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Not My Best Friend

Not My Best Friend

A humorous look at our present time

“Your contumacious attitude will get you into deep trouble son. Why are you so feckless?”

My mother’s eyes were angry and dark as she spat out the words, which is why I knew, as a nine-year-old boy, that I was in trouble.

But what did she mean?

I knew I had been disrespectful and I hadn’t been doing my chores and I had even lied. That part I understood. But I didn’t understand the words she was using. Was I contumacious? And feckless?

It sounded like a disease. Where did I pick it up?

My mother, being an old English schoolteacher, was fond of using difficult words. It confused me. My father, who had left my mother when I was three, raised me in the Netherlands and therefore English wasn’t my first language.

“Sorry Mom,” I answered timidly. “But what do these words mean?”

“Go to the library and find out!” My mother was clearly not in the teaching mood.

“Your father’s truculent attitude caused the divorce and now you don’t even speak proper English. It’s a shame!”

She took off and left me confused and bewildered. The library? Was my English really that bad?

Maybe the library was a good idea. After all, it was the only place I knew of where I could learn about difficult words.

So that afternoon I took a trip to the local library and studied the Oxford Dictionary of difficult words.

That was in 1971. That was the time when people still sent letters by postage mail and were hoping for a reply within at least a month. It was the day when the Netherlands were considered to be very, very far away and when the local elections in Uzbekistan did not concern you.

But 1971 is passed. Now we know better. Now we live in a new age. The age of speed, knowledge and kilobytes. My mother is still around. She still thinks I am a little contumacious at times. And sometimes I am feckless too. I admit.

But thanks to the revolution in technology, I am no longer dumb. At least my English has vastly improved. And I don’t go the library anymore. Now I run to my tablet, or to my laptop or my Smartphone.
Now I go to my new friend Google.

He knows everything. Google is cool. He never lets me down. It’s good to have a friend like Google.
Because of him, the world is at my fingertips.

The other day I visited my old Mom. She’s in a home for the elderly now.

“Hi Mom,” I said.

“Hello, son.”

She looked a little sad. Then she asked: “Are you here to find out if I will be beatified after I die?” The old schoolteacher was still at work.
I had no idea what she meant and I secretly googled the word ‘beatify’.

There it came on the little screen of my cell phone: “Beatify. To regard saintly. Not to be confused with beautifying.”

“Son,” she continued, “I mean, what will happen to me when I die? Is there a Heaven waiting for me?”

I didn’t know what to say.

Maybe I should ask my friend Google. So I googled: “What will happen when you die?”

I was shocked. Google claimed it had about 3480.000.000 answers about what was going to happen to my mother at the day of her death.


I clicked Google away in disgust.

My mother looked so sad and lost in spite of all of her knowledge. What was I to tell her? Suddenly I had an inspiration. An old song started to play in my mind and I softly started to sing:

Gimme that old time religion
It’s good enough for me.
It will do when I am dyin’
It’s good enough for me.

Where did that come from? Not from Google. It came from my heart and suddenly I knew. “Mother,” I said, “Let’s pray together. Let’s go back to simple faith in God.”

A huge smile came on my mother’s face.

“Yes,” she answered eagerly, “Let’s petition, let’s beseech and implore. Let’s recite an orison.”

I didn’t have to Google these words. I could tell by the lights in her eyes what they meant.

I still use my old friend Google occasionally, but I take him now with a grain of salt. I am not a boffin, but I believe there are higher values in life.

Excuse me?

Don’t you know what boffin means?

Just google it

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