So, I’m on deadline penning a puff piece about the local choir’s Mozart program and Comcast, my ISP, took a shit on my block, which meant I had to trawl downtown Sonoma for free wifi to file my story via e-mail. The Historic Sonoma Plaza has no fewer than three wifi signals, mostly concentrated around City Hall. “Sonoma Sq. by Americas Freedomlink” was the name of the signal I tapped, which would intermittently swap with a signal called “SonomaWinos Wifi” After making my deadline, the whole business of casually logging onto an “unprotected network” and wantonly trading bits with an anonymous machine – in the park, no less – suddenly seemed like letting my laptop wallow in some order of digital bathhouse. I checked the “wireless connection properties” and looked at my machine’s networking history. That's when I realized that my computer is a slut.
It soothed my nerves some to see network names I recognized, those of cafes I frequent or nodes at friend’s pads: “Summer,” “Alpha60,” “AxisCafe,” “Revolution Café and Art Bar”, “Sonoma County Library.” Others, however, I must have logged onto in some order of deadline driven haze, like last week, when ease of access abated my better discretion.
According to the log, my computer has parsed packets with dozens of networks, their names similar to those usually reserved for street hustlers and carnies. Networks called “Bone,” “Bisbo” and “Moody” have all had sex with my machine. I uncovered a network I vaguely recall from a bookstore café in Flagstaff, Arizona dubbed “Super 8,” another, ominously, “The Water Tower.” Seeing a network nonchalantly named “Rick” made me particularly worrisome. Who or what was Rick and what exactly had transpired between Rick and my computer? I could only imagine.
“Computer, who’s Rick?” My computer, caught off guard, mutters: “Nobody. A friend.” I slyly press the matter: “I’m going to the Plaza later, want to join me?” Computer: “Ah, no, you go alone. I have to defrag my hard-drive.” Me: “I’ll fix it for you later, why don’t you come with me?” Computer: “I don’t know. Go wine tasting.” Me: “No, let’s go to the Plaza. You used to love the Plaza. Are you, like, avoiding it or something?” Computer: “No – I just need some space, alright?” Me: “Why? Do you feel like I’m smothering you? Why are you pushing me away?” Computer: “I’m not, baby. I just need some space. You go to the Plaza, I’m going to work on my resume. And tonight we’ll order in.” Pause. Me: “Okay. I tried to be cool.” Computer: “What are you talking about?” Me: “I’m not stupid, I know what’s going on.” Computer: “What?” Me: “Who the fuck is Rick?” Computer: “Argh. I told you I don’t know!” Me: “You’re lying! You said Rick was a ‘friend!’ What kind of friend?” Computer: “Just, you know, a network.” Me: “In the Plaza?” Computer: “I don’t know where.” Me: “Did you – did you log on?” Pause. Me: “Well?” Computer: “I don’t know.” Me: “You don’t know?” Computer: “Maybe.” Me: “You did it again.” Computer: “It doesn’t matter.” Me: “Yes it fucking matters! Was it unprotected? Tell me it wasn’t unprotected. Well?” Computer: “It was only for like a minute.” Me: “You’re such a slut!” Computer: “It was your idea!” Me: “That’s not what I meant, I just said we should talk about trying other networks. Just talk!” Computer: “Well…” Me: “Well? Did you like it?” Computer: “I don’t know, sure, kind of. What do you want for dinner?” Me: “Thai. Was it better, you know, than, you know…” Pause. Me: “Well was it? I just want to know.” Computer: “No, you don’t.” Me: “Oh, god.” Computer: “It was just – different.” Me: “You are such a slut.” Computer: “Fuck you.” Me: “Hey! Where are you going? Computer!” Pause. “Say ‘hi’ to Rick.”