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THE INVERSE OF ZAPP BRANNIGAN

WEEKLY WHINE

Revisiting Halloween 2013

Amber Lynn: Yeah, that last Halloween party was a big surprise. They walked in the door, and, like, heads just turned. Just like that.

Reg: I’m pretty sure I heard the sound of a phonograph needle scratching. And we didn’t even have a phonograph.

Deb: I was just in shock. It was like, “Wait, you mean they’re...?”

Rich: I was just like, “Dude... way to go.”

Deb: So yeah, I think we’re all going to remember what we were doing when we saw Edvard and Debbie walk in together.

Edvard: I don’t even remember when I first met her. I’ve been with GoobNet for more than ten years, and I think I joined up at about the same time that we got involved with Interaction.

Debbie: After we started our partnership with GoobNet, I went out to Los Angeles to meet their guys. So I met Reg, and the people they had – it was just a couple of people at the time – and then he said that there was another guy. He said, “Yeah, he eats dynamite.” I said, “He does what?

Edvard: But I had retired from the dynamite eating thing by the time I joined GoobNet. Mostly all I did was write the Stump Edvard columns a few times a year. And sometimes I would participate when they did a review committee. But the only time I really saw everyone in one place was the annual Halloween party.

Debbie: Halloween is actually becoming increasingly popular in Britain. I’m not entirely sure why that should be, but I believe it’s down to The Simpsons and their “Treehouse of Horror” episode every year. I picture British children watching that episode and then looking up Halloween: “Wait, so you get to go about in fancy dress, and your neighbours give you sweets? That sounds fantastic!”

Reg: I think when we first started having Halloween parties, Debbie never really got to do it. We usually have them on a Saturday night either before or after Halloween, so she would always have to fly straight after doing Interaction.

Debbie: So I saw Edvard those first couple of years. I just never had the opportunity to speak with him.

Edvard: I remember thinking she was kinda cute. But weird.

Debbie: And whenever I did see him, it seemed he was always with those two showgirls.

Janet 1: Wait, what does she call us?

Ali 2: Dude, we’re not showgirls. I’m a receptionist, and Janet helps run a bowling alley.

Janet 1: We want to be blackjack dealers. We’ve been trying to get into that for, like, ten years. But it’s, like, impossible.

Ali 2: Yeah, anyway, we started to go to the Halloween parties with Edvard. They were so much fun. They were pretty crazy.

Janet 1: I always liked the game. We usually helped Edvard set that up. So we would actually not be around for most of the party. We’d be setting up the game beforehand, and then taking it apart after. But sometimes, if the game didn’t take much setup, we could spend more time hanging around.

Debbie: So for years, I just knew him as the guy that used to eat dynamite, and that hung around with those two girls at the Halloween party.

Edvard: And I had seen her on Interaction all the time, so it was pretty clear what she was like. I thought it was, anyway.

Deb: There were a few occasions when they both helped out on a review committee. But they didn’t need to meet in person for that. They just E-mailed me their contributions separately.

Edvard: Then one day, I got this call.

Debbie: I had the idea to be Sarah Palin’s tour bus for Halloween. I mean, one person could do that. But I wanted to make a nicer costume than that. So I began to ring people up.

Edvard: It was something like, “Hey Edvard. This is Debbie Myers. Used to host Interaction. Like you on Schmilblick Patrol. You’re doing well with that programme. Anyway, reason I’m calling, I’m getting a few mates together for a costume for the GoobNet Halloween party. Usually see you there, so hopefully you’re going again this year. If you’ve already got plans for a costume, that’s totally fine. But if not, well, I could use an extra person. So, yeah, hope to speak with you soon.”

Debbie: And he phoned me right back. He said, “Yeah, I’ve seen some of your costumes. You always have really good ideas. What did you have in mind?” So I told him, and he said, “Yeah, I could totally be a part of that.”

Ali 2: It was two years ago, wasn’t it?

Janet 1: You mean, when they did the...? Yeah. It was Golden Balls. That was the game that year, and there was so much to set up that we decided to do it the night before. So we finished up, and we said good night to Edvard. And then we didn’t see him again until the party.

Debbie: We were all meeting at my hotel.

Edvard: I was so late.

Charlotte: I got there in the evening. I was the first one there, so Debbie and I talked for a while. She asked me how Interaction was going. She said she liked the way I was doing the show. I said, “Thank you very much. That means a great deal from you.”

Debbie: Charlotte and I talked shop for a while. She told me about all my friends at the programme. I still keep in touch with them. We don’t talk about the programme. I think it’s going great, and they don’t need some old woman in a rocking chair croaking, “In my day, we would never do it that way.”

Charlotte: Angela Ellen and Renee showed up after that. We had to wait another hour or so before Edvard finally arrived.

Debbie: Charlotte was so furious with him. She said, “Where the hell have you been, you lazy...” And then she said all these German words. And I just said, “Listen, calm down. He was setting up the game.”

Edvard: I didn’t tell her that we’d finished it the night before.

Debbie: So we went to the party. I put Angela Ellen and Renee in the front. Then Charlotte behind them, and then Edvard, and me last. We stayed together the whole night. It was difficult to move at certain points.

Edvard: I think the only time I got a moment to myself was when they all went to the bathroom. Other than that, I was right between Charlotte and Debbie all night. Charlotte just would not rest. She kept giving me shit all night. It was always, “Move your arm, you dumb Dutchman! Your damn elbow pokes me constantly!”

