by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2017
This is another tale about having a night on the town. But this time it is being celebrated by someone living the Total Entitlement State (TES) lifestyle, not the ambitious lifestyle. (the first one is in my Visions of 2050 book and called Looking for Miss Right)
That said, on with the story.
Megan Silver/(Lola Lovegood in AR) -- 20, is deep in the TES lifestyle, she lives on necessity money, fashion is her deep interest, her athletic interest is dancing in AR and real world
Hilda-956 -- Megan's cyber muse, Hilda is basic and purely virtual, she is what necessity money provides
Annabell Deloran -- 20, Megan's real world friend, also a TES lifestyler, and also into fashion and looking good
Anton Miller/(Mickey Moore in AR) -- 40, a shy, somewhat ambitious type in real life and an AR character in Megan's game
Miley Kardashian -- 30, an AR reality celebrity who is also a real person, and famous for hyper-dedicated promoting style
Megan Silver is in her room in her parent's apartment. She has spent the last five hours working through a project in RunWayWild, an AR fashion model game. In the game she plays Lola Lovegood and she designs clothes then models them herself on the runway at fancy fashion shows. In real life she is a slim, good looking 20 year old woman, and in the AR game she is a stunning, fully fashion-enhanced version of her real-life self.
So stunning that Mickey Moore, her boss in the game, tells her, "Megan, that was some fine work today. It was so good that at the party tonight I'm introducing you to Miley Kardashian."
In game Megan gasps and says, "Really?"
Mickey nods in a significant way and adds, "It could lead to some promo work for you." Underneath him, not part of the scene, a message flashes "LEVEL UP".
Megan is delighted. She has won this session big time. She pops out of the game, gives herself a nice satisfying huff, then, using her internal communicator, talks with Hilda-956, her cyber muse. Hilda is purely virtual, and hasn't been upgraded for a least a year. But that's all Megan's necessity money allowance can buy her for now.
"Hilda, I've leveled up again!" she announces proudly, "Time to go out and do some real world celebrating... and exercising."
Hilda says, "Good. Going out will let the real world see your creations."
Megan smiles at that. She likes it when she can flaunt her AR stuff outside. She likes it... but Eww... those boys and their catcalls! But then again, when she doesn't get those she knows she is off track on her designing.
She gives her human friend Annabell a call on her communicator, "Meet you at Garfunkle's?" she texts. In a few seconds Annabell texts back, "I'm headed over now."
Megan heads out the door.
In the real world Megan is dressed in physical clothes as nicely as her necessity money allowance will allow -- which are nice in a standard way, but they sure can't match luxury money looks. But in addition she also has her AR looks, and the AR look is much, much better. She wears her AR fashions outside, so those walking by who look at her in AR see something much flashier and more fashionable than those who look at the real world her. As she journeys outside, Megan watches those who are watching her, and she can sure tell who is using which view system.
At Garfunkle's she meets up with her friend Annabell Deloran, another 20 year old who is also a TES lifestyler, and also into fashion and looking good. One big difference in their looks is that Annabell likes her tattoos on her real world body while Megan prefers her's in AR -- she likes being able to change them from month to month. Both like them flashy and sparkly, literally.
Once inside, both head for the necessity buffet table and stock up. Both come back to their table with only a half plate-full. Both are into watching their weight and neither can afford wearables that can compensate for serious overeating -- those are a new hot item and getting them takes some serious luxury money. There are protesters who want such wearables defined as rights items -- items which necessity money can buy -- but it's likely to be next year before progress is made on that front.
"Party after this?" asks Annabell as they munch away.
"Ummm" says Megan. She wants to flaunt her new AR looks. She wants to see if real world humans appreciate what she has come up with as much as her AR game does. And party time is good vigorous exercise, like she promised Hilda. They finish up and head for RetroDisco, just down the block.
There is a line to get in, but it's a slow night so it looks like only a ten minute wait and they get in line. While they are waiting they join the rest of the line in whiling away their time in zombie mode on their communicators. They get to the front of the line and the bouncer -- robotic tonight -- gives them a quick once-over look and lets them in as another group leaves. Inside, the RetroDisco is dark and noisy with lots of lights flashing in the stage and dance areas.
They see friends Rhonda and Alice already at a table with empty chairs. They join them, and that done Megan heads straight for the dance floor. She is feeling hot tonight and ready to show off her style. Here she minds not at all when the boys ogle her -- that's what she's here for. At home she spends lots of her break time between AR fashion projects working on AR dancing routines. Here she gets to put what she's been practicing into real-world action.
