Sunday, February 26, 2017

Senior. (Part 1)


     Honest, I take pride in giving people a chance.  Everyone gets a shot with me.  However, the young sport I was dealing with had used his shot already, and I was ready to stuff him down a sewer.
     Bekka, Jane and I are at UC Berkeley, being given a guided tour of the campus by the young sport, a senior who had identified himself as "Sparky."  Okay, strike one.  He was in Nikes, Levis that looked like they'd been ironed, and a sweater that says "Cal" across it.  He is just so darn overjoyed to meet us, he can't stop smiling.  It's the same smile I associate with Scientologists who hang around airports.  He's so full of vim and pep and energy you want to cut off his breathing for a couple minutes.  The "Up With People" troupe would have fired him for excessive cheeriness.
     Like a lot of other prospective students and their families, we'd met Sparky at Sproul Hall, at the foot of Telegraph Ave.  He initially had a rattled look when he saw us: this had to be a joke.  A six foot punk rocker with a ten gauge septum ring, bone-white hair (short and a bit spiky) a stud-covered denim that had seen far better days, and wraparound sunglasses.  Next to him is....  Oh gosh, it can't be, it's Becky Page, big as day.  Both her blouse and skirt are semitransparent, not really providing a full view of the glories underneath, but her bra is obviously red, and....  Uh....  Oh, she must be wearing a pair of flesh-tone undies.
     And the reason we're here, Jane, is another punk rocker.  A five foot five girl with a four inch high blue mohawk, a nose ring, makeup like Bekka's, a Crucifucks t-shirt, and a leather micro-skirt.  All three of us are wearing Doc Martens, as we've been told a lot of walking is up for us that day.  And Jane's leather has the words "Machine Snatch" across the back in violent swirling letters, red and silver.  This first confused Sparky, so he asked Jane about it, who told him the truth about the meaning.  That only disturbed Sparky, his face dropped a bit when he had a seventeen year old girl tell him, "My snatch is like a machine.  It's always running.  It's full of complex parts, I keep it well-lubricated, and it's as smooth as a piston head."
     Sparky sort of froze in place at this revelation, his mouth stuck in a parted-lip smile.  I thought we might need to reboot him.  Then he snapped out of it and simply said, "Okay, thanks for explaining!  So, your app says you plan on being a business major.  Why don't we head up the hill to the Walter Haas School of Business, then we can work our way downhill from there."
     The four of us began trucking up Optometry Lane, which would spit us out on the south side of the Haas School.  Sparky was gently probing us about where we were from, where we were staying, the usual politeness gabble people use to cover up what would otherwise be awkward silence.  He said to Jane, "You certainly don't look like the average prospective business student!"
     Jane replied, "That's all right, I'm not going to be running the average business.  I'm probably a bit unusual for most people my age, in that I've already got a bit of my life planned out.  After I graduate UCB, I'll be taking over the reins at an escort agency in Los Angeles.  The woman currently running the place wants to retire around that same time.  She'll mentor me in the business, and I'll jump into her office."
     Sparky looked confused.  "An.... Escort agency?  Um....  I may be thinking of something else, what does this agency do?"
     "It provides rent-a-dates.  Very high-class dates, beautiful women who know which fork to use, know their wines, wear Chanel and signature clothing, and are certifiable fucking dynamos in bed.... Although the agency doesn't meddle in that aspect, not really.  The clients are already blowing $1200 per night just to have the women on their arms.  Any action they work out after the date is over is up to them, for the most part.  The agency gets a cut, but doesn't have a price list for those extra services.  In fact, the escorts are kind of on the honor system.  They're expected to give the agency fifteen percent of what they take in for extra services, but we're not breathing down their necks.  They say what happened, the price negotiated, and kick in their percentage.  The agency looks after them in return."
     Our over-cheerful guide had his face locked into his frozen, open-mouthed smile again.  He finally said, "Ah....  Are you describing, uh, a prostitution service?"
