It was the booze-soaked week between Christmas and New Years, and I had found myself in the quite usual festive situation of putting wine in to my head, except in the not-quite-usual company of an 11-year-old. The son of my mother’s friend -- let’s call him Boris to avoid what already feels like shaky legal territory -- had somehow found himself invited to my hangover.
The reason why I, specifically, was next to him at dinner is because I’m generally good with young people. Talk to them normally, I find, and you quickly realise they’re just smaller, happier, more curious, and less damaged adults. Boris, however, was one of those shit ones - impatient, rude, boring – you know, the kind you get when you spend too much money on them, and never let them on a skateboard without protective pads on every bit of their body with an angle. I don’t normally make a habit of hating any one I rarely see, let alone children, but unfortunately Boris actively excluded himself from this rule.
It begun innocently enough, your honour, with Boris showing me ‘funny’ pictures that he and his friends had sent each other on their Blackberrys, which he continued to do for roughly the same lifespan of plastic while I responded with out-of-touch sentiments like, “when I your age, I used to talk to people. With sentences.” Just before the Sun ran out of fuel and collapsed in on itself, however, I managed to escape from his idiot blabbering to the bathroom, and pondered briefly what I could explain to this lad that might make him log off his megakillerstabbygun game for just one day and go do something normal like fall out of a tree.
I returned to find him holding my Blackberry and announcing that he had added himself as my ‘friend,’ a word which had not previously caused me unease and existential horror.
“Now we can message each other for free,” he said.
“Great,” I replied, thinking about how much easier and cheaper it would now be for me to never, ever do that.
At this point, I must explain that apart from the number buttons I need to verbally annoy every person I’ve ever met on this planet, I don’t know much about my smart phone. I suspect it is smarter than me, in fact, and would indeed be my owner if it had the thumbs in our relationship. In the meantime, though, I mash the shit out it with my palm every morning in a deranged manic lunge for the snooze button, and as far as ‘apps’ go, the only one I’ve figured out so far is that if I curl my hand around it tightly I’m pretty sure I could break a mugger’s face. The next day, however, this technology started bursting into my life with regular idiot glimpses into the future of humanity.
PING!! “I bet u £1,000,000,000 u cant bc [broadcast, apparently] this to all ur contacts while holding your breath intil it says sent. If u can, ur a good kisser. P.s. I did it.”
I groaned. This was going to become a thing now, wasn’t it? An everyday, PING-PING-PINGing thing.
PING!! “I bet u £1,000,000,000 u cant bc this to all ur contacts while holding your breath intil it says sent. If u can, ur a good kisser. P.s. I did it.”
Most of my soul became an old small man, and stumbled sadly near a bin.
What was left did not like the idea of this child holding his breath for any length of time outside of his control, despite the fact he had just murdered a thousand-year-old language in one line of text.
“Please don’t die,” I replied.
“Please don’t die,” I replied.
“LOL,” he PINGed, alive.
As I typed back that a billion pounds was a lovely amount of imaginary money to not have, just like the patronising old fucker in a cardigan that I thought I wasn't, I started to wonder if I was being unfair for judging the emerging generation below me as any worse or stupider than the ones that had come before and fucked up the economy and the planet for everyone, apparently.
PING!! “I do becoz every1, like 8 people bet that I did it so I’m a 8 millionaire.”
Noticing happily that he’d only misplaced over seven billion pounds of other people’s money so far, I realised I was worried for nothing.