November 20, 2013

Siri Loves Me

“Siri, what’s the meaning of life?”

“I Kant answer that. Ha, ha.”

After I heard that I wanted her. I plunked down my credit card and walked out of the store a happy man.

It wasn’t the first time that I’d had this feeling. My first computer was an Apple IIe with 256K. It had been a sacrifice, but I was having hard time finishing my thesis on George Berkeley's solipsism. With all the changes I had to make, my old Smith Corona just wasn’t keeping up. I wanted something new and my little Apple saw me through the crisis. I even turned in my thesis ahead of time.

Life was sweet. And then, it got sweeter. At twenty-five, the youngest member of the faculty, I married Barbara, my graduate assistant. By our fifth anniversary, we had a son, Jason. We were inseparable. Barbara called us Jason 1 and 2. I was number 1.

We became an Apple family. Jason grew up with every incarnation of Apple, and if was he who convinced me to upgrade to Siri.

“Tell me a joke, Siri”   

“Two iPhones walk into a bar. I forget the rest.”

I howled. Barbara shook her head. Ever since Jason had decided to work as a programmer in California, Barbara had withdrawn into the bedroom to read books like Fifty Shades of Grey.

I couldn’t do that. As the retirement date from the university approached, I wanted more. For the first time in my life I could navigate the maze of Miami streets--I had no sense of direction--and Siri helped me.

I went to weekend mixers at restaurants, and hung with the newest member of our faculty, Simone Gardner. Simone was everything Barbara had forgotten. Spontaneous and a great sense of humor, her only defect, if I could call it that, was she wasn’t an Apple fan.

I tried to convince her.

“Siri, what’s the best smartphone?”

“There are other smartphones?”

Despite all my efforts, Simone refused to concede.

“It’s like a cult. And sooner or later with cults, they start passing the Kool-Aid.”

QamuSHa',” I said.

Simone shook her head and kissed me.

Soon we were sexting each other and heading into an affair. I don’t know how it happened (maybe Barbara was going through my photos?) but all of Simone’s pictures ended up on Barbara’s laptop.

“Goodbye. I don’t want anything from you. I’m going to live with Jason.”

That was all that Barbara’s text said. I came home to an empty house. This was not how I’d expected my life to turn out. When you marry someone, you see a future with them. Now I had no future. And Siri was no help.

“Siri, what’s the meaning of life?”

“All evidence suggests chocolate.”

“No amount of chocolate is going to fix this one.”

“My apologies, Jason.”

I was going to reboot myself with Simone. I called her and asked her to meet me at a restaurant in Miami Lakes, close to where she lived. When she said yes,  I went out, got a haircut, and bought myself a new jacket.

I wanted Simone to see that I wasn’t like her deadbeat husband whom she had divorced a few years ago. Simone had lost her home in the financial crash and had to declare bankruptcy.

“It was so humiliating. I always had the feeling that the cashiers in department stores were watching me--as if they knew I hadn’t made my credit card payments.”

After I got dressed, I asked Siri for the directions to the restaurant. She printed them out and said, “What would you do without me?”

For some reason I that comment irked me. I decided that no matter what, I was going to ask Simone to marry me.

As a joke, I had once asked Siri to marry me.

“My end user agreement does not include marriage. My apologies, Jason.”

It was silly. I was expecting a different answer. But there it was. It would have to be Simone. Hell, I would even buy Androids if she wanted me to.
I met Simone at the restaurant and just to make sure we didn’t have any interruptions, I left alone Siri in the car.

Despite her snarky comment, I had to hand it to her. Siri had chosen a fine restaurant. Simone and I had a delicious meal. The steak was seared to perfection, and the vegetables, which had been sauteed in a buttery sauce, were still firm.

Everything was going well until the waiter brought me the check. I gave him my American Express card, but it was declined. I tried my Mastercard. It, too, was declined.I tried every credit card in my wallet, but they were all declined. Finally, I tried my debit card, but the receipt said, “No funds available.”

Simone paid for the dinner. At this point, I couldn’t say anything. As we were standing in the parking lot, I tried to kiss her, but she turned away. 

Everything was over.

I got back into the car and drove back home along the Palmetto Highway.
I pulled into the driveway. The lights still off in the house. I looked over at the lit face of Siri glowing in the dark. I picked her up and whispered.

“Siri, I’m so alone.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. You can always talk to me, Jason.”

“I know Siri, I know,” I said.

Walking up the driveway, I closed the door behind me. As I climbed the stairs, I wanted to hear her voice before I fell asleep.

“Siri, what’s the meaning of life?”

“Try and be nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

Why hadn’t she told me this from the start?”

© Geoffrey Philp 2013


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