Retirement Acres vs The 20th Century

Some things come slow to Retirement Acres. You would not, for example, want to base your fashion purchases off what they wear, unless you’re into a retro kind of vibe. And that’s more of a “comfortable retro” look than a “look what Grandma has!” look.

Except for Chez Auto, you might not want to shop for a car here. Although this is definitely the place to come if you want to hear about every bad thing that’s happened to every car ever, and why all the manufacturers are run by mob bosses.

News doesn’t necessarily make it here in the rapid manner many of you have come to expect.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise to most of you that the denizens of Retirement Acres prefer real newspapers, actual books, and flip phones. Actually, cordless phones are still all the rage up here, but that’s another story for a different day.

“Why are you buying this again?” the secretary asked skeptically.

“I want to get one for my mom, to see if she likes it.”

The Kindle 2 was just about to hit the market, so the secretary was selling her first edition for almost nothing.

“It does what now?” Mom asked skeptically, turning it over gingerly. Her expression said she expected it to blow up if she handled it wrong. “Why can’t you just read a book? And why are you trying to drag me into this?”

“This holds a bunch,” I explained again. “And look how easy it is to store that. No more runs to McKays to sell books that are taking up space.”


“You can take it anywhere,” I pointed out.

“I have three books in the car right now.”

“You could have all three books on that and not have to worry about losing your place.”

“Does it make phone calls?”

“What? No! It’s an e-book. Why would you even think–never mind. I don’t need to know.”

“I’ll try it,” she sighed. “But don’t expect me to love it.”

Two weeks later, my dad called me at work. He always calls my cell phone, so nobody will know he’s calling.

Yeah. Think about that for a minute.

“You have to come get this thing,” he announced.

“What thing? A car? My brother? 426? The transmission out of the tub?”

“It was only in there for a few hours,” Dad said. “Y’all carry on like it was in the way.”

Three months, readers. It was in the tub for three months.

“But anyway,” he continued as my boss looked down the row to see if this might end soon. “You need to come get the kindle.”

“Oh. Mom doesn’t like it?”

“She hasn’t put it down for two weeks, and me and 426 have cooked everything in the house and we’re out of laundry detergent.”

“…she likes it, then?”

“I guess,” he spluttered. “She’s barely spoken to anyone since you dropped it off.”

“I’m sure you have work to do,” my manager said.

“I finished tomorrow’s work yesterday,” I assured him. “And all of Danny’s too.”

“Why did you do Danny’s work too?”

“Do you remember the last time you saw him?”

Danny had been gone for ten days on a trip to Mississippi to rebuild houses. He was going to be another ten days in returning because he fell off a roof and broke his arm. It did not look good for the home team that week.

“Who was that?” Dad asked.

“Firebug,” I said. “I gotta go. I’ll see what I can do about the kindle later.”

Having not dealt with that at all, I turned back to my arsonist manager.

“For a retirement gift,” he said, “I want you to tell me when you do your work, because I’ve never once caught you at it.”

“Go on,” I said.

“I heard you talking about your kindle,” he admitted. “I need help setting up mine.”

So, not much work was done that afternoon either. Nor did I retrieve the kindle from Mom; she wouldn’t turn loose of it.

So time rocked along, and while she enjoys reading on it, getting books to it remains a mystery that she can’t solve. So she’ll find out about a book that’s coming out and call me to order it. After the third time she incurred long distance charges on the kindle, I decided this course of action was just the simplest.

Which led to the conversation for which I was completely unprepared.

One fine morning, I called in to Chez Auto to make sure everyone had survived the night and that I could safely ignore all those sirens. I got Mom, who assured me that everything was fine and the fire damage was hardly even noticeable and didn’t I have more pressing things to worry about, all things considered?

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said. “And if you think about it, turn on your kindle. The new Christopher Moore book is out and ready for you to download.”

“I’ll get Dad to do it,” she said. Then she paused to listen to what Dad had to say.

“Never mind,” she said. “Dad said the internet isn’t working, so you can just resend it later.”

A familiar ache flared behind my eyes.

“It doesn’t matter if the internet is working,” I explained again. “Your kindle isn’t hooked to the internet.”

“And Dad thinks the computer has a virus, so he’s taking it down to his guy this afternoon.”

Actually, that explained a bunch of things.

“Still doesn’t matter,” I persisted. “The computer and the kindle have nothing to do with each other.”

I waited patiently while she more or less relayed this message to Dad.

“Dad says how is that possible,” she replied back to me.

Magic, I thought. One word to fix this entire conversation.

“Or I can go to Mr Frogman’s later today,” she offered.

They have the other internet service in town. So far, the services manage to not fail on the same day, but I feel like this is a streak doomed to end.

“You don’t–,” I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Can you just…what was that noise?”

“That was Dad,” she said brightly. I should never have asked.

“What did he do? Is he all right?”

“He’s fine, he was just moving the toaster.”


“So the book doesn’t end up there by mistake, because how would I ever read it if it’s stuck in the toaster?”

Support your local libraries, readers.


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