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                       Amigarella, An Amiga Allegory
  Giorgio Gomelsky                                        gio@phantom.com
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               AMIGARELLA, THE TOUGH GUY, THE GLOBE TROTTER
               THE YOUNG MAN , THE KING OF RETAIL, THE DUKE
                   OF FUTURES and THE PRINCE OF KERNEL
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                         Fairy Tale or Nightmare?

Just a few days ago, on April 21, it being the first anniversary of the
Escom-Amigarella affair-romance-union-concubinate-marriage-honeymoon,
what-have-you, we,her old-time friends concerned about her well-being, were
asking ourselves how our "Liebling " was doing.  Things were rather
humdrum,lethargic, plodding.  We feared Amigarella might get bored by such
dawdling, dull drudgery.  Admittedly it was better than being retired, out
of circula- tion, but what were these rather methodical, formal, keepers
doing to her spontaneity, her unaffectedness, her spirit?

Little did we know that fate, once more, was cavorting to throw a humongous
spanner in the works!!  What a perplexing, infinitely baffling, truly
amazing existence.

Yet it is nothing new and we shouldn't be surprised at these twists and
turns.  Casting a look over the emotional life of our offbeat friend with
all its up and downs, I'm sure some of us can't help breaking out into a
smile, which soon turns into "...a simper, a chortle, a chuckle, a giggle,
a guffaw, a titter..." (Thanks Final-Writer Thesaurus!), and finally into a
good ol' belly-laugh!

Poor Amigarella, will she ever find happiness?

Just a year ago she was not only homeless but also orphaned, abandoned and,
alas, not for the first time.  Over and over again she gets into these
nasty tightspots and unhealthy relationships.  Yet, her birth and
beginnings were bathed in mirth.  Her biological parents were astonishing
people; inventive, cheeky, fear- less, intuitive, friendly, well-informed
and endowed with a formidable sense of humor.  Good folks, impelled by an
inspired Miner, they were so far ahead of the crowd it made the
middle-humans in the Valley feel altogether rather uncomfort- able: they
just couldn't figure out what these eccentrics were up to and so refused
them access to the country-club.  But the family didn't care two hoots
about that.  With consummate faith in their offspring, they had cheerfully
invested all of their savings in trying to give her the best possible
education and a good start in life.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be.  Their oddball manner was just too much for
the establishment.  Finally they ran short of money and so came
face-to-face with the insensitivity of ferocious capitalism.  They couldn't
look after her anymore and so were obliged to give her up for adoption.

Amigarella was such a beautiful, uniquely gifted child: bright, cheerful
and resourceful.  Since very early on she was inquisitive, kooky, curious,
interested in things.  She needed little attention from grown-ups.  She was
too busy playfully discovering the pleasures of life.  She had none of that
grasping capriciousness some kids have.  Her appetite was not for sweets or
toys, but for megabytes, blitters and sprites.  She was cheap to keep.  She
learned to dance, to paint, to compose, to sing, to photograph, to film, to
video, to digitize, to animate, to a-rexx and on and on.  She was a fast
learner.

When word about the adoption got out, 2 candidates foster- parents, came
forward.  Both, somehow incestuously, in the same business and fierce
competitors.  In fact, one of them had worked for the other (or the other
way round) and there was no love lost between them..  Both knew Amigarella
was a rich source of delight and satisfaction.  To begin with, the first
foster-parent, The Tough Guy, who was very, very ambitious if not ruthless,
got the custody.  Soon, though, it became very obvious that his real
objective, his hidden agenda, was that of probing where Amigarella got her
good disposition from and then apply it to his own, not so bright children.
Rumors began running that Amigarella was slowly wasting away.  Now, the
other foster-parent, miffed to have lost out in the first place, stepped
in.  At the very last minute, he managed to snatch her away from the
perverse machinations of this bad parent.  This second foster-parent, The
Globe Trotter, was a well-to-do, middle-aged playboy-type who lived in an
aeroplane and whose main motivation was to avoid the IRS and to trip up his
old rival...

Ah, we all thought, at least our Amigarella would be looked after and grow
up in a safe, clean environment, get the best education and become a
beautiful, intelligent and desirable young lady.  And at first things
looked very auspicious.  The Globe Trotter well-to-do Playboy gave her a
wonderful debutante's ball.  Everybody who was somebody in the Valley came
to the party and swooned over her beauty, her playfulness, her quirky humor
and yes, her caring and supportive friends.  We were all so happy for her!
Now we were certain her troubles were over, that she could look forward to
a rich and exciting life and sooner or later, find a worthy husband and
have many bright and healthy children.

