For many of you, graduation is just around the corner. Statistically speaking, this probably means you'll be bumming around Europe for a few weeks before accepting an entry-level job where you'll have to put in three years before they trust you with a stapler. It's a time of great change, which as you know, licks ferret scrotum. But the halcyon days of beer pong and booby-touchin' couldn't last forever.
When school ends, a select few of you will have no choice but to move back in with your parents, at least temporarily. These poor souls deserve our pity, maybe more so than victims of Hurricane Katrina. At least them cajuns got to play on the roof, which I was never allowed to do, even though I safety-pinned a towel to my shirt like a cape.
Obviously, moving back home is going to suck for these schlubs. Sex will be but a distant memory, and their families will be nearly impossible to manage. I've already written about the parental humiliations related to dining and moving…but I'm sorry to say, the abuse doesn't end there. Nope, it goes on and on, like an autistic child trying to describe a Stanley Kubrick film.
Here's something to consider: Since you've been at college, technology has evolved a little. Four years ago, it wasn't so easy to find free web videos of meat-coma David Hasselhoff or celebrity crotch-flashes. But your parents' technical ability has remained at a constant, which is to say, laughably non-existent.
Now that you're a big shot with a college degree, your parents won't think twice about coming to you with their computer problems. This is especially true if they paid for your education. Just try talking your way out of that one, freeloader. It doesn't even matter if your degree is in, say, Radical Feminist Poetry or Petting Zoo Management, your folks see you as their personal IT department. Only now, IT stands for Idiotic Tasks.
Let me give you a little perspective. My dad is a decent, hardworking guy, but when he was growing up, computers stood floor-to-ceiling and read data off improbably huge spools of magnetic tape. As a result, he never developed any kind of innate technological familiarity. Today's kids come out of the womb playing World of Warcraft, but my dad is just as likely to recognize the mouse as some sort of primitive jungle weapon.
It's seriously maddening. Even basic computer operations are an enormous headache. When he has to double-click an icon, the clicks will be five seconds apart, and he'll sit there, baffled, as his file refuses to open. And on the web, he'll click-and-hold links, causing the computer to do exactly nothing, while he yells that the internet must be broken.
And if you think that's bad, more advanced functions might as well require him to cast a magic spell over a cauldron of bubbling unicorn fetuses. I'm not even talking about defragmenting a hard drive, I'm talking about downloading an email attachment, or copying and pasting a block of text. It's simply beyond his capacity to internalize.
If I'm in the same room, I can solve most of his computer problems with a combination of savvy and theatrics. For example, if his printer is "broken," I'll clear the print queue in two seconds, and then mess around in DOS for a while, making him think I'm performing a technological miracle before reprinting the document.
But I live clear across town, so I occasionally get phone calls to solve these problems remotely. First he has to describe the problem to me in terms he can relate to: "I accidentally put one of my programs in the little trash can…How do I get it out?" Then, I have to figure out what he's actually talking about and talk him through the solution, one agonizing step at a time.
Communicating on this level is like discussing algebraic theory with an Eskimo through an African interpreter who speaks only in clicks. And the Eskimo can only be reached via a chimpanzee half-heartedly trained to wave semaphore flags. I think I know how those tech support guys in India must feel. Of course, they could always quit and become rat-catchers or turban-wrappers. I have no choice but to endure.
The crazy thing is, my dad's somehow managed to set up a web-based business on the side. He sells records, which some of our older readers might remember as those flat, round things that were read by pterodactyl beaks on The Flintstones. Thus far, I've been able to teach him to post something on eBay entirely by rote. This is also how trainers at Marineland get seals to honk horns on cue, incidentally.
The eBay site has limited categories in which to list music. And unless your dad happens to be president of a record label, his knowledge of music probably isn't going to extend past the 70's. As a result, I'm constantly peppered with genre questions like some game show from hell. "Kenny G? Hmmm, would you say he's Rap/Hip-Hop or DJ/Dance?" Ugh.
The proliferation of social media and Web 2.0 hasn't helped this dilemma. Every other day, I'll get a request from my dad to help him get on, and I quote, "MyTube, or FaceSpace, or YouBook." With my help he gained just enough ability to search video sites for old Jewish comedians who predate audio recording technology, and whose names he can't remember anyhow.
My mom, on the other hand, has a degree of computer literacy; not enough to tackle these dilemmas, but enough for Facebook, anyhow. And let me tell you, when she added me as a friend, I thought I might have to go into hiding. It was bad enough wondering what she might glean if she found the wrong PIC article, but Facebook could give her indisputable photographic evidence of what I've been up to.
Facebook would need HAL 9000 to handle the kind of encrypted privacy settings I would demand to keep that from happening. But unfortunately, I have to make do with what they've got. A friend suggested I actually set up a fairly tame dummy account that would keep her occupied, kind of like the Matrix. But I just know one of my asshole friends would go all Morpheus, and awaken her to the crazy futuristic dystopia that is my life.
God bless her, she carried me for nine months, but if that woman sends me one more stupid application, I am going to lose my shit. Whoever came up with those cutesy applications that auto-send invitations should be mauled by a horde of kittens who hatched from mystery eggs grown in a magic flower garden.
Maybe someday I'll wake up in a world where I don't have to be bothered at 7:00 AM because one of my relatives thinks "cookies" refers to delicious treats that the computer is somehow capable of dispensing. I hope I do. But until then, I can expect to be asked "HOW COME MY TYPING IS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS?" while wishing I had an unlisted phone number.
Essential Word of the Week:
disconcentrate v [dIs'kansIntret]
I have a girlfriend whose first language is not English, and as a result, she'll make the odd faux-pas. Most of the time, these slip-ups are hilarious, like when she returned from the dentists' office and announced "My lips are dumb." Or like the time she expressed interest in my town's documentary film festival (nicknamed Hot Docs) "I want to go see the Hot Cocks!" You get the idea.
But every so often, she'll import a word from her native Spanish that doesn't quite exist, but seems like it should. Once, she was trying to get some work done, but as someone who is generally horny 24 hours a day, I couldn't let that stand. After a few minutes of fending me off, she yelled in her adorable accent "Stop disconcentrating me!" And an Essential New Word was born.
When you're with your significant other, it can be difficult if one of you needs to concentrate and the other is feeling rambunctious. Any sexy contact during this time, whether it's an innocent grope, or brazenly rubbing your groin against her leg, can be a form of disconcentration. Much to my surprise, girls don't like it. At least, they pretend not to….