Alyssa P. Hacker's new pants
- To: <csail-related@>
- Subject: Alyssa P. Hacker's new pants
- From: "Michael McGeachie" <mmcgeach@>
- Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 14:36:17 -0400
Alyssa P. Hacker was wearing steel pants. Not rigid unbendable steel, and
certainly not 100% steel, but some tiny steel threads were woven into the
fabric of her pants, in between the cotton strands. Steel enough to feel.
When Alyssa wore them against her skin there was a friction, an irritation,
a palpable intrusion of the strength of steel into her thighs, her
work-in-progress thighs sculpted through yoga and pilates and whatever it
was they had on Direct TV for exercise programs, making them tougher.
Cotton alone, in its quotidian banality, had no such effect on her thighs.
But to prevent the irritation, Ms. Hacker wore them over a silk pajama
bottom: something she'd bought at Victoria's Secret, in mauve or magenta or
something especially pinkish-purply enough to epitomize that store's oeuvre.
Separately this was not one of her greatest shopping victories, but together
with the steel Italian pants, it constituted a virtuoso performance for such
a shopping-novice. When she thought about it, it made her feel the equal of
any imaginary 90210-bimbo, whose sole purpose and talent seemed to be
fashion and shopping feats worthy of Imelda Marcos. "Now let's see one of
those girls master C++, Scheme, and Prolog," Alyssa would challenge the
mental embodiment of her cultural nemesis. And the answer was perpetual
After asserting her superiority to the superficial, shopping-savant
simulacrum girl, the blinking cursor of her monitor caught her attention. A
demonstration of her superiority at one of her professional duties seemed to
be required. The cursor asked for input, but expected brilliance. Alyssa
stretched in her seat. The silk inner lining of her ensemble clung to her
skin (a little sweaty, the air conditioning never did work right) but
slipped past the stiff fabric of steel and cotton, repositioning her in her
pants. The effect was small; the pants were tight. Women's pants are
always tight, as far as Alyssa could remember, or they have been since the
tragic Zubaz epidemic of '91. How many wild Zubaz had to die to make such
awful pants? Alyssa was much more comfortable wearing the industrial steel
product she'd found. Perhaps the successor of leather pants, the steel
pants were even stronger, not so hot and a little more breathable, rougher,
and a little more like body armor, yet fashionable Italian body armor that
looked no more exotic than she did. Could something so sensible and chic
stop a bullet? No, of course not. Resist a tear? It's stiff enough,
that's probably a possibility. The stiffness braced her leg, lending
structure to her thigh, her thigh fitting the contours of the pants, while
the lower portion of the fabric ended in a flare, framing the calf and
showing off the tendon and bone of her ankle. It was as if the pants were
angry at the thigh, scolding its shape, but eagerly made peace with the hard
(steely?) protruding shin connecting to the industrial gears and pulleys of
her ankle and heel.
"Are you done admiring yourself, Alyssa?"
Who said that? Alyssa checked behind her. There was no one in her office.
She looked at her computer again. The Microsoft Office assistant winked at
"Yes, it's your computer. Or I'm in it, anyway."
The Office assistant was a little lamb. There wasn't usually a lamb, was
there? Somekinda stupid paper clip or a dog or something was what Alyssa
"Are you a little lamb?" Alyssa asked.
"Yes. I'm the totem spirit of your pants."
"You represent my pants? Oh, cause the cotton comes from the lamb? Or is
that wool? I don't even know," Alyssa wondered.
"Let's not bother with that, I'm appearing to you as you would be most
receptive to see me. Why do you think I'm in your computer?" The Office
assistant raised its eyebrows.
"Do you have a little bionic robot eye? With a glowing red dot? To
symbolize the 8% steel in my pants?"
"Yes, you're very perceptive Alyssa, but that's not why I'm here."
"You are the cutest thing I have ever seen! You're like a little Borg sheep
"Yes, yes, I am. I've been assimilated, ok. Shouldn't you be more
concerned that apparitions of fabric are invading your workstation and
speaking to you?"
"Well, maybe this is a little strange. But I always thought I'd be visited
by ancient spirits of butterflies."
"Oh, please. Not the butterfly spirits again." The computer agent seemed
"Why, what's wrong with butterflies?"
"They're an insufferable bunch, the butterfly spirits. Always babbling
about 'personal growth'-this and 'true happiness comes from within'-that."
"Well, I think I'd still like to talk to them sometime. You see, as a
little girl I imagined myself in a cocoon, and now, perhaps I've outgrown
that to be something more than a caterpillar," a modest Alyssa offered.
"Gah, why not unicorns or ponies or fairies? Do you have to be so cliche?"
"Hey, I was ten years old. Here I am, sharing my feelings with you, and
you're deriding me? Some benevolent spirit you are."
"Right. Sorry. Well, I AM a benevolent spirit, so, good guess there. Long
ago, there were many Spirits, totems of all the great powers and features of
the land. Now there are few of us left. And we have had to adapt, changing
our ways and our guises."
"Yes, in this case, like pants. Because you have connected with the essence
of your pants, found their soul in a fabric communion, it has allowed me to
visit you and bring you the Wisdom of the Ancient Spirits."
"Wisdom, from my pants?"
"Not that kind of wisdom. Wisdom of the Ancient Spirits."
"So you're not really a spirit of my pants?"
"I am a Spirit, and I am from your pants. But that's mostly a coincidence.
All great things have spirits, as I was saying; mountains, clouds,
stallions, butterflies, steel pants. These things have a memory, have
watched history, have endured the seasons. These things have Wisdom. This
is the Wisdom I bring you."
"Alright then, let's have it."
"Alyssa, you must go to GSB," the lamb bleated.
"To GSB?" she repeated.
"This is the Wisdom I bring you. You must go to GSB. When you are there,
you will know what to do."
"But why must I go, Spirit?" Alyssa wondered.
But the Lamb of the Pants was gone. Alyssa considered her display. She
dragged windows out of the way, searched for minimized programs, clicked,
but the lamb had left her alone. She looked at her pants. There was a
rivet there, like on jeans, where the seams met. Round, cold, protruding,
she touched it. There was no resisting her pants. Alyssa stood up, left
her office, and headed to this week's ...
girl scout benefit -+- 5:30 pm -+- 32-G9 lounge
For those coming from elsewhere: Building 32 is
Once you are in 32, just take the G-elevator to the 9th
floor and we will be in the lounge that you will be looking at
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Last updated: Fri Feb 22 19:38:53 2008