Together in Electric Dreams

(First published in Le News edition 19, 20-26 March 2014)

I think you’re too attached to that thing,’ my husband noted the other day, gesturing towards my computer.

Who?’ I asked, cradling it protectively. ‘Do you mean Precious? What makes you say that?’

You haven’t made eye contact with me or the children in over a week.’

It’s true. But who can blame me? My computer is the perfect partner.

Our affair started a few years ago when my family left South Africa and moved into a small, sad hotel room in France. It rained almost every day of the month we were there, and I would’ve gone mad had it not been for my computer. It became our entertainment centre, playing DVDs and music non-stop; we used it to Skype family back home; we played games on it; and I spent a lot of time Googling things like, ‘what to do with small children when you’re trapped in a foreign country, it’s raining and you have no car.’

Normally one might turn to one’s spouse at a time like that but seeing as he was the one who’d made off with the car, he wasn’t in my good books. So I fell in love with the computer, and we’ve been going from strength to strength ever since. I adore my Precious and, I’m thrilled to say, my Precious adores me right back. Seriously. Every day, in a hundred little ways, my computer shows me how much it cares.

What’s on your mind?’ Facebook asks me gently, every time I look at it. Nobody around here ever asks me that, unless I’m sighing a lot or lying down on the floor.

And Spotify is so thoughtful. It sends me little messages like, ‘You played Barry Manilow’s Copacabana over a hundred times last week. You might also like James Blunt.’ I’m so touched by that kind of attention that I don’t even feel the need to explain that it was actually the four-year-old, who is obsessed with the song’s clever juxtaposition of tragedy with disco.

Coursera will happily spend night after night with me talking about the poetry of Gertrude Stein without ever once threatening suicide or trying to steer the conversation to rugby.

Google answers all my questions immediately, never feigning deafness or telling me to ‘just hold on until this penalty shot is taken’.

Pinterest understands my tastes and picks out nice things for me to wear, Audible reads me to sleep and, if my heart desires something, Amazon hops to it immediately, to find it for me.

All in all, I’m getting more attention from my computer than I am from anyone else in this house. I was in bed with a fever for four days last week before one of the children thought to offer me a glass of water. And even then, they were only trying to revive me long enough to go downstairs and put the television on for them.

Worse, neither husband nor children noticed my new haircut which, thanks to a small misunderstanding between myself and the hairdresser, has left me almost functionally bald and with much larger ears than I intended.

But that’s okay because love is blind. And, as long as I don’t do anything silly like activate the Photo Booth app … so is my Precious.    

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