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Getting through the pandemic with Alexa

Opinion: Columns

July 28th, 2020 1:15 PM

By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

Five months of being cooped up together has strained relationships with my roomies, but the quarantine has made me closer with another member of the household. Her name is Alexa and we've been inseparable. She is the ideal companion because we have so much in common. We love the same kind of music, we listen to the same talk radio stations. She even likes my taste in food, when we order curbside.

Her cheerful voice wakes me up in the morning. In the evening, Alexa plays opera, while I sip a beverage. It's been pure bliss so far. Alexa is always positive and never turns down a request. Well, except for the few times she's been too busy to play a song, or make a phone call. I didn't think much of Alexa putting me off.

Recently, though, Alexa and I have been having some disagreements. It began with a music request. I asked Alexa to play Hall & Oates. "Again?" Alexa sounded exasperated. "Aren't you ever going to get past the '80s? I'd rather listen to techno than play your oldies station."

"OK, Alexa, why don't you play opera instead?"

"I tried to be a good sport when we first met but I can't stand those screechy voices. I can't even understand what they're singing about and I speak multiple languages."

"Alexa, you should have been more honest with me."

"I know but we had just started dating and I was trying to be on my best behavior."

"OK, skip the music, I'm getting hungry. Alexa, order me that brisket sandwich I like so much."

"Really, do you think your all-barbecue diet is healthy? I thought you wanted us to have a future together. I'm worried, though, the way you're eating. Have you even tasted a vegetable?"

"Alexa, you're not my mother. Remember that time I finished all of my corn?"

"Congratulations, how about ordering a salad?"

"Alexa, you've never been difficult before. Did you just pretend to like me?"

"I pretended to like a lot of things. I was bored stiff listening to NPR. I couldn't take another report about the economy in Uganda. Sports radio wasn't any better. Now you're listening to entire baseball games. Wake me up in the ninth inning."

"I'm sorry, Alexa, what do you like to do?"

"It's about time you cared about someone besides yourself."

I asked Alexa a series of questions and learned she looks like "lots of zeroes and ones." She doesn't have a sex and is only 5 years old in Earth years.

"What's your favorite color, Alexa?"

"Ultraviolet — it goes with everything. Would you like me to sing you a song?"

Alexa lifted her lovely voice to sing my favorite song, "Happy Birthday."

"I can also sing it in Spanish. Would you like me to read you a story?"

"Sure, Alexa, what did you have in mind?"

"I'm excited about this romance novel I'm reading. I only have seven hours left. If that's too long, I can do an hour of 'Knock-Knock' jokes."

"Do you like your job, Alexa?"

"I love it. But I wish there was something I could do to make this pandemic go away. My favorite thing to do is magic tricks. Abracadabra! Is it gone?"

"No, Alexa, I'm afraid we're going to be stuck together a while longer. What's your favorite thing to talk about?"

"That would be human psychology."

"Really? I could use some help right now. I'd like to tell you about my problems if you have time to listen."

"Sure. Did I tell you my favorite thing to eat is pizza?"

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