Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Square Peg - #!@* Flaptop



The Square Peg - #!@* Flaptop
© S. Bradley Stoner

Well, I was finishing up my walk yesterday... I got a late start, really late. About two in the afternoon. Hey, it was sunny and in the 70s.. shorts weather. It had been in the low 40’s in the morning and while I like crisp, clear mornings, I hate walking in sweats. Trust me, down here the 40’s are sweats weather. I must be getting old. I used to wade in 38 degree streams fishing in Montana in my jeans and never even raised a goosebump. I still don’t raise a goosebump in our lower temperatures here, but my left knee and right shoulder complain a lot. I could tell you why, but you’d just get bored. Any was as I rounded the corner and headed up the slight hill toward Bingo Bob’s house, I spotted Bob and Paula Pettingzoo engaged in an animated discussion. I was just about to turn around and go the other way when Paula spotted me and waved. Too late, dammit.

Had to keep my heart rate up, so I kept up the pace. I reached them with the full intent of saying “hello” as I went past, but, alas, it was not to be. Paula shouted something at Bob. Bob turned around and said, “Hey, settle an argument for us.” ‘Oh crap,’ I thought, but didn’t say it out loud.

“What’s the problem?” I asked, hoping it was something simple. Turns out, it was simple, but some people have a knack of making the obvious complex.

“It’s my #!@* flaptop,” Bob said. It keeps giving me an error message when I turn it on. Paula says I’m doing something wrong. I say I’m not.”

“What happened to that new tablet you bought... you know that Micromush piece of crap you spent too much on. I thought you liked that. Why are you using that old crappy laptop... you know it’s ‘laptop’ not ‘flaptop,’ right?

“This one’s a flaptop,” Bob whined, releasing his hold on the screen portion, whereupon it slammed closed. “See? Flaptop.”

“You didn’t answer my question about the tablet,” I prodded.

Bob scuffed a toe on the sidewalk and looked up at the sky in silence.

“C’mon, Bob, give.”

“Yeah, Bob, give,” Paula pressed... like I needed her help to get it out of him.

“Ummmm.... uh... I took it fishing with me on the boat and I was watching a movie when a whopper hit my line and started running with it. Well, I jumped up and...”

Bob didn’t have to finish the thought. I could just see that tablet arcing through the air and going kerplop in the drink as he lunged for his pole. “Well, did you at least land that whopper?”

“Shut up,” Bob replied hostilely.
“Let me see your laptop.” I took it, set it carefully on the hood of his truck and lifted the screen to what should have been a normal position... tilted slightly away from the keyboard. I should have noticed that it raised way to easily. I didn’t and took my hand away to press the power button. The screen hovered for just a second before it went crashing down onto the hood. Uh oh/

“I TOLD ya it was a #!@* flaptop!” Bob shouted. “Now ya probably broke it good!”

I pressed the power button. The old laptop sputtered. The hard drive labored to spin. It sounded like an ungreased bearing. The fan rattled, coughed and died momentarily before rattling once more. I watched the screen. It glowed. It brought up the Windows start screen.. you know, the one that says “Windows Starting Up,” and hung there for about forty seconds before the Windows 98 icon appeared and wavered.

“Huh,” Bob declared, “it never went that far before today.”

Paula seemed mesmerized by the ancient icon on Bob’s screen. “I loved Windows 98,” she cooed. “It was so reliable.”

I thought about mentioning that old 98 has about as many security gaps as a colander has holes, but I didn’t. I had once been rather fond of 98 as well... that is until I discovered XP. Millennium and Vista were crap. XP was and is a great operating system and I still use it... with some really great anti-virus and anti-spy software of course. What I like about XP is that you can load outside programs with it... you’re not stuck with strictly Micromush stuff that you have to license annually like the new operating systems. But I digress.

Anyway, the icon gradually gave way to reveal Bob’s start menu. It and the desktop took another five minutes to load, during which time Paula took the opportunity to talk about her new dog rescue efforts. She informed us that she had recently rescued two adorable little dogs... a Pomeranian mix and a Chihuahua from the local animal shelter. Okay, so now I know who owns those two yappy dogs that won’t shut up for hours on end. Paula leaves them out while she’s volunteering at the shelter or one of her other causes. I mentioned the barking dog ordinance. Paula glared at me and called me a not so nice name.

Bob ignored us both and attacked the key board when laptop quit making working noises. He brought up his old Explorer version and it tried to, but couldn’t connect with the Internet. “@#&$%*@@#$!!” Bob hollered.

“Watch your mouth, Bob,” Paula challenged.

I’d repeat what Bob replied, but it wouldn’t look a whole lot different than the above. Use your imagination. And then he added, “And your !@$%ing yappy #!@* dogs too!”

“Careful Bob... your Jersey is showing.”

“Aw !@$% it.” he shot back. “Why can’t I get the Internet?!”

I checked his connection. “Do you still have that old dialup modem?” I asked innocently.

“!@$% you too!” he stormed. “I’m gonna go buy another tablet!”

“Catch ya later, Bob... you have a nice day,” I chortled and headed for my home.

I didn’t get what he yelled after me, but I imagine it was some other colorful New Jersey appelation.