There's lots of competition on the dance floor. But she looks hot enough that after five minutes of getting into the music she is joined by Jimmy, a dapper looking boy she has danced with before who also has good moves. They hit it off for a couple more tunes, then take a break. Megan invites him over to the table and he comes.
Before she sits Megan says, "Whew! I'm getting a drink, first." She heads for the necessity bar. The necessity bar is a vending machine with a dozen or so choices -- soft drinks, fruit drinks, one beer selection and a flavored vodka selection -- the vodka flavors are the other drinks. (The luxury bar across the room has bar tenders with a wide selection of pricey brand names behind them, and bar maids.)
Some people like to get alcohol high and they get into the vodka and beer. Megan prefers a wearable high because its a lot quicker to turn on and off and there is less hangover. She will be getting a juice.
As she gets in line for the vending machine a man sitting at a table on the other side of the dance floor gets up and walks over to her. Megan watches him in AR. He looks to be in his 40's and is dressed and groomed like he is a Hollywood producer -- it is likely his form of cosplay. As he walks toward Megan he looks like he likes what he sees and when he gets close he says, "Nice dancing, sweetheart, I'm impressed. Would you like to get a real drink and come sit with me a while?" He says this in a nicely polished voice. He's doing his cosplay well, too.
"No thanks." she says in a brush-off way and turns from him to watch the line. He gives her a couple seconds to change her mind, then shrugs, and walks back to his table.
When her turn comes she gets a diet fruit drink and heads back to her table.
After she sits down and downs half her drink, she dials her wearable from "Dance Floor" mode into "Party Whoopee" mode. The wearable will take a few minutes to complete the transition. She takes another swallow and then relaxes and looks around the table. She sees that two other boys have joined them. Seven people -- it's nice, and her wearable is warming her up nicely too so she's not feeling shy, or brush-offy anymore.
The conversation at the table turns to sports -- nothing she is interested in. Her eyes wander. She sees that man, still at his table, still alone. She switches her view from AR to real world. His face is not quite as striking looking, but he is still good looking, and he is still dressed in a suit, but not nearly as expensive looking.
"Hmm..." thinks Megan, "Yeah, he could be a for-real Sugar Daddy." Now that her whoopee mode thinking has kicked in she is feeling more daring. She makes a choice.
"Excuse me a minute, folks." she tells the table crowd, and she walks over to the man at his table. She is feeling like she wants to be watched, she switches back to looking at the world through AR, and she walks over in a way that shows her runway style.
"Still OK if I sit with you?" she asks in a sultry way. The man looks happy at both her walk and her choice and happily motions her into a chair.
"That was some nice dancing you did earlier, and I love your dress. In fact, I think I've seen it before."
This surprises her, since she only finished making it hours ago. She asks suspiciously, "Really... where did you see it?"
"In RunWayWild." he answers calmly.
Megan is surprised to hear that, "You play?"
He nods, "I'm Mickey Moore." and then grins.
Megan's surprise doubles, "Mickey! I thought Mickey was NPC!" (non-player character)
He grins at that, "Much of the time I am, the real world keeps me busy so my in-game muse runs me. But I wasn't this afternoon." he grins even wider, "And I can't tell you how surprised I am to see you here... Lola."
He reaches across to fist bump, "Anton Miller in real life. You're..."
She bumps back, "Megan Silver," she is still amazed at the coincidence but finally thinks of something to say, "Would you like to join us at our table?" she points back to where her friends are and gets real happy. She stands up and gently pulls on one of his arms, "Come on."
Now it is his turn to be pleasantly surprised. He gets up and they walk over together.
Back at the table Megan introduces Anton, "This is a guy I know from RunWayWild. Mickey... er Anton meet Annabell, Rhonda, Alice, Billy and a couple other friends." She has forgotten the other boy's names.
"Alex and Sam" they introduce themselves.
"Anton plays Mickey Moore in RunWayWild. He's my producer." Megan finishes explaining.
"Nice to meet you all." Anton just sits, no fist bumping this time. Everyone goes into zombie mode for a couple seconds of resume consulting on the newcomer, then gets back into party-mode chatting. That goes on for only a minute, or so, before Annabell gets restless.
"Our turn now." says Annabell, and she and Alex get up and head for the dance floor.
