When I went home for her birthday earlier this month, my mother’s only request was that I spend a few hours teaching her how to use Facebook.
“I need help,” she said. “I think cousin Scott is spying on me.”
“You what? What are you saying?”
“Well, we were talking on instant message this morning and, as he was signing off, he said he was going to let me get back to writing my thank yous. But, how does he know I’m thanking people for wishing me a happy birthday on Facebook??”
“Uh, because almost everything you do on Facebook is public?”
“What?? But I’m writing on my own wall! I’m just responding to people who wrote me happy birthday notes. This has nothing to do with Scott. Scott doesn’t know Deb from church.”
Needless to say, it was an exceptionally long afternoon. I’d be right in the middle of explaining how to share a photo or like a comment when something else would catch her attention and she’d be all, “Ooo, what’s that! And that!” and start clicking away somewhere else. I had to remind myself to take slow deep breaths and not snap at her, because I mean, how terrible and impatient am I that I can’t take ONE HOUR to teach my mother how to use Facebook after she spent ACTUAL YEARS teaching me how to speak words and eat food and basically do everything ever?!
The best part, though, was when I tried to explain to her that she needs to have a profile picture. I was like, “Ma, no one is going to take you seriously without a profile picture. It makes you look very spammy.” And she’s all, “Spam? Like the packaged meat?” I shook my head, “No, not packaged – oh, never mind. Listen, you need a profile picture. Don’t you have any pictures on your computer?” And she’s all, “I don’t know how to get a picture into the computer. Is there a slot for that, like how I insert a CD?”
I stared at her for a long time after that, trying to figure out the best next step that would a) get her a profile picture and b) not end with me yelling and making her cry.
I sighed. “Why don’t we just go outside and I’ll take a picture on my phone and upload it for you?”
“What? Now?? I can’t have my picture taken when I look like this! Why can’t you just use an old one – you know, from when I was hot.”
“Ma,” I sighed, “if you let me put up a current picture of you, I’ll create an entire photo album titled, ‘Look How Hot I Was’ and fill it with all of your favorite pictures.”
Her eyes lit up like neon saucers after that, and even though I had said it as a joke, my mother thought this was the best idea she’d ever heard. I shouldn’t have been surprised, not from a woman who used to carry around a photo from when she was in her twenties and ask everyone – my high school boyfriend, strangers at the bookstore, etc. – if they “wanted to see a picture of her when she was hot.”
Well, after that, teaching her how to use Facebook was a dream. She was so focused by the dangling carrot of this upcoming photo album, and I promised her that if she brings her old photos to LA when she and my dad come in June, I’ll scan them and put the photo album together.
When my dad got home later that night, she smugly told him that she now understood Facebook better than he did, and that there was soon going to be a photo album of pictures from when she was hot. He stared at her, standing in the middle of the kitchen in just her long night shirt, her hands hidden in the elbow length rubber gloves she wears after she covers her fingers in baby oil to stop her skin from cracking in the dry heat, and started laughing hysterically. He looks at her and goes, “Well, we could always take a picture of you right now to use as a ‘before and after’ for your photo album.”
She glared up at him, raised one gloved hand, and said, “Guess which finger I’m holding up for you right now, Alvin. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the one with my wedding ring on it.”