My mother and I were staying at someone's home. Whoever it was had a computer that could access the internet. My mother told me that soon we would be speaking to my father through this person's computer. I was a bit incredulous but nevertheless excited when I shouted "How!?" at the top of my lungs. She explained, "Your father is on the other side of the computer and he's going to send us messages over the internet." Internet? The other side of the computer? Images of my father shrunken down, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and living inside the computer screen flashed in my mind. I was scared.
The sounds of the handshake didn't help. Beeping, whirring, strange tones swirling. Is the computer breaking? "Look! It's daddy!" my mother said to me while I sat on her lap looking at the monitor. I didn't see him. I saw a grey and white box with words, but I couldn't really read yet. I trusted my mother though. It had to be him. I laughed with excitement.
I asked her to read the message to me. "Hi. Do you know who I am?" A bright yellow face appeared, smiling. I was amazed. Everything was new, I had no concept of the internet or how any of this worked but I knew what my next step was. I was going to answer my dad like a big girl. I needed help, of course. I had never used a keyboard before and I could barely spell. I was just a small kid.
With one finger, guided by my mother, I slowly typed my reply. I didn't greet him or answer his question. Instead, I asked a very important question of my own: "How do I make the face?" He answered, and my mother translated it into something I'd understand: "Hold this one down, and then push this one. Then hold this one down again, and push this one."
"Does this make the happy face?" I asked. The two characters sat next to a blinking line inside the box. Disappointment. It didn't look like a face to me. It was the "two dots" and the "circle part." It was meaningless. My mother told me to turn my head sideways and she pointed out the eyes and the smile to me. Fair enough. "But how can I make it yellow?" I demanded.
My mother hit the send button and my two dots and circle part transformed into a big yellow smiling face just like the one my father sent. Ha! There it was. He replied with another smiling face and I did the same. We were communicating through a computer with happy faces. I felt so cool - I had some sort of new power at my fingertips.
Shortly after our exchange my mother told me that we needed to turn the computer off so that my father could call us to say goodnight. During that quick goodnight call I found out that my father had been testing our brand new internet connection from home. He promised to teach me new happy faces with it the following day.
I loved the internet, whatever it was.
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