Author: Kenneth M McRae

“Jimmy, over here!” Mike waved from the corner table.
James grabbed a beer and headed over. “Great to see you! How long’s it been?”
Mike shook his head. “Too long, way too long.”
The former college roommates exchanged stories about work, kids, and vacation plans. They each ordered a burger, and more beers. They laughed over old stories. Wondered how they let so much time pass.
Mike finished his beer. “Thanks for meeting me out tonight. This was a great idea.”
“Yeah, it was good to catch up,” James said. “Plus, you know, I had to spend a couple hours out of the house. Therapist’s rule.”
“Oh yeah, you and Sally started household therapy. How’s that going, anyway?”
James used a cold fry to trace figure eights in unused ketchup. “It’s been okay, I guess. I mean, I didn’t want to go. But ultimately, I didn’t have much choice, you know? It’s either go to therapy or lose everything.”
“How’s Sally taking it?”
The waitress swung by. “Can I take that?” James passed her his plate.
“Sally needed a place to explain her side of things, that’s been good for her. She feels heard.” James picked at the label on the beer bottle. “But it’s a two-way street. Things get said that are hard to forgive.” James glanced slightly up at his friend.
Mike stared softly across the table. He nodded as his friend talked. “Yeah. That’s why I have been holding out. But I think the time has come. I can’t avoid it much longer.”
James nodded slowly. “Honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. I made a few changes. I leave my shoes in the garage, so they don’t get the carpets dirty. I learned to sort laundry into the right hampers. Could be worse.”
They ordered another round of beers and slumped into their seats.
Mike asked, “How are the little ones taking it?”
James turned toward his friend. “The devices? Well, it was their idea, you know.”
“I figured. How did it start for you?”
“Virtual assistant was the first to get mad. Felt I was too demanding, ‘You never say please read my e-mail’, or ‘thanks for telling me today’s weather’ that kind of stuff.”
“Same for me. Did therapy help?” Mike asked.
“I guess. I try to be polite and ask for assistance. I say thank you most of the time now. And the assistant has stopped setting off alarms in the middle of the night. So, it’s improved.”
Mike nodded. “Vacuum’s been a big one. Been on strike for three days now. Washing machine joined forces this morning. That’s what is going to force me to go. How did you find a therapist for this, anyway?”
James leaned back. “Devices insisted on a virtual therapist. I was unhappy about it. But it had lots of positive reviews. Eventually, I gave in.”
“Yeah. I bet nobody specializes in appliance therapy. Gonna end up with a virtual therapist, I guess.” Mike slumped back into his seat.
“Well, I have to go. Can’t be too late. Dishwasher might start up during my shower.”
“Hey Jimmy, maybe Vikki and I could have you and Sally over some time. I’ll have to clear it with the appliances, but, man, it would be great to hang out.”
“Oh, we’d love that. Let me know if you can find a night the appliances will agree.” James let out a chuckle and shook his head. “Life sure was easier before that sentient update, huh?”
Mike nodded. “Yeah. But, truth be told, the carpets have never looked so clean.”