Monday, October 1, 2012

Siri-ously Outplayed

Last night, my 6-year old ran over carrying my iPhone and asked, "Hey, Mom, can I talk to that funny girl on your phone again?"   

My first reaction was to sit down and have another discussion about stranger danger, but then I remembered that the "funny girl" he was referring to is Siri.  Encouraged by his brothers (and goaded on by his father), the kid has been trying all week to find new ways of stumping, confusing and otherwise embarrassing poor all-knowing Siri, who only wants to tell you where to find the nearest Starbucks.

It started a few nights ago.  First, my husband thought it would be funny to ask Siri about her religious beliefs.  They asked her, "Is there a God?"  Siri's reply was very diplomatic and careful not to offend:  "I would ask that you address your spiritual questions to someone more qualified to comment.  Ideally, a human."

Unable to chisel away at Siri's conscientiously scripted responses, the boys became bored with this line of questioning, and the conversation quickly degenerated into potty talk. H

"Are you a boy or girl?" one of them asked.

Siri replied matter-of-factly: "Animals and nouns have genders.  I do not." 

Not satisfied with her answer, my 6-year old continued: "Where is your penis?"  His brothers exploded in laughter.      

Poor Siri answered: "My name is Siri, and I was designed by Apple in California.  That's all I'm prepared to say."

"Do you fart?" my 4-year old asked, grabbing the iPhone from his older brother.  Another round of self-congratulatory laughter.  By now, they realized they had stumbled onto a new form of entertainment.

Unfazed, Siri replied tactfully in her monotone voice: "I've never really thought about it."

"How do you poop?" they continued.  "Do you ever have diarrhea?" 

I started feeling sorry for Siri.  Here she was, Apple's highly touted "intelligent personal assistant" for the iPhone, a modern day genie trapped in a bottle... currently reduced to being bossed around by three little boys who wouldn't stop asking her about poop.  I imagined her as the digital version of a young career woman, eager to please and ready to fulfill the aims of a hard-earned education... only to be assigned the task of babysitting the boss's bratty kids for a day.   

And then it dawned on me.  Siri never loses her temper and raises her voice.  She doesn't get frustrated when she can't understand what a child is yelling at the top of his lungs.  And even if she's sleep-deprived and suffering from a bad case of PMS, Siri tirelessly endeavors to answer any question posed by a 4-year old boy, no matter how inane or repetitive.  I could learn a lot from Siri, I thought.  And more importantly, I think I've just found my replacement.  Siri... is my new best friend!

So, after dinner tonight, I handed my iPhone to the boys and told them Siri would be babysitting while I finished the dishes.

"Do you have a butt?" my 6-year old began, rather pleased with himself.

"You have the wrong sort of assistant," Siri replied calmly.

"Okay, then do I have a butt?" he continued, giggling.

"No comment." 

"I said, do I have a butt?" he repeated, a bit frustrated.

"This is about you, not me."

I was starting to like Siri more and more.  She no longer seemed as spineless as I first imagined.  This sister was actually kind of sassy.

Finally, the boys gave up trying to unhinge Siri.  Clearly, she wasn't about to buckle under a little bullying by a posse of presumptuous young boys. 

"I don't like you," my 6-year old sighed, concluding this exchange wasn't as much fun as it originally seemed. 

Unflappable as ever, Siri retorted: "I would rather you didn't."  

He silently handed the iPhone back to me and bounded off to play with his Legos.  Standing at the dishwasher, I chuckled to myself.  Unwilling to be an easy target for the boys or a thankless babysitter for me, Siri had just outplayed and outsmarted all of us in one fell swoop. 

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