Digital Indigestion

My dad’s birthday was last week. I got him the Absolute Moron’s Guide to Digital Photography. Here is why.

He bought my mother a digital camera for Christmas, which she conveniently hasn’t learned to turn on yet while he gets hours of excited use from it. I’ve been providing tech support for my dad since my sister bought him a computer two years ago, and most of the questions are pretty basic, but it’s hard to explain to someone why Windows just crashes sometimes.

“Well, dad, it’s just… that’s just what it does. You know, the whole Bill Gates is evil thing.”

“But I don’t understand. You pay good money for these machines. The refrigerator doesn’t just “crash” sometimes and let the food go bad. What if I didn’t feel like working one day? What if I just up and left my job for no reason and left things unfinished and even threw them out so no one could find them again?”

And you wonder where I came from.

So my dad buys the digital camera, and he’s all jazzed up about it, and sending three dozen .jpg attachments in one email to my Yahoo account, which explodes and refuses delivery. After sending the email he calls me frantically on the phone, trying to figure out why there’s a demon sending him email (is it the same thing as a virus?!) and why I didn’t get the photos.

So last time I was in Florida, I gave him a crash course on Windows and file management. I think he hung on long enough to figure out how to name folders.

I’ll probably cry while I’m writing this part of the story, because it’s a total Hot Dog Moment (the definition of which I will have Shannon explain in detail at a later point); when a parent is so vulnerable you just want to shield them from the world. But I have to share this because it’s really fucking funny.

The condo complex where my parents live hosted a Super Bowl party a while ago. Actually, it was around the time of the Super Bowl. My dad brought my mom’s digital camera and took a bunch of photos, which he later downloaded to his computer. There were other photos already on the camera, so they were all dumped into the same folder. I’m assuming the program asks you to name the topic and then it assigns a name to each photo in the folder, such as Party_001.jpg, Party_002.jpg. You get the picture.

My dad is a construction worker, so grammar and spelling are not his natural forte. He builds a mean roof, but his email… sometimes I get the urge to print them out and hang them on the fridge with a rainbow magnet and a gold star.

He named the images after the Super Bowel.

The first three photos of the Super Bowel party he sent boasted the spread fit for kings on the buffet. This included a trough of the one and only Mama D’s Bean Dip, which has been proven to produce “Super” results.

The emails came a few times a day for the first week, my mom and dad red-cheeked and grinning, eating nachos, watching football, Super Bowel style. The first time I saw the names of the .jpgs and laughed hysterically, I felt a little guilty. At first I thought it was my dad being funny, which he is known to do. But when the rest of the photos from the folder started showing up, including pictures of my cat sunning herself on a lawn chair, the seriousness of the Super Bowel issue became clear.

My sister and brother-in-law were copied on the emails. I wondered if they, too, were amused by the state of my father’s bowels. Especially my sister the English Teacher, the Grammar Bitch, the Defender of All That Is Spellchecked and Holy.

I figured I’d let it go. Didn’t want to embarrass my father, you know. He was making big strides in the technology department and I was pulling for him. Plus the emails stopped after a week and I figured the next round would be appropriately named and I could stop obsessing about whether or not I should tell him before he copied everyone in his address book. Or be forced to consult my sister about the situation.

My father has been rebuilding the condo for a few months now. The place is very 70’s, which works in my current apartment but not in a retired folks’ summer space. He’s been redoing the kitchen, wallpapering, tiling the floor. To get good use of his digital camera, and to show off his work, he’s been keeping me updated with weekly before and after photos. A few of them I have printed out and hung on my fridge with rainbow magnets and a gold star. Thankfully, the kitchen shots arrived perfectly in threes, to my non-Yahoo account, with the names NewKitch_001.jpg, NewKitch_002.jpg. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then came the bathroom photos.

Subject: new pics of bathroom
Hi kris we started the bathroom today — your bath, the one off your room and taking down teh ugly gold paper for new peach stuff the mother picked out. And the new toilet seat. Goind to home depot tomorrw love dad.

The attached photo was of the new peach toilet seat. It was called SuperBowel_075.jpg.

I got an email from my sister two minutes later. She was one of seven people copied.

Subject: our father
should we tell him?

I replied:

Subject: re: our father
it’s his birthday next week.
i’ll take care of it.