The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 5, 2013

Siri says be careful what you wish for

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — I suppose it was going to come to this sooner or later.

After 38-plus years of marriage, as a result of my wandering eye and my yearning for something different, another person has come between us.

Another woman, to be exact.

OK, I understand your anger, I can feel your rage, I even felt whatever it was you just threw at me, ma’am. Nice arm, by the way. Hey, does your mother know you talk like that? Give me a minute to explain.

I am not involved with another woman. It was hard enough to find  one who would put up with me. Finding two would be impossible.

No, the one in the relationship with the other woman happens to be my bride.

It’s not like that, and shame on you for letting your mind go there. This is a strictly platonic relationship, totally cerebral, in fact.

The other woman is Siri.

Let me regress. Prior to last weekend, my wife and I were immune to the lure of newfangled smart phones. For the past few years we have had cellphones, but not smart ones. Ours were not exactly dumb, but were at least, shall we say, intellectually challenged.

They were fine little phones. They made phone calls, they received phone calls. What more could you ask?

But that wasn’t enough for me. I was lured by the nearly non-stop television commercials touting the virtues of smart phones. Heck, they don’t even call the things phones anymore, they call them portable devices. I thought portable device was just another name for a transistor radio, but what do I know?

Anyway, I was lured by the siren song of the portable device, with many different companies touting their phones and wireless service.

I began to lust after them. I watched people walking down the street, heads bowed, praying at the altar of Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon, thumbs frantically typing out their innermost feelings, tapping out tweets or posting updates to Facebook.

I wanted one. I just had to have one. My bride was not so sure. She was perfectly happy with her little flip phone.

With my birthday coming up, I decided to pop the question. Can I have a smart phone, can I, can I, please?

She said yes.

We decided to both get iPhones, because I am familiar with Apple products. We have a MacBook and an iPad at home, and I use Apple computers at work.

And besides, iPhones are way cool.

So we got them. They are marvelous little devices. You can surf the web, check the weather, sports scores or your favorite stocks, send and receive text messages, send and receive email, and listen to music. You can take photos and videos, organize your schedule, record voices or take notes.

You can find your way, locate true north or find the square root of 748. They even have a flashlight, for crying out loud. They are like Swiss army knives without the blades and little toothpicks.

I instantly hated mine. I was intimidated by it. I wanted to return it to the store, get my money back and go back to my little flip phone with the broken hinge.

My wife, on the other hand, was immediately smitten.

I heard her voice coming from the living room the other day and assumed she was talking on the phone, or to the cats. Wrong on both counts. The cats were doing what they spend virtually all of their waking hours doing, sleeping.

And she wasn’t talking on the phone, but to it. She was conversing with Siri, the virtual personal assistant.

Ask Siri a question, and she will answer, sometimes. My bride was apparently asking Siri something she didn’t know.

“Sorry, I don’t understand,” Siri kept saying. The more Siri protested, the louder and slower my bride talked, and the more she talked, the more agitated Siri became. “Sorry, I don’t understand. Please don’t yell at me. I’m trying. I want my mommy.” I’m afraid Siri will soon need some serious counseling.

I almost forgot, you also can play games on your smart phone, a fact my bride quickly discovered. Now she spends hours at a time trying to crush candy, or some such foolishness.

We don’t talk anymore. I just hear her mumbling to herself over the strains of a happy tune emanating from her phone as she tries to bend the little candies to her will.

The next thing you know she’ll be hurling Angry Birds at pigs, or trying to kill off zombies or aliens.

I’m afraid I’ve created a monster.

As for me, I’ve made peace with my new phone (the store wouldn’t have taken it back, anyway) and am well on my way to mastering every feature offered by this modern hand-held computing marvel.

Thus far I have figured out how to turn it on, make a call, receive a call and turn it off.

Oh, and it makes a nifty paperweight.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.