''I don't have to wait for future shock,'' said Aunt Dee, looking up from her newspaper. ''I'm already in present shock.''
''You mean you're having trouble choosing presents for your grandchild?'' I asked.
''That too. Everything is electronical. If I don't know how to work it, who will teach him? But I was thinking of life in general -- so much more complicated today than it used to be.''
She proceeded to give me some examples. ''I remember when if I called someone on the telephone and he wasn't home, no one would answer. Now a machine tells me he's not able to come to the phone. Is he lying there on the floor, unable to push the button he wears around his neck? Should I call 911? Should I leave a message, and if so, what should I say?
''And that's not all,'' she went on. ''It used to be if I felt blue I would go out for a walk and come back feeling better. Maybe I would buy a chocolate bar. Now the doctor tells me to take medicine. I read the label on the bottle and its says the medicine has side effects that could make me very sick. I would have to take other medicine to fix the side effects, and that medicine would have worse side effects. Then I really would feel blue!'' She shook her head disapprovingly.
''And it used to be that when I went to the movies I met famous people, like Clark Gable. Everybody knew Betty Grable had legs and Ann Sheridan had oomph. Or I would turn on the radio and hear Molly Goldberg say, 'I'll see you Tuesday, if I live; if not, Wednesday.' That I could understand. Now I have to go to the store and rent a movie, which I don't know how to put in the tape machine, and in which I don't recognize even one actor. Then I have to rewind it before I return it, or it costs more. This is entertainment?
''But the worst is the computer. I tried to learn to be on the web but there is just too much on the menu and I can never find what I want. Sometimes I can't even find the menu. What was wrong with the library, where everything used to be arranged by the alphabet, which everybody knows? The other day I was looking in the library's computer to try to find a book I wanted, and some 8-year-old kid came over and said, 'Can I help you, lady?' Can you imagine?''
''Maybe you should take a course in computers,'' I suggested.
''I can't remember what I had for lunch today, and you want me to learn computers?'' she said indignantly. ''I've got enough in my head already. And don't tell me to get a tape player. It wouldn't let me listen to my old records, will it? No, I'll stick with my good old machines, as long as there are people who still know how to fix them when they break. After that, you can come and work the new machines for me. Didn't I help you with your toys when you had present shock?:
She had indeed taught me how to work my electric questionnaire, that she had given me when I was 3. I can see that in the near future I will be returning the favor.