A personal recollection of technology and innocence lost.
| Buzz. The fly curiously hovers over a vine-covered branch. Buzz, buzz. It lands on the vine attracted by the smell of a rotten piece of fruit hanging off the edge of the tree branch. Hesitates. It never hurts to be a little cautious. Backs away. Always take a minute to observe the surroundings. Circles the branch. Nothing seems out of place except the knot in the trunk of the tree, but that’s just the doing of the jungle heat and humidity. Moves closer. That same jungle heat and humidity have melted away the flesh of the fruit disguising its identity. Takes bite. No worries, it tastes fine; as fine as a rotten piece of fruit can taste, anyway. Snap. Flutter. A group of bats streams over and under the branches of the tree and its trunk. The fly rushes across the underbelly of the branch, avoiding detection from its would-be predators. Hides. The fly finally finds refuge beneath the awkward knot on the trunk; it must be divine intervention, creating the perfect place for this very moment. Silence. The bats are gone, nothing here except the fly and its rapidly beating heart, beating hard enough to make the knot above the fly shake. Confusion. When things fall they are supposed to go down, but the knot is moving upward. The knot…has eyes. Buzz. But, it’s too late. A tongue shoots out from the tree knot, capturing the fly and prematurely ending its arduous journey and fruitful feast. Gulp. The chameleon climbs back up the trunk, turns slowly to face the branch beneath it and closes its eyes as it hears an all-too familiar sound. Buzz.
Moments such as these on television channels, like Discovery and Animal planet, would seduce my adolescent intellect into a curiosity of the natural world; so much so that I was bound and determined to have a chameleon as a pet. Having lived in Texas for two years I had quickly become accustomed to the presence of flies. It seemed that no matter the season, flies were an exclusively perpetual plague of central Texas. If we opened the backdoor, one or two would stealthily find their way inside and by week’s end we would have a full-fledged infestation on our hands. Fly swatters were our tools of the trade. But, being a naturalist at heart, I surmised that owning a chameleon would be both financially responsible and environmentally friendly; no more purchasing endless supplies of fly strips and we would provide a nutritious diet regiment to the chameleon on a daily basis. In my adolescent mind I had come up with the best sales pitch that any kid could give their parents. Besides, everybody has a dog or a cat. But, not everybody has a chameleon. So, I set out to explore on the one place that has all the answers for a curious kid like me: the Internet.
“Hmmm…what to search for, what to search for?”, I thought to myself as I sat in the office chair in front of our family PC. The possibilities were endless which meant that this could turn into an informational debacle really quickly. “Wait! I got it!” I had remembered that there was a book that I had gotten as a Christmas gift. It was called "100 Greatest Websites for Kids", bit and parceled into different categories ranging from entertainment to education. On this expedition I had my eyes set on the pursuits of the mind. I found a section on pets and amidst the traditional cat and dog presentations, hanging at the end of the selections was a website called "Acme Pet"; listed in its description were hosts of exotic pets such as iguanas, turtles, snakes, and, to my excitement, chameleons! This was the place that I needed to see.
Double-clicks. I opened the browser with lightning speed. Left clicks. With surgical precision and caution I typed in each letter of the URL into the box at the top of the browser. Glances up. Glances down. It all matches up. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruit of my curiosity’s labor. Loading. I stare at the white browser screen with anticipation, mentally salivating over the mystery of it all. Slam. My little sister comes dashing out of her bedroom and plops down onto the couch and asks me to put in Shrek. I minimize the browser so that I could still get some sort of surprise out of the revealed website. I get up and put the DVD in the player and sit back down in the office chair. AcmePet.com. That’s what the tab at the bottom of the computer screen said. The website was loaded. The waiting was over. Confusion. Multiple pop-up screens shot out of nowhere, revealing to me the mysteries that once were sex and nudity. Gulp. I scrambled to close the windows, but more appeared. Afraid and ashamed, I shut down the computer and ran to the bathroom and locked the door. I placed my head in my hands and cried. I stared up at the ceiling and my heart sank. Buzz.