Some weeks back, one of my musician buddies sent me an invitation to join his Facebook. I was inclined to decline, because as a general rule I just hole up in my office and ignore all nonessential emails and invitations, such as those that don't involve barbecue. But just this once, I decided that doing a little social networking with skilled musicians might just lead to some modest enjoyment. So I signed up.But I didn't do it by myself. Facebook was a mystery to me, and it had the look of some kind of devilish electronic booby trap. I called daughter Jess—freshly home for summer vacation—in to help me. She looked over my shoulder, sized up the images on my screen and asked me: "What are you trying to do?"
"I'm not sure what I'm trying to do," I replied. "But I think I'm trying to get on Facebook."
"Jeez, Dad," Jess said. "That's the easiest thing in the world. A retired circus monkey can get on Facebook."
"I'm a little afraid of Facebook," I explained. "There are strangers asking to be my friends. Worse, some people who used to be my friends want to be my friends now. Those are the people I really want to avoid."
"Hop out of the chair," Jess said. "I'll take care of this." And with that, she took over my chair and started pointing and clicking. Seconds later she said, "Well, daddy, all those people you're trying to avoid are gone."
"What did you do?" I asked. "Wish 'em into the cornfield, like Billy Mumy did on that old Twilight Zone episode?
"I just clicked 'ignore,' " Jess said. "They're all ignored now."
"Isn't that a just a little bit mean?" I asked.
"You want them back? I can bring them back."
"No, please don't bring them back," I said. "If any ask, tell them I'm living in an iron lung, and I can't talk right now."
Just then, I saw an advertisement on the Facebook page, asking me this: "Do You Love Your Wife? Tattoo your wife's name on your profile."
I turned back to Jess. "This thing is asking me to tattoo your mother over the Internet. What should I do?"
"Never click the ads," Jess said. "The ads are nothing but trouble. And don't tattoo mama."
"I've been meaning to ask you," I said. "Sometimes I click and I end up looking at pictures of a bunch of your college friends. I shouldn't be looking at college girls on the Internet. They haven't 'gone wild,' have they?"
"They're just girls I know," Jess said. "Harmless, every one of them."
"Unlike those boys at a certain graduation party, who, following the orders of the lady of the house, loaded up their cars with liquor and drove away before the cops arrived?"
"Very much unlike those boys," Jess replied. "I'm the straightest of the straight edge. I've been the designated driver ever since high school. These girls mostly behave themselves. I haven't even had to confiscate their cell phones."
Huh? This was new to me.
"Why do you confiscate cell phones?" I asked.
"Puts an end to drunk texting," Jess answered.
"What's drunk texting?"
"That's when girls have a little too much to drink and start texting their friends, boyfriends, and maybe even their parents, with garbled and inappropriate messages," Jess said. "I take their phones away from them, stick 'em in my purse, and pass 'em out to their rightful owners the next day."
"What do girls write when they drunk text?" I asked.
"You don't want to know, daddy. I don't want to know. I don't think anybody's gotten into serious trouble. The closest it ever came to that was when I confiscated a bunch of phones at a party and put them in a bag beside a tree. There was a garden gnome next to the tree, and I dared any and all girls to steal it. One of them did. So, I guess I enabled the theft of a garden gnome. Sorry."
"Call me if you need bail money," I said.
Since Jess taught me about Facebooking and drunk texting, I've learned that quite a few kids who I thought were upright citizens are all over Facebook posting pictures of themselves drinking whiskey with their mothers, puking into toilets, flashing strangers and, well, making pretty dang sure that they'll never be offered a paying job, unless it's biting off chicken heads in a geek show, or a brief appearance on Jackass.
Mamas, don't let your girl babies grow up to be drunk texters.
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