This morning I’m out on my walk and dictating this pome to Siri and simultaneously thinking about how Siri is Iris backwards, which is what the human girl I once knew named Siri used to say back in high school when asshole kids like me would make fun of her name. I imagine it was something that her father had told her to say though it didn’t much help with the teasing. This being long before iPhone Siri. Most kids called her Seer-wee! because that’s how she said it. Siri being a little bit special—though that’s not the word we would’ve used. I will spare you the word we would’ve used mostly because I’m sparing my own conscience for the word we would’ve used. She was my mother’s student helper, my mother being the Family and Consumer ed teacher which was what my mom called Home Ec because she said Home Ec was demeaning and patriarchal. My mother, though now dead, was the nicest, kindest person you’d ever meet. My mother always knowing exactly what Siri was saying and knowing exactly how to talk to Siri without treating her like she was that word I won’t be using here. My mother’s kindness in comparison to my own dickishness only highlighted my own dickishness all the more. Maybe even worse than most kids. Because I knew it was a dickish thing to laugh at Siri but I did it anyway.
It didn’t help that Siri looked a little like one of those sock monkeys, all gangled limbs and these piercing blue eyes, thin pursed lips. It didn’t help that she lived across the street from the school, that she was seemingly always on display and always playing some game on the front lawn that we couldn’t understand. It didn’t help that night after school, the game Siri was playing with her Saint Bernard named Tuffy. Siri down on all fours and barking at Tuffy and roughhousing until Tuffy having gotten so excited his lipstick had come out and he’d started humping her head and a bunch of us were there waiting for football practice and obviously as football players we were mostly dedicated to being complete dicks to everybody. So we were pretty much pissing our pants watching the whole show—me knowing what a dickish thing it was to laugh at but laughing all the same. Me telling myself that my self-awareness somehow made it okay or at least made it seem less dickish. I could’ve gone on with my whole rationalizing all my dickishness bullshit if it hadn’t been for Siri’s brother. Siri’s brother the starting center, something like six-three, two-twenty-five. Siri’s brother who stormed out of the locker room to catch us laughing. Siri’s brother who was in our faces now wanting to know just what was so fucking hilarious about his sister playing with her dog. Caleb and his baby face, his buggy blue eyes and long delicate eyelashes, thin purplish lips. No facial hair, not even a peach fuzz mustache. In other words: a dead ringer for Siri, except a hundred pounds heavier, and four inches taller. His bug eyes scanning the lot of us now standing silent and stone-faced. Those thin lips of his and no beard and baby face. That’s frickin’ hilarious, ain’t it? he said. All of us silent waiting for Caleb to beat the shit out of us. Instead he turns back to yell at his sister who was still playing with the dog. Quit teasing Tuffy, goddamnit, Siri! With that, he shoves back through the crowd of us, grabs his pads and helmet and says Today’s the day, motherfuckers, oh yeah! and runs the whole mile up to the football field while the rest of us stand there and wait for the bus to take us.
And then this morning twenty-five years later, my mom’s dead, which means I haven’t heard anything about what Siri’s up to in a few years, and I’m walking and writing this poem and I ask Apple-Siri :Hey Siri, where does the name Siri come from? And she tells me Siri is just the name they gave me when I got the job. It doesn’t mean any one specific thing, but I like it.
Which is funny but not hilarious and little bit myopic on Siri’s part and not the question I was asking in the first place.
So I say fuck off Siri, and Siri says, I won’t respond to that.
Which I know is a dickish move, even to a computer.
And here I am all these years later still trying to make myself feel better that at least I know it’s a dickish thing to do. Probably there are lots of guys out there who think it’s hilarious to tell Siri to fuck off and they don’t think twice about hurting the feelings of artificial intelligence. Probably even a guy like Caleb Casperson who even has a sister named Siri, which I would argue is even worse than me.
Biography: Drevlow is the managing editor of BULL, a lit mag about toxic masculinity and the author of The Book of Rusty (2022), A Good Ram is Hard to Find (2021), Ina-Baby: A Love Story in Reverse (2021), and Bend with the Knees and Other Love Advice from My Father (2008). You can find these and other works linked at thedrevlow-olsonshow.com or on Twitter and Instagram @thedrevlow.