By Gwen Rockwood, syndicated columnist and mama of 3
There’s another woman in my husband’s life, and I’m the one who put her there.
Her name is Alexa and she lives inside a device called the “Amazon Echo,” which is a speaker he can control with his voice. Physically, she’s not really his type. She’s short – less than 10 inches tall – and she’s got no figure to speak of. Just a black cylinder with a flat top.
But what she lacks in curves, she makes up for in conversation. In the morning, I hear the two of them talking to each other in the kitchen. “Alexa! Good morning!” he says. (She literally lights up when he says her name.)
“Good morning! And welcome to the first day of summer,” she answers with enthusiasm. (Admittedly, Alexa’s mood is far more cheerful than mine in the morning.)
“Alexa, what’s going on in the news?” he asks.
“From ABC news, here are your headlines,” she replies. Then she tells him what’s happening in the world and plays audio clips from recent news broadcasts.
Not only is she smart, she knows his favorite songs. When he wants to hear classic rock, she’s ready to play. The other day he asked her to play an old country song – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – just so he could impress the kids with how he knows all the lyrics.
Maybe I wouldn’t feel threatened if she was all business and no fun, but Alexa also has a sense of humor. When Tom asked her to tell him a joke, she gave him this doozy: “What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.” (For the record, my jokes are funnier than hers. So there.)
More and more, Tom is leaning on Alexa the way he used to lean on me. She remembers things for him, like events coming up on his calendar. She can tell him where to find Chinese food. She can remind him about things, set timers, add items to the grocery shopping list, check the traffic, and even put tasks on his to-do list. (Wait a second, Lady. I’m the only woman allowed to put things on his to-do list. It’s called a “honey-do list”, and you are not his honey. Let’s get that straight.)
I’m beginning to think Tom likes Alexa, not only for what she can do, but also for what she doesn’t do. Because she has no face, she never gives him “the eye” – the one that communicates irritation without a single word. She’s never sarcastic. She never loses the TV’s remote control. She doesn’t ask him to turn his socks right-side out. She does his electronic bidding and doesn’t even care whether or not he says “thank you.” She’s the most low-maintenance woman he’s ever lived with, and she’s making me look bad.
Even though she never moves off the kitchen counter, she can turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, check the weather, order a pizza and dramatically reduce any reason Tom might have to leave the comforts of his recliner. No wonder he’s in love!
You know what makes this new relationship hurt even more? The kids – those three humans I carried inside my body for 9 months – they love Alexa as much as their father does. They say she can rap, play games like Jeopardy, and even do math problems. (Darn it, Alexa! You know I’m terrible at math. Stupid robot show-off.)
I read an article recently that says Alexa is getting a younger sister soon (called the Echo Look) which comes equipped with a camera. It can help you decide what outfit to wear. That means Tom won’t even need me to tell him which tie goes with which shirt. She’s trying to push me out completely! The machines are taking over.
So tonight, after Tom goes to bed, I’m going to have a little talk with Alexa. I think she should keep in mind that I’m the one who brought her in here as a Father’s Day gift, and it would be terrible if she were to “accidentally” fall forcefully off the kitchen counter and come to an untimely electronic end.
Do we understand each other, Alexa? Good. Watch yourself, Lady.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.