Computer Club Release Party

Jake uses bluetac to stick up arrows reading “Ubuntu Party” to direct people down to the basement computer lab. They’re hoping for a decent turnout of non-nerds; it’s reassuring that there are already a handful of early arrivals.

Technically speaking he himself is not a computer nerd. He takes photography. Right. Like that saves him from nerd-dom?


Jake knows he’s a nerd to his toes and always will be. And maybe the jocks got the glory and the girls in high school, but more and more it’s the nerds who are running the world.

One of the things Jake likes best about being a university man is the discovery that there are girl nerds.

He doesn’t know why he never knew any girl nerds in high school, maybe they had better protective coloration then. Or maybe because he was too busy lusting after cheer leaders to notice them.

Well, he’s sure noticing them now. He hears the rattle of the exterior doors and the security guard talking, then a handful of students start down, following Jake’s arrows.

A cute girl waves at him. Wow. This is so great. People are coming out for this and he is one of the organizers.

Heck, in high school you didn’t dare even think words like Ubuntu, let alone suggest people might wanna dump Windows for FLOSS.

All done, last arrow stuck, time to head to the lab. Maybe he’ll be able to help the cute girl with her installation.

Another clump of customers follows him down. As Jake enters the room he sees Maggie settling people around the tables so they can plug in at the central power outlets. From the slide show running behind Oscar’s presentation at the back of the room, Jake can tell Oz is giving a fairly standard talk about free/libre open source software.

Adam is set up in the corner, answering questions, showing people how to set up hard drive partitions so they can try Ubuntu.

A touch on his shoulder makes Jake’s heart race, and when he turns he’s not disappointed because it’s Krystal giving him a big smile. “Hey there, Jake, sorry I missed the meeting.”

“That’s okay. The important thing is you’re here now. We don’t even officially start for ten minutes yet and look at the turnout. Excellent.” Jake produces an ‘organizer’ badge out of his bag and passes it to Krystal. His is clipped to his belt.

Krystal lights up. “Wow, these are great,” snapping her badge to her lapel. “Guess I’ll wander and see who needs help.”

“Good idea,” Jake agrees as he glances at his watch. “Liz isn’t here yet, so I’ll take some pictures to cover until she is.”

“Gotcha,” says Krystal as she heads into the room. Maggie smiles and waves at her before going to help a couple who look lost. Jake sets up his tripod as Oscar greets a group of students he recognizes from Fyfield House. Oscar grins and bows, doffing an imaginary hat to Mouse and Barbie, who naturally giggle while Ethan, Quentin and Jose roll their eyes as if on cue.

“Great to see you. Thanks for coming out to the Christie Computer Club Ubuntu Release Party. There are power bars in the center of each workstation, so find a place to settle and we’ll get you loaded up in no time.”

Quentin raises a hand tentatively and Oscar smiles at him. “How can I help?”
“My wife couldn’t make it out tonight, and I wonder if I’ll be able to hook her up with this stuff when she has the time?”

Oscar laughs. “Of course, Ubuntu is available free all year round. There’s a variety of different kinds of GNU/Linux distros. You might be happier with Fedora or Mint. But you’ll be able to download any flavour you like off the Internet whenever.”

Barbie says, “I thought fedora was a hat.”

Oscar answers that “Fedora is made by a company called Red hat,” and Barbie laughs.

“Okay,” Ethan asks, “Just, what if I don’t like it?”

“Ah” Oscar raises his eyebrows, “A virgin.”

“Woo hoo” Mouse and Barbie hoot, and the normally self assured Ethan looks about ready to melt through the floor.

“We’ll help you download and install if you’re ready, but since you’re not sure, you’d be better off running it from one of Maggie’s “live” disks so you can try it out without having to install.”

“That’s cool.” Ethan nods and people start helping themselves to the freshly burned Ubuntu DVDs stacked on the table. Jose drifts over and sets up in an empty spot and Barbie squeezes into the corner beside Adam, flashing him a big smile as she sets up.

Maggie sets out bowls of munchies on the side counter while Kate builds a soft drink pyramid at the end.

Krystal crosses over to Jose, and looks over his shoulder, asking, “How are you doing there?”

“I want to try this Ubuntu stuff, and I’m up for the partition thing. But I could use some help, you know?”

“That’s what I’m here for.” Krystal sits beside him, covering the hand holding his mouse with her own.

Jose asks, “It’s not going to mess up my Facebook, is it?”

“Not at all.” Krystal types in the password and connects the Wi-Fi. “Let’s get started.”

More students drift in and set up along the benches.

Adam is looking at Barbie’s laptop screen with dismay. Her desktop is a mess of icons. “So what do you think?” Barbie asks.