The others watch the pair for just one dance. They are good, but now the rest are all ready to get into active mode too. The table empties. Megan dances with Anton.
With the help of their wearables everyone gets into dancing mood quickly and easily. The dancing is vigorous and lots of fun for all. Anton and Megan get into a tango-style sequence and she gets to do wild dips in his strong arms. She is loving it, he is loving it. When they come back up after the third dip she gives him a quick kiss on the lips. After three songs everyone has had their share for now and they head back to the table.
Megan is thinking hard about a question she thinks will come up, "If Anton wants to take me home, do I let him?" Anton is looking at her and smiling. She is pretty sure the question will come. She goes into zombie mode for a moment and consults with Hilda. "What do you think, Hilda, should I go home with him?"
Hilda replies, "I've checked his background. He doesn't have any felonies and he's not on any social shaming lists. Those are pluses. On the negative side he is not on any dating sites, so there are no reviews of his dating abilities."
Not long after Megan's checking Anton announces, "OK. That's it for me this evening. I've had a fun time all. Megan, thanks for the invite, and I'll see you in-game later." Anton gets up and walks away heading out.
The rest are a bit surprised at that. Annabell asks Megan, "He didn't invite you to come with him?"
"Umm... It's our first time meeting in person." It's the best excuse she can come up with.
Annabell thinks for a moment then says, "Ah well, not a hook-up guy, I guess. ...I wonder why he comes here?"
"I think he's all into looking." says Alex. "I've seen him here a few times."
The group continues their partying and breaks up an hour later. Alex is the first. He dials down his wearables to normal and says, "Had a great time. I'm outta here." Megan and the rest follow suit. She and Annabell walk out and walk home.
As they walk down the street Annabell asks, "Think anything will happen with this Anton-guy?"
Megan shrugs, "I'll find out more in-game."
Annabell puts her hand on Megan's arm, "What to spend the night at my place?"
Megan stops and looks at her, "Some VR adventuring?"
"I was thinking of some PR adventuring -- physical reality, slumber party plus." She keeps looking at Megan.
Megan looks back at her for a few seconds, shrugs, then gives a flirty smile back, "Sounds like fun to me."
"Good! We'll sneak in quietly so Mom and Dad don't wake up."
It's 9AM before Megan finally makes it back home.
"Some breakfast, dear?" asks her mother as Megan heads for her room.
"I had it at Annabell's." she says quietly and without pausing.
When she gets to her room she pulls out a snack and a drink, then slumps into her chair and fires up her computer -- it's been a long day and night.
But today is going to be just as busy. There's a protest to attend in the real world, then more designing to be done in RunWayWild, and if Mickey Moore has been successful she has that Kardashian meet-up coming up.
The protest is five blocks away in a town square. Megan walks there carrying her holoplacard, and little else -- she has been warned that these things can get rowdy and she doesn't want to lose stuff to hooligans. It's not so much that they steal stuff, if they do that they get spotted on the surveillance and picked up, but they will trash stuff, including clothing. They will rip and tear, and toss paint, and even ickier stuff.
She is protesting for free-range kale to become a right, a necessity food. This is something real meaningful to her! And this is a bit unusual, too. Most of the time she is out here protesting things that to her heart sound like good causes, but are happening in distant parts of the world -- like saving polar bears. But the result of this being a "down home issue" is that the counter protesters are more numerous and vocal than usual. In this session they get really ugly and insulting.
She hears shouts of "Can't kale something, sweetie?" and "Go back in your basement!" and some really old codger yells, "Get a job!" What a weirdo! By the end of the session her ears are certainly burning in a figurative way.
When she finishes and gets back to designing in RunWayWild there is a lot of red and shiny silk in the styles she creates this session.
She doesn't meet up with Mickey Moore until six hours later. He comes up with a big smile on his face.
"Success! I've arranged an audition with a Miley clone. This is a trial, if it goes well, then you'll move up the line and get a big step closer to what will become something high-profile and public."
Megan lets out a "Whoopee!" and gives him a big hug and a light kiss. Then she pops a question that is even higher priority in her thinking of the moment, "Did you have a good time at the club last night?"
Mickey is surprised by the question, he's been doing just in-game thinking. It takes a moment to adjust but then he answers, "Why, yes, I had a great time there."
"Do you want to meet up again... tonight?"
He smiles, "I'd be delighted. But now, let's get back to the in-game issues. There's a lot of preparing we... you... need to do." They both get back into full in-game thinking about this upcoming audition.
