There’s something about talking machines that just sets Mama’s nerves on edge. She flat-out doesn’t trust them. Back before I had a smart phone with built-in navigation, I took Mama to Nashville, and she argued with the GPS all the way there and back: Thirteen miles to the Country Music Hall of Fame? Well, you can forget that, sister. I’m tired and I want to go home.
Then along came Siri. I thought Mama would be fascinated. “Here,” I said. “Just ask her a question, and she’ll answer you.” Mama eyed the phone suspiciously.
“Like what?” she wanted to know.
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“Ask her to call Vivian Ann. Ask her what time it is.”
“I just talked to Vivian Ann,” Mama countered. “And I know what time it is.”
“But what if you didn’t?” I persisted.
“I’ve got sense enough to look at the clock on the microwave,” Mama said.
Now here we are again. I went off the deep end and tried introducing Mama to Alexa. “Why would I want to talk into a telephoto lens?” she asked.
“It’s not a camera lens, Mama—it's called Echo, and it lets you talk to Alexa.”
“Who in the Sam Hill is Alexa?”
“She’s like an electronic helper,” I said. “She can do all kinds of things.”
“Can she wash dishes?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Can she find your daddy’s dentures? Because he lost them again. He thinks they might be in his bass boat.”
“No, she can’t do that either, but just give her something to find on the internet,” I pleaded. “Or tell her to turn the lights off in the dining room.”
“WHAT?!” Mama’s mouth flew open. “I don’t want that woman peeping in my house, spying on me to see if I left the lights on!”
(Sigh.) I tried one last time.
“Look, Alexa can find anything on the Internet. Hey, I know! Ask her to play a particular song—just be sure to call her name first.”
“You have got to be kidding.”
“Seriously—ask her to play something for you.”
(Insert the Mama Eye Roll) “Oh, for heaven’s sake. Alexa—play ‘I’m Not Tired Yet’ by the Missisippi Mass Choir.”
Success!! Alexa played a 30-second sample.
“Well—what do you think?” I cried.
“I think Alexa didn’t even let Mama Burks get warmed up. How am I supposed to receive a blessing in 30 seconds?”
“C’mon,” I insisted. “Just fire a few questions at her and I’ll leave you alone.”
(Repeat the Mama Eye Roll)
“Fine,” she said.
Mama: Alexa—what time is it . . . in the Holy Land?
Alexa: The time in Israel is 6:09 pm.
Mama: Alexa—put Duke’s and Velveeta on my grocery list.
Alexa: I put Duke’s mayonnaise and Velveeta on your shopping list.
Mama: Alexa—how many times does Scarlett say “Rhett” in the book Gone with the Wind?
Alexa: Hmm, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.
Mama: Well, now we know you’re not a reader, bless your heart. Alexa—what’s the longest book in the Bible?
Alexa: Hmm, I can't find the answer to the question I heard.
Mama: Have mercy, girl! Do you even go to church? I’ll try you one more time, but that’s it. Alexa—where’s Daddy’s deer stand? If I don’t get him outta this house, he’s gonna run me crazy.
Alexa: I have located a Big Daddy Crawdad’s on the Gulf Coast with a two-for-one early bird special and a beachfront view.
Mama: Well, now we’re gettin’ somewhere.