In honor of the 1,000th issue of Reader’s Digest, the self-proclaimed world’s most widely read magazine threw an oh-so-futuristic “interactive party” last week. According to Laura McEwen, one of the magazine’s VPs, the magazine is so “awesome and hip that the emphasis on the future was so right.” Grandparents across the country are high-fiving.
Sections of the skylight studios were split into themes: Life on an Asteroid, which featured a four seater simulated virtual space ride; Materials of the Future, like malleable concrete (huh); and most importantly, the bedroom of the future, which contained one very tiny single bed. In the future, apparently, we will all sleep alone.
Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped out of her black SUV looking weary. Still, she had taken the time to dress to meet the future; she wore a steel-colored sleeveless frock ornamented with long green glass beads. The photographers descended upon Ms. Gyllenhaal’s thin frame. “Don’t run after Maggie Gyllenhaal, you desperate people!” shouted a Getty Images photographer. Several actually backed off. “They all calmed down,” the surprised photographer marveled aloud.
Ms. Gyllenhaal, who was drawn to the Readers Digest party out of curiosity, not because she actually reads it, of course, explained that, “Readers Digest is such a powerful institution—really a mainstay of American culture. They invited me because they have an eye towards the future.” She posed patiently and unsmilingly for photos, then turned and entered the future.
A voice activated human sized robot was strategically positioned in the lobby to greet Ms. Gyllenhaal and the other guests. One woman, in a lovely white and red wraparound dress, was shocked when the robot complimented her. “This is scary,” she said, “I’m not often spoken to by robots.”
Frightened by an actual actor clothed in robot clothing—very Mars 2112—she took consolation in knowing that a humanoid could not physically fit inside the skinny talking robot. “This is my lucky dress,” she told The Transom, “something always happens when I wear this dress. I got my job with Readers Digest when I was wearing this dress!”
Her boss, Ms. McEwen, also had a close encounter with the robot. “He said to me, ‘You’re wearing my colors.’” Sure enough, her silvery-gray dress did resemble the robot’s own couture. “How did you know?” she asked the robot in wonder.
Hopefully in the future we will not still be forced to suffer through all the George Michael with which the DJ was hurting the crowd. Ms. Gyllenhaal and Christian Slater were billed as DJ’s for the party, but Mr. Slater had yet to arrive, and Ms. Gyllenhaal was occupied; she perused the futuristic drinks at the bar at great length. She settled on the decidedly historic white wine.
“I’m not DJ-ing,” she said. “I told them I’d pick some songs. And I have a feeling that when I do, the party will get better.” The indie queen prefers the likes of Arcade Fire, and, what’s this? “David Bowie and David Byrne say they are the new band and I totally agree with them,” she said. Alas, the DJ had no Arcade Fire mp3s for Ms. Gyllenhaal to “spin” so she played David Byrne and the Rolling Stones instead.
When Mr. Slater finally appeared, he was swarmed by the ladies. Escaping out back into the smoker’s lounge of the future, Mr. Slater smoked and talked summer vacay with his buxom publicist. One curly haired young thing brazenly approached and handed Mr. Slater a folded piece of paper. Mr. Slater opened the note, which, besides the requisite name, number and email address, bore the enthusiastic message, “I loved Pump Up the Volume!” Mr. Slater looked impressed, “Oh! A fan from way back!” and promptly handed the note to his disgusted publicist.
But how will Mr. Slater and all his ladies fit onto those tiny single beds of the future?
The Transom bumped into the Robot. It was still smack in the center of the lobby, bidding guests warm electronic good-byes.
The Transom bid the robot adieu. It had such lovely bright blue oblong eyes.
“Nice to see you again,” replied the Robot, “you look beautiful.”
“Thanks,” said The Transom. Well, really, we were all lonely here. After a moment of hesitation, we threw caution to the wind. “Robot, will you come home with me?”
“I love you,” replied the Robot.