|“Are you sure you don’t want to wait until I come up, Dad. This is really hard to do on the phone.”
“Oh come on, it can’t be that hard; you did it. It’s a computer, not rocket science. Besides I wanna prove your mother wrong. She don’t think I can figure it out.” He’s chuckling, but I know he’s serious.
I take a deep breath. “Okay, what do you see in front of you?”
“You see a television in your computer?” I wonder if he could actually be more adept at this than I thought.
“Yeah, I’m sittin’ in my recliner with Nikki on my lap. She’s such a good dog. What didya think I’d see in front of me? Elvis?”
Perhaps a silent prayer would be in order now. “How about you go sit in front of the computer?”
“Can you wait a minute? The weather’s ‘bout on. I wanna see if I can drive the motorcycle to church.”
“No problem, just call me back.” This'll be the perfect opportunity to take a xanax.
“Just hold your damn horses. It’ll only be a coupla minutes. Heck, you know how much I hate dialin’ this dern phone. I miss the spinnin’ ones. These push things. . . Hell, I can’t even see the numbers half the time. Besides, you got a fella over there or somethin’? Or can you just not spend a lil time with your dad?”
It’s all in good fun. The reference to me actually having a date is not a jibe, but in my family a show of affection. We aren’t huggers and sweet talkers; we show our love via sarcasm. The wittier you are, the more you care for someone. I’m beginning to think I’m Dad's favorite.
“I love spending time with you, Dad It’s why I’m coming to see you Monday. Only two days from now.” I pause, no response. Either he’s pampering Nikki (wait, she’s my dad’s favorite– you can’t compete with a man and his dog) or he’s entranced by the news. “So, what kind of computer is it?”
“Why are ya comin' here Monday? Ya need money? Lookin’ for Mom to do your laundry? She ain't your slave, ya know. I hate the dresses this Mary chick wears.”
I release a verbal sigh. “I’m 42 years-old. I don’t think Mom does my laundry anymore. Who's Mary? If you have company, we can REALLY do this later.”
“You know who Mary is. On Channel 4. The one with the blonde hair and the jugs she ain’t afraid to give ya a peak at. But man, she has no style. Black.”
“She’s black and has blonde hair? I’ve never seen anyone on News 4 like that.”
“Would you follow along? Buy a program, keep up with the con-vo-sation. Ya asked me what kinda computer I got. I got the black one.”
“Don’t be getting all snippety with me. If you asked me what kind of motorcycle a non-existent boyfriend of mine had, and I said purple; you’d be screamin’ purple ain’t no kind; it’s a damn color.”
“You ain’t got no boyfriend, and purple’s a sissy color. Who'd be caught dead on a purple bike?” He chuckles. “Well, I’m guessin’ it’d be somebody who’d date you. You knows I’m kiddin’, right, Sis? “
“Yeah, Dad. Seriously, what brand of computer did you end up buying?”
“Black.” He rolls with laughter. “I crack myself up. Nikki’s lookin’ at me like I’m a regular Jay Leno without that horrendous chin. Lemme get up, and I'll tell ya.”
“Did you see the weather?”
“Nah, I’ll drive the bike anyway. The old ladies love it. Good thing your mama ain’t no jealous type, ‘cause those ladies dig me.”
The fact that my seventy-year-old father refers to ladies at church as old makes me smile. I’m sure they do “dig” him; he can be quite charming when the occasion arises. Besides, who can resist a man on a motorcycle? Even if he is bald and walks with a cane he made out of items he found on the farm.
“Okay, Me and Nikki's at the computer." This is followed by cooing sweet nothings to Nikki, the love of his life.
“Okay, is it turned on?”
“I don’t know.”
“Let’s try this again. What do you see on the monitor?”
“The what? You speakin’ I-talian?”
“Dad, the square/rectangle thing in front of you. Is it blank or is something on it?”
“It’s bluish-purple. Like your fantasy boyfriend’s motorcycle. It’s got tiny symbol thingies on the side.”
“Perfect! Now see the thing on the desk to your right? It’s probably black, and it has a wire coming out of it. That’s a mouse.”
“A mouse? Why the hell is it called a mouse? Let’s call it 'clicker'. I been clickin’ the buttons at the top.”
“Fine . . . the clicker. When you move the mouse, I mean clicker; you’ll see an arrow on the screen that moves. Do you see it?”
“Well, it ain’t no arrow. It’s more of a triangle."
“You’re doing great. Now those tiny symbols you mentioned. Are they on the right or left?”
I wait for a response. And I wait. And wait.
“Whata ya waitin’ on, girl? I ain't got all day; the cows ain’t gonna feed themselves. Besides your mom’ll be home soon, and I gotta look like I been workin’, or she won’t cook me a good meal.”
I roll my eyes at his absurdity. “I’m waiting on you. I asked if the symbols were on the right or the left.”
“You did not. I heard nothin’.”
“Put the phone on your good ear, please.”
“Look, Smart butt, I cain’t. Then I won’t have the right hand free for the clicker. ‘sides I can hear ya jus’ fine.”
I clear my throat in preparation for marathon yelling. “The symbols! Are they on the right or the left?”
“My right or the computer’s right?”
“The computer doesn’t have a right and left. It’s not human.”
“Are you gettin’ sassy?”
I’m not sure if he’s faking the gruffness or if we’ve stepped across the line to complete frustration.
“No, I'm not getting sassy. Just move the arrow, triangle, until it is on top of one of the symbols. Look for a blue lower case e.” I can do this. I have patience. He’s an intelligent man. “When you find it, click the left clicker on the clicker.”
“Holy hat! I think I done broke it! Why’d you tell me to do that, Woman? The whole screen is changin’!”
“Calm down. It’s okay. You’re signing into the internet.”
“I ain’t signin’ diddlysquat. I don’t wanna go on no damn internet. I hear there's bad stuff out there. Nikki, go lay down. I don’t want ya to see this.”
“Fine, Dad. Just x out of it."
“X out? X out? I thought you was an English teacher. Maybe you need to practice. Speak English, girl.”
“Dad, there is an x in a little red box on the top right of your computer. Well, your right; and apparently the computer’s left. Click it with the clicker; it will take you back where you were. What do you want me to teach you that can’t wait two days?”
“I wanna play solitaire."
“You bought a computer to play solitaire? Okay, get the clicker; look down at the left bottom of the screen. Dad, can we please call it the mouse?”
“Hang on, someone jus’ pulled in the driveway.” His voice gets louder. “Nikki, who’s come to see us?” This is followed by groaning as he gets up. I hear the clacking of his makeshift cane, proceeded by some “good ole boy” greetings. Eventually, he remembers I’m on the phone.
“Hey, Sis, I gotta cut ya loose. Your brother’s here. The old lady tole him we got us a computer, and he thought he’d come he’p me. Ain’t that nice? No offense, but I don’t think you quite got the hang of it.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Well, actually, I can. “Have a good visit. Tell Will I said ‘hi’”.
“We’ll do. Will, your baby sister says “hey”. What you got in them bags?” I stay on the phone to see if I’ll get a ‘goodbye’ or if I’m dismissed. “Oh, no problem at all. Your mom’ll be happy to get that laundry done for ya. Did you know your sister is goin’ out with some sissy biker?”
Obviously, my mission is complete.