     Jane smiled and said, "When you're dropping the sort of ducats the clients are, the word 'prostitution' seems very tawdry.  The escorts provide 'companionship.'  The clients already have no trouble with paying $1200 just for the woman's company at dinner and a club.  And they're not about to balk at dropping a similar amount so she stays with them all night.  They're not paying for sex, they're reaching a mutually beneficial agreement, the client is just being generous with the woman he's gonna fuck."
     "Is this legal?"
     All three of us remained silent.
     "So!" Sparky spouted, deciding to try another tack.  "You may be aware that Haas isn't the easiest school to get into.  There's only a thirteen percent acceptance rate.  I hope this doesn't daunt you."
    "Nope," responded Jane.  "I'm guessing my GPA will be a factor.  With the exception of my fall semester as a junior, I've had a 4.0 GPA since I was a freshman.  I expect this last semester to be the same.  I started school three weeks late when I went into my junior year, and my asshole of a geometry teacher wouldn't let me make up three quizzes I'd missed, he marked them as zeros.  That knocked down my grades just enough that I had an 88% in geometry, so my GPA was 3.7 that semester.  Goddamn Mr. Nesbit, fucking cum-boy."
     "Hey, I offered to blow up his car," I reminded Jane.  "You said no."
     Jane shook her head and said, "Catharsis wouldn't have changed my grade, so to hell with it....  Although I'd still like to kidnap him and give him genital torture with his own goddamn bow tie, tourniquet his dick."  By way of explanation for Sparky, Jane said, "Fucking Mr. Nesbit, my junior year geometry teacher, is a sack of shit.  First he won't let me make up the quizzes I missed.  Come on, I wasn't absent, I wasn't even in fucking California when school started.  Then he starts bitching about how my appearance is a distraction, first to Lenny and Bekka, then to my guidance counselor, then to the administration."
     "Well....  I can see how the mohawk would be a bit distracting...." said Sparky.
     "I didn't even have the mohawk then.  My hair was blue and spiked.  That cum-boy Nesbit sniveled about my leather pants and half-shirts and my bustiers.  He spent more time staring than the boys in class did."
     "The goddamn jackoff tried to create a formal dress code for the school, which would have meant just about everything Jane wore would be verboten," I inserted.  "Me and Bekka went to the school and said, 'Fine, but there's gonna be another change.  Cheerleaders have to wear sweats from now on, not the little skirts and vests.  Fair's fair.'  We managed to drag it out until the end of the school year.  In the fall, Jane wasn't in Nesbit's class, so the subject was dropped."
     "They'd hate it if Jane wore what she truly wanted to school," Bekka giggled.
     "Which would be...?" Sparky probed nervously.
     "Nearly nothing at all.  Her boots and her book bag, but otherwise totally naked.  Jane is a nudist. she has been since last summer.  San Diego is temperate enough where you really could go without clothing all day, most of the year.  Jane would be perfectly happy going through the school day bare."
     "I've stopped evangelizing on the subject so much, at least," said Jane.  "I'd get up on the soap box and espouse nudism at the drop of a hat when I started school in the fall.  And I don't like clothing at this point, I feel suffocated.  I feel like I'm trying to hide who I am from the world, being dishonest by covering myself up.  Going through the day without the confinement of clothing is a liberating feeling."
     I snorted, "It also helps that you're an unrepentant exhibitionist, pet.  Sparky, if she was a guy, she'd be one of those dudes who drive around with their dicks out, watching for women at bus stops, then pulling up and pretending they need directions.  Or just hanging around the jogging paths in a raincoat."
     "Well, I"ll be able to get those rocks off over the summer, won't I, master?" Jane said to me.  "You promised I could make a loop, and if I liked it, I could keep doing them."
     Bekka said, "Jane, we've explained to you a million times how things work on a sound stage.  Nobody there is going to give a shit that you're naked, they've seen it before.  Everybody else is there to do a job, and you had better be, too."
