Tag Archive | communication

Sexting With Grandma

Every once in a while, a blog idea comes to me while I’m commenting on another person’s blog.  The inspiration behind Sexting With Grandma is compliments of the incomparable Madame Weebles who wrote a blog post about some of the twisted thoughts that run through her head sometimes.  After reading her post, I told her that I sometimes think about sending my friends and family members wildly inappropriate text messages just to see how they would react; something along the lines of….

“You were incredible last night, Rafael! I never knew it could be like that!  I love how adventurous you are… and that goes double for your dog, Sir Humps-a-lot.  What do you say I ditch my husband again tonight and find out if we can come up with any more uses for that vibrating chicken of yours?”

I loved the idea too much to let it end with Madame Weebles comment section, so I decided to actually send this exact message out to several people I know.  I was both eager and anxious to find out what their reactions were going to be. I was pretty sure they would all take it in good fun, but since I had never really tested the kinky boundaries of my friends and family members before (because… EWWW), I wasn’t positive that they wouldn’t disown me afterwards.  But if Rafael can be adventurous, then so can I!!

Initially, I really wanted to send the text out to my mom.  But my mom’s innocence was protected by the fact that her cellphone doesn’t receive text messages… I know, right?!  But she’s firmly planted on the “people should pick up the phone and TALK” side of the communication debate, so there’s no convincing her of all the merits of texting – like being able to send texts involving vibrating chickens, for instance.

The next victim on my texting hit list was my sister.  So, I sent it out and waited…. as it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long for her reaction.  A couple of minutes after sending her the text, my home phone rang.  I tried to answer with an innocent sounding “Hello?”, but couldn’t quite pull it off because I was giggling too much.  She said something along the lines of, “I just got a pretty interesting text from you….”  I couldn’t keep a straight face, so my ruse was quickly ruined.  Didn’t she know that when she gets a sext from her sister, she’s supposed to sext back?  Seemed like common sense to me.

I toyed around with sending the text to my older brother, but for some reason the idea grossed me out more than sending it to my mom.  So, it was on to victimizing my friends.  I sent the text to six of them, and then pretended that it had been a mistake that they got the message from me.   I will share with you my top three favorite responses.   [*Side note: All of my responses are in blue, and my friends are all in grey].

The Twisted Countdown Begins……

Number Three came from my friend, Jenn…. who apparently takes me WAY too seriously, and also thinks that me having an affair with a guy, his dog, and his chicken is a totally plausible idea:

text.with.jenn

Then I waited about twenty minutes for another reaction out of her, but when nothing came, I started to get nervous that she was taking me seriously.  So, I texted her back, and filled her in on the gag:

text.with.jenn.2

text.with.jenn.3

text.with.jenn.4

Number Two came from my friend, Buck.  I’ve known him since college but apparently, he doesn’t think enough of our friendship to put me into his contact list, so when he got this text message, my name didn’t come up with it.  He thought he was getting this crazy text from a complete stranger:

text.with.buck.

Again, nothing but radio silence for a solid twenty minutes, which got my paranoia working overtime again.  At that point, I didn’t know that he wasn’t aware the text was from me.  So, I texted him back to make sure he knew it was just a joke:

text.with.buck.2

text.with.buck.3

Then much to my surprise, Buck’s wife, Colleen decided she wanted to jump in on the act.  I thought her attempt to shield her husband from a sex-crazed poultry slut and her lover was kind of sweet.  Who says chivalry is dead?:

text.with.colleen.

Number One came to me from one of my oldest friends, Moe.  I’ve known her since high school, and her response is the perfect example of why we have stayed friends for the last twenty-five years.  I love you, my twisted sister:

text.with.moe

text.with.moe_2

text.with.moe.3

Have any of you ever pulled a texting prank on someone you know?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.  And if not, what are you waiting for?  It’s a fun way to pass the time while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or during those annoying commercial breaks on TV.  If you have the guts to send out this text or something like it, and tell me the reaction you get, I’ll pledge my undying love and loyalty to you.  I might even throw in a vibrating chicken.

[*Disclaimer:  Get Write Down To It takes no responsibility or liability for any divorce, disownment or involuntary psychiatric commitments that may result while performing this texting prank with your friends and family members…. mostly because I’m too broke to afford a lawyer.  So, proceed at your own risk.]

Young at Heart…. Slightly Older in Other Places

When I was 7-years old, I lost my grandmother to lung cancer (she was only 63).  I was too young to grasp the lesson inherent in that tragedy – appreciate your grandparents now because they won’t be around forever.  My mother took great pains to completely shield me from the grizzly details of my grandmother’s illness and death, so I was still able to see my other three grandparents through the invincible eyes of a child.

