned.
The marketing of arsebO*Ok
Barf Muckerbag arose from the toilet of his inspiration, attended to his personal hygiene, adjusted his dress, and strode forth a changed man. He had thought of a way to enter the FeelGood industry, that enterprise of bountiful returns founded on making people feel better without actually doing anything useful. As the sunrise of his temporary genius faded to the flickering fluorescent tube of his usual mental ability, he became aware of a troubling problem. How was he to implement this great idea? All he knew about was checking that hats with large brims must be supplied to children during outdoor play and things like that. This was going to involve things like computers, networks and mobile phones, and he still had a flat battery. He thought about his best friend, Fragmore Skim, who was studying hypermarketing at the same college. His mobile phone always seemed to work, and he did download an awful lot of porn from the internet. Maybe he could help. He found Fragmore in the cafeteria eating a tangello tart and trying to chat up a girl with pink hair. Fragmore must have said the wrong thing, for the girl jumped up from her chair and stalked off.
Barf, while not wishing to deny Fragmore any successes, was rather glad as he didn't want to let too many people in on this. He greeted Frag, as he called him, and sat down. After making a few casual remarks, he revealed that he had just had a great idea and wondered if Frag was interested in getting involved. Frag, who was one of those guys who have a haircut every other day and who sported one of those little lip beards just below his mouth, said he couldn't stay long, but agreed to listen. Barf explained the concept - a website where people could sign up and connect to others for the purpose of exchanging, well, obscene messages. Frag looked bored and said everybody did that anyway. Indeed, Barf suspected that Frag had done so just as he arrived.
Undeterred, Barf persisted, doing the best selling job he had ever done. He explained that there were many more people who had trouble finding partners in obscenity than those who had constant opportunities in that regard. He quoted the rich and famous on the value of keeping lots of people in a particular virtual space. His recent burst of creativity returned as he explained how it could be named "arsebO*Ok", including the capitalization that would suggest a human posterior and even came up with the brilliant notion of calling the messages "farts" to indicate their indelicate and perhaps unpleasant content. Frag continued to look bored and scratched his little lip beard. "There are lots of those social networking things, market is flat, they're starting to go broke." In a last attempt to get him interested, Barf replied, "This is an antisocial networking site, Frag. It'll go viral." Sadly, Frag maintained his disinterest and told him to go back to the toilet and have another shit. Barf, disappointed in this failure, thanked Frag and headed home.
When we said that Frag was Barf's best friend, we didn't mean to imply that he was that good. As soon as Barf was out the door, Frag had his mobile out and was convincing another friend to do the programming. Before the afternoon had dimmed to night, he had the operation locked up. So was Barf's great idea stolen.
The rise of arsebO*Ok
Barf's idea had been prescient, prophetic and very profitable. For Fragmore. Millions of people signed up to importune and insult others like them. Each fart brought Fragmore a tiny drop of money, and he swam luxuriously in the fortune that resulted. His customers, if we can so refer to them, could send the most disgusting remarks of which they were capable, limited of course to the duration of the longest fart they could manage. No one got rejected and everyone got a little something out of their system, just as Barf had. Barf was crushed by the treachery of his former friend, and was thereafter trapped in the numbing job of ensuring that childproof gates were installed on the stairways of child care centers. To this day he pursues legal challenges to the ownership of arsebO*Ok, but these are kept circulating through the courts by lawyers who consume but a tiny fraction of the income from his purloined invention. So remember this: you may have a good idea on the toilet, but shit still happens.