     "Oh, I know.  No, it won't be the actual production I'll get off on, it'll be the knowledge that thousands of men will be watching the tape I show up on and jacking off while they do.  So what loop series will I show up on, if I start performing?"
     "With your youth, and total lack of exposure?  The 'Naughty Novices' series for your first two or three," I answered.  "That series is kind of a cheat for the studio.  Girls who are still a bit awkward performing aren't wasting videotape for us, we can still release their loops, even if their performance isn't polished yet."
     Sparky managed to edge in and say, "I'm a bit lost at this point, I'm not sure what you all are talking about."
     Bekka looked at Sparky and said, "You know who I am, right?"
     "Yes, you're Becky Page."
     "Bingo.  This is my husband, Leonard Schneider, the COO of my studio, Inana Productions.  Jane wants to be a performer, at least part time, she wants to be a porn star.  In fact, the naughty little thing has agitated to get in front of the cameras since she was sixteen."
     "And no goddamn way was that gonna happen," I interjected.  "Prison time doesn't have a lot of appeal to me."
     "So, after Jane turns eighteen, we'll give her the chance to make a loop, just a standard suck and fuck scene.  She'll see what production is actually like.  And my hunch is she will be very, very disappointed, it won't be the good time she thinks it will be.  Pornography is like hot dogs.  If you enjoy either one, never watch them being made."
     Jane said forcefully, "You two have explained it over and over, and I get it, I'm not just getting fucked in front of a camera.  I still think it will be fun.  Sort of like how Smiley loves to drive fast cars, but also enjoys working on them.  You've said how performance is very technical.  Well, that sort of tech work would be fun."
     We were now standing on Piedmont Ave., in front of a building that looked like a fairly ritzy motel.  Three of us put out our cigarettes and followed Sparky through an arch, then into the building.  We went down a hall and into a large office.  The man sitting at the desk looked like the sort of blow-dried specimen you'd expect to be earning a living as a shark on Wall St.  He looked at us curiously: we appeared to be the types to spray-paint anti-capitalist slogans on the building, not wander around inside.
     Sparky said, "Good afternoon, Professor Campbell.  I'd like to introduce you to Jane Osborne, she wants to be a Haas student.  These are, uh, her guardians, Leonard Schneider and, um, Becky Page."
     "Bekka Schneider," Bekka corrected.  "We're here on business, I'm not going to use my screen name."
     Jane stepped forward and put her hand out to shake with Campbell.  The surprise grew on his face.  He said, "So, Ms. Osborne, you want to attend Haas.  Why have you made this choice?"
     With a straight face, Jane replied, "So I can dominate the Western world by the age of forty."
     Campbell's eyebrows went up further, then he chuckled.  "And how will you achieve this?"
     "I'll be starting modestly.  When I graduate from UCB, I'll have a job waiting for me in Los Angeles, running a high-end escort agency.  The R.O.I. in that type of business is fantastic, there's almost no overhead.  Really, it's a very involved human resources gig.  Try to keep your clientele of a certain economic and social class.  I'm sure to make some connections with our clients.  Men who are paying $1200 for a dinner date tend to be successful in whatever fields they work in.
     "I'll be focusing on three general areas of investment after I have a stake: consumer technology, entertainment, and sex.  Between the three, I..."
     "Excuse me, sex?" queried Campbell.  "How does one invest in sex?"
     "Plenty of ways," Jane replied.  "Above-board methods are strip clubs, live sex shows, pornography, sex clubs, manufacturing and marketing of sex toys and equipment, swingers resorts.... You also have grey areas like escort services and massage out-call, plus providing kink services.  A professional dominatrix will have a session with a client lasting ninety minutes, and never once actually touch the client.  It's not prostitution, it's performance.  There's a great call for a sexual service industry, and with a bit of legal finagling, you could open a kink out-call agency in every major city in the U.S. and Europe.
     "Anyway, I'm going to achieve my goal by exploiting consumers.  People love their sex, they love distraction, and they love their fancy toys. With the World Wide Web being introduced, personal computers will be common in homes.  Computers will also become more compact, to the point of portability.  If it lights up, makes a beeping noise, and pretends to have a useful function, the masses will buy it.
