“The whole fucking thing is useless,” Aaron said. It was the third week in a gray February and Aaron hadn’t been to class since the start of the semester. He had a grown patchy beard, which floated on his pallid face like pepper in skim milk.
“What are you talking about?” said Eric, who had returned from winter break with a tan. “It’s amazing. It does things I couldn’t have even thought of because I didn’t think you could do them. People are going to go nuts for it.”
“Won’t work,” Aaron said. He sat down next to Alice on the couch and grabbed the glass pipe off the coffee table. He lit it up and inhaled.
“Why not?” asked Jaime.
“I can’t fix the critical mass problem,” he said, blowing out smoke. “We’ve got high-end information processing programs and no information. I thought we could steal the residence hall Who’s Who profiles, but they’re not even networked. No one wants to know what clubs you did in high school anyway.”
“Why do we have to steal them?” Eric asked.
“I’m saying we can’t steal them,” Aaron said.
“I’m saying we don’t have to. We gather the information.”
“We survey people?” asked Jaime.
“Surveys are lame. We want the site to be like a party. It can’t just be about dating or it’ll reek of desperation. We want it to be a way to meet a whole lot of people at a superficial level, like at a party.”
This bore little resemblance to Aaron’s experience of parties, which usually involved a very concerted effort to get drunk enough to consider talking to people before being drunk enough to throw up, but he nodded.
“That’s how we start it. We throw a party. Free. Big. We make it a paparazzi theme and hire a bunch of guys with digital cameras to take pictures, ask a couple questions. What’s your major? What’s your favorite movie? We give them a card says ‘check this site tomorrow for your pictures. Then we hustle back here, enter all the data, put it on our server, run it through our linking program — ”
“The program is called Mihr. Angel of Friendship.”
“It’s not exactly catchy.”
“He has this whole angel thing,” Alice explained. “Hebrew and stuff.”
“Hebrew angels all end in E-L. Mihr’s Persian,” Aaron said. “On judgment day, you have to cross this bridge. Narrow as a hair, sharp as a sword. An angel on either side of you. Mihr stands on one side, weighs everything you’ve done. He’s the one who says nice things about you. Lets you across.”
“If you answer his questions three,” Alice added with a laugh.
“I’m not saying that’s the name of the site,” said Aaron. “It’s the name of the linking program.”
“Okay, we run it all through Mihr and bang! Site’s up and running.”
“It’d be a lot of data entry very quickly,” Aaron said.
“I like parties,” said Alice in a disconnected voice.
“So we hire help. The programs are doing most of the work, we just need people to upload and type in names. Jaime, we can afford to hire one day’s worth of temp staff, right?”
This was the first time money had been mentioned since Jaime wrote Eric the initial check for the server space. Jaime had brought up the need to incorporate, to open accounts, get it on paper, but Aaron still hadn’t been paid for his work and he was pretty sure Eric had run out of money.
“We’ll need money for the party, too,” Eric told Jaime, not waiting for a response. Jaime’s agreement was assumed at this point, and it had been a safe assumption so far. “Kegs, liquor. We’ll need digital cameras. A dozen or so. And I thought we could pay one of the frats to rent out their house for the night.”
“I don’t know the first thing about throwing a party,” Aaron said. Eric grinned at him.
“Of course you don’t,” he said. “You’ve done your part. Now let me do mine.”