Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Text messaging menace under my roof

Add “Getting killed in my sleep by a 13-year-old girl” to my ever-growing list of fears that go with living in these tumultuous times.

I’m fairly certain I can kick the ass of almost any 13-year-old girl on the planet who’s not right now swinging from a parallel bar in Beijing. I’m fairly fit, have a high pain tolerance that’s helped me survive countless hangovers that would have claimed lesser men, and I’m skilled at dirty fighting.

So square me off against a 13-year-old girl and you’d be smart to put your money on me.

But have a crazed one attack me in my sleep and that changes the odds. I’m a sound sleeper who’s used to enduring the tiny stabs of Buster, the 19-year-old cat who won’t die, as he puts his fresh-from-the-litter-box paws all over my face. I might not recognize the mortal wounds until the waterbed mattress was filled with my diluted blood.

That’s why I’ve spent the past two nights hiding the knives and rigging up an empty beer can alarm system that’ll give me a head’s up that danger’s approaching.

In our house, danger’s a doll.

She’s my wife’s 13-year-old niece up from Virginia Beach for the week. She’s sweet, smart and pretty by nature, but she’s having a tough time because her mother got divorced and remarried within a year. She’s been thrown into a new house in a new neighborhood with three new siblings.

I’m totally sympathetic towards her. Growing up, she never imagined this would happen to her family. What kid does?

I don’t think she’d ever do anything to hurt me or my family.

But the people who seem to be controlling her mind through sinister text messages would.

It’s utterly unnerving to be sharing so much space with someone who doesn’t talk to you, but is constantly staring at you as she tap, tap, taps secret messages to unseen strangers. In my mind, I imagine seizing the cellular device from her and reading in bold LED letters, “KILL THEM ALL!”

Part of it, of course, is my massive ego that just can’t accept that anyone wouldn’t want to devote their entire waking minutes to my philosophical discourses on religion, politics, sports and which local taverns serve the tastiest pizza (The Pond, of course).

I realize this makes no sense. No one in the family listens to me. And the only reason the kids, ages 7 and 2, haven’t succeeded in running away yet is they both take such tiny strides. Guaranteed, once they realize their father will fatigue and give up running after 15 steps, those gals are gone.

In the meantime, we’re trying to show our niece love and warmth, to let her know that we believe in her and laughter is a better dinner companion than sullen insolence.

I’m hoping it’s a daily groundwork that’ll help my daughters avoid falling into the same doleful demeanor when they reach that difficult age. If not, there’s always what we dubbed Plan A.

If the kids become too immersed in diabolical text messages, cell phones, instant messages and other technologies that insulate them from family love, we decided long ago to go to Plan A. That is Plan Amish.

Plan Amish means we school both children in the humble ways of the Amish, while Val and I continue to enjoy the heathen lifestyle to which we’ve become so accustomed. I’ll still have my iPod, my HDTV and all the technological doodads that make life so nifty for anyone with either disposable income or credit card company that hasn’t already been scorched by foolishly leisure lending habits.

You never see Amish girls on reality shows. They don’t get tattoos or spend their time text messaging when they should be milking cows and churning butter. And you don’t see them calling their Amish pappies “Daddy Doofus,” the name to which I reflexively respond “Yes?” every time it’s shouted, doggone it.

Daddy Doofus will stand there having the last laugh as he watches them type their very last text messages to their corrupted friends.

“Goodbye cool world!”

1 comment:

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