Dave the Downstairs Neighbor popped into my apartment on Saturday afternoon.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Nothing much. Just wanted to see what you were up to.”
“You’re out of beer, aren’t you?”
“Not necessarily,” Dave said. “I often come by just to say hi.”
“Then you won’t mind if I drink this beer in front of you without offering you one?”
Dave licked his lips. “Do you think you could maybe, like … spare one?”
“You came over here for a beer, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Yes!” Dave said, throwing his arms wide and yelling. “Yes! I came over for a beer.”
“No problem. Help yourself. There’s beer in the fridge.”
“Great — thanks,” Dave said, tromping into my kitchen and wrenching open the refrigerator. He pulled out a bottle and pried off the lid with an opener.
“You got lime?” he called.
“Bottom bin,” I said.
Dave cut himself a lime and slid it into his bottle.
“Now was that so hard?” he asked, walking back into the living room. “It’s like you want me to feel like a freeloader. Say, you got some chips?”
I handed him the bag of Tostitos that was sitting on the coffee table. “So get this.”
“What’s that?” Dave asked, sitting on the couch and resting his feet on the coffee table.
“I was working on my blog this morning, and it’s got a dashboard where you can see the number of visitors you get and stuff like that.”
“Do you get any visitors?”
“I … well, I’m more interested in the quality of reader as opposed to the quantity, you know.”
Dave crunched on some chips. “So you’re still not getting any visitors?”
“Well,” I said, biting my lip, “it’s not like I’m counting the views and visitors every day.”
“So it’s still in the single digits. That’s what you’re saying?”
I bowed my head. “Yes. It’s still in the single digits.”
“That’s too bad, man,” Dave said. “You know I’d check it out, but I just hate to read. Books, magazines, comic strips — you name it. I just cannot sit still to read. I’ve got too much going on in my life.”
I glowered at him. “You’ve got too much going on?”
“Well, yeah. I can’t waste time perusing a dissertation. I got a life to live.”
“Yet here you sit with your feet on my couch, after ransacking my refrigerator.”
Dave grinned. “What can I say? This is the life I live.”
“See?” I said. “This is why the literary landscape is receding like a diseased forest, leaving behind a wasteland of artistic apathy and intellectual desolation. You’re part of the problem.”
“Says the guy who writes blog posts about talking to his cat.”
“It’s funny! Besides, people like cats.”
“People like pictures of cats — even if it’s a only meme with a stupid subtitle that has nothing to do with the cat itself. That’ll get you readers for sure. What they don’t like to read about is some unattached loser with no one to talk to but his crotchety old cat.”
“Then I’ll write about myself talking to my bum neighbor who comes over uninvited and devours my beer.”
“You should do that. It might actually be entertaining. Then you might get a visitor count in the double digits.”
“I’m glad I can count on you for your unwavering support.”
Dave belched. “Anytime.”
“So back to the dashboard,” I said, pointing to my laptop.
“Right,” Dave said. “We went on a tangent there talking about what a loser you are.”
“I was looking at the analytics this morning. It tells you all the behind-the-scenes stuff, like how many visitors I get.”
“Or how few,” Dave said.
“It also tells you the search terms that someone used to find your site.”
“So if someone searches something on Google and they land on your site, you get to know the term they used that led them to you?”
“Exactly. You’re getting this blogging thing down.”
“Must be all the beer I drink.”
“So anyway, get this: One of the terms that someone entered was ‘destroyed person.’”
Dave frowned. “‘Destroyed person’?”
“‘Destroyed person,’ yeah.”
“So let me get this straight,” Dave said. “Someone typed ‘destroyed person’ into Google, and it led them to your site?”
“Well,” Dave said, sipping his beer and shrugging, “it seems pretty accurate to me.”
“But why would Google lead them to me? I mean, I know I’m browbeaten and despondent and defeated by life, but Google can’t tell that from my site. I mean … can it?”
“Google can tell a lot about you,” Dave said. “They’ve got algorithms that detect that kind of stuff.”
“But I can’t figure out what ‘destroyed person’ has to do with my blog.”
“You’re a single loser who writes about talking to his cat. It seems pretty obvious.”
“I guess I don’t understand keywords and search-engine optimization and stuff like that,” I said.
“Clearly. That’s why your blog has no visitors. You need to pay people to figure those things out for you.”
“You know,” I said, “I’m kind of offended that Google thinks I’m a destroyed person. I’d much prefer the term ‘aspiring comedian,’ or ‘literary humorist.’”
“But ‘destroyed person’ is such a better fit,” Dave said. “Besides, you can’t argue with Google. They sized you up pretty well. Maybe they gleaned some information off your dating profile, as well.”
I frowned. “Why did I invite you over here again?”
“You didn’t. I invited myself over so I could have a beer.”
“That’s right. For a second there, I was mistaking your rampant freeloading as some sort of friendship.”
“Everyone needs friends,” Dave said, guzzling the rest of his beer.
You know,” I said, “maybe Google’s onto something. It’s pretty soul-crushing when I write about my everyday life and the people I interact with. Maybe their algorithms really do think I’m a destroyed person.”
“You got any more beer?” Dave asked, holding up his empty bottle.
I sighed. “Beer’s in the fridge.”
“Great.” Dave jumped up and bolted to the kitchen.
“Hey,” I called. “Bring me one, too, will you?”
“You sure? You’ve already got one open.”
“Apparently, I’m a destroyed person, so just keep them coming. If I’m going to hit rock bottom, I might as well get an interesting blog post out of it.”
“And just so you know, you’re out of limes,” Dave called.