Monday, October 27, 2008

Doing the robot

"Did Nadine like the movie?" I asked my brother last Saturday. His girlfriend went to see The Secret Life of Bees the night after I did. I had told her it was good but that I teared up in the theater a few times the night before while she and my brother watched our boys so Kenny and I could take in a movie on our date night.

"Yeah. But she said you must be a robot because she bawled all the way through it."

I hear muffled conversation in the background, then Jamie (my brother) comes back on the phone. A big sigh. "She said not to make up stuff she said. But she did cry a lot and she can't believe you didn't."

Well, I would have cried more but I feel really stupid when I do that in the theater, even when the rest of the audience is sobbing (which it was) so I just hunkered down, and I think like, two tears escaped. But I didn't bother explaining. I just said, "I'm not a robot," and thanked him again for babysitting the boys.

Fast forward to Sunday, a week ago. Kenny and James have lost their minds. They insist they hear a mysterious beeping every ten minutes or so. They walk around with various electronic devices pressed against their ear, waiting to see what's making the noise.

A noise that I can't hear and become convinced doesn't exist.

They insist it's been going on all day. I think that once, I might have heard it. But then I decide I didn't and that they're crazy.

James comes home from school on Monday and insists that he hears it again, but it's only when he's with me. Never any other time.

And I think about my brother's robot comment and I begin to wonder...

Could it be that I'm getting some weird radio signal through a tooth filling and they hear it? I've seen it in movies.

But I don't hear it.

James is really bugged by this noise. It irritates him all Tuesday afternoon.

Finally, I suggest a theory that's been percolating in my slightly unstable imagination. "What if I was really a robot, James? And I never knew it. And there's something screwed up in my wiring and so it's beeping but I'm programmed not to hear stuff like that?"

I think he'll dismiss this with the nine-year-old skepticism that killed Santa and the tooth fairy.

Instead, he eyes me speculatively. It goes on too long. Finally, he says, "I don't think you could be a robot."

"Yeah, me either."

But we both sound uncertain.

Fast forward a last time to that night when we're eating at a barbecue joint for my brother's birthday. He and I have had a conversation in the car where I ask if he can hear the beeping.

"Yeah. Isn't it your phone?"

Nope. And he suggests maybe I can't hear it because as you get older, some people lose their hearing in higher frequencies and I have some scar tissue on my eardrums, so this kind of makes sense.

But as I come out of the restroom to rejoin the table an hour later, James is looking at him with deep admiration and Kenny is looking at him with a mixture of disgust and amusement.

When he was babysitting, Jamie had hidden a little prank gadget in the lining of the baby's carrier designed to beep mysteriously, and let it go on for four days.

Just to clarify: I am not a robot. I only thought I might be for about five minutes.


Shellie said...

Maybe you should be one for halloween ;)

Alison Wonderland said...

I can't say that I've ever thought I was a robot but I'm sometimes pretty sure that I have a chronic illness that makes my life harder than other people's but I don't know about it so I think everyone is this way. But one day I'm gonna be diagnosed and then you're all going to be so impressed with how well I just carried on despite myhorribly debilitating disease that requires other sufferers to sleep 18 hours a day and spend most of their time in bed.
But that might just be me.

kenny, the husband said...

For some reason, "I'm not a robot" is striking me, right now, as one of the more pathetic sentences in the English language.

I feel sad that you even had to utter it, my very human wife.

Let me just say:
01001001 00100000 01101100 01101111
01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001
01101111 01110101

Aubrey said...

I agree with kenny, the husband -- no one should ever have to defend themselves against robot accusations. :)

I hate when you're in a theater and everyone around you is sobbing. It's too much pressure. Just because you're not in a sobbing place at the moment doesn't mean you're dead inside.

I read 'The Secret Life of Bees' and I think that I will wait until it comes out on DVD, so that I can fall apart in the privacy of my own home, if necessary.

Nancy said...

Getting up at 5:30 a.m. makes me feel robotic sometimes. I have to keep going in spite of my eyeballs rolling back into head about this time of day.

Eowyn said...

Oh my goodness! That was hilarious! A hidden gadget for four days. I'd have probably hit him in the arm.

So funny!

Oh, and I'm glad you aren't a robot!

Kimberly said...

I should be more sympathetic to the angst you went through, but I'm too busy muffling giggles.

I'm totally not a movie theatre crier either.

I didn't cry when a bunch of gal pals and I went to see Titanic. It's no wonder I have so few friends...

Jami said...

Most excellent.

One Christmas, my mother kept hearing that "Elise" tune and my sister and I never heard it. We were beginning to think she'd lost it. "Do you hear it?!? There it goes again! Dee-del dee-del, do, duh, dee-del, do, duh dee-del, do. See!" Um, sure mom.

Turns out her new gorilla slippers had a song embedded in its nose or something. We tease her to this day about it. I even have "Elise" as my mom's ringtone on my phone.

Jami said...

Bravo, Kenny! Encore! Encore!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Ha ha. I have been accused of being a robot too, so I loved this post.

THANKS for stopping by my blog! WELCOME WELCOME!

P.S. Your husband is funny and I'm jealous he reads your blog.

charrette said...

Hahaha! LOVE that he hid that for a prank! My husband would have gone on a search-and-rescue mission looking for it too!

Heather of the EO said...

What a prankster!

I would have thought I was a robot for more than five minutes. With all the repetetive tasks of motherhood, I can see how it would be tempting to wonder...

Mary said...

I think this is really interesting (and sort of relevant to your post):

It's about uses for high-pitched tones that most teens can still hear but adults mostly can't anymore.