Of Kayaks and Other Expressions of Laughter

- By Michael!

We resisted the smartphone bug for a long, long time.

All our friends were playing with their neat new phones, andwe would say, “Oh, I just want to be able to call people and text, I don’t need all of that extra stuff like holy CRAP ARE YOU KILLING ZOMBIES WITH PLANTS? I mean we’re fine! We’re FINE!”

Because we really did want them. Seriously. But we were locked into a contract, we couldn’t afford it, so on and so forth. Then my phone died, conveniently the same month that we could upgrade at the bargain basement prices that Verizon offers to keep its serfs in their hovels, and hey presto! Off to the store!

And we love our smartphones. Sometimes the “smart” part of that is up for debate, honestly, especially in the GPS tool which often thinks we are somewhere in Alaska rather than in our own apartment complex, but overall they’re great. They even have that cool “Swype” software that is supposedly going to replace actual typing!

If you're unfamiliar with it, you essentially "swipe" your finger across a graphic of a keyboard and the software uses a complex algorithm to determine what word you intended to type, and then give you a list of twenty OTHER words to choose from. The person who showed it to me bragged that you could get up to 200 words per minute by using this, which would be very impressive if I didn’t know that at least 50 of those 200 words would be hilariously wrong.

As somebody who texts for the majority of his communication, AND as somebody who views typos as caridnal sins punishable by burning at the stake, let me just tell you:

Swype is really annoying.

I mean, I still use it. On the touch screen, it is definitely faster than actually hitting each letter. But there are times when I’m just not careful enough to go back and check every word of a sentence before hitting send, and it often ends up being unintentionally funny.

For instance, there was a time when Joanie was ill and texted me saying that the world was clearly out to get her, since she is apparently allergic to all of it. I responded with a well-intended “I’m so sorry honey, hope you get dead really soon!”

Obviously I meant for it to read “get well really soon,” but you really don’t want to mix those signals with somebody who has recently imbibed her weight in Robitussin and still can’t breathe.

Immediately before typing this sentence, I let my brother know that I would be ready to chat at about “six pm venereal.” Not Central. No,that’s “six PM venereal standard time.” (Go ahead and insert a clever one-linerabout some city you don’t like being on venereal standard time, I’ll wait.)

I once informed my parents that a drive up was taking less time than expected, only to receive a bewildered reply from my mom asking what it meant that we were “making haggadah time than anticipated.”

And so on, and so on. “Frank” has become “Feck.” “Omhu” was once its suggestion for “pony.” And its favorite word to mix up is “our,” which Swype is convinced should always be “outré.”

Just today, “would” pulled up a menu that included “Douglass,”“Wolff,” and “woulda.” But not the actual English word “would.”

But my favorite instance of Swype taking over was very early on, when Joanie and I were still very new to the entire experience.

See, we text each other pretty much constantly throughout the day. Details about the day’s happenings, both good and bad, funny andoutrageous, irritating and endearing, all flow through fingertips and phone signals to eyes and minds, keeping us connected in at least this small way throughout the day.

And much of what we exchange is funny! I hear a joke or see something funny online, I send it to her – she overhears somebody say something silly, she shares it with me. Well, one of the first such funny texts I received from her made me guffaw out loud while at work, so I typed back –excuse me, I Swyped back – “hahaha.”

To which she responded:

“Um, what about ‘kayaks’ now?”

This has now become a thing for us. When one of us sends a particularly funny message, the other will respond with “kayaks” intentionally, rather than “lol” or “hehehe” or any of the other common textual versions of laughter. It’s even found its way into our daily conversations – the real ones,with, you know, our voices. So if you hear Joanie or myself talking about kayaks, please understand:

We're not actually talking about tiny watercraft.

We’re just laughing.