Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Greatest Senior Citizen Versus Computer Story Ever Told*

[Back in the day, when I used to bring dead fish to my office. Let's just say it was an odd time in my life. Also, it was the only photo I had on hand with a computer in it.]

*This story was relayed to me by my poor brother Topher, who was unfortunately sent to our grandparents' house yesterday to "fix the computer."


On a regular basis, I receive mid-day phone calls from my grandparents regarding inexplicable computer problems. My neighboring coworkers have been privy to strange conversations in which I explain, in a whisper, that "no, 'The Facebook' is not broken, Grandpa. I just logged into your profile, so yes, that is the right password."

I have printed out screenshots with arrows and instructions and taped them to the walls of my grandparents' home office. I have sat next to my grandmother and clarified, for what seems like the hundredth time, that she must log out of my grandfather's email account before she can access her own.

When she finally was able to log into her account, she complained that all she had was spam from a yarn company. "Well grandma, that's because no one else has sent you any email," I said.

"Oh," she replied. But I could tell that she didn't really understand what the hell I was talking about.

For my grandparents, the Internet is a terrifying place with no rules. Only a few months ago was I able to make them understand that each website has an "address" and the only thing they needed to do to get to a website was type its address into the white URL bar at the top of the browser.

Prior to that, my grandfather had been accessing Facebook by logging into his email account, locating the email from Facebook congratulating him on starting a profile, and clicking on the link in the message.

"Oh dear god," I moaned when I found out. "Could you make this any more complicated for yourself?"

On one occasion, my grandfather demanded I come over to teach him how to use his "new email program." I had no idea what that program could possibly be, but I came over anyway.

When I asked him to show me what he was talking about, my grandfather proudly clicked on the W icon on his desktop and opened up a blank Microsoft Word document.

"Grandpa," I said. "You realize this is a word processor, right?"

"Ah! That explains why your aunt didn't get my email!" he exclaimed.

When my grandparents actually do manage to send email, it's often from the wrong account (they still don't understand why they have to log out of one to access another) and it is also very odd.

While I was abroad in Spain in November, my grandfather sent me this:

I've forgotten what youth is all about. I sit here in my condo all alone none to talk with, listening to your Grandmother sing Xmas carrols in an off key. Life is swell.

Spain must be a wonderful place and I pray that you will bring me a beautiful senorita when you return.

Love, Grandpa

In Which My Grandfather Destroys The Computer

Yesterday, my unfortunate brother called me and begged that I come to our grandparents' house with him for dinner.

"They want me to fix their computer again," he lamented. "But it doesn't need to be fixed! I can't take it anymore!"

I declined, as I had a zumba class to get to. "You have fun now!"

Hours later, he called me again to tell me "a really amazing story."

So, he began, I went over to our grandparents' house to help grandma log out of her email account.

"Oh, of course," I said.

"It gets better," he replied.

I had already logged her out and was trying to help them with some other stuff, when I noticed something weird. I had thought it was part of the desktop image, but...it stayed on the screen when I opened other windows.

Honestly, at this point, I had no idea where my brother's story was going.

So I called grandpa over and I said, "Grandpa, what's on your screen?" He told me that someone had sent him some documents to sign.

"Wait," I said. "What?!"

Someone had sent him an email attachment that he was supposed to sign. So...get this...he opened the attachment, got a ballpoint pen, and signed and dated his monitor.

"No fucking way, dude."

"Brittany, our grandparents' computer monitor now has our grandfather's signature and March 13, 2012 written across it in black ink."

"Are you kidding me?! I mean, he realized that didn't work right?"

"Honestly, I have no idea. I bet someone out there is wondering why the hell our grandfather emailed him a blank document," my brother said. "Grandpa just laughed."

And that, my friends, is potentially the greatest senior citizen computer fail in the history of the world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

‘Shit My Dad Says’: The Jack Donaghy Doppelgänger Edition

One of the many reasons I love 30 Rock is the character Jack Donaghy. Everything that comes out of his mouth reminds me of my own father, who has spent 20+ years trying to turn me into a cunning financial maven with nerves of steel. I guess that would make me Liz Lemon?

Whether it was the ill-conceived “stock game,” in which my fourth grade self was instructed to monitor the daily fluctuations of the stock market (“No Brittany! You may not invest all your pretend money in Disney! You must diversify!”) or the extremely stressful public speaking lessons (re: my father towering over me in his custom British suit, shouting, “ANNUNCIATE BRITTANY! Pear-shaped tones!”), my dad certainly knew how to how make an impact. I mean, sometimes, I still hear that voice in the back of my head telling me that a used 12-cylinder Jaguar really is a great deal, or that I’m not allowed to order a good cut of steak anything more than rare.

So, when my father and I met for our bi-annual dinner last night, I took copious notes. Here are some of the highlights:

My Father, The Professor

“I told my students what I told you when you decided to major in Asian Studies – ‘You only have to learn one phrase for your future as a liberal arts graduate: Would you like fries with that?’ But, really sweetie, I’m pleasantly surprised about how your career is turning out.”

My Father On Celebrities

“[Wife Number Four (or Five)]’s intern just married Ringo Star’s manager. One of The Monkees was at the ceremony – I wanted to ask him if he came in the Monkeemobile, but my wife wouldn’t let me.”

