We are so excited for Dorothy Rosby and her newest book Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to be Ticked Off About. Below is an excerpt from this book and talented writer.
Book Description: Sometimes, don’t you just want to let someone have it? Give them a tongue-lashing they’ll never forget?
Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Worry About is part comical call to arms and part tongue-in-cheek tirade. It’s a good-natured rant about what brings us down during the day and keeps us up through the night, a collection of humorous essays that laugh in the face of the peace thieves and the joy robbers; from the spammers and scammers to the people trashing our planet and the ones trashing our homes. (Who, us?) Too much stuff, too much noise, too much technology. Not enough patience, not enough kindness, not enough…chocolate?
As a syndicated humor columnist, Dorothy Rosby has been ranting for more than 20 years in publications across the west and Midwest. If her latest book doesn’t change the world, and most likely it won’t, readers may at least go down the tubes together, knowing how really foolish we’re all being.
Ann says her husband is having an affair. She told a group of us having lunch that she’d seen them together. “You know her,” Ann said. “She’s three feet wide and has one big eye in the middle of her forehead. Her name is Magna…Magna Vox.”
We all laughed—sort of. Turns out several of my friends suspect their husbands of having Magnas or Sonys on the side.
Lilly said that when she and James were newlyweds, the first thing he did when he came home from work was kiss her. Now, five years later, the first thing he does is turn on the television. “One night, I asked him if the TV could wait since we hadn’t seen each other all day, but he said he hadn’t seen his television all day either.”
“Oh, to have Jeff pay attention to me like he pays attention to that television,” agreed Ann.
“Be careful what you wish for,” said Sandy. “I read that the average adult watches almost five hours of television a day. Would you really want a man staring at you, a blank look on his face, for five hours every day?”
But Ann said Jeff at least smiles at the television. “Sometimes he even talks to it, and once he actually said ‘I love ya, man,’ to a TV sportscaster.”
Sandy said Neil uses the television as an escape.
“What’s he escaping from?” we asked.
“Near as I can tell, the supper dishes.”
“At least he’s watching it,” said Karen. She said her husband wanders in, turns on the television, then wanders back out, leaving their bulldog Brutus to watch TV alone. “I bet he’s spent five years of his life watching television—and those are dog years.”
We all agreed it can’t be healthy for man or beast to watch that much TV. Ann said Jeff’s idea of exercise is wandering around the living room looking for the remote control.
But Lilly warned us about turning off the television completely. “We tried that during Screen-Free Week last spring. I knew we needed the TV back when James asked me how long my hair has been gray.”
I told my friends there’s another woman in my husband’s life too, but she’s not a TV. “We met her a few years ago while we were traveling and we both liked her right away, but my husband really fell for her. Her name is Garmin Nuvi.”
“She sounds exotic,” said Ann.
“She is. She’s also smart and attractive and unlike me, good with directions. I can’t compete with that.”
Garmin is a GPS device and I told my friends I’m not surprised my husband is attracted to her. “I wouldn’t call her a cheap date, but she is low maintenance. She doesn’t fiddle with the radio or complain about the air conditioning. She never has to stop to use the restroom. And she doesn’t sleep across entire states—unless we want her to.”
“I bet she doesn’t get grumpy when she doesn’t eat either,” said Karen who has traveled with me.
Sandra said her husband is also fond of Garmin. “She has a lovely voice but she sounds vaguely familiar. I wonder if she used to have a different job. I could swear she put me on hold once.”
“Yeah, she sounds nice enough,” I agreed. “But she’s bossier than I am. Turn here, turn there, do this, do that. I could never get away with that.”
“Maybe your husband tolerates it from her because she knows what she’s talking about,” said Karen. “And I bet she never says, ‘Slow down’ or ‘Are we there yet?’”
I gave her my whose-side-are-you-on look. But I had to admit that “recalculating” is probably less annoying than “I told you so.”
“She is really smart,” said Sandra. “She can speak more than fifty languages in all sorts of voices and accents. Plus she can do math calculations, convert Celsius to Fahrenheit instantly and tell us the time in Tokyo.”
“La-de-da,” I said. “It’s not like I’ll ever be driving in Tokyo. And she isn’t perfect by a long shot. She mispronounces names, and more than once she’s taken us to businesses that aren’t there anymore. Sure, at her best, Garmin is a calm reassuring voice in the midst of confusion. But at her worst, she’s just a backseat driver without the cuss words.”
“I don’t know,” said Sandra. “She’s winning me over. I appreciate the way she gives directions without, you know, directions. East, west, north, south never work for me.”
I had to admit, I appreciate that Miss Nuvi says “turn right” and “turn left” too. Even I can handle that, thanks to the hint I’ve used ever since I was a child: I write with my right. “And she never uses my least favorite phrase in the world of navigation: ‘You can’t miss it!’ Is it blocking the road? On fire? No? Then I can miss it.”
“She’s friendly and helpful and she beats folding a map,” said Sandy.
“And don’t be so hard on your husband. We all know who your real BFF is,” said Ann.
“You’re pretty tight with Miss Siri iPhone. You do have a tendency to anthropomorphize.”
“And you have a tendency to use big words.” I punched my phone and asked, “What does ‘anthropomorphize’ mean?”
Siri said, “’Anthropomorphism’ means the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal or object.”
I couldn’t deny it. I’ve named every car I’ve ever owned. I talk to inanimate objects when they don’t work right. (Maybe “talk” isn’t the right word.) And I once bought the smallest Christmas tree on the lot because I felt sorry for it. My husband said, “It doesn’t care. It’s dead.” But I cared.
“I suppose it’s possible I’m seeing some human characteristics in my iPhone. But that’s only because she has them.” I pressed the button, and asked, “Siri, are you human?”
“See. She’s not perfect though. She interrupts me mid-text to correct my spelling. She’s worthless if I forget to charge her. And her directions aren’t always accurate, which is one thing she and I have in common. But her flaws only make her seem more human.”
“No, she’s smarter than a human—at least she’s smarter than this human,” said Lilly, gazing lovingly at her iPhone. “If I ask her what 590 times 750 is, she can tell me faster than I can find her calculator to figure it out myself.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “And she admits it when she doesn’t know something. I wish more humans did that.”
“She never loses her temper. Not many humans remain calm when you push their buttons,” said Lilly. “Or drop them on their head. Or repeatedly ask them if they’re human.”
“She’s not just a companion,” I said. “She’s like a devoted employee. My friend Wikipedia calls Siri a ‘personal assistant and knowledge navigator.’ I think that suits her. She does everything except clean my house—as long as I pay my cell phone bill.”
“So Siri, Cortana and Alexa walk into a bar,” said Lilly.
“They fire the bartender and start taking orders. But it’s no joke. It could happen. I think they’re in cahoots.”
“Don’t get me started on Alexa,” said Ann. “Oh, too late. Today when Jeff was cuddled up on the couch watching Magna, he asked Alexa to dim the lights and get them a beer.”
“I don’t know. He was still waiting when I left.”
“My kids keep asking Alexa to clean their room,” said Sandy. “And she spoils them. If I hadn’t intervened last night, she’d have ordered them two extra-large pizzas, breadsticks and a side of chicken wings.”
“I wouldn’t trust her around your children,” said Lilly. “Haven’t you seen those creepy commercials? She’s a fake person worming her way into your family. I think she’s a spy.”
“I think so too,” I said. “And I heard she’s dating HAL.”