Saturday, February 21, 2009

Desktop Abduction

I recently received as a Christmas present a glamorous 11-1/2 inch tall fashion doll in the likeness of a very popular Bollywood actress who, for the purposes of this story, shall remain nameless. It was a nice gesture on the part of my friends, who ordered her from the UK and actually paid more for shipping than for the doll itself. Their theory was that I was so enamored of Bollywood that I needed an item, indeed an icon of sorts, which could grace my desk during the work day. All in all, this plastic princess was an admirable and appropriate choice.

But as things go, certain other individuals (my so-called friends) took it upon themselves to play a practical joke. Knowing that I had developed a certain casual attachment to the doll, they devised a plan to kidnap it. One Thursday several weeks ago, when I returned from lunch with a group of three other gentlemen, I found a ransom note on my desk, along with the severed leg of the doll, all stuffed into a crudely-labeled envelope. The ransom note demanded payment of 1,000,000 rupees, or about $20,400.11 in US currency. In addition to this, I began receiving anonymous text messages with explicit details of what was happening or was bound to happen if I did not cooperate. The text messages contained no valid cell phone number, and the return email address provided was fake, adding further mystery to the mix.

That same Thursday evening, having been so senselessly victimized, I accompanied a group of my friends to a local restaurant for our weekly P-Council (Perversity Council) meeting to ease the pain, and in truth, to attempt to foil the plot. But this plan backfired. I received terrible service from the restaurant and became somewhat diva-like, eventually resulting in a free Dogfish Head 60 Minute India Pale Ale for me, which wasn't all that bad. But in truth, I was suffering. Oh, and I even received another text message during the P-Council gathering.

Then, the next day, upon returning from a pleasant lunch for a dear friend, I received yet another note, this time with further demands and a severed hand. Upon closer examination, I could tell that the hand had not come from my doll but most likely from some poor unsuspecting Mall Barbie. More text messages followed in short order.

And so on it went throughout the weekend. My poor little princess was somewhere, suffering ill fate at the hands of her captors while I partied with our dinner club and spent quality time with my family, even going so far as to put away the Christmas decorations. For a moment, the incident almost escaped my mind. Then on Monday, my friend Keith asked me if I had heard any more news. I immediately received another text message, leapt from my desk, and caught him, the very same friend who had asked me for a the next threatening message from his computer, using a custom program he had written. The gig was up.

Keith then spilled the details, which were quite elaborate. It turned out that Mike (who had been at lunch with me on Thursday) and Sonya had devised the entire plot, then enlisted the help of Keith to handle the technical details. Sonya had attempted to cut off Barbie's leg and arm, but she had botched the job so badly that Keith had to use a bolt cutter to finish the job. I can only assume that Keith also applied the fake "blood". In the time since, I have questioned other friends, and they have indicated that they, too, were either consulted or enlisted to help in the plot.

Needless to say, the doll was eventually returned to me unharmed, after it was retrieved from a manager's office, where it had been stowed away on top of a portable refrigerator under a desk. The manager in whose office the doll was hidden immediately disavowed any knowledge of the plot. A note written in the doll's "own words" was attached to her box, chastising me for not ensuring her safety in such an openly hostile environment. I detected a whining tone, but of course, I let it go.

I suppose that what all this means to me is that either: a) people must be over my Bollywood obsession, or b) they think enough of me and my reactions to devise this elaborate scheme to drive me insane and witness what they hope will be an entertaining meltdown. Either way, I think I've learned a valuable lesson: I need to keep a closer eye on my friends. They're not always who I think they are.

And with that, I say...namaste.