This is/was a 500-word submission to the now defunct website and arts fund IdeasTap:
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 young 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 not one of those. He was on of those bad 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.
Now, I don’t normally make a habit of hating any one I rarely see, let alone minors, but unfortunately Boris actively excluded himself from this rule.
I was next to him, and I hated him.
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 a length of time which felt similar to the lifespan of plastic. During this time, I mustered up just enough enthusiasm to respond with out-of-touch sentiments like, “do you ever go out?” and “when I your age, I used to talk to people. In the room. 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.
Kids aren’t normal any more
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 such unease.
“Now we can message each other for free,” he said.
“Great,” I replied, thinking about how free it would also be for me to never, ever do that. He handed back my phone.
At this point, I must explain that I don’t know much about my smart phone, apart from how to use it as a phone. I suspect the phone is far 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 it with my palm every morning in a deranged manic lunge for the snooze button, and, as far as ‘apps’ go, the only thing I’ve figured out so far is that if I curl my hand around it tightly enough, I’m pretty sure I could break a mugger’s face in a tight spot.
The next day, however, this technology started bursting into my life with regular idiot glimpses into the future of humanity.
“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.
It happened again immediately.
“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.
“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. You know, that generation that ruined both the economy and the planet for everyone, apparently.
“I do becoz every1, like 8 people bet that I did it so I’m a 8x 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.
Everything’s going to be fine.
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