Emmy and I have been chatting online lately. For my fellow computer illiterates ‘chatting’, on the internet is a kind of fast form of email. If you don’t know what email is, you’ve just woken from a long comma, congratulations!
In a two-person chat, both people are on line at the same time, and have a written (typed) conversation. In the old days, you dialed up a person to chat, their phone rang, and they answered. Now both people find themselves online at the same time. In my love/hate relationship with computers and the internet, one thing I love is the communication. I think something almost mystical is at work.
You could be minding your business, doing something important on the internet, like finding out how many people recorded specific rock and roll and blues hits from three decades ago on You-tube. A little balloon window will pop up in the corner of your computers’ screen and tell you someone you are acquainted with is online and ‘available’.
Knowing that someone is willing and waiting for a chat interferes with my concentration. It forces me to put some thought into a talk with a person I may not have been interested in chatting with in the first place. If I ignore the little window, I begin to feel guilty. After all, how many different video versions of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” can I possibly enjoy? (The number is vast)
If the ‘chat’ person went on line for some companionship and I sit like a bump on a log will they feel rejected? Maybe no one will talk to them. Maybe they are having a bad day- personal crisis; maybe they need to talk to someone.
I try to think up something intelligent to say, I type in, “What’s up, dude?”
A little balloon pops up claiming the person is no longer available. I wonder if the person is ‘not available’ because I am the one who responded, maybe I should feel rejected. What I really feel is relief– I don’t have to think up any more great lines like, ‘What’s up, dude?’
If my granddaughter is the individual on line, ready and available, we are always happy to chat with her.
Our son Jon sets up the chat session from their home, and Paige continues chatting as she pleases.
We travel for business, in our little truck camper. The last trip we took was six weeks. The chats with Paige lift our spirits, bringing a third person, a favorite one at that, into our small space. We use Emmy’s computer and she types in my comments as well as her own.
We have a lot of patience for our granddaughter; at six years of age, Paige doesn’t have a long attention span nor is she a fast typist. She sometimes wanders off in the middle of a chat, only to return minutes later. There is a lot of hang-on time between sentences.
In the camper, on our end of the conversation, Emmy spends the wait-time sewing beads onto fabric and leather; I read and write and watch videos.
Though not speedy, our granddaughter most often replies in full sentences with perfect spelling and grammar. She already has a sense of humor and often makes some very adult observations. At one point we were chatting and there was a longer than usual wait.
Emmy typed, “Are you there, Paige?”
Paige wrote, “No.”
I told Paige, I wished I had a mail delivery owl like those in the Harry Potter novels, a nice, fluffy solid white one.
Paige said, “Grandpa, you do know that is only fiction don’t you?”
She was so serious, I couldn’t answer.
Even if she doubts my knowledge or my sanity, Paige will always be welcome in any chat of mine.