A three-day weekend visit in Phoenix by my Auntie Eileen so that she could purchase an iPad2 at the Scottsdale Quarter Apple Store and thus finally enter the 21st Century, often reminded me of the Gene Wilder movie, “Young Frankenstein,” and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein’s ascertain that ‘there is always a device.’ Most particularly the scene where he is trying to figure out a mechanism to gain entrance to a secret passageway behind a bookcase and discovers that the wall mounted candle is that ‘device.’ It’s downhill from then onwards. What follows is a ‘french farce’ of removing and replacing the candle and a slap-stick comedy of foiled attempts and the oft-repeated instruction to Inga … ‘put-the-candle-back.’ This is a whole new and brave world for our endeared Matriarch and ‘touch‘ not ‘tap,’ ‘pat‘ not ‘poke,’ ‘swipe‘ not ‘wipe,’ was often met with frustration, back chat, argument, chastisement and needless debate. Typical, is this breakfast, phone conversation to her Squaw Peak Hilton hotel to test webcamming. (movie clip link)
Me – “Okay. I want you to touch the FaceTime icon.”
iPad Eileen – “I don’t have a FaceTime icon!”
Me – “Yes, you do. You’re on the home page, right? It’s says ‘FaceTime’ under the icon.”
-iPad Eileen – “I see one that looks like a box with a triangle at the side.”
-Me – “That’s the one. Touch it. Now you only have three contact addresses. See mine, gerreheron@ and not the gerre@ and then see a small blue icon that looks like a video camera. Touch that one.”
-iPad Eileen – “It’s doing nothing.”
-Me – “Are you touching it?”
-iPad Eileen – “Yes, I’m touching it!!!”
-Me – “Are you touching it or tapping it or poking it or prodding it? Your touch has to be gossamer light. ”
-iPad Eileen – “No, I’m touching it completely lightly with the end of my little finger and it’s not doing anything, it’s just making this dinging sound.”
-Me – “Eileen … that dinging sound is a ringing sound. It’s dialing me, okay?”
-iPad Eileen – “Oh, there you are. Hello fat face. My, your face looks fat on this,”(pronounced ‘fet’ in her Southern Rhodesian accent.)
-Me – “Charming! Okay, why am I only seeing your hotel room ceiling?”
Indeed, there is a ‘secret passage’ to enter behind this iPad ‘bookcase,’ one that’s as much a mystery to ‘iPad Eileen’ as it was to Dr. Frankenstein. A world of communication, a world of control. Where, once entered and conquered, it will bring information and news, videos and new recipes, right to Eileen, right on her lap. No more long, neck-aching, blind phone conversations. No more mute e-mails that are never answered from a work PC that’s more of an obstacle and hinderance then help. So started and ended those three-day instructions, often with patience, often with not, repeated frustration, frequently indulged, deliberately made. Touch this, check that, see this and understand that, not that, but this. “Didn’t we just discuss that?” The loop-de-loop conversations of the tech-savy to the tech-uninitiated.
But, I had a $10 bet I intend to win entered into with Eileen’s son, Marc, that includes witnessing dancing a jig of joy. “Mum will never use it. It will be just another thing to buy and to have and it will sit unused and wasted immediately.” This ‘Frankenstein’ project I intend, will indeed be fruitful and not meet the same fate as the Dell Mini Notebook purchased last christmas and sitting uncharged, hardly used and certainly confused ever since. Eileen’s first and second night returned home, there was nothing, no attempts to FaceTime, not a sound, not a blip, not a communication. Dead silence. But, like dry desert that has long waited parched and ready for rain, the onslaught once started rained down in a torrent. The first e-mail … sent eight times. The daily and tenfold attempts to FaceTime right up and past bedtime. Ah. What Frankenstein monster have I created?