     "Entertainment will be a bit tricky.  The movie industry is already established and entrenched, but there's still room to get in.  Lenny here has demonstrated that, he created the genre of 'smart porn.'  Lenny took a small hardcore studio north of San Diego and turned it into an industry powerhouse, and also made watching porn --- certain porn, anyway --- a socially acceptable thing to do, and something that appeals to both genders.
     "So, why not open a chain of movie theaters which specialize in showing adult film?  And not grind houses, either, they'd be classy.  People would actually be buying popcorn and sodas, and going on dates to these theaters.  The adult film industry has jumped on the 'smart porn' bandwagon, and will be producing features which would work well in these theaters.
     "I'll dominate the world by standing on the backs of everyone with disposable income.  They'll give me money, I"ll provide their toys and entertainment and sexual indulgence.  They'll be too busy with their distractions to notice my boots on their backs.  Money buys influence, regardless of any claims to the contrary in certain Socialist-dominated governments in Europe.  I'll buy my influence wisely, and end up having a say in every first-world government on the planet.
     "Okay, maybe I won't reach all my goals by the time I'm forty.  But definitely before I hit menopause."
     Campbell was staring at Jane with wide eyes.  He finally said, "And then what?"
     "Retirement," Jane answered.  "I'll buy the Baja Peninsula from Mexico, and have the world's largest ranch home to live out my days in, and on."
     I commented, "Remember, pet, no building doomsday devices."
     "Aw, not even one?"
    "You promised."
     "You have very lofty goals, young lady," commented Campbell.
     "How lofty a goal is depends on your perspective," Jane said.  "I'm swamp trash from Florida, originally.  Attending Berkeley seemed as achievable as moving to Mars when I was fifteen.  But now, here I am, in the process of enrollment."
     "How are you paying for your schooling?  Loans?  Grants?"
     "A family friend is paying for all four years, he's a very successful businessman in Los Angeles.  He wants me to get a good education at a good school.  In fact, he's the one who's setting me up with the gig running the escort agency."
     "What's your benefactor's name?" queried Campbell.
     "Vito Ventimiglia," Jane replied.
     Campbell suddenly pursed his lips and frowned.  He glared at Jane briefly, then said, "Yes, I know exactly who Vito Ventimiglia is.  And you say he's friends with your family."
     "Actually, it's him and me who are friends.  He's friends with all three of us, but he and I hang around a lot.  I'll spend weekends up at his place in Bel Air.  He taught me how to play tennis, we'll go cruising on our motorcycles together, him and me toured Europe together this past summer.  What an awesome trip."
     To elaborate, I said, "Vito is a friend of the owner of Inana Productions, the studio I'm COO of.  That's how we met.  He and Jane clicked on a very personal level, and are now the closest of friends.  And I know what you're thinking.  No, nothing like that, they're just friends."
     The frown still in place, Campbell said, "Vito Ventimiglia has certain.... business arrangements which deserve scrutiny.  I consider him a dangerous man.  Are you aware he has mob ties?"
     Bekka gave a sharp grin and said, "Quite aware.  I will quickly point out two things to you, Mr. Campbell.  First, Vito has never been indicted of anything.  Several arrests, but no indictments.  Second, he and I are fairly close.  I am a hundred percent Sicilian.  Because of this, I have.... certain associations with legitimate businessmen in Southern California.  Let's just say I am part of the family."
     "Your family doesn't play by the rules."
     "Depends on which rules you mean.  As businessmen, the members of my family are scrupulously honest.  Sometimes the businesses themselves are of a nature that they are in violation of certain legal statutes.  Personally, that's neither here nor there.  Goods and services are being provided which the public want, and that's the name of the game in capitalism, right?  To be frank, if the Libertarians took control of this country, my family would have to scramble to stay afloat.  Many enterprises they currently have to keep incognito would be legal, bringing in others wanting to get into the same markets.  And my family does not like competition."
