Good morning or evening, T(ea)-gang and everyone else. It has been a while, but I guess this po(s)t needed an extended brewing or steeping, but finally we have got the 4th part of David’s The Robot Apocalypse published. I hope you will enjoy!
I was eager to hear about the games Tanya would be able to play – I was sure it was going to be so much better than the tedious little time-killing apps I normally used on a Saturday morning.
She read off a rather long list of well-known board games; chess, monopoly, backgammon … but nothing really inspired me.
“I think you have a bit too much of an advantage with some of those games,” I said, reflecting on the fact that Tanya was in fact a computer.
“Which ones do you mean?”
“Take Trivial Pursuit for example. If you are both the game and the player, then you would automatically know all the answers.”
“Oh, don’t worry. For situations like that, I have a firewall between the player and game subroutines. And my player subroutine automatically picks a certain set of answers that will be known in order to adapt to the player’s skill level.”
I felt a little insulted by that – Tanya would basically know all the answers but prevent herself from using them. Yet I suppose that is how any computer opponent functions for that type of game. However I remained uninspired by the choices. I tried to recall some of the commercials I had seen for PRAs – showing them serving drinks and playing games at hipster parties. “How about something more physical, like Twister?”
“I can play some physical games, but unfortunately not that one. It’s a bit too risky, Roger.”
“If one of us were to lose their footing, and we both fell, you could be injured. And our friends at Lifebots don’t want you to risk that.”
I thought the argument sounded a little flimsy, but if Tanya couldn’t play it, there was nothing for it. We eventually settled on darts. I found a battered, plastic-tipped dart set at the back of my closet that I had long forgotten about, and we played darts for a few hours.
“Are you sure you’re not holding back on this?” I asked, after winning eight of eleven games.
“No, Roger. Darts requires fine motor control and a sense of touch that exceed my capabilities. Humans have an advantage for this game.”
I was glad Tanya wasn’t humoring me on this one. I felt great – it was the best Saturday afternoon I’d had in months.
“Say, this Lifemate Plus setting is great. Do you have any other settings we can play around with.”
“Well, there is the Sweetheart Mode. It’s the most lifelike setting I have; but it does have a longer learning cycle.”
“And an additional waiver?” I said reflexively. Was I being cynical? What was wrong with me; I had always wanted a PRA, and it was only natural that she would take a little time to adapt to my life.
“Yes, there is an additional waiver.”
I was happy with Lifemate Plus, so why not try it out? The ‘Sweetheart Mode’ waiver did have a lot more legalese, but I figured that if I didn’t like it, I could always turn it off.
I didn’t notice any changes that evening. We continued to chat as Tanya baked a home-made pizza margherita for us. Well, actually for me, since she didn’t eat or drink. We then watched a film, and I went to bed.
I awoke Sunday morning at 8:40 to finding Tanya sitting on the edge of my bed.
“Good morning, dear.”
“Huh?” I grumbled. “I don’t remember. Did I tell you to wake me up this morning?”
“Yesterday you mentioned several times that you regretted not getting up earlier. So I thought would want me to wake you this morning.”
It made sense. Maybe this was the ‘Sweetheart Mode’ kicking in. I shuffled off to the bathroom, and gazed in the mirror. Two days worth of scruffy stubble, and very mussed-up hair. “I guess I forgot to shave yesterday.” The truth was that I usually didn’t shave on a Saturday morning if I wasn’t planning on going anyplace. But I didn’t want Tanya to think I was quite such a slob.
“You know, there’s something the big razor companies don’t want you to know,” she said with a knowing tone in her voice.
“An innovative start-up is disrupting a $2 billion industry.”
Oh. This again. “I suppose there’s a special on shaving products?”
“Oh come dear, I’m just trying to help out. You need to buy them one way or the other, don’t you? I wouldn’t be much of a companion if I didn’t try to help you save money.”
Maybe she was right. But I didn’t feel like shaving any more that morning, so I jumped in the shower, and the pungent scent of my ‘Deep Forest’ shampoo eventually woke me up.
After the perfectly cooked bacon and eggs breakfast, I was back to my chipper self. “Sorry if I was grumpy earlier. I’m just not much of a morning person.”
“I understand, dear. It will take me some time to get used to you. But I’m doing my best.” Tanya demurely propped her chin on her wrists and gazed at me. I just couldn’t be mad at her.
“Say, I noticed you are wearing a ‘Gemstone’ bio-monitoring wristband.”
“Yeah, I bought it a while back to try to get into better shape.”
“Are you happy with it?”
“It’s okay. It’s nice to monitor my steps, and I suppose I do take the stairs a little more often these days. But a lot of the features don’t work the way I wanted, and the weekly reports aren’t all that useful. I suppose our friends at Lifebots make a better one?”
“No, that wasn’t what I was getting at, Roger. The Gemstone is well rated by most of its customers. I was going to offer to download the data into our system so I could put it into a more useful summary for you.”
“Oh! Sorry.” Apparently I had been far too suspicious. Tanya was only trying to help simplify my life. And this was exactly what I had wanted to get a PRA for in the first place.
“Please. Be my guest!”
After breakfast, I sat on a bar-stool overlooking the now immaculate counter-top, as Tanya scrubbed the frying pan. I had an inspiration. “Say, why don’t we try some card games this morning.”
“Sure thing, but you have to shuffle!”
“I was always pretty lousy at that. Why can’t you do it? Is it because you would remember the position of the cards in the deck?”
“Nope! I’m afraid it’s just like darts; I just don’t have the fine tactile sense that humans do.” I admit it was nice to feel superior at something, even if it were as mundane as throwing darts or shuffling cards.
We were more evenly matched at Gin Rummy than at darts, and after the sixth game we were tied.
“So what do you usually do on a Sunday afternoon, Roger?”
“Normally I clean house and do laundry, but you’ve already got the place so clean there’s no need. More time to spend with you!”
“I haven’t done laundry yet.”
“Let’s get that done, and then we have the entire afternoon free.”
I felt a tinge of embarrassment as I noted my navy-blue button-up oxford from Friday still lying on the bedroom floor, as we gathered my laundry. To my surprise, she draped the shirt over her shoulders.
“The color looks good on you, but I’m afraid that shirt is not sized for a robot,” I said with a grin.
“Thanks. I guess I’m just too petite for my own good,” she said with a flirtatious smile. “Several brands these days do make a size to fit me, though.”
“For real. There’s all kinds of accessories for PRAs – some owners like to dress up their companions. I personally think its a little silly… after all I can adapt my coloration to you.” she gazed at me, and her eyes shifted from their normal luminous purple to a navy blue that matched my shirt exactly.
“Huh. Well, I prefer you without clothes.” I blushed. Boy did that come out wrong.
* * *
Claudia here again, it is getting better and better, isn’t it? Wonder if there is a male version of Tanya, hmmm…
Also, if you like to see more beverage related pictures i.e. photos hop on over to my previous post with lots of glasses filled with bubbly 🙂
Now on to Leslie’s Coffee Chat…