Back at the club that night Anton seems a little distant to Megan. She knows him now, and likes what she knows, so she is up for some cuddling, but he is just into some more dancing and talking.
She finally asks, "Do you have a girlfriend?"
Anton looks at her before he answers, "What difference would that make?"
"You're acting like you're married or something."
Anton laughs when he hears that, "No. I'm not married, and I don't have a real world girlfriend. I do my girlfriending in-game."
"Why is that?"
"Too many complications can pop up in real world romance. I've heard, and seen, too many horror stories."
"Humph! I thought just women got broken hearts."
"Women get broken hearts, men get broken wallets. Both are ugly. It's just not worth it."
"I'm curious, has it happened to you?"
Anton shakes his head, "No. I've been careful."
Megan nods, "It hasn't happened to me, either."
She smiles at him, and Anton smiles back. Megan thinks, "It's a warm smile, some ice might be melting." They finish the night with some more dance and talk, and then go their separate ways again.
Lola Lovegood is in front of Miley-375, a Miley Kardashian cyber who imitates Miley's AR presence. It looks for all the world like Miley and acts like her too. The big difference is Lola is one of dozens of girls getting interviewed all at the same time by half a dozen cybers, while the real Miley is elsewhere recording one of her shows.
As Lola walks in Miley starts right up, "OK, dear, show me your stuff. Show me why I should be paying extra attention to you, and not some other wannabe."
Lola first fashion walks around in front of her in a sultry way, tattoos flashing underneath her gown like she is a Christmas tree high on mushrooms, and the gown's smart fabric is letting the tattoos show through. It's quite a sight, and then Lola walks right up to Miley and says, "See this material. It's revealing, isn't it? It shows the skin underneath, but shows it as if it's a fifteen year-old's skin... smooth, flawless and sooo flexible. You're not going to find this fabric on some other wannabe."
Miley is impressed, a little impressed, she says, "Umm yes, good stuff... Good start! Any more?"
Lola on-the-spot changes her outfit into one that is form-fitting and goes into a vigorous dance routine with the tattoos still sparkling wildly. She looks good doing it and the Miley cyber is more impressed -- enough that she says, "Yes... yes... Looking good, deary! Let's schedule you for a second level audition."
This is just what Lola wanted to hear. She blows Miley a kiss, "Thank you! Thank you!" and manages to walk calmly out. As soon as the door closes she changes her outfit again to something street suitable, turns off the tattoos, rushes downstairs into the lobby, and there gives Mickey Moore a big, big hug. "I made it! I'm headed for second level." she says in a joyful way.
Mickey hugs her back and says, "Hot dog! I knew you could do it! Another giant leap on the road to BigTimesVille!" He admires her for a couple seconds and then gives her a kiss on the lips. The kiss lingers, she melts in his arms, and in a couple seconds her tattoos turn on again and sparkle even more wildly. They both laugh at that. She turns them off again and they head out, arm in arm, to a congratulatory drink at the bar next door.
And once again, Megan gets a level up.
It is evening. Megan is in her room in front of her main computer screen. She is thinking about heading out when she gets a text from her mother on her communicator, You haven't joined us for a meal for so long, dear, come down to dinner tonight, will you?
She thinks for a few seconds, then responds, OK. She dresses for family and heads down to the dinner table. Mom and Dad are both there. The meal at her place is something that came out of the freezer, just like what her parents have in front of them.
"So, what's keeping you busy these days?" asks Dad.
"Oh, my RunWayWild game is filling my time here. I'm at level 34 in that, and I've been doing some really neat designing in that. Would you like to see?"
"Pop on your goggles."
He does, and Megan brings up one of her dress designs. She brings up a summer dress for him, not one the hot items like she was showing Miley.
"Looks good." he says.
"They are good enough that I'm auditioning them for Miley Kardashian." she says proudly.
"Really?" says mom, "That sounds like quite an accomplishment."
"And I had a surprise a couple days ago. It turns out one of the people I play with in-game lives in the neighborhood. We met a couple nights ago at RetroDisco."
"You go there?" says Dad.
Mom says, "Of course, she's a big girl now."
Dad thinks a moment, smiles, and says, "Yeah, I guess so."
"That's where I get my exercise." she explains, "I'm getting real good at dancing as well as designing. That helped me get the Miley audition."
"Who is this neighborhood person you met?" Mom asks.
