Home PC bit the dust

life is grim

December 03, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

It's bad enough not knowing when you're going to die. It's even worse not knowing when your computer's going to die, so you can't deal with the shock, make arrangements for backup e-mail, plan for the tough Internetless days ahead, etc.

Here's my story: Our Compaq Presario kicked the bucket a few days ago. Cause of death: old age. It was seven years old, which is like being in a nursing home on life support for a PC.

But it went quickly, thank God. One minute, it was humming along. The next minute, the screen froze, and the system wouldn't shut down. Then it shut down and never came back.

It was gone, baby, gone.

So was I, in a sense.

A terrible feeling of isolation comes over a man when his home PC dies.

I've had no e-mail for days, no personal greetings from Mr. Joseph Mobutu in Ivory Coast, who is willing to give me a big cut of his $100 million fortune if I'll only do a small favor for him.

I don't hear from lonely Russian women who want to meet me, multinational pharmaceutical corporations that want to help my sex life, or companies that want to give me free laptops, free golf clubs and free four-day stays at exclusive resorts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But it's more than just e-mail missing from my life.

Now I can't Google anything, either. And if you can't Google anything, are you really even living in the true sense of the word?

When my wife said it was a shame they weren't letting crazy William Shatner play Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie, and that he was her favorite in the old TV series next to the guy who played Scotty -- oh, what was his name? -- I had to sit there like an idiot.

Normally I would sneak into the computer room when she wasn't looking, run my fat little fingers over the keyboard and Google the answer in seconds.

Then I'd come back and casually say: "James Doohan played Scotty, the cranky chief engineer of the USS Enterprise. Everybody knows that."

But now I clam up.

Now I say: "Look, I don't know who played Scotty, OK? So let's just drop it."

But this makes my wife upset. Then she accuses me of not wanting to talk.

"I don't mind talking," I say. "Just don't pressure me to come up with the name of an obscure actor who played in a schlocky 1960s sci-fi series."

Not now. Not while I'm going through Google withdrawal.

But there are so many other voids in my life now that our computer is dead.

I can't go to Mapquest or Google Maps for driving directions.

I can't order stuff on Ama zon.com. I can't do my online banking, which is the single greatest reason to own a computer in the first place.

And what's there to do during TV commercials now?

Look, maybe you can sit there and watch those stupid commercials for that HeadOn headache reliever, where it looks like a woman has lost her mind and is applying roll-on deodorant to her forehead.

And maybe you can watch a Mucinex spot that features giant animated mucus, or the 200th Verizon Wireless spot of the day, or those psycho moms trying to run down the Burger King because of some perceived uppityness he's exhibiting through his new menu.

But I can't do it anymore.

I used to run to the computer when those stupid commercials came on and click on something -- anything -- to kill time.

Now I just get up and wander aimlessly into the next room, praying that when I come back, there won't be cartoon foot fungus dancing across my TV screen or the Coors Light idiots shouting questions to NFL coaches at news conferences.

(Boy, you talk about a drinking problem. These guys apparently take 12-packs of beer with them wherever they go.)

Oh, sure, life will be back to normal in my house in a few days.

One day soon, a FedEx or UPS truck will pull up and drop off the new Dell computer we ordered, because what's the point of having a credit card if you can't max it out?

Then maybe things will begin to settle down.

Right now, we take it one day at a time. Everyone's a little edgy, and we avoid conversations about subjects that could spur online research, such as old episodes of Star Trek.

I hope no one asks who played Lieutenant Sulu.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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