     Gazing at Bekka, Campbell said, "So what do you hope to gain by being in Berkeley?"
     Bekka was confused.  So was I.  Finally I said, "Um, familiarizing Jane with the campus?  Allowing her to poke around a bit, with the help of Sparky here?  What else should we be doing?"
     "So is your family coming to East Bay?"
     Bekka assembled her demure look and replied, "For all I know, members of my extended family are probably here already.  I have no idea.  No, my immediate family is not expanding its territory.  Lenny, Jane and I really are here to get a feel for the school, for when Jane starts in the fall.  Some things are exactly as they seem."
     Jane shifted subjects and said, "Sparky mentioned the acceptance rate at Haas is only thirteen percent.  How do I get an edge?"
     "How are your grades?" asked Campbell.
     "From ninth through twelfth grade, I've had a 4.0 GPA, excluding one semester. That semester was 3.7.  Not shabby for Gainesville gator bait."
     "Do you have any entrepreneurial activities, in or out of school?"
     "No," Jane replied.  "Lenny and Bekka don't want me to work, they want school to be job one.  Fair enough.  I will say I've taken it upon myself to learn how money in this country works.  I understand how the stock markets work --- or don't --- how banks function, the role of the Fed, basic bankruptcy law, futures, blah blah blah.  I get the concepts, I'm not about to take part in any of that.  Jack of all trades, master of none at this point.  And I'd never play stocks anyway.  Dow Jones, NASDAQ, Standard & Poor, they can all blow me, I'd be better served playing roulette in Vegas with my investment money."
     "You know, you'll have to have a strong knowledge of the stock markets to be a student here," Campbell glowered.
     "Fine.  I can learn all about them.  I just won't take part in that economic answer to a Chinese fire drill.  I can learn about how the German government functioned in the Thirties and Forties without becoming a National Socialist."
     In a stronger voice, Campbell stated, "The stock markets are a main driving force in the American economy."
     "Fatefully aware," smiled Jane.  "It's sad, really.  Our economy is reliant on the whims of investors who are, collectively, as stable and intelligent as panicked sheep."  She suddenly locked up, then said, "You know what?  I told a lie.  I would buy stock in one company, and as much as I possibly can.  I'd buy stock in Intel in a heartbeat."
     Campbell was drawing a blank.  He said, "I'm not familiar, enlighten me."
     "Intel trades on NASDAQ.  They manufacture microprocessors for computers, they've been around since the Sixties.  The original Apple computers were managed by Intel processors, along with most PCs.  As I mentioned before, I believe that within, say, ten years, personal computers will be as common in homes as toasters.  Intel is consistently the pioneer in making processors that are faster, smaller, and more efficient."  Jane pointed at a 386 tower sitting beside a desk against a wall.  "You're probably already using an Intel product right now, and just didn't know it."
     "I've read about the World Wide Web," smiled Campbell. "My impression is that it will make it easier for computer nerds to communicate, without being part of a DARPA-connected school.  I don't know how anyone could monetize the World Wide Web.  Why would regular people want to be online like that?"
     "Porn, for one," answered Jane.  (Campbell rolled his eyes.)  "There is a type of digital image called a GIF which is fairly compact and has decent resolution.  Someone could store pornography in GIF form on a Web server, protect the server with a password, and charge people via credit card to get a copy of the password.  While I doubt porn will be the main driving force in the proliferation of the Web, a lot of people will get online for the availability of porn, right in their homes.  No going to a porn shop or buying magazines from a liquor store.  Look at any kind of porn you want, in privacy.
     "Remember, the primary reason the VCR became popular with consumers in the late 1970s was they could now watch porn films at home, and not have to visit a theater.  The adult film industry were pioneers in home video, they started knocking out tapes of their movies, and the public scooped them up.  No more having to sit in a porno theater, listening to other guys jerk it, and having the horrible realization you're sitting in a puddle of something."