"Oh... just someone." Megan hedges, then asks, "What's been keeping you busy, Dad?"
"Oh, the gardening is going well. That punk teenager next to me has given up his plot."
"Harry!" Mom interrupts, "We're at dinner!"
Dad looks just a little sheepish, "Well, he is a punk. He didn't keep his plot properly weeded, and those kept spreading my way. Anyway, he decided to go with more music instead -- joined a band that goes on lots of gigs. I talked to the room supervisor and I'm taking over his plot... for a season at least... and longer if no one else wants the space."
"That will keep you busy." says Megan.
"Indeed, and let me bring in those bing cherry plants I've been wanting to grow."
Mom asks, "Don't those grow on trees?"
"Yeah! Like money does." Dad grins, "The all-natural ones do. I'm getting a new style that grows on bushes. And they grow fast, too, only three months before they are ready to pollinate."
And the conversation goes on.
Megan is back at RetroDisco. She is looking for Anton but doesn't see him. In between looking she is doing lots of dancing, the success of the Miley interview is inspiring her and she wants to get even better.
Finally, she sits at the table, recovering from dancing, and gives him a text, Coming over tonight?
The answer comes back quickly, Can't make it, real world duty calls. Catcha later.
This isn't what she wanted to hear, so she looks around. "Stay and play, or head home?" she is thinking.
She decides to stay and play, but shortly after making this choice she gets a text from Annabell, Want to come over?
She texts back, Yeah! I can do that.
So much for staying and playing, she heads over for some more slumber party fun. It may not be Anton but it is fun.
Lola finishes another runway walk for Miley-375 on a private stage next to her office. Miley smiles, gives a big sigh of anticipation, and says, "I'm recommending you for an audition with the real Miley."
"Really!" says Lola, and Miley nods. Miley goes into zombie mode to talk with the real Miley, and on Megan's screen there is another LEVEL UP flashing. "It's on." Miley says as she comes out of zombie mode, "I'll send your calendar the time and place."
As Lola leaves the room Miley advises her, "You have a week to prepare. Bring your best, your very best."
Lola races down the corridor, and hugs Mickey and swirls him around when she gets to the lobby. "I'm on." she says, "Real Miley audition next week." Now it's Mickey's turn to swirl Lola around. He plants a big kiss on her neck, "Incredible... and wonderful! ...all mixed together!"
"Will you be at Retro tonight. This calls for some real-world celebrating too." Mickey smiles and plants another kiss, "Let's see if we can level you up there, too."
At the Retro Anton and Megan are the center of attraction at the table Megan and her friends are sitting around. They dance spectacularly and smirk and snuggle at the table.
They do this for about an hour. But then Anton goes into zombie mode and when he comes out he dials down his wearables a bit.
He's more sober when he says to Megan, "Hey, I just got a call, and something's come up. I'm going to be traveling next week, in real world. I'm going to Timbuktu, of all places. And I'll be there for a month."
"You mean, in Africa?" says Sam. Anton nods, "It's work-related and it's going to be intense." he looks at Megan, "Which means I'll be NPC in Runway for the next month."
He takes her hand, "But, I can use an assistant there, in Timbuktu, if you're interested."
"I am! I am!" announces Sam. Everyone laughs.
Megan thinks, but only for a few seconds, "I would be leaving my friends, and RunWayWild, right?"
She shakes her head, "Thanks. Really, thanks. But I really enjoy being with my friends. And I'm really looking forward to that audition with Miley. Thanks, but I'll pass."
Anton looks at her for a few seconds as well, "You're sure?" she nods, "Ah well."
He looks around, then dials up his wearables again. "OK. Well, let's make the best of tonight while we can."
And they all do.
A week passes. Megan works hard on another design and Lola goes to the audition. She levels up again there, and real Miley says she is most impressed. But by two weeks later Lola still hasn't been invited to anything further. She wonders if Anton had been running Mickey if that would have tipped the scale some more in her favor.
Anton in real world has been sending texts, but just once in a while. He says he's real busy, and from how brief the texts are, it seems this is really so.
So for Megan life goes on... in RunWayWild and at Retrodisco. She keeps working hard on her fashion and dancing, and keeps having fun with her friends.
Time flies, and she is getting what she wants out of life.
This is a story of living life in the TES lifestyle. This is a lifestyle that keeps a person happy and engaged, even in they aren't shaking up the world of 2050.
index ... to story notes