“Ah, maybe the best thing would be to run off of a live disk for now, and see how that works for you. But you really should be better organized. How can you find anything? It looks as though all your documents are on the desktop.”

Barbie looks up at him, tilting her head and frowning prettily. “Well yeah. What’s wrong with that? I mean, that way I can find everything.”

Adam frowns, “May I show you?” She nods and he slides over beside her. Reaching for her keyboard he creates a folder.

Adam says, “We will call this one assignments. Inside it we can make another for biology. We can make a folder for each of your courses so you can keep the work separate.”

“You mean the way I keep my notes in binders?”


Barbie’s frown is replaced with a smile just for Adam. “Huh. I never really got the whole computer folder thing, but binders makes sense. It might be a good idea. Thanks Alan.”

Liz and Amelia stand in the doorway, amazed at the turnout. The room is awash with students. Amelia carries a mic attached to a digital recorder clipped on her belt. Liz starts taking photographs before even stepping through the door.

“Wow,” says Amelia, “looks like close to a hundred people in there. Let me see if anybody’s done a head count. This is a good turnout for any club.”

“I can’t even see Maggie.”

“There’s Oz. I’ll go talk to him first.”

“Okay,” Liz is just lifting her camera again when a touch on her shoulder startles her. She jumps with a little shriek, then glowers at Jake.

“Sorry. I just wanted to tell you I’ve that I’ve already taken some pictures. Won’t do it again,” raising two fingers, “scouts honour”.

“You were a boy scout?” she asks, curious.

“Nawww,” he grins, “You know they don’t let in nerds.” Liz laughs as he starts stowing his camera. “This is way more people than Maggie expected. And more are coming in all the time. Gotta go do my computer club job now.”

Liz nods and edges around the room, photographing students helping students. Some faces are pensive, some squint in concentration, some are vacant with boredom. Others glance shyly at people they like, sparkle as they tell jokes, flutter in outrageous flirtation, discuss theories or argue with animation. Close shots of hands on mice, fingers tapping on keyboards.

Liz’s camera captures them all, making sure to capture quick shots of faces for a photo essay she’s been playing around with. Funny, she seems to be taking more photos of Ethan than just about anybody. Stop it girl. Do you really want to go there?

Ethan catches her eye and winks again. She can feel the flush starting at the roots of her hair. Down, girl. She turns away but she feels him watching. She tries to ignore him and concentrate on taking pictures. For the first time in her life, that isn’t easy.

The crowd ebbs and flows throughout the evening, and Maggie is pleased with the level of interest. As it gets late, although she is well into her second wind people start drifting away.

Around about midnight the last of the release party guests straggle through the front doors of the Computer Center and fan out in various directions. Barbie emerges into the cool night air flanked by Jose and Adam. Jose’s glance lingers on Barbie, but it’s late, and he’s tired. He’s not worried about Adam as competition. The guy is like Dilbert come to life.

“That’s it for me.” Jose says. “Later.” and Barbie waves as he sets off along the path that will take him to the Fyfield House residence.

“I’m parked in “C”, Barbie tells Adam, “How about you? Do you live on campus or off?”

“Oh, I live at home.” confesses Adam, wishing for the first time that he didn’t.
But Barbie giggles, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”

They walk companionably toward the parking lot, Adam lugging a laptop on each shoulder. They get to her car first, a shiny new looking compact car.

She pushes the button to unlock it, and opens the door, turning to Adam and giving him a peck on the cheek.

“Thanks for all the help Alan, I really appreciate it.”

Adam flushes and looks away, bashful under her intense blue eyed gaze. “It’s no problem Barbie, I’ll have it finished and back to you Monday, good as new. Better.”

“That’d be great. I’ve got a family thing this weekend so I won’t hardly even miss it. Just call me when it’s ready and we’ll get together. You’re an angel,” and she ducks into the driver’s seat. Barbie flashes Adam a smile, then the lights, and away she goes.

Dazzled, Adam watches her drive away, head spinning as he makes his way to the back to his own car. Funny, he never cared what a hunk of junk it was before. He smiles to himself; he doesn’t even mind she got his name wrong. Barbie kissed him! He’s in such a good mood he pats his beater fondly on the roof. His car is so old there isn’t a remote — you actually have to put a key in the lock. He opens the door and tucks Barbie’s computer carefully behind the seat. Then he slides his computer in beside hers.

He can’t help but grin as he slams the door. Barbie wants his help. She even gave him her phone number. And her computer. Adam is simply amazed that a girl like that would even talk to him. He’s in a daze as he buckles the seat belt, then turns the key in the ignition. Before disengaging the emergency brake he touches his cheek in awe. “She kissed me,” he marvels. “Me.”

As Adam drives out of the lot his lights illuminate Krystal and Jake emerging from the Computer Center. He taps the horn and they wave as he goes past.

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