You Have To Stop G-Chatting Me, Mom

Obviously, Mom, you were going to learn how to email sooner or later. That was inevitable. I mean, it’s a pretty easy thing to do. But those sly bastards at AOL, they kept it complicated for years, and for that I thank them everyday. They made you log in, and endure that weird modem connection sound which you were sure meant the computer was “broken or screwy or something.” God I love that sound. It gave me months of email-free living, that blessed, horrible sound! But then someone told you you could just open a web browser to check your email, and paradise was lost. You were online, and you could send me emails. And then more emails asking if I got the earlier emails. It was the worst thing that ever happened. It was Sheila who told you about webmail, wasn’t it, Mom? I hate Sheila.

Soon after you learned about email forwards, and I learned that the subject line “You have to read this IMMEDIATELY” could be applied to just about anything. Say… a cartoon of Jesus walking into a hair salon, or a picture of a puppy licking a seal — which for the record I don’t think is even real. I mean, when would a puppy come across a seal to begin with? And then it would want lick it? This weird, giant blob monster? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t mind if you sent these forwards to everyone, but it just seems to be me. You certainly don’t forward things to Sheila, now do you? No, because “she’s a doctor and she doesn’t have all day to read silly things on the computer.” Well neither do I, Mom, because my Tumblr is starting to get a lot of notice and —  you know what? No. I’m not going to complain. Because this happened before you got your cellphone, and it wouldn’t be right to speak ill of a time so full of wonder and opportunity.

I’m going to come right out and admit here that I knew your new cellphone could send texts. Of course it can send texts. You can send texts from a gym sneaker at this point. But I told you that yours couldn’t because our text-sending tutorial had already gone on 45 minutes. And you had already taken the battery out of your phone twice because that’s what you did when “things got all wacky inside there.” And I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I said you must have a phone that couldn’t text, that I heard those existed somewhere, and then I walked out of the room. Because, honestly, I didn’t want you to text. I didn’t want to be out on a date and have you be able to instantly ask me, “Are her breasts pretty?” Or at the grocery store and get a message from you urging me to “Avoid the Mid Eastern deli clerk. He spits.” And I most certainly did not want to get the warning, “You may not get a text from me tonight, I have a date with a librarian!” You actually don’t need to tell someone you’re not going to text. Just… don’t text! That’s all the warning they need. Also, gross.

Now, how you got on Facebook is a mystery to me. Sheila and I agreed at Christmas there would be No Facebook Tutorials. But somehow there you are, commenting on my photos, liking the posts on my wall from women you consider attractive, and suggesting I become friends with your weird neighbors. It’s just like in my nightmares. I’m not saying that as an expression, like, “Oh, what a nightmare.” I’ve literally had nightmares about discovering that your Facebook Friends are my Facebook Friends, and then I wake up sweating and have to take an Ambien. And then usually drink scotch.

And now you think you’re going to Gchat me too? No Mom, you are not going to GChat me too. I know you can tell that I’m working, because my away message says “I’m working,” and after you’ve messaged me ten times the first thing I tell you is that I can’t talk because I am working. You know what a stoplight on the street means, right? Well, the little red stoplight that’s posted next to my name in the GChat window, it means the same thing. Instant messaging is for me. It’s for me to waste time while I should be writing, or to flirt with girls who I used to work with, or to wonder why my friends aren’t online and to text them and ask them to get online. Please, Mom, please. Let Gchat be just for me. We’ll always have voicemails, I promise.

Oh, and by the way, when it looks like Sheila’s not online, she actually is totally online. She just sets her screen name to invisible. That’s a thing you can do. So… tell her I said “Hi!” TC Mark

Author of the best-selling Kindle Single “Not A Match.”

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