EDITOR'S NOTE: Donna Fielder is on vacation this week and will have numerous photos to show you next week should you make the mistake of showing up in her office. This column is a reader favorite from December 2004. Donna Fielder
"Your virus protection is unknown," my home computer announces when I turn it on. "Please click here to fix this problem."
Why is it my problem if my computer isn't acquainted with its virus protection? Following the orders it gives me for making the introduction seems to work, but the message reappears the next time I fire up the PC.
I'm tired of getting pushed around by a computer. I mean, I bought the thing. It works for me. But all day long, it orders me around like a chain-gang boss and I swing that hammer. Maybe I'll rebel.
What would happen if I didn't "click here" or double-click there? What if I didn't want to disclose whether I knew this sender before I downloaded an attachment?
Would the computer monitor implode? Would all the letters fade off the buttons on my keyboard? Would smoke spiral out of the speakers? Out of my ears?
Would my computer toys rust, my buddy list erase itself and refill with strange monikers like IErotica and HOT4U?
I'll never know. I don't really have the nerve to chance it. Computers have rules that must be followed. Or else. I don't know what the "or else" is and am chicken to find out.
Besides, I'm a good little girl.
From my earliest memory, my parents taught me to obey the rules and not ask questions. I know there must be rules for society to run smoothly. But you know, some of those rules really seem to have no purpose.
The pillows on my bed, for instance, still flutter with tags that read, "Do not remove under penalty of law."
The things flap out the pillowslip openings like unruly nose hairs peeking out an old man's nostrils, and I wonder: Why do I have to leave them attached? What on earth could be their purpose?
Do pillow tag SWAT teams show up with flash bangs and MP5s to do bed checks unannounced, and are the prisons overflowing with pillow tag felons?
Somebody told me the warnings aren't meant for me. They're there when I buy the pillows, so who else could they be for? I'm leaving mine attached, though they sometimes escape the pillowslip and tickle my neck.
I have less patience with the "Tear along the dotted line" rule. I could understand, on utility bills and certain credit card statements, if the dotted lines corresponded with a perforation. Often, they do not.
It's just some bureaucrat's idea of where I should rip the paper, and by the time I get through trying to smooth off the higgledy-piggledy edges, I have a paper cut and a bad attitude.
There were many rules in my mother's house. Don't drink milk when you're eating chili, for instance. Why ever not? I hadn't a clue. But when Mom said don't let me catch you with a chili bowl and a milk mustache, I minded.
I never shaved my legs above the knees back then, either. Why? Mom said not to, and I didn't question authority.
I think of that rule sometimes in this no-bikini-line society and wonder who decided back then that the knee was the point of no return for leg hairs.
I turned on my computer this morning and got the message about its desire to know my computer virus protection and my duty to "click here."
In a fit of rebellion, I typed in a retort.
"Why should I?"
"Because I said so, young lady, and I don't want to hear any of your back talk," came the instant reply.
I sighed, and clicked. You can cut the apron strings, but you can't unplug the coaxial.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.