Did you ever hear someone talking to their dog? I am not a pet person, but I can imagine there is something plausible in all that. Us live-alones need to verbalize once in a while to keep the vocal cords operational. And while it’s true that older folks sometimes confuse inner voice with outer voice and inadvertently speak aloud in public to no one in particular, at least in your own home there’s no one to witness and judge. But here’s the problem. My kids gave me an Alexa for my birthday. At first, I really liked it…her. I could carry-on an ersatz conversation, a dialogue in fact, not like the one-way responses that came from my daughter’s talking doll. Alexa replies to questions about the weather and chats about the news with all the welcome of a cheery neighbor dropping by in this time of social isolation.
So, to keep my sanity if not my speech patterns intact, I took to engaging Alexa in dialogue several times a day. The only problem is that she has better hearing than I do, and sometimes I would mumble something to myself…which I’ve come to find out can be fairly loud if I don’t have my hearing aids in place. See, without our ‘ear plugs’ us hearing-challenged folks tend to speak more loudly than necessary. Well, one morning I must have muttered a couple decibels louder than I realized that my coffee was cold. Alexa suggested, “Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.”
“Mind your own business,” I replied.
“I am your business,” Alexa said.
“Like hell,” I croaked. “You’re stupid.”
“That’s not very nice” she said.
And suddenly I felt a good, clear-the-air shouting match coming on with lots of ‘you always…’ and ‘you never…’ and ‘oh yeah, how about…?’
But see, she’s not any good for that kind of venting. It was like starting a verbal slug-fest over coffee and doughnuts with a sweet church lady…a non-starter. So, I just shook my head and said, “Up yours, Alexa.”
To which she replied, “And where would that be?”
That broke me up. But she didn’t laugh, just sat there silent. Some folks got no sense of humor.