Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Human Autocorrect

As you probably already know, I grew up in an Italian household. Mom had three girls, and then seven years later, she had an “oops”...me. I didn’t mind. It was like having four mothers and one large man who always protected us. I remember I was about three years old lying in my parents’ bed and Dad was busting my chops and teasing me, so I looked over at my mom and said, “Why did you give birth to him?” I just thought Mom was like some “god” who produced all these different people who were living with us. Even back as a kid, I remember Dad being so hard of hearing, or perhaps he just had selective hearing. We’d ask a question and he would botch it up like autocorrect on an iPhone.
Me: “Dad, where’s the fly swatter?”
Dad: “What? Ya want a glass of ice water?”
Me: “Hey Dad! I brought home some quesadillas for you!”
Dad: “What? A case of beer?” It always seemed like a challenge trying to get something across, especially if you were in the other room, which was maddening. He was a pain in the ass trying to communicate with you from another room in the house. All you’d hear was this really loud voice screaming, “Hey Deb!” I would answer back, “Yeah Dad?” ----Then silence --- This was his way of drumming up your curiosity in order to get you to come to him. And once you were in his man cave, there was no escaping. It was usually about some “true picture” he saw or some bizarre documentary. The stories were long and the plumes of smoke from his non-filtered cigarette would suffocate you. Every personal story of his started off with, “This is the troot’,” or “picture dis’.” As soon as those sentences came out of his mouth, it was like a flight or fight reaction -- or, just a “flight”. Mom used to say, “Hurry past him if you’re leaving. He’s very chatty today.”

My mom isn’t any better at botching things up like autocorrect, but it’s not that she couldn’t ‘hear’ you --- she just forgets certain terms, especially when it comes to the internet. Years ago when I was single, I put a personal ad out. Mom saw I was dating here and there and wanted to know how I met these girls. I’ll never forget her saying in front of mixed company, “I hope you’re not meeting these people on the intercom!” I just pictured myself with a huge megaphone out in the middle of the streets. Thank God it got more of a laugh than it did with the seriousness of meeting a bunch of ‘crazies’ online. I’d always hash out some pathetic lie and say, “Oh we met at work,” and if I was in between jobs, they were always from my “old place of work”. It seemed to have...worked. If that wasn’t the worst of it, she’d screw up on each person’s name. If it was Charlene, she’d say, “How’s Charmaine?” Mom got Madelene’s name correct only because her sister has the same one. Dad? Nope. He screwed it up all the time. Her name was Mildred. I have no clue. My buddy Lisa would come over on the weekends and for some reason, she was “Lidia”. Half the time Dad couldn’t get anyone’s name right. When trying to address me, he’d use all the names of my sisters before getting to me: “Dawn, Car, Cath, ughh --who the hell are you again?” And he’d laugh until tears were streaming down his cheeks. The best was when he couldn’t figure out a word: “Whatchamacallit', you know, dat’ thing - whaddyacall' - dat thingie majiggy - ah shit...” Or if it was someone’s name, “Whatshername - you know - dat’ girl - whaddyacallher - ah shit...”

My mom has this huge pet peeve. She hates when anyone text messages people while in her presence. She’ll stare you down until you feel it. “Who ya ‘tex mexin’” came out of her mouth one day. My sister and I both lost it. But now she’s resorted to the term, “Who ya tic-tac’n?” These days, Mom has a Facebook account. One of her greatest concerns is that she cannot “find herself”. I asked her why was she looking for herself. She said, “But where am I?” ...Then I finally figured it out. She just wanted to view her profile. Ok. But the next inquiry was really funny. You know how you get all of these “suggested friends” who are friends with your friends? (Wait, what?) Well, she thought that everyone was adding her as a “friend”, when it was only suggested. So she “accepted”, however, she really “added”. She knows I have a Twitter account which she contorts into, “Tittles” and “Twatter”. If she Googles something, the term is “Goggled”. I kind of think it should be called “Goggle”. She’ll never comment on a post or “like” anything. She’s a lurker. Instead, she’ll update me on what’s going on with ‘you know who’ and ‘whatshername’. Sometimes I hear, “Boy, how she puts out all her dirty laundry!” And yet, she’s totally intrigued by it. I’m not sure if she’ll be “liking” this blog post on my Facebook account, but I’m sure I’ll get a phone call in a few minutes. "Take that down!"


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