I spent years having obligatory conversations with my grandparents over obligatory holiday dinners, and never took the time to really talk to any of them.  I’d tell them about my friends and how I was doing in school, and they’d tell me about the plants growing in their garden and how they saved fifty cents on a loaf of bread at the grocery store; conversations that were superficial and quickly forgotten.

In my eyes they were grandparents, not people.  I never bothered to learn about their childhoods, likes/dislikes, fears, or hopes for the future.  I saw them as the sweet old people who did their best to spoil me with gifts that never quite hit the mark, and hard candy that tasted like it had spent the last decade on the bottom of their purse/pocket.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized I had NO idea who my grandparents really were, but by then two more of them had passed away.  When I gave birth to my first child, I suddenly had the pressing need to get to know my last remaining grandfather, Pops.  I wanted to find out all I could about the life he led, and I wanted to share more of my life with him.

I’d like to tell you that Pops and I shared many warm Hallmark moments after my epiphany, but that kind of sentimental crap only happens in chick flicks.  My revelation came too late, and by the time my first-born was 6-months old, Pops passed away.

At least Pops got to share a couple of
Hallmark moments with my daughter, Meghan

Here’s where you say, “For chrissakes Linda, if I wanted to get depressed I would have curled up on my couch with a box of Kleenex and watched Steel Magnolias!  Can we PLEASE get to the silver lining part of this story before I put my head in the oven?”

Yes we can.  Because there IS a silver lining to this story, and her name is Auntie Helen.

My silver-haired, silver lining.

Auntie Helen is technically my great aunt, but after the early loss of my grandmother, she filled that void in my life and has felt more like a grandparent to me.  She lives in Massachusetts, and during my childhood I saw her (at most) a couple of times a year.  When I became an adult, I was determined to learn from the mistake I had made with all of my grandparents and make an effort to span not only the physical distance between Auntie Helen and I, but also the generational one.

I wanted to see past the differences in our ages, and stop pigeonholing her as just another old person on my family tree that I couldn’t relate to.  She made it very easy because even though Auntie Helen just celebrated her 95th birthday this past July (2013), she has NEVER been old.  If you call her old, you’d better be outside striking distance or prepare to get your ass kicked.

Childhood trauma in 3…. 2…. 1

While her physical being continues to age, mentally she never got past her thirties.  She still dresses to impress, drinks people half her age under the table, and flirts with good-looking men that catch her eye. She continuously busts out of the stereotypes that society tries to impress on her, and refuses to be treated like a frail, old woman. As far as she’s concerned, you can take your knitting needles, bingo balls, and Bengay, and shove them straight up your ass.

She wants to surround herself with young people because she identifies more with them than with people her own age – as is evident by her best friend who is 30-years her junior. Her youthful spirit and hysterical sense of humor draw people of all ages to her, and prove that your age doesn’t have to define you.  A few years back, she was forced into a nursing home to recuperate from a medical illness.  When I spoke to her over the phone and asked her how she was she said, “I’m doing fine, but I’ve got to get the hell out of here!  All these old people want to do is sit around complaining about their aches and pains, and nap all day.”  After her brief recovery, she busted out of that place and went back to living independently, just as she has done for most of her life.

Auntie Helen induced perma-grin.

When I was little, most of the adults in my life treated me like a kid, but Auntie Helen didn’t see any reason to pacify me or sugarcoat the truth just because I happened to be under 4-feet tall. She saw me as a person, so it made seeing her as one easier than it was with all of the other adults in my family.

In one of my earliest memories of her, a group of us went out to dinner at a restaurant by her house.  The waitress brought out a round of cocktails for the table, but she brought my Shirley Temple in a plastic kiddie cup.  Before the waitress could leave, Auntie Helen stopped her, handed my drink back and said, “This young lady’s cocktail needs to be in a glass.”  It was a small gesture, but it had a very large impact on me – it said, you matter.   It also said, you don’t screw around with a woman’s cocktail.

The early bond I formed with her set the stage for what would become one of the most cherished relationships of my adult life.  Despite the nearly 60-year age gap, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit in her – not just because we share a fondness for the f-word and perfectly made margaritas, but also because we both think the other person poops sunshine and rainbows.

Here’s an example of her blind adoration:  I had eye surgery two years ago to help correct my lazy eye.  I sent out an email showing her what I looked like a couple of weeks post-op.  It wasn’t pretty….

It looks like my right eye went out and got stoned,
and my left eye stayed home and went to bed early.

