Last week, something happened that altered the course of my life forever.
Should I happen to drop dead tomorrow, it would be OK: My existence has been validated by the universe. I have fulfilled my purpose in this world; I am overcome with everlasting peace. Last week, I wrote a column that was retweeted by John Oates.
"Who is John Oates?" you may be asking yourself.
He is, of course, one-half of the popular music sensation Hall & Oates.
The half with a mustache.
"So you're telling us the guy with half a mustache from Hall & Oates read your column last week on the interwebs?"
Not the guy with half a mustache, the guy with a whole mustache. There is no guy with half a mustache in Hall & Oates. And, technically speaking, there is no guy with a whole mustache, either. According to his official Facebook profile photo, Oates recently traded in his cookie duster for a flavor savor.
"What's a flavor savor?"
It's another word for a soul patch.
"What's a soul patch?"
If you don't know by now, then you never will.
"But what does all this mean in the grand scheme of things, Jackson?"
In addition to providing the amusing revelation that Oates (or his manager) has set a Google Alert for himself, it also proves that the world is now officially a crazy-connected place. I mean, I had heard rumors that it was heading in that direction, but until Oates read my newspaper column from the comfort of his private jet parked atop his luxury yacht in his own private ocean (I assume), I didn't believe it could happen to me.
Here's the chain of events as they occurred:
1. The News-Gazette posts my column on Sunday.
2. My column receives one lonely Facebook "Like" on Sunday afternoon. (That may or may not have come from my own personal Facebook account.)
3. I spend the night crying into my pillow.
4. Sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, Oates (or his manager) reads my column.
5. Oates (or his manager) enjoys my column enough to retweet it (which is a newfangled Internet word for "show it to his friends and stalkers").
6. My column is reposted to the official John Oates Facebook page.
7. The official Hall & Oates Facebook page reposts my column.
8. The Facebook "Likes" start rolling in.
9. My sense of self-worth skyrockets. I throw out all of my blue jeans and replace them with leather pants.
10. I reload the dishwasher and sweep the floor in the kitchen while eating a cheese stick.
11. I spend the night crying into my pillow. But this time, tears of joy.
If a piano falls on my head tomorrow, I have the consolation of knowing that my obituary will read as follows:
"Ryan Jackson. Born 1983. Died Yesterday. Somewhere in between, he was retweeted by Hall & Oates. Flawless victory."
When I started writing this column eight years ago, such a scenario was unthinkable. Twitter had not been created. Facebook was in its infancy. My cellphone could not access naked celebrity pictures on the Internet and Oates probably still had a mustache.
(On a side note, seeing him without a mustache for the first time has the same effect as seeing Yanni without a mustache for the first time, which is to say they both look like the singer from Train.)
Now that The News-Gazette has begun posting my column online, conceivably anyone in the world could read my writing.
"To think," my wife said, "if this had happened a couple of years earlier, Patrick Swayze may have seen one of your columns."
"The possibility slays me," I replied, bracing against the pangs of regret.
So what amount of Internet currency does a Facebook and Twitter blast from Hall & Oates come out to exactly? The answer, it appears, is roughly 250 Facebook "Likes" — which, to put it into perspective, is 1,400 "Likes" less than what an article about reinstating Chief Illiniwek garnered, or roughly the same number of "Likes" the people of East Central Illinois awarded to a story about a bus crash in Rantoul.
(And to that end: Could Facebook invent an alternative to the "Like" button already? Not necessarily a "Dislike" button, but maybe an "Acknowledgment" button. Something that says, "I am a human being, and I read this depressing news story, but also I don't want to give anyone the false impression that I enjoyed it." Because, Rantoul aspect aside, ain't nobody got time to be liking stories about bus crashes.)
Anyway, the Powers That Be at The News-Gazette were so happy with the traffic my column brought to their website last week that they asked me to include references to Oates in all of my columns "going forward."
They even suggested that I change the title of my column from "The Reluctant Townie" to "The Non-Reluctant Hall & Oates Enthusiast." And by "suggested," I mean that I'm happy to announce my new column, "The Non-Reluctant Hall & Oates Enthusiast," will debut next Sunday.
Since Hall & Oates gave me a little free Internet press last week, I wanted to return the favor this week.
Mark your calendars, East Central Illinois, because Hall & Oates will be performing LIVE on May 3 at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis. Get your tickets before they get you.
In addition, Oates has just released a new single called "Stand Strong," which is available for digital download.
No word on the solo career of Daryl Hall, who, at the time of printing, had failed to retweet anything of mine.
Ryan Jackson wants to thank Hall & Oates for making his dreams come true, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.