     Campbell shook his head and said, "Does everything revolve around sex for you?"
     Bekka, Jane, and myself all started laughing.  Jane said, "Yes.... But I'm talking about possible revenue sources, not sex.  It's just that porn is a very reliable source of income, for those that run their businesses right.  Look at Inana Productions, Lenny's company.  He turned it into an industry powerhouse, starting with a small studio in La Costa.  Between his artistic vision and business acumen, Lenny made himself, and other people, millionaires.  Just by making dirty movies."
     "Are you the one who encouraged this young woman to think this way?" Campbell glared at Bekka and I.
     "You mean her ability to insert sex, in some manner, into any subject?" I asked.  "No, not at all.  Her mind already worked like that when she first arrived in California.  Not to put too fine a point on it, Jane has a libido that would embarrass Wilt Chamberlain."
     Jane said, "I am, for all intents and purposes, a runaway from Florida.  I arrived in California when I was sixteen.  The only people I knew here were Lenny and Bekka, so I looked them up.  They took me in, gave me a place to live, helped me become legally emancipated from my parents, and enrolled in school.  They also coached me out of a lot of very bad habits.
     "High school kids in California sexually interact very differently than what I was used to.  Things are way, way more subtle here.  I was used to meeting a cute boy and having my clothes off fifteen minutes later.  I'd make out with cute guys at school just because I thought they were cute, there was no commitment between the two of us.  I am very highly sexed, but it would seem most swamp rats are, compared to out here.
     "Lenny and Bekka explained that behaving the way I was used to would get me a reputation as a dangerous slut in high school, and the reputation really would affect my life in negative ways.  No more beer in my locker, no more switching boyfriends every two weeks, no more handjobs under the table in the cafeteria, no more flashing guys in the hall....  Believe it or not, I'm a far more sedate person, sexually speaking, than I was at the age of fourteen.  I fucked three of my teachers at school that year, just for the fun of it.  I was already getting As, I just felt like doing it for the thrill."
     "Jane is positively demure these days," said Bekka.  "At our encouragement, she had the same boyfriend all through her junior year, and now she's sticking with one guy this year.  And the only reason she's not with her old boyfriend is he threw her over, so he could date a girl from a wealthy and connected family, he decided to climb socially."
     Campbell looked back and forth between the three of us with a mild scowl.  He finally asked Jane, "You've submitted your application for acceptance at Haas already?"
     "A month ago," Jane replied.  "It's gotta be around somewhere.  If it's lost, I made a copy."
     A few more moments of silence, then Campbell said, "You know what, Ms. Osborne?  I will tell you right now, you're in.  You will be a Haas student in the fall."
     Jane's face flashed a bit of surprise, but she composed herself and said, "Thank you.  What are you basing your decision on?"
     "A few things.  You're obviously very intelligent, and from what you said, you will pursue knowledge without being required to.  You seem to set goals for yourself, and rather big ones.  How realistic your goal of dominating much of the world is, I won't say.  But you decided you wanted to attend UC Berkeley, and here you are.
     "Those are the positive reasons.  The negative ones are that I'm afraid to not admit you.  The connections you have, you and Ms. Page, are very frightening to me.  I don't want to risk being cast in cement and thrown in the bay for not admitting you...."
     "Utter horseshit," said Bekka.  "If Jane was not qualified to enter Haas, the family would not expect her to be admitted.  The family is fair-thinking, and they do not throw their weight around like that.  I'm sure you've dealt with unqualified students here, whore primary reason for admission were alumni parents who donate big."
     "Just the same, I don't want to stir up any anger towards me," said Campbell.  "And lastly, Jane, I think I'm going to have one hell of a lot of fun observing you negotiate your classes here.  Your world view, your attitude, your concept of what are acceptable forms of enterprise, and your thinking processes are very different from any business student I've ever seen.  Your plan is to graduate from Berkeley as a business major, then take that major straight to a job running an escort agency.  Were you serious when you said that?"
