An Exclusive Interview with The Cloud
The celebrated Internet icon blobs down for a chat
By Ed Goldman
As a writer, I always try to land interviews with elusive celebrities. Occasionally, once I meet them, I discover they have good reason to be elusive—and upon meeting me, they tend to double-down their exclusivity. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
That said, my hit-and-miss literary agent, Les duLaunch, called the other day to tell me he’d set up an exclusive chat for me with a celebrity whose name we see countless times each day: The Cloud.
The Cloud Passes Overhead
Not just “a” cloud, friends. The Cloud. The entity to whom/which we send all of our sensitive data for safekeeping even though we’ve never set eyes on him/her/it.
The thing whose name we routinely add to our email addresses, website URLs and corporate names. The amorphous being who/that has deal memos with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle, to name a few.
Frankly, I had my doubts about doing the interview, based on my history with Les.
Some years ago, he arranged for me to interview “the world’s greatest boxer” and instead of Muhammad Ali he turned out to be a kid who worked at the Amazon warehouse over the holidays.
Last year he said he was working on a sit-down for me with “none other than the late Elizabeth Taylor!” I pointed out that Ms. Taylor had died in 2011, hence “the late” preceding her name. He seemed genuinely embarrassed. “I’d read all of these magazine articles about her always being tardy arriving on the movie set,” he said, “so I just thought ‘the late’ had become part of her name. Like Pliny the Elder. I mean, did they call him that when he was young?”
“I’m not sure, I—”
“And did he tell people he lived in ‘Ancient’ Rome?”
“Not until he was much elder, uh, older. Listen, Les—”
“And what about that time you got me tickets to that art show in de Young museum in Golden Gate Park? It was a nice show and all, but I had the distinct impression that museum had been there quite some time.”
Eventually, we settled on a plan for me to interview The Cloud on Zoom rather than in person. “He’s a little bit nervous about contracting the coronavirus,” Les explained.
“But a cloud is just an aerosol consisting of, uh, a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the, uh, atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space,” I said, hoping I had read that casually enough off a Wikipedia page to convince Les I was that knowledgeable and articulate. This is why I threw in the two “uh’s”—to make it sound like my head was filled with similar containers of learning but that, for Les’s benefit, I was recalling the definition from an old science lecture I might have given (or more likely, attended) at M.I.T.
“That’s a good definition of ‘a’ cloud,” Les said, “but not The Cloud. This guy’s an entity unto himself.”
“Okay. When do I talk to him?”
“Monday at 10 p.m., right after he watches ‘Bull’ on CBS. He’s crazy about that show, especially the character of Benny, the little attorney.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty—”
“And next time,” Les said, “scroll down a little on that Wikipedia page and you’ll find a much less pompous definition of a cloud: ‘A cloud is made of water drops or ice crystals floating in the sky.’” It was my turn to be embarrassed.
Monday at 10 p.m. arrived and I didn’t even need to go to my computer.
As the end credits of ‘Bull’ ran on my TV, the transmission was suddenly interrupted by the screen-consuming whimsical face of The Cloud. He was, as I expected, billowy, pillowy, jowly and kind of amorphous. He looked as though his lineage might include Casper the Friendly Ghost®, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man®, the late actor Charles Laughton, Dr. Seuss’s beloved Yertle the Turtle® and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Hades).
I tried to be nonchalant, a way I have never been for as much as a single moment of my life. “So, Mister Cloud,” I began.
“Oh, call me The,” he said in a surprisingly high voice that reminded me of Truman Capote’s—someone else he vaguely resembled, though maybe not as witheringly macho.
“I’m delighted you allowed me to interview you,” I said, “but curious as to why.”
“The reasons are a little…nebulous!” he said, then released a sunburst of laughter, sprinkling water on the camera at his end. “Sorry, I just love cloud jokes,” he said when he was able to catch his vapor.
“No, I enjoyed that,” I started to say.
“I’ll try to be more…cirrus!” Another sunburst. Then, in an abrupt turn to serious business, The Cloud said, “I’m just tired of this charade. I can’t possibly store everything that people send me. I’d look like Hootie Blowfish without the Hootie. You may find a joke in that line but I’d suggest organizing a posse.”
“But we’ve all been led to believe that yours is the safest place to store things,” I said. “Safer than backup hard-drives. Safer than the U.S. Mint. Safer than condoms—”
“Condoms?” he said. “They’re not that safe.”
“Well, I was reaching for an—”
“And there’s living proof that they’re not!” He screamed with gaiety. Both of our screens were now soaked—I’m not sure why mine was, but keep in mind I haven’t interviewed many clouds.
When he calmed down, I finally asked him why so many companies around the world rely on him. “Aren’t you simply another word for the Internet?”
“Of course,” The Cloud agreed with appealing solemnity. “But you know how I.T. people like saying they have the newest, most up-to-date devices and solutions. Enter…me!”
“You mean to tell me,” I asked, ”that you’re nothing but…a…a…”
“Say it!” he urged, his lips and eyes revealing he was fighting off an explosion of laughter.
I went for it, saying, “A stratus symbol?” then ran to grab some towels.
A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela
President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank
photo by Phoebe Verkouw