The wife had called a few hours earlier from the grocery store and asked, “What do you want for dinner? You can have anything you want.”
“Anything?” I said.
I told her about my fajitas and ice cream sandwich idea. She asked if I wanted any side dishes.
“Churros,” I said.
“Churros?” she asked.
“And caramel corn.”
I parked the car in the driveway and practically skipped my way through the front door.
“Honey!” I shouted. “I’m home.”
The aroma of sizzling fajitas and baked churros was conspicuously absent, and there the wife sat at the kitchen table furiously tapping on her laptop computer.
The wife cut me off before I could ask.
“No time!” she barked, “Cornficker!”
Now over our six-year marriage, I’ve been called many things (and on several occasions I deserved it, like the time I washed all of my golf clubs in the kitchen sink with the dish scrubber) but “Cornficker” was a new one.
“No, you imbecile,” she said lovingly. “Cornficker is that Internet virus and it’s supposed to start attacking computers in six hours!”
The wife has always been more concerned about viruses, whether it’s the virtual kind or the kind you might get from eating a Frito that’s been sitting underneath a couch, any couch.
But even I had heard about Cornficker. How could I not? It was the lead story on every newscast and talk show during the world’s slowest news week.
Apparently, this Cornficker was a super-smart Internet virus infecting all of the world’s PCs, and on April 1 it was going to rise up, transform into a giant metallic panther and become the leader of the Decepticons (or something).
In anticipation of this technical Armageddon, the wife had been frantically trying to install some antivirus software she bought online. And at $39.95 a year, I wondered if Cornficker wasn’t just a cyber-boogeyman concocted by the antivirus software industry.
Forty bucks seemed like a small price to pay for my wife’s continued sanity, plus I was on board with practically anything that got us moving closer to fajitas and ice cream which, incidentally, wouldn’t be a bad name for a ’70s-era crime drama about a street-smart Hispanic cop and his straight-laced white partner: “Catch an all-new ‘Fajitas & Ice Cream,’ right after another terrifyingly irresponsible report about that hurtling virus of death, Cornficker!”
The wife started dinner while I dialed a phone number posted on the antivirus company’s Web site for technical support. Forty-eight rings later, an Indian-sounding gentleman answered from what sounded like the bottom of a well and introduced himself as “Brad.”
Now I realize that calling technical support is an unspoken agreement we make with our cable, phone, computer, Internet, gas, electricity and credit card companies where neither party acknowledges that we’re talking to a call center 10 gajillion miles away (I rounded up).
But can we please drop the charade of the Indian operators with the fake American-sounding names? Either every person in India is named after a character from the Sweet Valley High book series, or perchance that thick-accented gentleman who I could only understand about 33 percent of the time, maybe his name wasn’t Brad or Trevor or Brandon or Lance or Kip or Cory or Barry or Brett or even Colin.
But Brad seemed helpful enough, so I played along. I didn’t even know it was possible, but with a few button clicks and my permission, Brad was able to take control of my wife’s computer and move the mouse around to download and install the antivirus software. (And even though Brad was in India, I felt compelled to inform him that the desktop wallpaper of a fuzzy kitten he was seeing on the computer didn’t belong to me.)
After 70 minutes and several lengthy reboots, Brad finally got the antivirus software working correctly, in plenty of time to defeat the evil Cornficker (which turned out to be as toothless as that Y2K bug), just not in time to save me from a disappointing dinner of fajitas (that were as warm as the ice cream sandwiches).
Contact Jeff Gird at firstname.lastname@example.org