Talking To Things

by Bill Monson

One of the disadvantages of growing older is the tendency to talk to things.

Yes, I know Tiger Woods talks to his golf ball in flight and he's not even 30 yet -- but golfers are not normal anyway. And I discount swearing at objects which do us wrong -- like thumb-hungry hammers, inert lawnmowers, and newspaper vending machines which eat quarters but won't give up a paper.

I'm talking about full conversations.

Know anybody like that?

I live with one.

She talks to our computer.

The computer is a Mac and generally average except for a couple of exotic software programs which were added by my wife's sons -- who happen to be cyborgs. Naturally, she likes to use them, perhaps in loyalty to her boys, perhaps because she finds Word too old-fashioned. If she had her way, she'd be on the very cutting age of computer technology even though we don't need it and would have to have updates every six months and a lot of long-distance telephone calls for help in unkinking glitches and melt-downs.

We live in a small, two-bedroom home. One of the bedrooms was converted to an office. There is a recliner in one corner where I write these columns longhand on a lapboard, a desk, some book shelves and filing cabinets, and a computer cubicle. Once I could sit in the recliner reading while she worked at the computer. Then we got the exotic software programs, and she started talking to the Mac.

The problem was she talked to it the same way she talks to me.

''Why did you do that?'' she'd ask.

''Do what?'' I'd respond, looking up from my book.

''You shouldn't do that,'' she'd say.

''Do what?''

''I don't want that.''

Well, you get the idea.

She was so intent on her dialogue with the computer she didn't even hear my responses. (Or maybe thought the Mac was talking back.)

Of course she would hear me if I yelled, but then I'd break her concentration and hurt her feelings and she'd get mad about that and upset I yelled at her. Would she even admit she'd been talking out loud? What do you think?

Needless to say, it was one of those husband-and-wife disputes that the husband can never survive. No matter what he does, it's wrong and he's gonna pay for it.

I finally gave up. When she wants to use the computer, I leave the office and close the door. Even with it closed, though, I can hear her sometimes from my living room easy chair -- especially when the Mac loses a file. Then I have to turn on the television set real loud.

A year ago, we got Web TV.

That's the service which lets you use your television set as a monitor for e-mail and surfing the Internet. All was well for a few weeks, then she started talking to the TV set.

Now I go back and forth from my office recliner to my easy chair. I get a little exercise and a change of scenery, so everything seems to be working out.

Except --

Last week she started talking to the kitchen microwave.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online May 30, 2001

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