By Michael Robinson Morris
We just got solar panels on our roof. Had the choice of buying it outright at nearly twenty grand, getting involved with a kind of mortgage to eventually own it, or to just lease it until the whole idea tires out and the world ends anyway. Why pay up front now when the streets will run rampant with roving gangs of mercenaries and zombies in a few decades? I know we’re doing a good thing, this whole drinking the sun’s energy gambit. We, like the Joneses up the street, want to coast on the sun’s free nuclear energy. But like water is free everywhere on the planet, buckets are really expensive.
But here’s where the problem arises.
They gave us The Nest. For free. As part of some new technological promotion, Tesla installed their “smart thermostat” right at the L-turn where our two opposing hallways meet. It’s like Alexa or Siri, except The Nest doesn’t soothe my fragile and self-tormenting ego with its at-your-service-my-master female voice. It’s just “The Nest.”
Like Hal 2000, that demon computer from Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” The Nest is watching us.
It’s supposed to be our new friend. Like the Roomba was supposed to be in the 80s. We as a culture are just waiting for that domestic robot to do our damned dishes. The Nest is supposed to “get to know us”––you know––”be our friend,” “learn our habits.” “Be there for us when we need a shoulder to cry on.” Okay, not that one. But generally the purpose here is to make our lives easier. Most household product vendors would just prefer we not do so much of that, you know, thinking thing. They’d rather we do more of that auto-renew buying thing.
But I am a professed technophobe, and when you “invite” a new guest into the house and its name is “The Nest,” it’s just plain creepy.
It’s a new presence in the house and it’s going to be the death of us.
––And this is very difficult for me––
––my wife and I––
––well, we are two very different people.
And The Nest wants to bring us more together, like Amway, to make like the logo and have us hold hands and be united in Love and Capitalism.
The Nest wants to know what our climate control tastes are within the confines of our––prison! did I say that?––happy weather-stripped home.
If you keep this up, “The Nest,” as I so affectionately must call you, you are going to bring this household down. You are going to make us see that, perhaps, we are not compatible.
Did you hear that, kids? Mommy and Daddy may not be compatible.
How do you know, The Nest, whether Mommy and Daddy are even friends at all in the first place?! Maybe we are just business partners, as Jason Bateman insists to Laura Linney in the TV series “Ozark,” Season One.
This would be a laughable sitcom-y premise if icy waters didn’t run deep. My wife likes the interior climate of the house a warm snuggly-socks toasty. I like a temperature that isn’t going to cause me night sweats. It’s all because she grew up in a climate-controlled house. Her dad liked it toasty half the year, probably because he grew up in a Boston tenement. The other half, he liked it cool––with that constant humming of a machine in the rafters.
Go live on an ocean liner if you are comforted by the sound of a life-affirming machine inside your walls and ceiling!
I grew up in a Topanga Canyon house with a mom that espoused the benefits of fresh air in fighting “pre-conception-stage” cancer (?). Keep the house breezy. Even in winter. Tempted to put on the A/C in summer? Sorry, no central air in my childhood home. Crack a window.
In short, my wife and I were brought up in two very different households. And you, “The Nest,” are really not helping the matter. In fact you are sticking a fork in the wounds of our marriage. Right when we were in the middle of this marital pastime started in the 20th century called Compromise.
It’s an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Marital partners plot to kill one another by way of various shadowy corners and schemes. They planted The Nest right in the United Nations area, the “embassy” of our home. It’s a shadowy night. I find myself rounding the hallway corner only to stop in my tracks. There she is. My wife. Her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, making an alteration. It’s a tad chilly, so she turns the heat up. It’s a tad sticky––fwoomph! comes on the A/C machine still living rent-free in our attic.
But 99% of the time, I slink away, pretending “I saw nawssing!” a la Colonel Schulz from Hogan’s Heroes. I merely slink away into the shadows to plan my next move.
But what of the children? What do they think of all this back and forth of the climate in their home? Are we creating future climate schizophrenics? One moment it’s muggy in the living room, the next it’s frosty. One moment you can see your breath, and the next? The machine/troll in the attic is exhaling its heavy breath down our ducts.
Incidentally, every time I write “The Nest” on this clunky keyboard, my asphyxiated ring finger is fighting the urge to tap the “X” located below the “S”––giving us “The Next“––which summarizes my technophobic feelings for new technology encroaching on the peace and tranquility of our household. It’s always the Next! Such-and-such is The Next Big Thing! Never The Now (as I quail back into the shadows with my Zen Buddhist leanings).
So this is where we stand. The Nest is out to get us. And “The Next” chapter will reveal whether our marriage boils or frosts over, and whether our children will either freeze or roast in a tent or an orphanage.
Nice going, The Nest.
About the Author
Michael is a writer/filmmaker with feature films currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. He won grand prize at Eyelands Book Awards this year, and continually seeks to haunt you with disturbing psychological tales of modern life. Find Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram.