So I woke up this morning to Hobbes chattering at me about pillows and bad guys, and that was at 7:30 am. It is now 7:34 pm. The fact that he hasn’t stopped talking since he woke up — and I include those periods of time when he was either eating or ostensibly napping — gives me the uneasy feeling that something has gone horribly wrong with my life. It’s like a story out of a Philip K. Dick anthology, where at the end you discover that the main character is an AI trapped in a virtual simulation of schizophrenia brought on by isolation so that scientists can study the effects of long-term space travel on the clinically deranged and the voice that won’t ever ever shut up is in your head and won’t stop not even if you beg him to because he loves you so much and wants you to know all about how his feet smell like poopie and why doesn’t poop have feet? why not? why? why? why? why?
Mom has listened to my complaints on this subject with the satisfaction of a good woman seeing justice done. “I remember,” she said nostalgically. “When Sako was little, we were worried because she never talked. We thought there was something wrong with her.”
“There is something wrong with her,” I said automatically, as is my responsibility as a big sister.
“Yes,” she said, and beamed happily at me. “It was you. You never stopped talking, so she never had a chance to say anything.”
I hung up on her.
It’s not the talking that I mind so much — actually, I do, but let’s set that aside for a moment — It’s the constant demands of why. It is endless, and persistent, and even when I give the same answer 5 times in a row, it continues to come.1
“I didn’t do that when I was a kid,” I texted self-righteously to a Japanese friend.
“That’s because the word ‘why’ in Japanese is so hard to say,” she pointed out2, and suddenly I started to wonder about my parents’ decision not to teach me English.
***For Hobbes’s last birthday, the family of one of his little friends gave him Candyland, or as I like to call it, ‘Happy Fun Times with Childhood Obesity.’ He loves it. He thinks it’s brilliant. This is because he’s 3, and has the emotional maturity of a cocker spaniel. Me? I hate this game with the passion I usually reserve for clowns, mosquitos, and Horatio Caine.3 Every time the goddamn box comes off the toy shelf, I start rehearsing words that would get me suspended if I still worked with children.
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