     "Absolutely," Jane replied. "Vito is the one who is setting me up.  Look up 'Patrician Escorts' in Los Angeles.... Actually Beverley Hills.  The agency wanted a status zip code.  Appearance really is everything in that business."
     "You are aware you will not blend in with your fellow students, right?  Most of them are already cultivating a style, or image, appropriate for the business world."
     "That's nice.  I'm not sure why they'd bother, since we'll all be a bunch of fucking college undergrads, not employees.  I'm not going to be worried about impressing anyone at a job fair while I"m here.  Any of my fellow students who are bothered by my fashion sense will have to adjust, and if someone wishes to give me grief, I'll put their head through a wall.  I'm not going to look like this when I'm running Patrician, I'm not an idiot.  So why not enjoy being able to follow my own style instincts while I can, in college?"
     "Other students will wonder why you're here," commented Campbell.
     Jane stifled a laugh.  "One would hope they could grasp the fucking obvious.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll tell them I'm a business groupie.  My goal in life is to nail Warren Buffett.  I'm only auditing the classes here."
     "Given the relative exclusivity of attending here, we do not allow auditing.  Your professors will know if you're enrolled or not.  Anyone attempting to crash lectures will be ejected, even if we have to get UCPD to do it."
     I snickered. "Meanwhile, across campus, literature and anthropology professors are actively recruiting people who want to audit their classes.  At least that way, they know there's a few people present who actually want to be there."
     There was sound and movement outside in the hall.  Campbell glanced at his watch and said,  "How time does fly.  All right, Ms. Osborne.  As I said, you will be a Haas student  come September.  Whether you remain a Haas student depends on if you were serious about the things you told me, or if you just talk a good game."  He paused.  "Intel, huh?"
     "Mortgage your fucking house," said Jane. "Get every penny you can into their stock.  Like I said, they're on NASDAQ, like most tech stocks."
     We went out into the crowded hallway.  These students really were the whitest people I'd ever seen....  And that had nothing to do with the amount of melanin they had.  They were all terminal preppies.  I saw one guy who had a single tiny stud in an earlobe, his parents probably were still giving him shit for it.  We were stared at openly.  A sporto in a sweatshirt with Greek lettering on it stopped and said, "Um, were you guys looking for something?"
     "No," I responded.  "We had a meeting with Professor Campbell.  Jane here will be a Haas student starting in the fall."
     Sporto's mouth opened, and he stared fixedly at Jane.  "Are you serious?"
     "Absolutely," Jane smiled.  "Haas is a respected business school, its alumni are some major movers and shakers.  Given the plans I have for my life, this is the place I should be."
     "What are your plans?" asked Sporto.  He was stifling a smirk.
     "Too many to list, and the plans will happen in stages.  But by the time I'm old enough for the senior menu at Denny's, my goal is to have my name, Jane Osborne, make people breathe in a little deeper when they hear it.  I want to be far more powerful than any private citizen should be, by a long shot.  I'm going to play with governments like Barbie dolls, and dominate markets like a fat man in a Yugo.  Get me?"
     The smirk had disappeared, now Sporto just looked amazed.  "So you want to, like.... rule the world?  Is that it?"
     "Not the whole world, just the economically viable parts of it," Jane replied.  "What's your name?"
     "Um, Jeff...."
      "Well, um Jeff, look me up in a few decades.  You're the first student I've spoken with here.  I'm a bit sentimental, maybe I'll buy you the country of Andorra as a gift.  Good afternoon."
     I realized Sparky had been quiet for a while.  One look showed why: he was shell-shocked.  The student he was escorting had goals of international domination that made Napoleon look like a Neighborhood Watch block captain, and the adults with her had ties to the mafia.  I gave him my friendliest grin and said, "So, where to next?"
     He gave me a nauseous smile and said, "Um, Soda Hall, on Hearst Street.  That's where the computer science department is."
     "Lead on, sir," said Bekka.  We began walking north on Gayley Rd.  Sparky now seemed rather subdued.  Fine with me.

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