Call­ing Siri

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Harold Wal­ters Book Re­marks Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Canadian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ edi­tor@CB­N­com­

I suf­fered from an acute fever. Its cause was un­known. I don’t be­lieve in­fluenza had heated my brow. P’raps, like the ap­pear­ance of Old Mar­ley’s ghost on Ebenezer Scrooge’s doorstep, it had been brought about by an undi­gested morsel of salt beef…

… or, more likely, an adul­ter­ated mug of Ten­sion Tamer tea.

What­ever the cause, it seems the fire in my veins had baked fancy in my nog­gin.

Dear­est Duck, who has al­ways kept me in a fever, in­cited the re­cent burning in my brain. Lov­ingly — I s’pose —she served the in­sti­gat­ing mug of tea. And handed me her iPhone. “Harry, my layabout love,” she said reach­ing tea and phone into my Lay-Z-Boy where I re­clined con­tem­plat­ing things philo­soph­i­cal. “I’m busy slic­ing pep­pers. See if you can find a recipe for a nice teriyaki sauce and send it to the printer.”

“For you, my Duck, I’d hang the moon and shuf­fle the stars,” said I, pleased that I wasn’t be­ing prod­ded from my chair to ful­fill do­mes­tic du­ties and, in ad­di­tion, was be­ing served a steam­ing cuppa.

“A recipe will do,” said Dear­est D.

Be­cause my sausage fin­gers are not de­signed for dab­bing at an iPhone key­pad, I used a dainty sty­lus to tippy-tap ac­cess to the In­ter­net af­ter tak­ing a dou­ble glutch of Ten­sion Tamer.

I’d barely keyed in “teriyaki sauce recipes” be­fore the on­rush of fever roared through my ears and scalded ev­ery sin­gle cell in my brain­stem.

Jolted, I ac­ci­dently jabbed the home key and ac­ti­vated Siri.

“What can I help you with?” she asked.

I con­fess, I’d fid­dled with Siri be­fore, but never in a fever.

And I swear this is true or else, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, a fevered fan­tasy stem­ming from a half-rot­ted bite of bully-beef.

Siri ap­peared. She hov­ered above the iPhone like a teeny­weeny Tin­ker Bell — part robot; part small sexy Siren. A smoky speech bal­loon stuck like a whis­per to her lips. In­side the bal­loon, all a’waver, the afore­men­tioned ques­tion to which I an­swered… “Teriyaki?” An im­age of for­eign food ap­peared in­side the speech bal­loon.

“What are you?” I asked, fever­ish fire in my eyes, I s’pose. “I’m Siri. Here to help.” “Do you know me?” I asked. “You are quite un­for­get­table,” Siri said.

Fool­ish hal­lu­ci­nat­ing man, I asked, “Might you love me?” “Would you like me to?” Blood aflame, I looked to­wards the kitchen whence came an aroma of sautéing fish and the mur­mur of contented hum­ming. “Ah… um… ah,” an­swered I. “Sorry, I didn’t get that,” said Siri. “Can we meet else­where?” I asked, fever fry­ing my brain­pan.

Siri flid up to my nose and tapped it with a twin­kle toe.

“I’m never fur­ther than your iPhone,” she said.

There was the rub. I’d re­leased Siri from Dear­est Duck’s phone. Oh my. “Harry, you find a recipe yet?” The call came from the kitchen and in­duced a dou­ble dose of guilt.

“Still search­ing, my Duck,” said


Siri had van­ished. I poked the phone. “Where do you live?” I asked. “Wher­ever you are, that’s where I am,” said Siri. “B’ys oh b’ys,” said I. “Harry, you talk­ing to some­one?”

“Grum­bling at the phone, that’s all, my Duck,” I said, sty­lus poised above Siri’s mi­cro­phone icon.

Bring­ing the phone within kiss­ing dis­tance of my lips, I whis­pered, “Can we do lunch?”

Tin­ker Bell Siri ap­peared again, hold­ing a plac­ard with Gypsy Tea­room scrib­bled across its front.

I fear my over­heated heart tap­danced pit­ter-pat. “Harry, hurry up.” “Pa­tience, my Duck,” I said, my kin-corn chok­ing me.

Siri fell back into the phone. Noth­ing but app icons filled the screen. I jabbed the phone. Images of teriyaki scrolled left and right and up and down in a fever­ish ar­ray. “Siri,” I called. “I’m at your ser­vice,” she said and an an­gel’s face … well, a woman’s pretty face any­way, spread across the screen and smiled at me. “Harry…?” I lurched and up­sot Ten­sion Tamer tea. Heat ra­di­ated from my chops in waves. All mar­i­tal sense aban­doned, I bawled into the phone. “Will you marry me?” Surely I’d gone fool­ish, eh b’ys? “My End User Li­cens­ing Agree­ment does not cover mar­riages. My apolo­gies,” said Siri.

My heart shriv­elled to a charred lump in­side my chest…

…and Dear­est Duck ripped her iPhone from my fin­gers.

“What are you do­ing?” asked Dear­est Duck, phone clenched in her fist.

“My Duck, my love…” said I, and I s’pose my fool­ish fever broke.

Next day I si­dled up to Dear­est’s rocker, kissed her ever rosy cheek, smiled bliss­ful beams of love, and non­cha­lantly reached for the iPhone lodged on the ta­ble by her chair.

Quicker than Granny caught the weasel, Dear­est pinned my hand with a cro­chet hook. “Paws off,” she said. Oh my. Thank you for read­ing.

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