This was first published by The Good Men Project.
My husband Jay is the only person I know whose computer has been stabbed. I wish I could say that it was like one of those incidents in wartime where the bullet lodges in the pocket bible and saves the guy’s life, but it was nothing so exciting as that. No, Jay checked his laptop on his way home from a business trip to somewhere quite innocuous. I know. I know. He hasn’t checked a computer since then, obviously. But when he unpacked his laptop, there it was. A stab wound that reached right inside and through to the screen. We stared at it, disbelieving. Neither of us had seen anything like it.
I tried to console Jay by pointing out that now he could have a lovely new laptop with masses of great features that would make his life much easier. It was when I mentioned the company in the Midwest that could try and recover his data that the awful truth began to dawn on him.
“You mean that all my information has gone, too?” He was tearing at the remains of his hair.
“Maybe,” I said cheerfully, “but let’s not panic. We don’t know if you can turn it on yet.”
Jay pushed the power button, looking as though he expected the laptop to explode. It cranked into life, but the screen looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.
“I’m doomed,” he said, “The damn things just don’t like me.” Language ensued.
He meant the computers, of course. He’s in that generation that grew up thinking that the way you typed a letter was to put your secretary on your lap and dictate it to her. (Mad Men, indeed.) So when he retired and became a consultant, the horrible realization that his adoring spouse (me) wasn’t going to replace his secretary, came as something of a shock.
“Listen, darling,” I told him, “you went to Andover, Yale and Cambridge. You must have some sort of capacity for learning. You’ll get the hang of it in no time at all.” And so it has proved. At no time, ever, has he managed to exert control over the infernal machines.
“I’m snakebit,” he says. By which I believe he means that his computers are trying to kill him. And maybe they are. Death by apoplexy is what the certificate would read. Because only my husband has email that suddenly disappears or whose mailbox fills up in a few weeks. Only he can actually manage to lose the home page on his browser. Since his home page has all the Yankee scores, this can border on disaster.
Mind you, I’ve tried to suggest that if he made an effort to love his computers a bit more they might start to love him back. I mean, if you were his laptop, how would you feel about being run over by Jay’s car? My point exactly. I’m not saying it was deliberate, but maybe something in Jay’s subconscious led him to leave his laptop behind his car instead of in the trunk. And then to back over it.
Language ensued. And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, of course. Back we went to Best Buy, for laptop number 3, or was it 4?
The salesman persuaded Jay to buy the latest model. It would not only deal with email, and word processing, but could take photos, phone a friend, play music and movies – it sounded great. Jay never got past the email. Getting to grips with Outlook was so traumatic that he never had time to type his memoirs or watch a movie. He did learn how to click on a link to You Tube occasionally, and has seen more cats that look like Hitler…
Yesterday, the laptop died. Again. After the language died down, I wandered into his office and offered to help.
“It’s useless,” he yelled. “I’ve tried everything. I’ve turned it off and now it won’t start up at all. I’m going to take this *@#*ing computer, drive it out into the middle of the lake and throw it into the deepest part!”
I murmured something about environmental disasters, but he wasn’t listening. Edging round the desk I took a look at his laptop. Not plugged in, but the power button was still showing faint traces of life. “Where’s the cable?” I asked.
Jay all but threw it at me. “It won’t work,” he insisted. “It never does.” He sat down abruptly and put his head in his hands. I ignored this piece of drama and carried on. I plugged in the computer, and held down the power button. It switched itself off. Turning it on again, I took a chance and let it reboot normally.
“How did you do that?” Jay said with what I like to think was gratitude and admiration. I tried to explain, but he had started swearing at Outlook again. I tiptoed out of the room. One of these days I may have to stab this laptop, just to get some peace and quiet.