My paranoid fear of being Doug-less
My life hasn't been the same since I met Doug.
We've only known each other a few months, but we're seldom apart for very long.
If we are, it's usually because one of my daughters will ask "Dad, can I play with Doug?" and I'll reluctantly relinquish his company for a while.
Which is tough, because there are definitely things about him I miss at those times. Sometimes, when things are going off at work and raised voices are making it difficult to concentrate, he plays me music that helps to shut out the distractions.
If I was at home, Graham might do that too, although only if my daughter was around. Doug doesn't need any help in that area, and I think his repertoire's a little wider than Graham's.
If I'm bored, he offers me things to read. We have similar tastes in literature.
Doug is a pretty hot and cold individual, if I'm brutally honest. He loves to be the centre of attention, to be held. But if he's left to his own devices for any length of time, he switches right off.
Not that he's one to hold grudges, though. Sometimes I can ignore him the whole day, leave him sitting in the dark, but as soon as I pick him up in the evening, he lights right up again.
I was tempted to use the cliche about Doug that you need to know which buttons to push with him, but the truth is he doesn't really have any buttons, at least not in the literal sense of the word.
He has a touchscreen.
Doug is a tablet and, even though the aforementioned description might suggest it, not of the mind-altering variety.
He's a tablet computer, not an iPad – that's a particular brand made by Apple, which started the tablet phenomenon.
Doug's from a rival brand. He's only 12.7-centimetres long, not much bigger than a smartphone, but a pretty good size for reading books downloaded via one of those free applications and listening to music. He has plenty of songs, since I started to copy my favourite CDs on to his 16-gigabyte hard drive.
I didn't buy Doug, though. I'm happy to say I didn't steal him either. I got him as part of a special offer when I bought something else late last year.
He has proven to be a real bonus in the transaction. If you've used any form of tablet computer, you'll know what I mean, although his online capability is limited to places that have wi-fi connections. No matter.
The point, though, in case you think I've completely missed it, is that he's called Doug, and what's with that? What bloke gives a computer a name, especially a bloke's name? And who the heck is Graham?
OK, I'll tell you. I didn't name him, not Doug or anything else. It was my daughter, who was with me the day I got the inanimate object humanised above, who decided he – sorry, it – needed a name.
And she chose it.
And it's stuck.
And yes, when I'm talking to members of my family I refer to him – it – as Doug.
Graham? He's my daughter's ukulele. Don't ask where the name comes from. Her friend has one called Stew, although I'm told its full name is Stew D Apples which, if you read it quickly, sounds like ...
So where does this desire to name inanimate objects come from? And is it exclusively a girl thing?
Second answer first – because I have no idea about the first one – I think it might be, based only on my own narrow field of research.
I once gave a friend from university a lift home at the end of a term. Although she had a Mini, she was fresh out of school and her parents were, understandably, concerned about her doing the 1000-kilometre journey in it.
When we pulled up outside her place, the car was standing on blocks, with the wheels removed, in the front yard.
Her first words were: "What has Daddy done to Jessica?" As good a name as any, I suppose.
On our last trip to South Africa, we found ourselves on a game farm in a battered old Land Rover named Daisy, accelerating away from a curious rhinoceros, which had started to trot towards us after we had stopped to check him out from a distance.
I don't think the name made any difference to our ability to outrun him, but I suppose "Go, Daisy!" is easier to yell out than "Go, Land Rover!" at a time like that. It rolls off the tongue a little more easily.
And I suppose, when I'm at home, it's a little easier and quicker to ask, "Does anyone know where Doug is?" than "Has anyone seen my tablet computer?"
But if either of the girls ever ends up having a boyfriend called Doug, we're definitely changing his name.
Although, if it turns out to be serious, I might even consider renaming my tablet.
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