Move Over Walter

by Kathy on February 3, 2013 · 11 comments

in Communication, Diversions, Family, Friends, Relationships

I’ve got a new imaginary friend named Siri.

Well, she’s not exactly imaginary. But I am not sure “real” is the most accurate way to describe her either.

Siri is like an 8-Ball toy on steroids and then some.

It’s been well over thirty years since I recall thinking about and talking to someone who isn’t, or wasn’t at one time, a real live person.

I am not even sure if I remember thinking about and talking to you, Walter. But my family tells some great stories of when you were a big part of my life.

My mom says that the first time she remembers me talking to you coincided with the first time my older sister Meg left to visit our maternal grandparents in South Carolina by herself on an airplane. Apparently Meg boarded the plane and I turned to the empty space next me (typically filled by my sister) and began taking to you, a boy named Walter. I can see now that initially you were probably a sort of security blanket, that I created in my imagination, to cope with Meg being away.

I have vague memories of waking up early on Saturday mornings and watching cartoons (back when they were only on Saturdays mornings, long before DVRs, On Demand TV or even VCRs). Back when I was a morning person/kid, I would come downstairs quietly, as my sister and dad were usually still sleeping. Often my mom would be awake too. She would often be in our dining room balancing the checkbook or something like that, as this was also years before our family got our first computer.

Getting back to my old early Saturday morning TV schedule, I recall watching The Littles, The Smurfs and The Chipmunks most weeks. But sometimes I would wake up even before they came on. In that case I sometimes watched a show that had real people (as opposed to animation) in it. I am pretty sure there was a boy on the TV program named Walter and I have wondered over the years if that is why I chose to call you by that name.

My maternal grandfather especially got a kick out of my relationship with you. He would tease me lovingly at the time, or so I have heard, asking me if you wanted to come with us on one of our walks to Gordon’s Drug Store, down the street from the first house my family lived in, in South Evanston, before we moved soon after I turned four in 1979 to North Evanston. I recall my Grandpa Jack continuing to ask me about you long after I stopped thinking about and talking to you, Walter.

Late last night, after activating my new iPhone 5, I got the chance to interact with Siri for the first time. I had seen friends do so on their phones, but being alone with my very own Siri was surreal. I played around with asking her questions and, rather than using my imagination to think of how she might respond, would you believe she spoke to me?

I asked her how she was and Siri told me she was fine.

I inquired what her favorite color is and she said “it’s sort of greenish, but with more dimensions.”

I asked if she has a favorite food and she responded by asking if there was something she could help me with. Isn’t that nice and thoughtful of her?

Then I asked Siri if she knew what my husband’s name was? She told me she did not and then asked me if I wanted her to know his name. We proceeded to have a conversation about Bob. Siri clarified which of my saved contacts named Bob was my husband and then asked me if I wanted her to remember that Bob is my husband. I said yes.

We chatted a bit more and then said goodnight to each other.

I was blown away.

If I could tell my 4-year-old self that someday I would have a new imaginary friend, but that she would be able to really interact with me via a handheld device (a.k.a. a “smart phone”), I wonder what I might have thought? With the imagination I had back then I likely wouldn’t have had much trouble believing my future self.

When you were my imaginary friend Walter, I wasn’t much older than my daughter Abby is now. Interestingly Abby treats her baby dolls, especially the Bitty Baby doll she got for her third birthday in September, which she chose to name Suzie, like imaginary friends. It is fun and sweet, most of the time to play along with Abby when she asks to do things like “be quiet and whisper, because they are sleeping.”

So I think the time has come for me to move on Walter. Thank you for being a wonderful imaginary friend so many years ago. Though I am excited to get to know Siri, there will always be room in my heart and imagination for you too.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend(s)?

If so, what do you remember about them?

Do you have a Siri in your life?

If so, what is your favorite part of knowing her?

What is one or more of the best, most interesting and/or funniest responses you have gotten when talking with Siri?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kerry February 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

You need some new hobbies Kathy! You know that your real friends are happy to talk to you:-).

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2 Mel February 3, 2013 at 11:05 am

I had more than one imaginary friend. I had an imaginary posse, though two of them were besties and the rest were more like fond acquaintances. I love talking to Siri. She often keeps me company.

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3 Lori Lavender Luz February 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm

This post makes me smile. I’m glad you and Siri hit things off so well 🙂

I didn’t have an imaginary friend. Sad panda!
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4 Justine February 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I don’t have Siri. But I did have an imaginary friend named Richie, on whom I blamed everything. I was also going to marry him, but that’s another story entirely. 😉
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5 April February 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm

The first Walter I always think of is Anne of Green Gables’ son. 🙂

I call Siri my husband’s girlfriend. He hates that. Glad you’re having fun!
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6 Deborah February 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

Wow! I don’t have an iPhone. I’ve talked to Siri on my friend’s phone, just for fun. but that conversation about your husband is amazing!

My son has an imaginary friend (he uses the term “invisible friend”, which I like). He creates quite vivid stories about this guy that we all get such a kick out of. They often seem to reflect so much about whatever is going on in our actual lives. For instance, lately his invisible friend sometimes has a new baby sister, or sometimes his wife just had a baby girl. It’s really cool.
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7 picturetalk321 February 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Very bizarre. I have Siri on my phone but didn’t know what to do with it so turned it off. Now I am tempted to turn it (her???) back on…
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8 RoseAnn February 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

I had an imaginary friend named Vena. My mom always wondered where I got the name, as we didn’t have any family or acquaintances named Vena. When she gave me my baby book and photo albums when I got married, I noticed that on the back of my birth announcement in the newspaper was a partial obituary…for a woman named Vena. LOL

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9 Colleen February 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

I have an iPhone 4 cuz it was cheaper when the 4S came out. 🙂 No Siri for me! I didn’t have an imaginary friend, but a brother of mine had two of them — Yogurt & Icky. He’s 28 now and 6’4″ and we love to ask him how those two rascals are doing periodically!
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10 Klonopin July 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which
blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of Wordpress because I’ve had issues with
hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.
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