Saturday, April 04, 2009


I have a friend. Her name is Vicki. She lives inside my Mac. Whenever I finish a draft of a story, she reads it out loud to me in her even, sometimes-monotonous voice. When I try to fool her and type something silly (like ball hair! or Haha) she never falls for it. She just reads with the same little even voice.

Recently, Vicki started reading my emails to me, too, before I send them. She's a good friend. On those long days by myself, sitting at my computer, sometimes she's the only person I talk to. I have to remind myself that she only says the things I tell her to, that we aren't really having a conversation over there in MS Word.

My students are always surprised when I ask them if they read their papers out loud before the submit them to me. "Of course we don't do that!" they look at me, sometimes putting down their Sodokus. But how can a writer not? When Vicki reads my words to me, I hear them just as they are, not just as I thought they were inside my head. Vicki zips through every missed comma and pauses too long at each superfluous em dash. When she says an adjective, I sometimes cringe and realize I used it a sentence above. Then I change it and ask her to read it again.

What do people do without Vicki? How did people live before their computers could talk back to them, gently showing them where they weren't quite stepping up to the plate?

All I know is that Vicki is my most important co-worker. I might start writing her a paycheck, if I can think of a valid last name for her. That would be a tax write-off! (Even reading this out loud, Vicki seems to scold. She just doesn't like humor of any sort. What a pill. Sorry, Vicki.)

I think that I'll invite her to come with me to a rugby game this afternoon. She and I can watch from the sidelines and then, when I'm home all day on Monday, we'll have something real to talk about and I won't feel so isolated up here in my brown office. But then Vicki will read me my to-do list and I'll remember that I can be at work in my underpants (she tells me to put on jeans before I leave the house) and I'll decide that, in the end, Vicki isn't such a bad person to be near for all those long hours.


PeaceLoveMath said...

Vicki is my favorite voice too! I have my iBook set so she tells me the time every hour, on the hour. It scares the crap out of people when I have friends over, especially if they're actually using my computer at the time. And sometimes if I forget to close the computer at night, she wakes me up to tell me "IT'S ONE OH CLOCK."

Jane said...

Katy and Mer, how nice to hear that you both have someone to talk to, someone whom you allow to tell you a thing or two. Wouldn't it be nice if you would listen to your own mothers so intently. Ninny, at least we can dream...

Valtastic said...

i always get a better grade when i read my paper outloud first... yet i don't always due it... it's sheer laziness and just wanting to be done i think... ;)