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The Demon in my computer

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I don't know about you folks, but sometimes I suspect I've got a devious and slightly malevolent critter inside my computer. Oh, nothing terribly life-threatening. I'm not talking about a hellish creature, as in "The Exorcist," which makes your eyeballs spin like a top, and tries to separate you from your soul. No, indeed, nothing half that serious.

I'm thinking, rather, about an impish, gnarled, light-weight trouble-maker, with the spirit of, say, Barry Fitzgerald, that diminutive old Irish codger who always had an unlighted pipe in his mouth, when he went walking beside Bing Crosby, presumably to the grog shop round the corner.

Until very recently, when I ventured to type my columns, letters, reports, and scholarly essays on our computer, I was comforted by my instructor's assurance that I could "strike any key" without fear of doing the computer any damage. True, I found, unless I took a mallett to the keys, I couldn't damage the workings of the thing. But sometimes I found that, in my new self-asurance, if I mistakenly struck the wrong key, Poof!! instead of the carefully orchestrated and time-consuming paragraphs I'd left on the screen, I might be suddenly faced with a blank screen. It was (is) at monents like those that I felt (feel) like rolling out my trusty 20-year-old IBM Selectric II. There never was a demon inside that machine!

I've also found, to my chagrin, that sometimes a random stroke can be irreversible. Some months ago, to a question whether I'd like to be notified whenever stories about Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Grace Kelly appeared in print, I said Yes. Sure, I'd like to know what the late-Mr. Brando and the very-late Princess Grace were up to recently. I could afford a couple of minutes daily to follow their activities. Well, I had no idea how tireless, how positively driven my computer demon is. Every morning, I find at least one story about a Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, or Grace Kelly film festival in Keokuk, Iowa; Batavia, Ohio; or Bridgeport, Conn., reported not in the prestigious New York Times, but, rather, in the dinky town newspapers. I can't believe how hard my demon works thumbing through the pages of thousands of America's third-rate rags. When will it end? Presumably not until I find out how to strilke the magic key that'll put an end to it all. I can hardly wait. But I guess I'll have to.

In my retirement, I'm getting back in touch with friends and relatives I carelessly lost touch with while I was teaching down here at Cottey College, in Nevada, Missouri, and that covers the last 32 years. Nextdoor neighbors, long-lost cousins, old (er, former) girlfriends, schoolmates, I'm getting back in touch with mobs of them. And that's wonderful.

But, somehow, I must've clicked on a key that led me to a reunion site for New Rochelle (New York) High School. Now, I did live in New Rochelle for 24 years, but I never attended its high school. And that's why I can't understand why my computer demon keeps sending me notice of our 50th reunion, assuring me hundreds of my classmates -- especially the ravishing girls (pictured nearly bare-breasted) -- are waiting for me to respond.

I can almost hear my computer demon taunting me with its Barry Fitzgeraldean titter. Tee hee!! Tee hee!!