As a teenager, I was really mean to my mother. When I was 16, we got a new IBM Selectric typewriter with automatic corrections and I gleefully threw our little bottle of Liquid Paper White-Out away. We also got a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) and I smugly taped Happy Days and Eight Is Enough, all the while getting more and more frustrated that Mom couldn’t learn how things worked when I explained it all. Twice.
My mother stood by watching helplessly from that day on; incompetent to type her resumes without her old manual typewriter and unable to watch her Days of Our Lives soap opera with our new complex remote controls. But she had a secret prophetic curse:
One day when new inventions come out, you’ll have a child who is impatient with you. And I’ll just laugh. And laugh.
Today is that day. I have a used Mac. Someone gave it to me. In my world, Mac is an expensive brand of cosmetics, a big fast-food hamburger or a really cranky cab driver in NYC. Apparently it’s also a foreign kind of computer. Not only do I have this confusing Mac, but I also have three college-age sons who are technologically gifted. Listen to the following phone call.
Youngest Son – Mom, we’ve been at this for over an hour. I have to get to class. There are professionals who will come to your house and help you. But I’m not “The Geek Squad.”
Me – Yeah, you’re more like “The Bleak Squad.” If you could just explain it one last time – I promise I’ll get it. All I want to do is submit my writing to Better After 50. Please?? So at the bottom left of my screen, I double click the thing with the little thingy and the bizarre double blue face, right?
Youngest Son – (long pause) The thing with the little thingy. Yeeeeaaah. Listen, what is your ultimate goal here? To share your humor, right? Have you ever considered just doing stand-up comedy?
I offer him my homemade lasagna if he’ll just come to the house and help me get things set up. He asks if it’s the same recipe he remembers from living at home? After I confirm it is, he tells me we have a bad connection, but he thinks his older brother might be hungry.
In the time it takes me to search for my middle son’s number in my contacts list and refresh my memory with how to use Skype, his younger brother has already sent him a “Mom’s on the loose with her new Mac!” warning text.
Middle Son – Hello Mom. I Already ate. The thing with the bizarre double blue face is called “Your Finder. That’s like your old “Start Up.” But you have a great stage presence. You could just do a funny helpless routine that would be the envy of Jerry Seinfeld. Gotta go.
Me – Okay, Just tell me this one last thing. If I hover on the cute little fruit with the bite taken out of it on the upper left corner and I see a “Sleep” option, will that help with my insomnia?
Middle Son – Click.
I search on my own and manage to figure out that I’m now in a Garage Band and even though I’m newly divorced, I already have a reputation for being a “Quick Time Player.” I have a fear of tigers, so I don’t even think about exploring “Safari.”
But I’m certain that my firstborn son would never let me down.
Oldest Son – No! Didn’t you hear me?? You cannot press, “Control, Alt, Delete” anymore!
Me – So how do make the pretty iridescent LP record that just spins around and around go away??
Oldest Son – Think of it as your old hourglass. You just have to wait patiently for it to cycle through.
Me – Well, can I still “Escape?’
Oldest Son – (Sigh) Yes. You can still escape, mom. Unfortunately, because I answered my phone today, it’s too late for me.
While the intelligent child that I once taught to read, print his name, and wipe his own behind gets more and more sarcastic with me (and I get no help whatsoever) I receive a text from my mother, who is now 73 years old.
My three sons must’ve caught their grandmother up on technology behind my back because all it says is “LOL!” Over and over again. She’s even figured out how to set her mocking to music, I realize, as the Elton John song from the Lion King movie loudly blares from my cellphone, “The Circle of Life!” Touché Mom, touché.