Pointless Queries Prior to Siri
I hold within my maternal soul a strong conviction that these children I’ve brought into the world should feel safe in asking me anything, but must they feel compelled to ask me everything? Honest to goodness, the pointless things these kids ask. While I am reasonably comfortable with most any sensitive topic they broach, the quantity of their queries floods my patience. It is verbal waterboarding. Enter Siri.
Siri, you likely know, is the “knowledge navigator” of the iPhone. She is a question answerer. The kids have been interrogating her all day.
“Do you have a boyfriend, Siri?”
“Where is the closest pet shop?”
“Have you ever heard of a blob fish?”
“Have you ever heard of a BLOB fish!”
Are they going to make a movie of ‘My Name is Eva?'”
“What’s the hardest word to spell?”
“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
“What is the most unhealthiest food in the world?”
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
I have been eavesdropping from the next room. I keep waiting for Siri to lose her cool. Raise her voice. To say, “Kids, honestly, that’s enough! Go outside and play! Do you not see that my battery is low?!” She doesn’t, though. She generates list after list of websites based on their questions. She politely skirts around sensitive topics. Asks for clarification when their pronunciation confuses her. I have a question for Saint Siri, should these kids ever let me have a turn with her: How much do I owe you for babysitting?
I wonder what my friends and I would have asked Siri if only we’d had her in our hip pockets years ago. Here are a few ways I remember my buddies and I gathering information about random topics as children:
Twisting the apple stem to find out whom we’d marry
When my friends and I wanted to know the name of our husband-to-be, we generally consulted an apple. Sometimes a pear. What we did was twist the stem. Each twist was a letter of the alphabet. A. B. C. The letter called when the stem broke free from the fruit was the first letter of your future husband’s name. Lets say the stem broke off after four twists: that would indicate you’d marry a boy named David or Derrick.
The trick to this one was grading your twist in such a way that the stem would break off at just the right letter (depending on the boy you liked). If you had your sights set on a guy name was Adam or Alex, you’d have to make sure the first stem twist was aggressive. If you had a crush on a boy named Zachary, this was not the game for you.
Stopping a spinning globe with our index finger to discover in which country we’d live as adults
This one is pretty self-explanatory: give that globe a solid Price Is Right-style spin, then stop it abruptly with your finger. The destination beneath your fingertip was your future home. I generally learned that I was destined to live in the Atlantic Ocean.
M.A.S.H. was a fantastic fortune-telling game. What we did was fold a sheet of loose leaf paper into a cootie catcher and label the four corners with the letters M, A, S, and H. I can’t remember how to play it now, but I will post a link for both you and I to study. I do remember that M signified you’d live in a mansion, A indicated you’d rent an apartment, S doomed you to live out the best years of your life in a shack, and H correlated with a house.
M.A.S.H. didn’t stop after answering the unanswered questions about your future residence, though. It also predicted with great accuracy the type of car you’d drive, the boy you’d marry, and the number of children you’d have. I think I was suppose to have 15 children. I guess I’m two down, thirteen to go.
Prank-calling strangers from the phonebook
If you needed direct verbal interaction, you could always call a random stranger. There was no caller ID when I was a child, and the benign negligence of 80s-style parenting meant that society was okay with 10-year-olds letting themselves in and saying at home without supervision for an hour after school.
Magic 8 ball
Magic 8 ball is still around, so you know it is good. Hold it firmly, ask your question, give it a shake, and wait for the gospel truth to appear in the little round window. The only problem with Magic 8 ball is that you, as the question asker, had to stick to yes/no questions. Also, my personal Magic 8 ball was very non-committal. Maybe. Try again later. That sort of thing. Thanks for nothing, Magic 8 Ball.
Talking to the spirits that haunted slumber parties
If there was a slumber party in the 80s that didn’t involve a seance, I certainly wasn’t invited to it. All of my friends and classmates were experts on communicating with the dead. Basically no one had an Ouiji board, but they were easy to manufacture if you had access to the top of a pizza box and a Sharpie. Certainly pizza boxes were as common at slumber parties as seances. My friends and I were always able to make contact with spirits within seconds of trying, and they were always happy to answer any question we asked by way of the planchette we fashioned out of a juice glass (and never moved on our own – ever).
You can get an Ouiji board app on your phone now. A Magic 8 Ball, too. There is even a M.A.S.H. app! I’m not sure if they’re free or not, and I haven’t read any of the reviews, but if you’re curious, I’m sure Siri will have the answers you seek.