I grew up at a strange time right before technology exploded when boom boxes with shiny new CD players were where it was at. It was also an age before home computers were common. Few people had them and my father was one of them. He probably had to have one for his work, you see he was working with this strange new thing called The World Wide Web. I was five and that sounded so deliciously mysterious to me. He tried to explain it to me, saying that he worked with computers – computers that talked to each other. Of course having no concept of the Internet I thought the computers were some sort of sentient beings that gossiped to other computers about their owners. I wondered if they’d be critiquing the scrawling doodles I was making in Microsoft Paint or share the story I was
plagiarizing typing in the word program. Now I think about it this is pretty telling of my later social anxieties that instead of making the computers out to be benevolent creatures they were fiercely critical spies… Huh!
But anyways… since I didn’t live with my father I didn’t get to learn the computer much. My mother wouldn’t get a computer until I was ten, or maybe even twelve, – a pass down, as was much of our belongings. We were lucky to have it then, most of my other poor peers did not. The only thing it could really do was type and print what you had typed on long sheets of perforated paper. Ripping the “dots” off the sides of the paper was one of the most satisfying activities ever but it had to be saved for after something was printed, otherwise the paper would be useless. It was a cruel trick.
In these early days of the PC these were fragile machines. Being a kid I crashed them almost every time I had a chance to use them and even completely wiped the hard drive twice. Children have always been the worst virus ever to hit technology but I digress.
Over the years I learned how to use Microsoft Paint. Of course I drew houses like everyone else. It was so easy! Just make a box and a triangle and there you are! A house! A few more boxes and you had a chimney, windows, and a door. The perfect lazy drawing. Only in my teens did I take myself somewhat more seriously but not really… I started drawing comics of Glen the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar. He was the great grandson of the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland… and one of the biggest reasons my bestie at the time would constantly be yelling, “WHHHHY do you have to make everyone think you’re on drugs?!” Glen was fat, rubbery, and made adorable babbling and squealing noises in my head. Recently I considered resurrecting him from the dead only to find Microsoft Paint is no longer being installed on new computers. The horror. The only user-friendly drawing program is dead! RIP Microsoft Paint. I will miss you.