I was so excited to find her under the tree.
“Look how beautiful!” I cried. “So sleek, so chic. So… me!”
I couldn’t wait to bond but didn’t want to bother her right away.
“It’s Christmas morning,” I said. “She’s probably busy.”
“But that’s the point, Mom,” my son insisted. “She’s there for you whenever. Siri lives to serve!”
Suddenly, a showtune popped into my head:
“Siri (ahh!) I just met a girl named Siri (ahh!)
And suddenly that name will never be the same to me….”
I pushed the button. My iPhone 4S gave a double ding.
“Merry Christmas, Siri,” I said.
“There’s no one in your contacts matching ‘Mary’,” came the robotic response.
“Mom!” my son sighed. “She’s not into idle chatter. Give her a command.”
I’ve never been good at telling people what do to (except the people in my nuclear family, of course). I’ve always had trouble delegating responsibility. Once, in fatter times, I hired a housekeeper. I cleaned the entire house before she came, including drawers and closets. When she arrived and asked for instruction, I ducked my head, muttered, “Whatever you think,” and dashed out the door.
Still, I thought, it’s different with Siri. Subservience is the essence of our relationship. My wish is her command.
I held the magic button, waiting for my cue.
“Siri, give me the weather forecast.”
“Here’s the weather for today through this Friday.”
A six-day weather outlook graphic popped promptly onto my screen. Sweet!
“Siri, remind me to get noisemakers for our New Year’s Eve party.”
“Here’s your reminder for Saturday, December 31st at 9 a.m. Shall I create it?”
“Yes,” I commanded. This was going to be great! Siri would be my new best friend, my right-hand woman, my savior! I felt another song coming on….
“People let me tell ya ‘bout my best friend. She’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me till the end…”
As the days and weeks passed, Siri and I were inseparable. Like Carol Brady and Alice. Batman and Alfred. Buffy and Mr. French. She managed both of my calendars, looked up words in the dictionary and guided me deftly to foreign places. She even reminded me to schedule my mammogram. She had, indeed, become my BFF.
But there was danger ahead. A codependency was developing. I started relying on her help more and more. And she needed me, too. Well, if only for my battery charger.
“Siri, what’s my PIN number?” I asked urgently while staring at the ATM screen.
“Sorry, I don’t understand ‘Siri, what’s my pin number?’”
“My PIN number for my checking account. Surely you know it!”
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘number for my checking account’. And don’t call me Shirley.” OK, I made up that last part, but the fact remained: Siri had failed me for the first time.
“Siri,” I said, strolling a downtown sidewalk at lunchtime. “What is the name of the woman coming toward me? I know her!”
“Let me check on that,” came the answer. Then, after a way-too-pregnant pause: “How about a Web search for “what’s the name of that woman coming towards me?”
Another Siri fail! I started questioning our friendship. Was it too much of a one-way street? Had I asked too much of her? Taken advantage of her subservience? Could she actually be exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior?
The final blow came at the doctor’s office as I completed yet another batch of medical forms.
“Siri, how old am I?” It was an honest question. At that moment I couldn’t remember if I was 56 or 57.
“I’ve always wondered that myself,” she said.
Wait a minute? Was Siri copping an attitude? I asked again.
“Siri, am I 56 or 57?” I figured she had to have the information somewhere in that phone.
“I don’t know. Maybe the Genius Bar folks can answer that.”
I was about to read her the Steve Jobs riot act, but my fellow patients were starting to stare.
Then I remembered the old adage: Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
The truth was, Siri was not going to be my pal forever. (Not with my habit of dropping cellphones in toilets). I had to figure out a way to make it through life without her.
I tapped my calculator app, put in ‘2011 minus 1955’ and scribbled ‘56’ on the form.