Penelope

“Maybe iPhones have feelings, too,”
I replied, in a last-ditch effort
to plead my case, my lost

cause, my losing battle not
worth fighting, my stubborn
resistance to those who, like

you, self-righteously insist that
persons should talk to other
persons when in their presence.

“But let’s suppose they did,” I
continued. “I could put mine down
on this restaurant table and fix

my eyes and my desires squarely
on you instead, but Penelope—
let’s call her Penelope, provisionally—

could, through her one ear located
on the bottom of her long face,
still hear us arguing about my

priorities and begin to despise you
for wedging your way between us.
She would still take in at least the

ceiling and perhaps the occasional
especially demonstrative gesture
from one of her highly-evolved eyes,

either the one perched atop her radiant
face or—let’s not forget—the dominant
one peering through her helmet

on the back of her head. When
the bill arrives and it’s time to
calculate the tip, you can do

the math, I will presume, and she and I
will watch and listen as we drum
our digits on the table with justified,

spiteful impatience. And when it is that
time in the midst of our riveting conversation
to turn our attention to Ohio Sports

teams, I’m looking forward to hearing
your incisive analysis of the Cavs’
offseason trades and whether you

think the Tribe has the right elements
and chemistry to win it all this year. But
we both know that Penelope here is

the Michael Jordan of baseball conversation
and you’re more like our eldest son
insisting on the contemporary relevance

of castle sieges and pressing your case
that Minecraft counts as a STEM activity,
both of which are fine topics for conversation

for fine people, of course, given the proper
time and place. And I think we’d both agree
that this fancy restaurant on this, the

occasion of our fourteenth anniversary, is
by any estimation, neither the time
nor the place.

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