Elijah and Mom’s iPhone

Good morning, Elijah!

Morning, Bumpa!

Whatcha doin’ there?

Just playin’.

But we’re on FaceTime!

Yeah, we’re on the way to work and daycare.

Aha! You’re playing with Mom’s iPhone?

Yeah. Playin’ with Mom’s fone is fun. Mom doesn’t need it. She doesn’t need the GPS. We do this every day.

I see. How long’s the drive?

You k n o w, Bumpa! You’re playing’ with me! Forty-five minutes ’til Mom drops me off at day care. Depends on traffic.

That’s a long time to be alone in the back seat strapped in your car seat.

Yeah, but it’s fun! I get to play! Mom just drives. I have to bigger before I can drive, right, Bumbpa?

Right. You just turned two last Wednesday.

Yeah, I’m two! Two YEARS this time, not two months.

Yes, and we’re so proud of you!

Yeah, I get to do adult stuff like you and Mom.

I hope you won’t take this as an insult, Elijah, but how did you get me on FaceTime?

Don’t ya know, Bumbpa? I push the buttons on Mom’s iPhone. I love talking with people! It’s fun. They’re always surprised! Sometimes they come up on FaceTime. That’s really fun!

So. . . You’re just scrolling through Mom’s contact list?

We don’t use the stroller anymore! I’m two!

I’m sorry. I didn’t say ‘stroller‘. I said ‘scroller‘ with a ‘c’.

Yup. And I’m only through the ‘C’s! ABCDEFG, HIJKLMNOP. QRS TUV! Hold it, Bumpa. I got another call coming’ in. Can I put you on hold?

— Gordon C. Stewart (Bump) with Elijah, May 28, 2019.

Remember pen and paper?

Pen & Paper

Pen & Paper

Both my gizmos, as she calls them,
iPad and my precious iPhone,
are updating and recharging,
unavailable for writing,
FaceBooking, emailing, texting,
or for playing on-line Scrabble.

I have looked and found a grey pen
that writes even held upside-down.
Only one lined pad for writing
was discovered after searching
through the cabinets, closets, shelving.
When did I last try to scribble

words on paper? I lie back, then
face empty space above the line–
fingers, thumbs, want to be typing…
Will the gizmos still be waiting
when these words I will be adding
to the electronic babble?

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, September 27, 2014


A Retirement Obsession

on-line Scrabble

The game’s computer keeps the score,

so we don’t  have to add.

Its dictionary tells us clearly:

 words are good or bad.

Yes, on-line Scrabble, Words-With-Friends,

that is the game we play.

My iPhone held up to my face

a hundred times a day.

I play my brothers, nephews, niece…

a guy who’s in my choir.

A don in England always wins

–he probably reads Shakespeare!

My fingers cramp, my eyeballs hurt,

my thumb is even sore,

but Scrabble keeps my mind alert

and keeps me from the bar.

My spouse complains, she feels left out,

but I play just the same.

How can she bitch when it turns out

Sudoku is HER game?

Nadja’s game – on-line Sudoku

-Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Oct. 30, 2012

The Non-Exchange at the “The Corn Exchange”

“The Corn Exchange” is not like the Grain Exchange or Wall Street; it’s a French restaurant with a New York chef…in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s a classy place.

We’ve come here for dinner on recommendation of Carol and Kenn, the innkeepers of Hisega Lodge in the Black Hills. The food is fine; the people watching is equally good or better.

You’re not supposed to stare at people, especially in a restaurant. But sometimes you can’t help it. Like when a beautiful 30-something Asian woman dressed to the nines and a 30-something guy wearing  a t-shirt, jeans, and jogging shoes are seated at a table in full view for people-watching.

The couple at The Corn Exchange



They seem to be on a first date, a bit nervous with each other, maybe matched by a dating service or something, awkward with each other. The first indication is the woman talking on her cell phone. Her date seems a bit irked, or so I think, until he pulls out his iPad, puts it in front of him on the white linen tablecloth, and begins to do whatever he is doing – perhaps showing his date that he, too, has nothing at stake, is cool, detached, not vulnerable, killing time in the awkward silence.

The woman has finished her three phone conversations.  Her mind is back where her body is, at the table with the guy in the t-shirt, jeans, and jogging shoes. But he’s not there. He has his iPhone in one hand and his iPad on the table. Maybe he’s texting himself back and forth. Whatever he’s doing, he seems oblivious to the beautiful, well-dressed Asian woman who has come with him to the fancy Corn Exchange…for a date…and is ready now for him to play the game of hot pursuit. He doesn’t notice. She’s tapping her foot. She’s staring out the window in disgust, her chin resting in her left hand, as if to say,  “B o r i n g!”  

The rest of the meal is like pushing a replay button. The exchanges at the corner table at The Corn Exchange are predictable. He’s preoccupied; she taps her foot. She’s looking out the window when he’s ready to engage; he’s wiggling his leg. She looks at him; he turns his body to the side and looks away. He looks at her; she looks down and takes a bite.

Desserts arrive. The pain endurance contest is almost over. He smiles and begins to pay attention. She smiles back and pays attention. Then the rude people-watchers see an exchange they’ve missed along the way of trying not to be so rude. You can’t stare all the time. The two cell phones – his and her’s – and the iPad are now in his custody, on the windowsill beside their table. We’re’ confused.

Only then do we see the ring on her finger.

The only animal dumb enough…

Kay, Maggie, Sebastian

“We are the only animal dumb enough to not be where we are.”

The words popped out in the barber chair at Great Clips when Dee, the barber (I still call them barbers), told me that the person who had sat in the chair before me had spent her whole time playing on her iPhone. Never said a word. Never looked up. It sure seemed to Dee that her client was there…in the barber’s chair…but she was somewhere else, while the barber with the real scissors that were cutting her real hair in the real chair at the real Great Clips in the real Chaska Commons was…well…not there. How dumb is that!  “We humans are the only animal dumb enough to not be where we are.”

I spend my days alone with my dogs. Maggie and Sebastian live where they are. They don’t miss a trick – no pun intended; they’re not very well-trained – but they pay attention to every little thing. Every movement I make, every bird that flies across the window, every word spoken, every sound that might hint that Mom’s home, or that Dad is leaving…or taking them for a walk…or a ride in the car. They live where they are.

Sometimes they have to bark to jerk me away from my desk when I pretend I’m not there, checking my emails, surfing the web,  or writing a story. They know I don’t know how to be where I really am. They know that I’m not as smart as they are, but they’re  forgiving of my chronic weakness. They never look down on me.

We human animals think we’re so smart. We are. But what have we lost in ADHD heaven? If it hadn’t been for Maggie and Sebastian, I might not know; the words would never have popped out of my mouth in Dee’s barber’s chair.

When I got home, I shared with my furry companions the conversation with Dad’s groomer and what I had said: “We are the only animal dumb enough to not be where we are.” They were proud of Dad. I returned to my computer and ADHD heaven. They came along side the desk, gave me their paws, and said in unison, “We’re always here for you, Dad.” Then they asked if it was time to go for a ride in the car.