Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We should barronk to tabo tuesday!!

From the opening of 'A Christmas Carol', by Charles Dickens: "There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate." I feel this is a pretty good format for the opening line of this story. With strategic word replacement, here is how my story is going to begin:

There is no doubt that 'Carpool' is in the dictionary. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

If you are not absolutely riveted by this introduction, you may choose to begin your reading adventure with a special edition "Alternate story beginning", which is pretty much exactly like the intended beginning, but for one important change:

[Special Edition Alternate Story Beginning] There is no doubt that 'Taco' is in the dictionary. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

If you do not believe me, you may see for yourself at dictionary.com that both carpool AND taco are actual words, and if you don't believe the internet either, you may choose to use your analog, flammable, paper dictionary to convince yourself that for once I am not lying to you. However, I am going to hazard a guess that your non-internet dictionary does not include as awesomely succinct of a definition for taco as "Mexican cookery".

Anyway, I find the "T9" predictive text feature on my cell phone to be amazingly handy for all of that intense tex'in that I do, and I am constantly amazed at how accurate it is, even for a lot of common names and places. Overall, I would have to grant "T9" the highly sought-after "pretty much awesome" rating. However, consider the situation in which you wish to enjoy discount tacos for a local sports bar's "Taco Tuesday" promotion, and you wish to consolidate transport among your colleagues to this event. A reasonable text message for this situation might be "Hey we should carpool to taco tuesday!!" Here's where the amazing power of T9 has a chance to save precious seconds to be used on tacos instead of pushing tiny buttons on your cellphone. After all, all of those words, as previously alluded to, ARE in the dictionary.

Eager for tacos, I watch as the magic T9 letters flow and unfold upon my cellphone screen:
Hey x
Hey we
Hey we s
Hey we pg
Hey we sin [who are you to judge, cell phone?]
Hey we shot
Hey we shoul
Hey we should
Hey we should a
Hey we should cc
Hey we should car
Hey we should cars
Hey we should carro
Hey we should carson
Hey we should barronk

At this point, I press the "+" key to advance to the logical next word in the T9 queue; Carpool. I press and press and press, but "barronk" has clenched it's iron fists upon the 2277665 number combination. Where is my "carpool"? Also, what the hell is "barronk"? Alas, my stalwart champion, dictionary.com, can provide no insight into this mysterious, sinister Barronk character, so I desperately turn to the greatest reference source ever devised by man: urbandictionary.com. Never before have I been denied a definition by the finest compilation of real and made-up combinations of letters available to humanity....

Until now.

Completely striking out on Barronk, I glumly resign to splitting "car" and "pool" so as to proceed with my important message. I continue:
Hey we should car pool to t
Hey we should car pool to u2
Hey we should car pool to tab
Hey we should car pool to tabo

Again, I press the "+" key to cycle to "taco", for SURELY taco is part of a dictionary that includes the word "barronk"...

Nope. Tabo it is. Again, dictionary.com lets me down, and I am forced once again to slum around in that wonderful seedy wasteland of urbandictionary.com. Unlike the failure with Barronk, however, urbandictionary comes through with the flying colors I have come to expect. Tabo, naturally, is a man with a small penis, and it even offers a suggestion for usage: "She couldn't even feel anything, he's a total tabo." THANK YOU URBANDICTIONARY!

What is my phone trying to tell me here? Why does it want me to communicate "Hey we should barronk to tabo tuesday!!"? Ordinarily, I would find this amusing and inconsequential, but I find it disturbing based on how common of a message this is. In fact, here is a graph of common text messages by usage patterns:

Clearly, subjecting 18% of it's T9 aided messages to a desperate plea for "tabo" is an indication that my phone has a problem. A sick, sick problem. And I'm still not sure what "barronk" is, but now it seems likely that it is some sort of dirty phone talk.

Anyone know of a good phone psychiatrist who might have some fringe techniques for scaring my phone straight?

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