(Illustration by Eric Shansby)

I am reporting today from a fortified underground bunker in a major world capital. This is the base of operations of a man whose name and nationality I have agreed to conceal in return for landing this interview. I will call him “John.”

Me: “John,” can you tell the readers what you do?

John: Is my job to be making American people look silly, like middle school girls. Ho ho.

Me: How do you do that?

John: Hokay, you know everybody hate Nickelback, yes? And everybody love bacon?

Me: Of course.

John: Is me! I make happen! Computers. Social media. Hackings. Nickelback not so bad a band, but you have to hate so cool kids let you sit with them. You like kale? Of course yes. But why? It taste like pages of book. But I make it that you have to love. Bacon, you like it or something wrong with you.

Me: So you are the person who designates socially acceptable things to love and hate?

John: Socially necessary. You must get permission for to love or hate. You puny Americans don’t even know what is happen. I make fads. Do best work in real estate. I drive crazy. Once, you just sell house. If living room is paint green and kitchen is paint yellow, is fine. Now you paint all walls gray ... or else! Why? Me. I tell Realtors. Realtors tell clients. Now all house for sale look like prison bathroom.

Me: Why do you do this?

John: Subvert American system so world think you are jerks. Ho ho. Remember batting average? Used to be big statistic in American baseball. Everybody care. Now nobody care. So Ty Cobb used to be great, but not great anymore? Game did not change — I change. I say now only OPS matter, so now everybody care about OPS. Next month I say only OSBPCOF matter.

Me: What is that?

John: Not sure. Will figure out.

Me: What is your grandest achievement?

John: People take picture of food. Idiots fill Instagram with picture of their hamburger. Where did this come from? Me! I make it cool to say, “Here, world, behold! Beautiful, no? This will be in toilet in 12-16 hours.”

Me: I wondered where that came from!

John: I am blush. Adam Sandler you hate, yes?

Me: Of course. Everyone hates Adam Sandler.

John: But Ben Stiller you love, yes?

Me: Of course. Everyone loves Ben Stiller.


Me: Omigod, they’re pretty much the same guy!

John: Only difference? Me!

Me: Wow!

John: There is word, “moist.” Is least popular word in America. People vote, hate “moist” most. “Moist most.” I make joke. So, Americans enjoy cake if dry as cow skull in desert? You like girlfriend’s lips to feel like blackboard eraser? You want eyeballs like Styrofoam peanut for packing?

Me: No.

John: Of course, no. But I tell Internet yes, and now most “moist” must be bad. “Most moist must.” I make joke.

Me: John?

John: Yes?

Me: I think people are going to guess what country you are from.

John: I will fix. I tell Internet is Sweden. Will believe.

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