It's smart and it knows it

By Johanna Bloom
March 4, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.
Updated March 5, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Johanna Bloom

Johanna Bloom   contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

Mimi and Popsy celebrated their 50th anniversary in December. Popsy, the car aficionado, celebrated by replacing the family travel wagon complete with a sweet anniversary keychain gifted to Mimi. He momentarily abandoned his need for exotic cars and bought a brand-new "dependable vehicle" that, as he proudly proclaimed, "We can all fit into."

We all walked around it with admiration as Popsy and Mimi proudly gave us a run-down of its many features. Popsy mentioned the dealership they bought it from offers a class on the weekends to teach new owners how to use its many features. I thought that was kind of odd and maybe a tad overdramatic, but I kept my opinion to myself.

We decided to take it out for a voyage. Mimi was driving, and I was in the front next to her with my oldest son, Austin, and Popsy taking up residence in the backseat and my youngest son, Jamison, ruling his kingdom from the third-row seat. As we were driving, Mimi was giving me an earful of its many safety features: global camera, automatic parking assist complete with ultrasonic sensors, the speed limit and car's speed projected on the driver's windshield and, she mentioned, many features they hadn't "quite figured out just yet."

As we pulled up to a store they needed to go into, Mimi innocently hit the "engine off" button. A quick breath and then panic filled her blue eyes as the driver's seat immediately started reclining right on top of Popsy's legs in the back seat. She started hollering, "No, no, no, stop," and hitting all sorts of buttons to make it stop when the dashboard suddenly stated in a feminine voice that lacked any caring, "I do not understand. OK. Calling Mimi. OK, sorry. Please try again. Goodbye."

Popsy started hitting the backs of the seats and joined in the hollering as his legs were being crushed: "My neuropathy. This isn't doing my neuropathy any good." Mimi apologized as she struggled to open her door, rolled out of her seat and then manually pushed the button to move the seat. Popsy mumbled that she just hit a wrong button. Mimi turned to me, shook her head back and forth and mouthed, "It's evil."

The boys and I patiently waited in the car while they went into the store to get a few things. Popsy was making his way to the car with his arms stacked with a few boxes and, a little smugly, said to us through the window, "Watch this." Then, with his cane supporting his wobbly legs, I saw him stick his foot under the tailgate to use its kick activation system.

When nothing happened, with much effort, he kicked his other foot under the tailgate. His eyes grew hot as the top of his bald head started turning bright red. The boys and I gasped from the inside of the car as we saw his aggravation. A grimace crossed his face as all eyes were on him with people in the parking lot stopping to watch the show.

Popsy began again kicking his foot underneath, switching legs and performing additional kicks. He then administered a few mild kicks to the car's bumper. Then, we saw him raise his cane up in the air.

I was worried he would lose his balance and possibly fall, but Austin sprang into action and hopped out of the car. He then copied Popsy's kick moves, and the tailgate opened immediately. Austin, with pleasure in his eyes, performed a quick retreat to the car as Popsy was out of breath, red-cheeked and more than a little irritated.

In an effort to redeem himself, Popsy decided to drive. With teenage boys in the car declaring how hungry they were, he asked his dashboard navigation system to give directions to a particular restaurant. The navigation responded, "Got it. Dialing Jamison." Perfectly timed, Jamison's phone began ringing in the third row seat and loudly throughout the car speaker system. Then, as if on a television sitcom, Jamison actually proceeded to answer it. His perky "Hello" resonated through the speakers. We all turned our heads to look at him. Jamison glanced at us, got the point and meekly hung up his phone.

As soon as Popsy hit the off button, the driver's seat started reclining with Mimi sitting behind it proclaiming that the seat was possessed. At the same moment, the dashboard announced, "All right. Calling home." Popsy hollered, "No," but the call was still going through. Jamison hollered, "Stop," from the back of the car, and the beguiling voice said, "All right." A pleased look crossed Jamison's face as he turned and said very slowly, "See, you just need to enunciate."

Popsy then turned to the dashboard and slowly said, "Call dealership." That was one command the car understood, and an appointment was made for the new owner's class. In a move of pure exasperation, Austin was asked to drive us all home. As he pulled into our driveway, we all stared as his finger dangled above the off button. Mimi moved her legs to the side to avoid being crushed as Austin pressed the button.

The car stopped. The seat did not recline, and no number was dialed. We all let out a sigh of relief just a little too quickly as the calm voice once again stated, "Sorry, I do not understand."

We soon discovered that the doors didn't unlock, and panic set in. Popsy, in a claustrophobic moment, was fixing to start prying the door open with his cane as suddenly the driver's door unlocked. His mumbling continued as he said, "You have to handle this car with a heavy hand."

Johanna is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at smellysocks@vicad.com or visit her blog at morethansmellysocks.com.


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