I am the Center of the Universe (BJ)


benedikt-dlLast night I was playing with my tablet. Not my sleeping pill, but my Android driven flat screen. I had just downloaded a brand new book by Jeffrey Archer, The Sins of the Father, and was in prison in the early 1940s with the hero, Harry Clifton. I craved the sound of music and downloaded a radio station app.

The computer warned me that this might mean a lot of megabytes sent to me from computer heaven. Bytes that would soon be turned into megabucks for my phone company. “What the heck”, I thought. It’s only kronas anyway, and the Icelandic krona is not worth much. So the download was finished and I got an app with one trillion radio stations.

Immediately the app started thinking for me and suggested a bunch of Icelandic stations.

“Why would I want to listen to Icelandic stations on my tablet, you morons”, I exclaimed. “I can turn on my radio for that.” Short pause. “Or I could, if I still had one.” Another pause. “I still do. In the car.” It was good to get that off my chest, and I did not tell “the morons” that in the car I always listen to the BBC.

I was not sure whether I was in the mood for classical music, jazz or rock. I settled on rock and found that the rocks stations are only about one hundred thousand, which made it easy to narrow the choice down to ten.

It turns out that all of the stations specialize in Metallica, not my favorite. I’m not even sure if their noise can be defined as rock.

By putting on the search word Beatles I found the five hundred stations that specialize in the Beatles. I chose one at random.

Soon I noticed that little ads started appearing at the bottom of the screen.

“Thousands of Chinese girls”, the first one said. “Thousands of Chines girls, what?” I thought. Do they want to tell me that thousands of Chinese girls are listening to the Beatles-station now? The computer obviously heard my thoughts and the next ad said: “Chinese girls want to meet you”.

Now this was getting interesting. Why would they want to meet me? Of course the computer knows I am a charming middle aged man (the middle ages last long with charming men), with a great taste in literature. Besides Archer, my computer has the collected works of Mark Twain, Aesop’s Fables, Pride and Prejudice and the introductory chapter to Steve Job’s biography. (Aesop and Jane Austin came with the computer, but don’t tell anyone, I think they make me look like a man of letters.)

Plus it knows I listen to sixties music. That means sophistication in the eyes of Chinese girls. Still, I am too interested in my novel to pay much attention. It is the second volume in the so-called Clifton Chronicles. The first is called: Only Time Will Tell, and the second, the one I am reading now and got the attention of the Chinese girls: The Sins of the Father. I like Archer; he is a good story teller, even though he had to spend some time in jail. He even turned that into books. Harry’s story in jail seems real enough to me, but then again I am not an expert but Archer is.

The Chinese girls gave up. Suddenly a new group appeared at the bottom of my screen: “Christian women want a date with you.” That’s an interesting twist. I was a member of the YMCA until the age of 14. Then I was asked to leave, because I spent more time playing table tennis in the basement than in the meetings, raising my eyes to the hills.

Obviously, I have been forgiven after all these years and some Christian women want to take up discussions about my eternal welfare. That seemed reasonable, but before I could click, the computer had switched to an ad from a vitamin producer.

The computer knows me. Since I am still alive and can remember the Beatles, I am obviously in need of vitamins. I already take half the alphabet. Before it could tell me which of the rest I needed, I fell asleep.

Benedikt Jóhannesson [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.