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Humor March 2014

Welcome Back From Cyberspace, Children

By John C. Liburdi

She knew the high tech microwave oven wouldn’t work. Without those Frozen Dinner, Instant Noodle and Pizza auto-cook buttons to rely on, that floozy Claudia would have absolutely no idea how to prepare the family’s meals.

Grandma was prematurely banished to a senior retirement home. She was relaxing in her tiny studio apartment, sipping tea and enjoying a reread of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Suddenly, she heard frantic knocking. What a surprise to see daughter-in-law Claudia at the door, and even more of a surprise to hear the words: “Granny, come back home — we need you!”  Grandma thought to herself, “I’m not your granny, you despicable little bimbo.”

Claudia continued, explaining that terrorists had detonated an electromagnetic pulse bomb, just off the East Coast. It didn’t cause physical damage, but the pulse disabled every computer and digital device along the Eastern seaboard. Grandma grabbed a few things and left with her agitated daughter-in-law who was thinking to herself, “Unbelievable, I have to drag this old witch back to my house.”

When Grandma arrived back at the old family home, she saw her son and the grandkids all sitting rigidly on the couch. Judging by their blank stares, they were in a state of cyber-shock. Claudia said, “Granny, you’re our only hope of getting through this crisis.” The whole scenario quickly came into focus and Grandma started formulating her plan. 

She knew the high tech microwave oven wouldn’t work. Without those Frozen Dinner, Instant Noodle and Pizza auto-cook buttons to rely on, that floozy Claudia would have absolutely no idea how to prepare the family’s meals. Her first lesson will have to be how to boil water.

The kids’ violent video games won’t work anymore either, but they can learn to play the Parcheesi and Monopoly board games that are still up in the attic.  And they may as well grab the shoe box of family photos while they’re at it; their own smartphone photo albums reside in the cyberspace cloud that was just dissipated by the electromagnetic pulse.

Next, the kids will be whining about how the Smart TV doesn’t work — no way to watch movies.  Well, they’ll just have to wait for the Saturday matinee at the dilapidated movie theater near here. Hmmm, besides buying the tickets, they’ll need some money for popcorn and Milk Duds.

Yep, money is yet another problem.  Automated teller machines and the credit card network are out of service.  Luckily, there’s the mason jar buried ten paces west of the oak tree in the backyard — plenty of paper and coin money in the jar. 

The grandkids live for their Facebook friends out in cyberspace, never mind that there are families with kids their age living in the area. They’ll have to be encouraged to get somewhat familiar with folks in the neighborhood they’re growing up in. By the way, it doesn’t matter that landline telephones are dead. The kids normally touch a friend’s name to connect via smartphones; the actual phone numbers to be dialed are long forgotten.

They’re also faced with the additional problem of no texting or e-mail service. Sadly, schools stopped teaching kids how to write cursive style. They’ll need lessons at home so they can start sending letters via the postal service. It’ll also be necessary to tutor some basic pencil-and-paper math now that their calculators and tablet computers aren’t working.

A little music around the house sure would help get the family get back to normal, but they don’t have any music without Internet radio streaming.  Wait a minute, they can listen to old LP records on the Zenith phonograph that’s out in the garage; its glass tube technology surely survived the electromagnetic pulse.

Of course, all the new cars with imbedded computers have conked out. So, it’ll be necessary to jump-start the family’s 1952 Mercury that’s rusting away in the back yard –  it should run just fine. Naturally, the adults will need training on how to drive a stick shift and how to park without computer assist.

All right then, once everyone comes out of shock, this whole family should be able to pretty much live everyday life again, albeit slightly different than what they’re accustomed to. Oh, they’re snapping out of it already; here come Claudia and the kids — finally smiling!

“Great news, Granny! Civil defense workers are setting up emergency Internet and cell phone service here. Next week they’ll be passing out free smartphones, notebook computers, and even microwaves. So after next week, we won’t need you here anymore.”

Grandma replied, “That’s wonderful news, Claudia; meanwhile, here’s an old book of fairytales for everyone to enjoy, starting with “Hansel and Gretel.’ Say, perhaps we could all visit a real gingerbread house sometime soon.” 

Claudia replied dryly, “Sure Granny, I suppose that would be fun for the kids and me.” Grandma winked and said, “Yes, especially for you Claudia.”


Liburdi's recent book "Italian American Fusion: Italy's Influence on the Evolution of America" is available at on-line bookstores and the Kindle Reader.

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