Debbie: Finally she yelled something about how loud he was breathing or something. And I just lost it. I reached over Edvard’s shoulder and slapped the side of her head. I said, “Lotte, that’s enough! I don’t want to hear any more of your bickering!” My elbow hit Edvard’s head, so I said sorry to him. He said, “It’s all right. No problem.” Then a couple of minutes later, we ran into Wen, and she said, “Edvard, are you bleeding?”

Wen: It was a little cut, just above his eyebrow. It wasn’t serious, but Debbie freaked out.

Debbie: I hurried to the bathroom and got some paper towels. It was all we had.

Edvard: She was like, “Omigod, Edvard! I’m so sorry!” I was just like, “It’s okay. Really. I’m fine.”

Debbie: I rang him up the next day. I felt awful about the whole thing. But he was really nice about it.

Edvard: We only talked a few minutes. I had someplace to go. But then a week or two later, I called her back. She said she was watching a football match. I was watching a different one, so I switched over, and we watched the same one together.

Debbie: It was Leverkusen and Chelsea.

Edvard: So we began to do that whenever there were Champions League matches on. She would ask me, “Hey, which one are you watching?” I’d tell her, and she’d tell me which one she was watching. Sometimes we’d switch and watch the same match, and sometimes we’d watch different matches and tell each other what was going on in the other match.

Debbie: Then once, out of the blue, he asked me, “Have you been to the Netherlands?” I said yes. He said, “Have you been to Utrecht? I think you will like it.”

Edvard: So I met her at the train station, and then I took her all around town.

Debbie: I never knew about Utrecht before. It turns out that in terms of cultural... er... cultural events, it’s second only to Amsterdam. There are art galleries everywhere. It hosts the Dutch Film Festival. There is a street in city centre where they’re carving a poem into the stones, one letter at a time.

Edvard: Then a few weeks later, I went to visit her in London. And so we started to visit one another. We would spend the whole day doing whatever we found in the city. I took her to my museum, and some of the other art galleries. She took me to Westminster Abbey, and the new Globe Theatre.

Debbie: And then I kissed him.

Edvard: It was, I think, the third time I had been to London with her. It was a hot July day in London. We’d been planning to walk up and down the city, but instead we just decided to have a picnic in a park. We returned to St Pancras station, and we were waiting for my train to Brussels.

Debbie: I said to him, “Do you really have to go?” And he said, “Well, I suppose I don’t have to go, but I did already purchase my ticket.” And I was about to say something about, I don’t know, something about when I could go to see him next. But instead, I just took him by the neck and kissed him. But then he didn’t do anything for a moment. He just stared at me. I said, “What?” And... and then he kissed me back.

Edvard: It was difficult to say goodbye to her that night. I remember her running along the platform as my train departed. Just like in the movies. I was thinking, “Don’t hit a lightpost!” She didn’t.

Debbie: We started to think about costumes for that year’s Halloween party. We were going to be a Victorian couple. I had a friend who specialised in period dress. He had designed and made our outfits. They looked fantastic. I was really excited to wear it, but of course we ended up cancelling the party that year. We had some fundraisers for the hurricane instead.

Edvard: But we did get to wear them this year.

Reg: I never heard a thing.

Amber Lynn: How long have they been going out? A year? Two? Yeah, until this last Halloween, I had no idea.

Janet 1: They got there late. They were, like, the last people there.

Ali 2: We knew he wasn’t helping with the game any more. He just said he was busy.

Edvard: It took a long ass time to get her into that crinoline.

Debbie: Yeah, but it looked awesome. We were the centre of attention.

Amber Lynn: Yeah, that wasn’t because of the dress. Although it did look good on her.

Reg: They walked into the room holding hands, and we knew. We all just knew. There was no doubt about it. I just went right over to them and said, “Way to go, you two!”

Debbie: Reg was the first to come over and talk to us. So Sherlock Holmes was the first to acknowledge us as a couple. Traditional hunter’s cap and pipe Sherlock, not Cumberbatch Sherlock.

Deb: I was throwing the little 3 Musketeers bars at Gaby. Not the fun size ones. The really tiny ones, the square ones.

Gaby: It was York peppermint patties. Deb was Willy Wonka. Gene Wilder Willy Wonka. I was afraid she was going to start singing the song. I was in a wetsuit. She was shouting, “Dance for me! Dance!” Don’t know why. The reason is known only to her.

Rich: Reg actually stopped the music and announced their arrival.

Debbie: I was mortified. I wanted to go in, look good, and make an impression. I didn’t want everyone to go bonkers over the fact that we were going out.

Edvard: Well, what did you expect? We didn’t tell anyone.

Debbie: Yes, and that’s why. I didn’t want all that attention.

Edvard: You’re a television personality.

Debbie: That’s different. Anyway, it ended soon enough. The party went back to normal, more or less. But we still had people coming up to us every now and then. Tony was really excited for us. Still not sure why.

Edvard: Well, you handled it great.

Debbie: So did you.

Wen: I just remember being so excited for them. They’ve been around forever. They’re who you think of when you think of GoobNet.

Deb: They’re the first couple of GoobNet.

Debbie: Oh lord.

Amber Lynn: Although I am kind of excited to see what they’re going to wear next year.

Edvard: We are thinking about that, yes.

Debbie: No hints. Except for this. [makes triple beep sound]

Edvard: That should puzzle them.

Debbie: Sí, Señor Biggles.

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