“Do we have envelopes?” Ari, 22, was standing in the middle of the kitchen, a single sheet of paper in hand.
I went to the envelope keeping place in the dining room and gave him one.
“Do you need a stamp?” I asked him.
“I guess. I have to mail this,” he said, holding up the paper.
“Well, stop looking like you’ve never mailed something before,” I told him. “Oh geez, have you seriously never mailed something before?”
“I use email. Why would I use envelopes and stamps?” he replied.
His girlfriend, Taryn, came into the kitchen.
“Taryn, you’ve mailed something before, right?”
I might have been a little abrupt, as she glanced at Ari wondering if there was a right answer to this question.
“Sure, of course,” she said. “Like, maybe? When I was really little, to my grandma?”
She didn’t sound certain of anything except that she wanted the questions to revert back to Ari.
“So, what do I put?” he asked, pen poised over the blank envelope.
“When I took typing, we had to line everything up perfectly on an envelope. The teacher actually measured it and you lost marks. I was great at it,” I told Ari and Taryn, who by now were just looking at me like I was a display in a museum.
A boring one. The pieces of broken pottery one, not the dinosaur one.
“Stop talking and just tell me what goes where. I have to mail this now, we’re going for groceries,” said Ari.
“Oh, wait, I need some stuff. Gimme the list,” I said, reaching for the paper next to him on the counter.
“No! Don’t write on that,” he said, grabbing it.
“Don’t be stupid, I have to add things.”
I looked at his hand written shopping list. It was fairly standard. Bananas, shrimp, rye bread, potatoes, raspberries, tomatoes. Except every item had little double brackets containing an italicized “i” before and after it.
I looked at him. He was doubled over laughing. Taryn was rolling her eyes.
“It’s a list, get it? It’s the code for creating a list.”
Ari is studying computer engineering, and has been building a new website for the past couple of months. Every few days, he will haul me to his computer to show me how he has made something on the site swivel, turn, load, zoom or tap dance. I stare at two monitors with line after line of code and my brain rattles.
He turned the paper over so I could write “Kleenex” on the back.
“I had to change milk again, so look, get this one,” I said opening the fridge and hauling out a carton. He added “Mom’s weird milk” to the list.
“No, write it all down, see?” I was pointing to the brand and kind and source and remembering when I was a kid, milk was milk.
“I got it, I got it,” he said folding up his dorky list.
“That list is full-on geek, isn’t it?” I asked him.
“Yup. Total nerd humour.”
He forgot my milk.