"Mr. D. Spatchel?" one of them asked.
"Who's calling?" I replied. They fished out little badges with lanyards around them. One lanyard read "dotBoston 99" over and over and over.
"Officers Tilde and Interrobang," the one on the left said. "Internet Police."
"I assure you those MP3s were original compositions freely distributable under the Creative Commons License," I said, somewhat unsteadily.
"That's not our jurisdiction," said the one on the right. "We're responding to a possible 461 and were wondering if we could come in and ask a few questions."
"A 461? What's a 461?"
"Cat Blogging In Progress, sir. Now may we come in?"
"Well I'd prefer you not, what with it being St. Patrick's Day and all," I said, but they marched right in anyway.
"Do you do much writing online?" one of the men asked.
"You tell me," I responded. "You're the ones who seem to think there's cat blogging going on."
They remained tight-lipped as I ushered them through the spacious foyer and ultra-clean kitchen to the amazingly clutter-free living area--which, in this day and age of trendy abbreviating, I have begun to call the LivArea. Then Officer Tilde (I think) piped up as we reached the computer desk.
"Oh, it starts innocently enough," he said. "Cat does something extremely interesting, your average Joe Internet decides to describe it to his friends, who enjoy the story enough..."
"But from there it turns into a downward spiral of post after post full of boring details nobody else would really care about," Officer Interrobang (I guess) finished. "You weren't planning on writing anything... mundane, were you?"
"Well, now that you mention it," I began, "There was a funny incident this morning involving cat snot, which turns out to be an irritant, just like cat spit, and--"
"Is this the cat in question?" Officer Interrobang asked, motioning at Martha.
"That's her, that's the one," I said.
"Ma'am," Officer Tilde said, nodding at the cat. She was too busy pretending not to care to, well, care.
"...b-but I was going to put a humorous spin on it," I continued hastily, "and maybe add in a little something for St. Patrick's Day, you know, maybe a little quote from Ken Nordine, a passage from his piece on Green..."
"Sir, cat blogging is a serious offense," Officer Interrobang said, taking a picture of my computer.
"You've got nothing on me," I defiantly replied.
"We've got enough."
"I'm a good guy. I use proper spelling and grammar. I register my shareware. I don't use the 'Mood' or 'Music' fields in LiveJournal. I invite discussion and comment and--heck, I don't even use the word 'blog'. So why're you trying to pin an inanity rap on me?"
"We're just doing our jobs," Officer Tilde said. "Keeping the Internet interesting, one post at a time."
"What's this?!" Officer Interrobang asked, pointing at the screen. "A collection of user avatars, one for every theme or mood reaction?"
"So? They'd be inadmissible in court and you know it!"
"And your website hasn't been updated in over a year."
"Oh, and is that a crime?"
"Not yet," Tilde said softly. "Just wait."
"Listen," Interrobang said soothingly. "Take it from us. Stay on the straight and narrow. Don't settle for posting mediocre What Did I Do Today posts. You've got standards to keep, you know." Then he took a picture of the cat, startling her from her grooming.
"Hey, no pictures!" I snapped.
"It's not my fault you set the bar so high," he said, putting away the camera. "But now it's your responsibilty to maintain that bar. So maintain it. Think outside the box. Embrace new technology. Use it to look good, fresh, new."
"Maybe I don't want to--"
"Maybe it's time to bring it to a new level," Tilde said, a conspiratorial lilt in his voice. "Raise it up a notch. Ring the bells, blow the whistles, integrate! A thousand and one shiny new ways to remain interesting are out there, and it's up to you to grab that paradigm and shift it for all it's worth."
"I think I'm beginning to see what you're really here for," I said, "And I don't like it one bit. Why don't you make like stock options and implode?"
"Tough talk from someone who's not even using del.ici.ous," Tilde said. "Listen, what if we were to leave you with a trial copy of this podcasting software--"
"That's it!" I cried. "Out! And don't come back without a signed EULA, you dotcom nostalgians!"
"We were just leaving anyway," Interrobang sniffed.
"Ma'am," Tilde said to the cat, who licked a very private area in response.
"Glad you stayed so long," I snarled, ushering them back to the door. "I've got to go to work now. And rest assured, if something even remotely interesting happens on my commute, you can be sure as spitting that--"
"--you'll keep it to yourself," Interrobang glared.
"We'll be watching," Tilde said, and started down the stairs. I slammed the door shut, then ran over to my window and listened to them murmur as they walked through the yard.
"What makes a person do it, Joe?" Interrobang asked. "What makes them ruminate upon such details as cat snot?"
"Strange times make strange people do strange things," Tilde answered. "Sad to see. Say, about those pictures..."
"Already uploaded to Flickr," Interrobang said, grinning, as they disappeared around the corner and on to another poor sucker's journal.
I guess I am unable to tell you about my bus ride to work, and how we got stuck in a giant circus parade, and how a gaggle of dancing ladies begged me to sign on as their official Tassel Consultant and travel with them as they toured the Crown Heads of Europe (but who'd wipe the cats' noses while I was away?) ... but then again, that'd be everyday ho-hum. I can, however, tell you that my current mood is quixotic, and the music I'm currently listening to--and I'm taking poetic liberties here, which has never been done before--is "the clicking of office keyboards."