Because for a few horrifying seconds, that seemed to be a distinct possibility.
For a few horrific seconds, the blood basically drained from my body. As I raced from the living room through the darkened kitchen and toward the unlit hallway that led to our bedrooms, the ominous thought that raced through my head had something to do with this moment being one that we’d refer back to many years from now, as the moment that things unexpectedly started to turn sour for us in our family. The night the downward spiral began…
As I sprinted toward the voice, it grew freakishly loud. I couldn’t quite make out the words, but it was in make-no-mistake-about-it, matter-of-fact mode. This no-nonsense woman was all business.
As I arrived at the hallway and pushed off a wall with my hands to make sure I didn’t bump the mirror perched somewhere in the darkness, my ears were able to attain a more accurate grasp of the bellowing voice, and I realized that our family was not somehow teetering at the edge of the abyss.
It was Siri, and our son, God bless him, had given her an Australian accent just like his dad had given his Siri on his phone and in his pickup.
“TURN RIGHT ONTO UNIVERSITY AVENUE AND PROCEED EAST…” she directed at maximum volume like Nicole Kidman in her glorious prime when I burst through our oldest son’s bedroom door and saw the little light on his dresser where his amazing Christmas gift, an Ultimate Ears wireless speaker, was perched. With no real strategy in mind, I started poking my finger on the top of the speaker, right next to the little light. With the third stab of my index finger, the light went out and Siri’s navigational guidance was silenced. Quiet filled the house once again.
But, then, I was vexed again. No more horror, just the uneasiness that comes with the unknown, especially a lack of knowledge coupled with the fact that it was around 11:30 and our oldest kid, who’d been in this room a few minutes ago, was now absent. I peeled open his curtains a bit to see if his vehicle was still parked out front, and it was, but it was idling, the lights were on, and his silhouette was evident behind the wheel. He was looking down, and I could see his lit-up phone screen in his hands.
Soon, he drove up the hill. Sitting on the couch minutes later, too wired to return swiftly to a peaceful slumber, I texted our college freshman home for spring break a message that conveyed what had transpired in the blackness and quiet of our house: I’d just shut off his speaker in his bedroom, I tapped away on my phone screen, after racing across the house when it started blaring at max volume GPS directions.
He felt terrible.
Turns out, I learned from him the next day, he’d been prompting a particular music playlist before driving away from our house, and had accidentally and unknowingly activated his navigation app. At that second, Siri started blaring her directions via Bluetooth from his speaker in his bedroom. Neither of us could believe that his mom and his younger brother hadn’t budged from their sleep. He was thankful they hadn’t.
I didn’t request detailed information about where he was heading at that time of night, nor did I press him for an exact time that he got home. Instead, we just laughed about his phone app-related blunder, and how incredibly loud that speaker gets. (Yes, I bought it for him after much research, and I’m so proud of my purchase.)
Still, was I ever petrified for a bit there...
You see, my wife and I had been sick. First me, and I ended up on a lot of prescribed meds because for too long I refused to see a doctor. Then my wife caught it. Only days from embarking on a trip abroad for work, she took a direct hit. But when she went to the clinic, the doctor said it was mostly due to her spring allergies in overdrive. He prescribed her some stuff, in addition to a massive steroid shot.
But as she tried to get to sleep without success that night, her cough was excruciating even for a bystander to listen to. She walked zombie-like into the kitchen to take something. Around 90 minutes later, she was back in the kitchen, taking something else. I was on the couch in the living room, figuring I’d give her some space to be miserable.
I was mostly asleep when that voice blasted out an hour or so later. As I raced toward it, I was convinced that my wife, sleep-deprived and over-medicated, or, far worse, mentally unhinged, was coming down the hall and yelling things that were largely indecipherable but yet no less malevolent and even threatening in nature. Best case, I was going to have to confront her and try to jostle her back to reality. At worst, she was like a demon-possessed character right out of “The Conjuring” or one of the “Paranormal Activity” movies, and she was going to use her Lucifer-strength to effortlessly toss me across the room and then start feasting on my lifeless body.
But it was just Siri.
The next day, we laughed, hard, about the events of the previous night, and talked about changing times and our life in transition. Here we are, with a son in college, who’s home on break and we don’t even bother to confront him much less interrogate him when he goes out at night in shifts, earlier in the evening with some friends, then very late at night with some other friends.
“Can you believe where we’re at?” my wife said.
I actually could, I told her. Then I said something profound about change being inevitable and that we’re in a good place.
And, I was quick to add, that speaker I bought is incredible.