Folks who know me IRL (that’s internet slang for “in real life,” which is a pretend fantasy space reportedly located outside of a computer screen) know that I have spent my entire life almost entirely surrounded by girls. I grew up with my Mom and two slightly younger sisters and now I’m married with two daughters and a niece. Perhaps as a result of this, I have a higher than normal tolerance for conversations about feelings, I know the difference between french and standard braids, and can even guess correctly half of the time which problems need solutions and which just need to be discussed.
I never really thought much about it and never really understood the pitying looks and comments from other people when they think about what my life must be like. Of course I faked a laugh and nodded in acknowledgement, but I was only trying to be polite and didn’t really get what they were driving at.
I think that I’m starting to get an inkling. Some time in the last few months, the Hobbit has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a R.E.R. (Random Emotion Robot). The R.E.R. looks, moves, and talks almost exactly like the Hobbit. It has also managed some of her personality quirks like gleefully flinging her smelly soccer equipment around the house.
The major difference between the Hobbit and the R.E.R. is that the R.E.R. will randomly select an emotion from a basic list of anxiety, fear, loathing, rage, hysteria, disdain, and nonplussed and apply them to environmental stimulus. What’s truly impressive about the R.E.R. is the speed with which it can cycle through the emotions and select a response. Further, the R.E.R. has on occasion selected several emotional responses to the same stimulus in apparently random order just for the fun of it.
This conversation is typical of any R.E.R. interaction:
“Do you have soccer practice tonight?”
“Of course I have soccer practice tonight! I can’t believe that you don’t know that! God, it’s like you don’t even know me!”
“There’s no need to get upset with me about it. It was just a question. Further, I don’t really appreciate that tone, young lady.”
“Why do you hate me?! I didn’t even do anything and you’re screaming at me like you hate me! *sobs* I can’t do anything right because I’m stupid!”
“Um, are you serious right now? Am I being punked?”
“Whatever, Dad. If you don’t love me anymore then I’ll just walk to soccer practice.”
The good news is that I have it on good authority that this alien experiment is unlikely to last for more than a few decades; so I’ve got that going for me. Which is good, I think.