Decoding Emoji

the new apple iOS whiskey emoji. on the rocks.

New EMOJIS! New little images for us to use when words just don’t do it. I wonder if a future society will look back at this batch of Apple emojis and wonder what the hell we were trying to say? Recent phone software updates makes it much easier to emoji-fy, offering a pictogram for words you type, next to where the correct spelling of the word should be.

But back to the emojis. Apple added a cute little fox face (wonder what she says?), bacon (like what took them so long?), a Vespa and two fingers of whiskey in a glass.

I’m not sure if they added any new flags. I’m not so good at flags. I don’t usually use them. They didn’t have a burning American flag, though. I checked. But after my review, I’m wondering about what seems a worrisome subtext. A subtext of worry, if you will.

My uneasiness sensors were piqued as I swiped past dozens of round yellow faces emoting emoji-style emotions. And, in the midst of yellow dots, I saw a creepy clown face. I had to look twice to make sure it didn’t disappear. Seriously, this is the stuff nightmares are made of; a creepy clown assaulting you from within a sea of seeming normalcy. Who decided to add a creepy clown?

I began looking at the new emojis with a more discerning eye. I saw a black heart and a wilted flower. There was a yellow emoji with a black hat. You know, the man with the black hat. Not known as a good guy, AKA the bad guy. Oh, and a shark. A big one. I could hear the strains of the Jaws theme and wondered if I was going to need a bigger boat.

I was unsettled by an erupting volcano and what looked like an asteroid with a flaming orange tail, heading toward our planet, ready to destroy life as we know it. Or maybe it’s an image evoking our new president-elect’s hair. Same result.

There was a disembodied arm (a zombie?!?) taking a selfie and someone throwing up. That combo seemed right. Is Apple trying to manipulate us into being more frightened? More off of our game? What’s their game? Were they infiltrated? Figuring out the meaning in these new images makes me feel like I’m Kremlin-watching. Up for interpretation, but with a big dose of suspicion.

I can’t unsee these disturbing images. There is no going back. So here I am, hit in the head with the reality of the emoji hard knocks life. Can I uninstall the ones that scare me? Or, if that’s not an option, can I at least drink the whiskey?

Coconut Sorbet

A split coconut. That is all.

It was the last, albeit inadvertent, straw. I was walking down the hall—the one with the wood-lite, parquet floor versus the carpeted hall—to get a morning coffee. I think that my short, squat spiral notebook was in my hand. My phone was on top, but surely grasped by at least one finger. Until it jumped.

Like a squirrely, inelegant fish, it leapt from my pond. It somehow gained acceleration as it left my control. Maybe the wind from my gait? Regardless, it breached my hand and clattered to the floor and awkwardly slid, like that odd fish, along the floor. Poor fish. Poor phone.

It had been kinda cracked in a few places before, based on other unwitting tosses. Fissures on the edges, and just along those edges. Not a rupture in the main, and certainly nothing that interrupted function.

This time, it was different.

I picked it up. It had been on the ground many times. At least eighty. Perhaps as many as six-thousand, three-hundred and sixty-two. Somewhere in that range. So imagine my surprise, nay, my shock!, at seeing the sets of intermittent stripes and the faded Kodachrome reflection of what had been my wallpaper of my family affectionally giving me the finger. I swiped, and it seemed to work. I put my notebook and phone on the counter. I got my coffee.

After my minutes with the Keurig and the addition of milk, I retrieved my goods and saw that the phone was worse. Finger swiping had no effect. Pushing down on the screen made it a little brighter, but just a little, and it did not improve the capacitive response. When is the next iPhone release?

I was hoping to get another year from this device and the new ones aren’t due until late September. I need a working phone now. Like literally now. Screen replacement time.

Working downtown in a decently-sized, walking city means you are just scant blocks from a solution. I looked at the clock (not on the phone since that was a disaster) and the google and saw a solution within blocks and within the hour.

I dropped very carefully deposited my phone at the screen repair joint and was promised a fix in forty minutes. Great! I told the nice man, Jeff, who was jonesing for a transfer to this new store, I’d be back after lunch.

I very uncomfortably walked down the street. I would normally open an app on my phone to nudge my brain for food options. Instead I had to go naked. I headed south a block then east. The food trucks had good smelling fried chicken, but you know how I feel about them.

Lightbulb! It’s restaurant week and there is a famous chef restaurant that has a great riff on fried chicken and this was was the summer doldrums that spawned “restaurant week.” Three courses for a sweet prix fixe. I had the time and the price would be right. I was stuck using the DocThink GPS in my head, but fortunately it still worked. The dining room didn’t have a table for me, but there was a spot at the bar.

Somehow, sitting at the blonde wood bar and looking at the special menu, the idea of fried chicken seemed better as an idea. The yellow gazpacho first course seemed to be begging me to have the rare and peppered tuna on some “pepedille.” I know that’s not a word or a food, but the word on the menu was unknown to me. It tasted good, though.

I didn’t chose dessert until after my entree. If there was key lime pie or lemon icebox pie, it would have so been that. Hot lava chocolate goop sounded gross. Something with grapefruit and basil sounded too adventurous. The shortbread cookie thing a bit too pedestrian. So I zeroed in on the coconut sorbet with chocolate and almonds and something I can’t remember.

I’m not generally a coconut fan. Baby Bear, on the other hand, hashtag loves coconut [#lovescoconut]. Maybe I was missing him when I ordered that and a coffee. And I thank you, Baby Bear, because it was good.

As the bartender took away my dessert plate, we both opined on the terrificness, or is that deliciousness?, of the coconut sorbet. He told me that the Boss-Chef ate lunch at the restaurant three or four times each week and always, always, always ordered the coconut sorbet.

He would order one scoop and finish it and always, always, always order a second, which he would also dispatch in it’s entirety. One time, the bartender ordered him a second scoop in anticipation. He was upbraided. The Boss-Chef wanted to order it himself.

We wondered, together, why he ordered first one scoop and then the second. I wondered if it was because he didn’t want to eat melted coconut sorbet? But the bartender didn’t think that was it. It was a pattern, and it was his control over that pattern. Maybe he teased himself to see if he could resist the second scoop? Maybe he wanted to make sure he had the time to finish what was in front of him? Maybe he made up a game that nobody else could play?

I wondered why I would order one, and then the other. I wouldn’t, but it was a decent mental explore. Because the only way I could understand the Boss-Chef was to try and think about what it would mean to me. What are my tics? My sport that only I play for only my known reasons?

He was always challenging his patrons and himself. He said “In cooking, as in love, you always have to try new things to keep it interesting.” I like it when things are interesting. In the kitchen, and in other rooms, too.

He will be missed. Maybe I will go back and order a scoop of coconut sorbet. And then another. For fun.

Peace to you, Michel Richard.  I hope that your gifts are appreciated in this next life as I appreciated them today.