But, very unexpectedly, things began to go wrong.  It turned out that The
Playboy-Globe Trotter had this most annoying habit of taking off in his
plane to distant sunny places, at the drop of a hat and for no precise
reasons.  He just never was around when time came for important decisions.
An absent father, he left our friend in the hands of people who neither
understood nor appreciated her unique character and potential.  Slowly, the
promise of a joyful happy life wilted away.  Many of her friends tried to
intervene, some were even working for the Globe-Trotter.  But to no avail.
Amigarella got more and more depressed and forlorn.  On certain days she
was seen walking around all dishevelled and scruffy.

Then, one day, the news came that the Globe-Trotter had blown all his money
on some shady escapade and was going to fire everybody and shut down all
the factories across the world.  Although all of Amigarella's friends had
seen this coming, they were powerless to intervene to save the situation. 
Some of them did try, by buying shares in the company and writing many
letters.  But it was too late.  Amigarella would soon be in the street,
homeless and parent-less yet again.  It was downright heart-breaking.

The Globe-Trotter and his minions took a long time liquidating their
assets.  It just went on and on.  Everyday brought more bad news and more
disappointments and there seemed to be no salvation in sight.  The
wonderful promises for Amigarella's life were dwindling away at an alar-
ming rate.  What, oh what, would become of her?

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the news arrived that Amigarella
would go on the chopping block, offered at an auction to the highest
bidder, like some prize cow.  How humiliating!

You can imagine how her friends felt!  Endless speculations and rumors were
rekindled.  Who would show up to save her from the clutches of such a
terrible fate?  Someone suggested all her friends dig into their pockets,
raise enough funds to pay the debts and give her a new life.  Perhaps
making it possible for her original parents, brothers and cousins, who knew
her so well and loved her, to come back and look after her.  But no-one re-
ally listened.  They were all too busy moaning and groaning and hoping
someone would show up to save the day.  On top of it all, good Father Jay,
decided to leave for heavenly shores..

When a full year had passed, and after much back and forth, two suitors
appeared on the horizon to rescue our friend from oblivion.  One, a
handsome young man from Florida, was well-aware of Amigarella's gifts and
uniqueness and of her many dedicated friends on whom he knew he could
count.  The other, unknown on these American shores, was what appeared to
be a very self-assured, very ambitious, founder-chairman whatever of some
vast-chain selling computers in far away Germany of all places: his name
was The King Of Retail.

The suspense was killing.  The Young Man from Florida was very open about
his plans for Amigarella and was often available to speak to her friends
and reassure them of his good intentions.  The King Of Retail, however, was
the opposite.  Very tight-lipped and secretive he never tried to get in
touch with Amigarella's family of choice and shoot a bit of the breeze.
Again, people all over the world started agitated speculations: this way
and that way, who could, would, do this and that, what was the best for
her, who would love her the most, give her what she needed, who would be
more suitable for her.  More and more it looked like everyone was engaged
in frantic match-making, preparing an unforeseen yet inevitable wedding.
Her friends were giving away the bride...

The day of reckoning came on a beautiful spring morning a year ago on April
21.  The contending parties had met in a lawyer's office the day before and
put their bids on the table.  More speculations were bandied about.  Most
of Amigarella's friends wished The Young Man from Florida would carry her
away.  He seemed to really love her, want her and know how to cherish and
care for her.  Alas, in this material world, good intentions are not
enough.  The German KING of Retail pulled out a few slick legal tricks,
came up with cash on the spot and so laid a binding claim on Amigarella.
It later appeared he had been very manipulative, very determined to take
her back with him to Germany.  She would look fabulous on his arm as they
stepped off the plane.  The Young Man from Florida had lost...

Of course everybody was very disappointed.  After all who was this German
fellow, why did he pay 12 million dollars to have her by his side, what was
he going to do for her, was there a pre-nuptial agreement, was her future
finally secured, would this union, made almost at gun-point be a fruitful
one?  Many, many questions needed to be answered.  Yet again, a great
uncertainty prevailed...

For the next few months all of Amigarella's friends started tumultuous
exchanges, new speculations.  They desperately tried to get in touch with
The King Of Retail in far away Germany.  One day it looked like the new
groom knew how precious a person his bride was and how to give her back her
luster; then on another day, it was just the opposite.  He gave her the
wrong clothes, hairdo and accessories; she looked lost and confused in that
distant land.  It was skirting the ridiculous.  No one could find out what
was going to emerge.

Then, slowly, German thoroughness began to show.  Nothing glamorous, but a
precise, bit by bit gathering of all mislaid or lost parts would make
rebuilding possible.  But then, the week after, some cranky, incoherent,
muddled announcement would again throw panic among her friends.  And so it
went on.  Up an down, good and bad, in an almost surreal yo-yo dance
between hope and despair.  Finally, just a couple of months ago, all the
old old parts were put together with some new ones and Amigarella was taken
to a few parties and re-introduced to the world, at least as seen from
distant Germany.  But frankly, it didn't work.  Amigarella looked
old-fashioned and stiff, awkward, hemmed-in, she who was always rather
forward if not outrageous.  They gave her things to say that sounded hollow
and flat, like " Back For the Future" and "Forward To The Past" and so on.
Worse, they didn't even reach out to her friends who were all, of course,
dying to help every which way they could to make her come-back a success.