My Father, The Republican

“It’s going to take a fucking miracle for Obama to get reelected. Wait, you’re not a Republican? So…how do you feel about Mitt Romney being president? Because it’s going to happen.”

My Father On My Love Life

“What have you been up to lately?” “Well, I’ve been taking a cardio dance class…” “No boyfriend yet, huh?”

My Father On Friendship

“My golf partner is 82-years-old. He just survived pancreatic cancer, because he’s too fucking mean to die.”

My Father On Marriage

“You remember my friend Bob? He wanted a new Jaguar. But his wife wanted an Infinity. He’s a damn pussy, so he bought the Infinity. I found him an almost new Jag for practically nothing; then I told him to give his wife the Infinity and trade in their SUV for the Jag. I mean, she wanted the stupid Infinity! I know how this shit works, I used to be married to your mother.”

My Father On Former Bond Girls

"I met Barbara Bach. She’s still hot."

My Father On His Relationship With His Brother

“I talked your uncle into buying a new Corvette. He told me it was the best advice I’ve ever given him. I pointed out it was the only goddamn advice of mine he’s ever taken.”

My Father On Ohio

“Cincinnati is a shit hole. I flew over it once. The stewardess told us to turn our watches back 20 years.”

My Father On Politics

“The only people who still think abortions are an issue in this country are the feminazis.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Relationship PTSD: I'm Pretty Sure That's a Real Thing

[I should really just stay home with my cat.]

I realized there was something terribly wrong with me around 7:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning in January.

You see, I had wrapped myself up in my sheets like a burrito and started hyperventilating because a guy who, in all likelihood, is very nice and reasonable offered to buy me a sandwich via early morning text message.


When I relayed this episode to my friends, wild hand gestures and all, they pointed out that I might have been a little bit dramatic. And when I cancelled on another totally likeable dude because I "needed to clean my turtle tank," they pointed out that I was really being a bit lazy and awful.

I wasn't really sure what was wrong with me. Didn't I want attention? A free sandwich? Booze? Concert tickets? Didn't I want to enter into a weird, temporary social contract with someone I barely knew, in which there was an implied possibility of sex and/or a future monogamous relationship?

As it turned out, not really.

One of the amazing upsides to being single is that you can do whatever the fuck you want. There are no compromises. No expectations. Nobody asks you to drive to Studio City alone in a cargo van full of subwoofers the day after your grandma dies. Nobody leaves you 30 coked-out voicemails about how you don't love them enough. Nobody expects you to take them to the hospital when they're coughing up blood. Nobody calls you from jail. Nobody asks you to help sell their old pick up truck while they leave the state. Nobody calls you from a hospital in Wales after desecrating a tomb, and runs up your phone bill. Nobody asks you for money. Nobody drunkenly calls 12 times in a row looking for phone sex while you're at a family party. Nobody leaves you stranded in a motel during a snowstorm. (These are not all from one person, by the way. I don't want you to think I'd previously been in a relationship with the worst person on earth or anything.)

Anyway, I think I might have Relationship Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Which means, if you're asking me out, my brain is translating that to: I WANT TO STEAL ALL YOUR FREEDOM AND MAKE YOU COMPLETE UNREASONABLE TASKS TO OBTAIN MY LOVE.

Which, I'll admit, is not a reasonable translation at all.

But, instead of staying home to avoid the pitfalls and emotional turmoil of casual dating, I've thrown myself into the fray. This, I theorized, would keep me from getting rusty. Because, well, someday I might want to complete unreasonable tasks to obtain someone's love? Maybe?

The problem is, people who actually want to date, like, try to be good at it. I show up and say whatever the fuck I feel like saying, which can make for an awkward time.


Date Number One [in which an unsuspecting guy asks me about my family.]

Dude: Wait, so, you're the child of your father's....third wife?

Me [probably on beer number 12]: Or fourth. I'm actually not sure.

Dude: Okay. So you have half siblings?

Me: I had a half sibling.

Dude: Oh...oh crap, I'm so sorry.

Me: Nah, man, it's totally cool. I didn't event know the guy.

Dude: ...Oh...okay....

Date Number Two [in which I make things much worse.]

Me: Man, I'm sorry about springing that thing on you about my brother shooting himself in the face last time! That wasn't appropriate.

Dude: Oh my god, you didn't say he shot himself!


The weird thing was, my date seemed to think that my incredibly non-nonchalant attitude toward my brother's suicide was super hot, and this exchange was immediately followed by him attacking my face. If the situation had been reversed, I probably would have tried to give the phone number of a reputable therapist.

Then, today, Sandwich Guy texts me about a follow up date to the one in which I got so drunk on champagne I nearly fell asleep in the middle of an orchestral performance. I decided to be truthful and tell him that his pursuit of me was almost literally giving me panic attacks.

He did not respond to this as expected. Instead, he insisted that we could move slowly, and that everything would be just peachy. Like, really. We could move slow. He doesn't want a girlfriend! I don't need to panic about that! He'll make it up to me! With booze!

Once again, had the situation been reversed, and my pursuit of him was causing panic attacks, I'd probably give him the phone number of a reputable therapist. But what the hell do I know?

The only thing I can really conclude from this is that men really do like crazy women.

Also, I should probably just stay at home with my cat.