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Dear Diary, Can I learn to use the iPhone 5?

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Dear Diary,

Friday, 12:05 P.M.: Siri just arrived at our house via FedEx. Since we live in the woods of Western Montana and husband, the technology wizard pre-ordered the iPhone 5. Unfortunately for Brad, he will also conduct the tutorial so that I can learn how to use it, I who haven’t touched models 1- 4. I bit the apple years ago, when I bought a MacBook, and then like Snow White, promptly fell into a coma. Note: Last night Brad downloaded the new iPad operating system that enables Siri, even out here in the middle of nowhere, and has spent the morning talking about the weather with her instead of with me.

Friday, 12:10: Brad says when he is ready, he will “walk me through it.” In the meantime, I am to choose between the protective and the clip-on cover. I opt for protective. God forbid I have to wear a belt, and I hardly require rapid clip-off response when I only receive calls from my daughters in dressing rooms to ask me if their butts look cute in a pair of prospective skinny jeans. Prediction: Brad will wear the clip-on, the modern male holster.

Friday, 1:33: Brad sets up my Apple password. I do laundry. Verbal frustration emanates from office as various clever cues are attempted and rejected. German shepherd, Cody, cowers behind my legs. Note: Make note of login and password in “passwords” file folder, right-hand desk drawer.

Friday, 1:34: I receive a welcome e-mail informing me that everything in my world now connects—in a cloud (where I’ve been all along; so far, so good). Cody emerges, ears back, wary. Brad breaks for lunch and chats with Siri on his iPad. “Did the Angels win last night?” he queries. Within seconds, she breaks the bad news of a loss. I silently ponder, If she’s so connected, why can’t we simply ask her to do the iPhone dirty work?

Friday, 2:00: Brad smokes cigar on back patio while the phones are charging. Antsy (even in dog obedience class I am a hopeless overachiever) for the exhilaration of achievement (not to mention an operational new toy in my purse), I vacuum.

Friday, 3:10: Brad hands me a black box with “your goodies.” Charger—check! Ear buds (to avoid brain cancer)—check! Quick Start Guide—uh oh. “Just read it,” he admonishes, while giving me the eye that says, I know you run from change. I casually set it aside and set the coffee maker for a double shot of espresso.

Friday, 3:30: I had the good fortune to marry a man who is adept at explaining how things work. I do my best to follow his lead and scroll to the left in order to get to the page on the right. Everything seems backwards, but he explains that it’s like turning the pages of a book. I visualize this, but still freeze when faced with the iPhone homepage screen. Slowly, we work our way through every icon. Note: Download ring tone to “Theme From Mission Impossible,” since it has been a very effective tool in the past to promote the notion that however intrusive, my call from the Nordstrom dressing room is urgent. Prediction: His ring tone will be “Monday Night Football.”

Friday 4:30: My touch is either too light or so heavy that Siri’s microphone lights up and she tries to respond to my voice, which is semi-hysterical since I can’t even leave an outgoing voice-message without laughing so hard I snort and shriek and am unable to speak a word. I have to start over, taking deep breaths.

“Do you want me to search the web for your whole?” she asks, and the screen shows typed words, phonetically translating the garbled choking sounds that emanate from my throat. How Zen! She is searching for my center! Or misspelled some body part that, if we have to go online to locate it, means I’m in bigger trouble than I thought. At the sound of Siri’s voice, Cody gnaws agitatedly on his Nylabone. Poor Brad, having married someone so electronically handicapped. No wonder he talks to Siri over breakfast.

Friday, 3:50: Vexation escalates with each tap on the touch-screen. Am I whining? Brad reminds me that if I utilize Siri, I don’t have to type. Siri interrupts our strident verbal exchange (I didn’t realize she was still “listening”) regurgitating what appears on-screen like a combination of Russian and German, intermingled with one very distinct English expletive I swear she inserted into the jumble. When I try to type on the miniscule keyboard and hit the wrong letters, I feel that familiar wave wash over me, the one from grammar school: OMG I am about to cry! Siri says she does not know who I am. I don’t either.

Friday, 4:15: I try to find myself.

Friday, 4:25: I am found.

Friday, 4:45: My e-mail screen indicates I have a note from my daughter, Kate. I cautiously enable Siri, enunciate the reply message, and she sends it off, that satisfying swoosh sounding in my ears. Cody looks up, panting.

Friday, 5:00: I power down, fan myself with my very damp t-shirt, and toss back a tequila shot, but not before I notice an intriguing replacement option for the swoosh, “Sherwood Forest”— that trumpet call to the hunt that appeals to my Barbour-jacket side. Tempting, and a reason to persevere.

Friday, 5:30: Refreshed, I get back on the horse that threw me. I hit “contacts” and begin to list the names and numbers I need in order to feel secure again. Soon, I am whizzing through this task, confident, even when I have to correct (frequently). I feel a heady surge of cyber competence (could be inebriation) coupled with the desire to actually make a call.

Was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now iSee.

END

Kathleen Clary Miller is the author of over 300 essays and stories that have appeared nationwide. She lives in the Ninemile Valley in Western Montana.

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