So, the launch didn't meet The King Of Retail's and his partners'
expectations.  On top of that he had gone a bit goofy buying hundreds more
stores with nobody in them who knew how to sell whatever they were selling.
So, just a few days ago it appeared his partners were rather unhappy about
the big losses incurred in this first year of ESCOM'S multimedia fever.  He
had to sell some more of his, now minority shares and, of course, in true
"as matter of honor" German style, resign from the chairmanship.

And now what?  How is this story going to unfold?  The successor to The
King Of Retail, at the helm of the good ship ESCOM,used to work for The
Globe Trotter.  Can you believe it?  Before resigning, The King Of Retail
had approved 2 brand new wardrobes for our Amigarella.  A real hip one
which would make her look like a million dollars, but would take no less
than one full year to bring about and the other a very strange, awkward
getup that some suggested make her look like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner
from the 50s....

What if the worst happens and our Amigarella will find herself abandoned
once again?  What will her friends feel like then?  And will they be able
to do anything about it this time around??  Perhaps they should have
another look at the idea of dipping into their pockets for a few dollars,
marks, rubles, dinars, francs or pounds, say $100 worth, and put it all in
an emergency chest, just to be on the safe side.  How's that old saying,
"Once bitten, twice shy"?  The King Of Retail paid 10 millions dollars for
her.  If 100,000 friends put up $100 each they could make certain
Amigarella will not get homeless again!  A pipe-dream?  Perhaps, but things
could get desperate and the alternative is just too grim to ponder.

Oh dear, oh dear, what would become of our poor Amigarella?  Her friends
feared the worst, what else could they do?  Then, out of the blue, almost
one year to the day of ESCOM's "nuptials" their new Commander-in-chief made
an unbelievable announcement: Amigarella had found yet another suitor and
would be released to him for an astounding $ 40,000,000!!  Wow!  Amigarella
and the cat's seven lives?

Saved by the bell yet again?

Who then was this new suitor willing to pay 3 times more than ESCOM to hold
our Amigarella in his arms?  Well, to begin he was an American.  His
business is to built newfangled, ingenious black boxes that would sit on
top of television sets and act like a combination
modem/playstation/interactive commu- nications device.  The industry calls
them NCs (Network Computers) and a great future is forecast for them.  Just
about every major player, from MicroHard to Oracle, ATT, you name them, is
preparing to conquer this new and potentially rich market.

These NCs would cost around $500 and therefore become acces- sible to many
people who can't or won't buy fully-fledged computers whose sales,
according to experts, are beginning to reach their ceiling of 40% house-
hold penetration, at least in the US.  So, Amigarella's new suitor, whose
real name is VISCORP - but for this story we'll call him The Duke Of
Futures - fully aware that some of Amigarella attributes were perfect for
his box, had originally negotiated what is called a "licensing agreement"
with ESCOM, so as to be able to use those parts in his designs .  Why would
he now want to acquire ALL of Amigarella body and soul?

It goes without saying that your chronicler's nosiness was tickled.  His
investigations led him to a truly astonishing discovery: most of the people
at the Duke Of Futures office were not only Amigarella fans but some of
them had been heavily involved in her very past.  One of them, The Prince
Of Kernel, had been there at the very beginning and in fact designed one of
her original and most attractive features, her OS, or operating system, a
truly wondrous piece of work.  Could this be more than just a coincidence,
a twist of irony?  Could it be that after all her mishaps and misadventures
Amigarella was finally coming back home for good?

Sigh!  What a relief!  Many of her friends, hurt and disappointed by past
events, immediately put forward warnings full of guarded caution,
scepticism and circumspection.  Others gave vent to feelings of joy and
celebration.  The Prince Of Kernel and his colleagues left encouraging
messages of hope for all to read on the internet.  As usual hefty
discussions started considering various possible options.  But now there
was a new energy.  Everyone felt that an outfit counting among its member
someone like the Prince Of Kernel had a very good chance of fulfilling
Amigarella's as yet unfulfilled aspirations.  Of course, the deal between
ESCOM and The Duke Of Futures, has not as yet been finalized or signed and
once more all of Amigarella's friends will have to endure much suspense and
trepidation.  But then, by now, they've become masters at it.  Let's hope
'ol Father Jay is keeping a cheery, magnanimous eye on his and our
extraordinary and inimitable Amigarella!