This is an excerpt from the email (yes, the woman EMAILS!!) she sent me in response to that picture….

“Looking pretty good to me, baby.  You are beautiful.  That’s how I see it – never saw any difference.  In my eyes you glow with beauty.  There should be more like you, full with the love and compassion that just pours out of you.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you are just that in my eyes.  Love you, Honey.”

Shamefully and unabashedly biased as hell, but sweeter than a basket of kittens dipped in cotton candy.  I need an audio recording of her reading this excerpt for when I’m in desperate need of an ego boost.  Then I could just hit “play” and it won’t matter if I’ve got a zit the size of Texas on the end of my nose, or if I gain ten pounds and can no longer fit into my jeans – I GLOW WITH BEAUTY, DAMMIT!!

The feeling of obligation I felt towards my grandparents doesn’t apply with Auntie Helen, because with her it isn’t about have to, it’s about want to.  I want to be around her because when we are together, I feel like the best part of myself comes alive.  It’s like having this Uncle Kracker song playing in my head the whole time we’re together….

You just skimmed right passed the song and didn’t even hit the play button, didn’t you?  I’m TRYING to set up a little sentimental ambiance here.  Help a girl out, would ya?  Now go back and listen to it…. I’ll wait.

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled program….

I feel the same kind of ease with her that I do when I’m hanging out with my closest girlfriends.  When I talk to her, she stays present in the conversation and doesn’t judge me.  She also doesn’t automatically launch into a “back in my day…” story the second I take a breath or try to compare my 39-year old life in 2012 with hers from 1957.  She’s much more interested in staying current rather than dwelling on the past.

Speaking of staying current, not only does she email, she also joined up with Facebook a couple of years ago.  Every time she posts something on my wall or comments on one of my status updates or photos I’m amazed!  I brag about her to all my friends like she has discovered the cure for cancer.

That’s HER laptop folks, not mine.

She impresses me because I think most 90+ year olds would be too scared to learn how to navigate the intimidating world of social networking, but she doesn’t seem to think anything of it.  And just when I think she can’t do anything else to surprise me, she finds a way – she recently discovered “Words With Friends” and we’ve had a running game going for months.  How freakin’ AWESOME is she?!

If you don’t have an Auntie Helen in your life, you need to get one.  Seriously.  Maybe you could scour the nursing homes to find one of your own to adopt…. wait, what am I saying?  You’d NEVER find an Auntie Helen in a nursing home.  Maybe you could check the dance floors of your local VFW hall on a Friday night – she’ll be the one with the scotch in one hand and a gorgeous soldier half her age in the other.

I’d share this one with you, but she’s ALL MINE….

Don’t be jealous…. actually, you should be jealous.
I was just trying to be nice.

Daily Post Writing Prompt:  My Number One

Confessions of an Emoticon Addict

I have an addiction for which there’s no twelve-step program or support group, making my hope of recovery dismal at best.  People sometimes ask me how my addiction got started.  Like most addictions, I suspect – in one brief moment of weakness.  I thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a try.  Everyone’s doing it.”  I didn’t see the harm in trying it, and I rationalized that I could stop whenever I wanted.  And in that one moment of keyboard experimentation, my emoticon addiction was born.

Long before I started texting, I was an avid emailer – that’s where my introduction to emoticons began.   At first, I used them sparingly; a single smiley face to emphasize a particularly funny joke.  I would sometimes go a couple of paragraphs without using a single emoticon.  Not ONE…. I know, hard to believe.  It’s been years now since my first emoticon, and I’m sad to report that my addiction has only grown stronger.

Only for emails?? That's just what the emoticons want you to think....

It’s gotten so bad that emoticons have nearly taken the place of proper punctuation when I write.  But in my own defense, what good is a period?  All it does is let the reader know that the sentence has come to an end, but leaves them wondering about the writer’s true emotional state.  For example:

“My grandmother died yesterday.”

After reading the above sentence, most readers would assume that the person is experiencing grief and depression at the loss of their beloved grandparent.  But what if Granny was geriatric hell on wheels and beat the grandkids with her cane every time they got within hugging distance?  A simple :- ) or :- ( placed at the end removes all doubt about the writer’s feelings, and spares the reader time spent on unnecessary speculation.  A smiley face at the end of that sentence might also save the reader money – no need to send a fruit basket or sympathy card if grandma was a total bitch, right?

And then texting came along, which only served to intensify my addiction – emoticons became my insurance policy against misinterpretation.  When you only have a sentence or two to convey your message, there is a lot of room for misunderstandings.  For example, you go out drinking with your friends, and you send your best friend this text the next morning:

“Quite a night last night, huh?”

