June 21, 2018

my daddy got a smartphone

It was less than two months ago he was sitting at the table at Ruby Tuesday, going on and on about how he was still a proud owner of a flip phone, because it's a known fact that no one needs a phone for anything other than calling people and being called.  Flip-phone owners are vocal about their disdain for smartphone owners.

Earlier this week, I called him to check in, and he told me he could text now.  I asked what happened to the texting prohibition, given that it cost him twenty-five cents per text, and he said he had a new phone and it was all free now.  My daddy was holding a smartphone.

He asked me questions about texting etiquette, how quickly a person expected to hear back from him, whether they'd be offended if it wasn't immediate.  I explained that this is the beauty of texting.  It keeps the recipient from having his or her life interrupted by a phone call in real time and allows for a delay in responding, whether they need to obtain information first or aren't by the phone or just don't feel like communicating with people at that moment.

I didn't expect that his texts would be like his birthday and Christmas cards.  He can't relate in real life the way he can in writing.  He never has gotten the hang of e-mail.

A treasure trove has opened before me.

So began our foray into texting, earlier this week:

Daddy:  Good morning my darling daughter!  I guess texts are usually open ended.  Love you.

[He has always been amused by florid, formal language.  It's a form of humor for him.]

Me:  At least I won't send you inane pictures partaking of the inscrutable form of humor enjoyed by the current young generation.  That is what the kid spends all day doing.

[I wonder what he would say if I sent that pic of the King James Version Bible with the "Signed Copy" sticker on it.]

Daddy:  Feeling old.  I just realized your age is 101001 in binary.  Is it still lol or some other abbreviated phrase?  Love again.

[He's one of those new-to-texting parents who botches LOL, isn't he?  I wonder what he thinks it means.  This is going to be rich .... ]

Me:  That is, I think, the most endearing text in the history of mankind.  Remember that there are only 10 kinds of people in the world, those who can read binary and those who can't.

[Yes, I stole that from a t-shirt.]

Daddy:  Have a capital summer solstice.  14h37m of sun.  It is futile to explain why this occurs to my fellow beings so I'm glad to have a sponge for a daughter.  I love you.

[Okay, putting love at the end of every single text is unnecessary, and I have to find a gentle way of conveying this.  Maybe pointing out that the very fact we're texting now is that love.]

This ties in to my earlier explanation of the complexity that is my daddy.  I might be the only person he can talk to like this.  I'm not sure about my stepmother; it's possible, but I think she mostly just shakes her head about it.  I have to wonder what his daily thoughts are, as he works as a custodian in a manufacturing plant.  His shirt is blue with an oval patch that says "Tommy" and he probably wears Dickies navy blue pants with it.  He'll retire in a few years.  He has poker buddies and golf buddies and I'd lay one down with his bookie that none of them would understand the expression "capital summer solstice."

He was complaining about them, in fact, during our antiquated telephone conversation.  He said that when he's had a couple of beers, he gets even more obstinate and calls their shit.  He'll tell them something and they won't believe it, and he'll push the issue and say, "You got a goddamn phone, look it up.  Look it up right now.  You can look up anything any time you want to.  It's right there."

I don't know how he sees the screen with his poor vision.  Maybe he stopped breaking his cheaters and wears them now.

It's a new concept to him, this portable window into the world of knowledge.  I can't help but be amused by his accelerated leap forward into bafflement that others perceive it as ubiquity instead of epiphany.  It's old news to them.

I hope he never gets there.

1 comment:

  1. My dad can read email but replying is beyond him. And we're looking for a new flip phone for him!