Now your friend, who has a spotty recollection of the events that preceded their screaming hangover, is left to worry and wonder, “Oh no!  What did I do last night??”  Why not reassure them with a smiley face at the end of that sentence and let them know that they didn’t make a total drunken ass out of themselves?  With just a few extra hits of your phone’s keypad, you can make your friend’s blackout seem a whole lot less scary.

When I started texting with my thirteen-year old daughter, Meghan, about a year ago (click here for further details on that nightmare: My Two Left Thumbs), she took it upon herself to educate me about which emoticons were “acceptable for society” (yes, that’s a direct quote), and which ones weren’t.

The emoticon lesson came about because I unknowingly texted her an unacceptable smiley face that looked like this  :- ).  She actually rolled her eyes at me and said, “Mom, nobody makes them like that anymore.  That emoticon is SO old fashioned.”  Old fashioned?!  Seriously?  How can something that’s been around for less than a decade have a version that’s considered old fashioned?  It’s not like I’m making my emoticons out of sticks and rocks or painting them on cave walls.

When I asked her why it was old fashioned, she told me it was because of the nose.  So let me get this straight – just because teenagers are too lazy to make a dash for a nose, they decide to tell everyone that it’s not cool?  Brilliant.  I plan on implementing the same strategy with my family’s dirty laundry – I’ll tell my children that cool kids don’t wear clean clothes anymore.  Maybe if I roll my eyes and look at them like they’re stupid for wanting to wear clean underwear, they’ll believe me.

At the conclusion of my lesson, Meghan went on to text me ten or fifteen acceptable ways to show my emotions (to save me from future emoticon embarrassment).  Just to save you from the same, I’ll share her list with you (please note the lack of antiquated noses…. SO much cooler):

: )

:{ )   (the mustache smiley face, made cool by Victoria Justice – it makes me sad that I know that.)

: D

; )

; D

: p

: l

=)

=D

xD

Okay, I get it… just about any combination of eyes and mouths that the keypad can make, as long as the dash-noses stay the hell out of it.  But despite Meghan’s insistence, I still use a nose every now and then, coolness be damned.  One of the perks of not being a teenager anymore is the freedom to flaunt my old-fartyness without fear of peer persecution (though I’m sure I’ll still get progeny persecution from time to time).

Truth be told, I don’t use most of the emoticons on my daughter’s list, despite the apparent cool factor they bring to my text messages and emails.  I have more or less whittled my list down to three emoticons that I use for everything…. got stuck in an emoticon rut, I guess.  I think  : )   : ( and  ; )  pretty much cover all the emotional bases.  I tend to favor the winking emoticon because I know when I put it at the end of a sentence, I can be as sarcastic as I want and all will be forgiven.

I once surfed the web to find new emoticons because I was getting really bored with the three I was using.  I know…. I need to get a hobby.  But I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emoticons out there in cyberspace.  I knew when I saw smiley faces for Elvis, a priest, and a buck-toothed vampire missing one tooth, that I didn’t stand a chance in hell of EVER remembering any of the new emoticons.  After a few minutes, my brain shut down and decided that three was a really good number.  If you have a better memory than me, you can check out this  Ridiculously long list of emoticons.

Then in February 2012 my WordPress blog came along, and made my addiction even worse.  I didn’t think it was possible to depend on my emoticons more than I already did, but adding those stupid faces at the end of my comments has become an undeniable compulsion.  I wage a war inside my head every time I post a new comment or response – “Should I put a smiley face there?  No, I just used one two sentences ago!  It’ll look like I’m trying too hard.  But my last comment sounded kind of snarky.  What if they don’t know I’m only joking?  I NEED them to follow my blog!!  Screw it, I’m putting it in.”

I find that the compulsion gets worse if I’m writing to someone I don’t know well (especially on WordPress, where nearly everyone is a stranger).  I’m afraid that my teasing or sarcasm will be taken the wrong way, and I’ll accidentally piss somebody off.  But with friends and family, I know they’re familiar with my sense of humor, and won’t be as quick to think I’m an asshole….well….most of the time.

I think I may be too far gone at this point to even hope for a recovery from my addiction.  I can hardly remember a time before the invention of emoticons, a time when I trusted my words alone to express my feelings.  What the hell did I do back then to ensure that people knew when I was happy, sad, or only kidding??

My version of a confused emoticon.... this is why I'm a writer and not an artist.

My Two Left Thumbs

While texting was technically invented in the early nineties, it only started to gain widespread popularity in the last six years (or so).  For five out of those six years, I was perched high atop my soapbox, proclaiming that texting would be the death of all meaningful human interaction.  If someone had handed me a megaphone, I would have shouted, “Why don’t you people ever talk to each other anymore?!”

As a writer, I also saw texting as a personal affront to the written word.  Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure were all scrapped in favor of the English language’s newborn bastardized son – the short message service (SMS), also called text speak; a language full of acronyms, abbreviations, and numerical inserts.  So, it seemed texting was not only replacing our meaningful face-to-face interactions and phone calls, it was also responsible for creating an entire generation of crappy writers.

When my thirteen-year old daughter wrote “u” instead of “you” in a rough draft essay for her English class I nearly had a brain aneurism.  I knew she was only using the shortened version of the word because it was a rough draft her teacher would never see, but I still lectured her (ad nauseam) about the importance of spelling and grammar, and about how crucial it was for her to differentiate between her schoolwork and the texts she sends her friends.

Don’t roll your eyes at me.  I stop being a self-righteous asshole in just a sec….

On the rare occasion I texted someone, I stubbornly dug my heels in and refused to use text speak, despite the fact that it took me ten times longer to text someone using proper English on my dinosaur of a flip-phone (sans keyboard).  Probably would have been quicker to communicate via homing pigeon. But I had my principles, no matter how asinine or antiquated.

I was teased by friends and family about my novel-length texts (complete with proper capitalization and punctuation), and frequently asked, “What are you writing, a book?”  Sadly, no.  It seems I’m as easily distracted writing a real book as you seem to be reading my text-books (text-books…. get it?  Hahaha).

*Side note:  if you happen to be a book agent, believe me when I say that I will buy out my pharmacy’s entire supply of Ritalin and start popping them like tic-tacs if it means landing a book deal.  Okay, moving on….

But then about a year ago my husband and I decided to get our (then) twelve-year old daughter, Meghan, her first cell phone.  And at the same time, I decided it was time for me to upgrade my cellasaurus.  I knew I wanted a touch screen and keyboard, but I wasn’t anywhere near ready to take on the iPhone.  The salesman took one look at the flip-phone in my hand and suggested I buy the “Pantech Ease” – a phone clearly designed for the technologically challenged.  I didn’t know whether to be insulted or relieved.

Before taking two steps outside of the Verizon store, my daughter had already sent me several text messages.  As we walked through the mall, I tried not to run into a wall or another shopper while my clumsy thumbs attempted to keep pace with her rapid-fire text messages.  She only had the phone for five minutes and she was already fluent in text-speak, and could move her thumbs across that tiny keyboard with unnatural speed and agility.

During the course of the next week, Meghan sent me hundreds of text messages – most of them while we were within speaking distance (curse you, unlimited text plan!)  I was reluctantly transformed from a mom who sent less than ten texts during the course of a week, into a piss poor imitation of a teenage textaholic.

As the month wore on, I could feel my resolve starting to weaken; slowly acronyms and numerical inserts began to rear their ugly heads.  Meghan forced me to end my war on text speak, and brought me over to the dark side – the land where spelling and grammar go to die.  I rationalized that it was better to raise the white flag and surrender, than to have both my thumbs fall off.

Meghan schooled me in acronyms, and let out an exasperated sigh whenever I didn’t know what one meant.  She once sent me a text that read, “DTB.  TTYL.”  Umm…. what?  I stared at the screen totally dumbfounded.  Without my acronym decoder ring, I had no idea what it meant, so I used the next best thing – Google.  Google told me that she was trying to say, “Don’t text back.  Talk to you later.”  It was my turn to let out an exasperated sigh, and wonder why the hell two English-speaking people needed a translator.

Just so you don’t run into the same problem, I’m posting this link.  If you have a teenager, I suggest you bookmark it….

Acronym Dictionary

I still hated all the short-cuts, but at least I understood the necessity for them.  What I couldn’t understand was why teenagers made shorter words longer or misspelled them for no reason.  Words like “hey” became “heyyyyyy”, and “ok” became “kk”.  It was obviously no longer a time saver, so what was the reason?

Meghan gave me a blank stare when I asked her, so I once again turned to Google for the answers.  After checking out various websites on texting, it seemed the added letters or purposeful misspelling indicated emphasis, coolness, and/or drunkenness. So my daughter was either trying to make a point, fit in with her peers, or she was ready for the Betty Ford clinic. Awesome.

Thankfully, since last year Meghan has filled up her cell phone address book with numerous friends and family members, and no longer relies on me as her primary texting buddy.  My thumbs are eternally grateful.