“Check out this butterbeer I found!”
No, wait, that’s not right.
I had been on the verge of hitting the send button on a text to an old friend, complete with a photo of the butterfly from my yard, when I saw what autocorrect had done to my otherwise bland statement.
It certainly made my life seem more interesting, I’ll grant you. But it was decidedly untrue: I was not sitting in the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. I would not be heading back to my job as a charms professor at Hogwarts afterward, because Hogwarts isn’t real and I don’t work there. There were no butterbeers to be had and I could not magic one into existence with my nonexistent wand.
“Phone, why?” I asked, correcting the imaginative change.
Later, it happened again. When my husband was returning from a business trip, he texted to say he was about to board the flight for the last leg of his journey home.
“Text me when you land,” I replied, or I would have done, if my phone hadn’t autocorrected it to “Lannisters,” which is the family name of some characters from Game of Thrones.
“What? ‘Text me when you Lannister?’ Phone, that doesn’t even make sense,” I thought, making the correction before I hit send.
When I started volunteering at the aquarium, I texted my friend Melanie. “Every time I try to text someone about it, my phone wants to auto-complete ‘volunteering’ as ‘Voldemort’. I don’t know what this says about my life choices.” How boring does your life have to be before your phone decides to turn it into a fantasy novel full of magic and dragons and He Who Must Not Be Named? I thought.
“That’s actually pretty funny,” Melanie replied. “What part of the aquarium are you Voldemorting in?”
“Over by the grindylows,” I said, dripping sarcasm.
“When will you and Kristina arrive?” I started to ask Benjamin when the two of them were scheduled to spend the weekend with me, except that “Kristina” auto-corrected to “Kraken”.
“The Kraken is not coming for a visit, phone. The Kraken is 3000 feet beneath the ocean, and Oklahoma is landlocked,” I said. “Nice try, though.”
Sarah, who texts me all the best library stories, concluded her most recent tale with “And the patron said, ‘Ohhhh, nonfiction!’”
“Haha! Love the silly patrons,” I said.
But my phone changed it to “Silmarillion patronus”, because the Harry Potter references weren’t getting the job done, apparently, and we had to drag Tolkien into it as well.
“Seriously, phone? This is a sickness,” I said.
The phone persisted.
“Matt went on a hog hunt this weekend,” I typed, to tell a friend about the loads and loads of pork chops that now resided in my freezer, but instead, no, my phone decided Matt had gone to Hogwarts.
“Fine, but he still has to do his charms homework. I don’t give extra credit,” I said.
When I texted my mother of my plans to spend the weekend “planting rose bushes”, my phone corrected it to “phantom rose bushes.” “Are they invisible roses? Or are these the roses the Phantom of the Opera leaves on all of the posters?” I asked, but my phone shed no light on this inquiry.
“Grandma and I are taking an architeuthis,” which is the latin name for “giant squid”.
“Really, phone?” I said, overwhelmed by curiosity. I checked my contacts, but I don’t know any squids, giant or otherwise. “Where are we taking it? I thought we were taking an ‘art class’, but if the squid wants to go with us…”
Later, when I tried to text my friend Jentry that I was “On my way” to meet her for coffee, I ended up in “Omnia”, which is not only on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld of all places, it’s also on the unfashionable side of the Disc's Circle Sea.
“Phone, we’ve discussed this: My dream Discworld vacation is the beach in Quirm. Even the Omnians don’t like Omnia!”
My phone retaliated by deciding that every word that began with “D” was obviously supposed to be “Discworld,” and (unlike the Discworld) my phone and I went round and round on this issue for three days.
When I texted grandma to say I was so very tired of “winter” my phone decided to send me to “Winterfell,” a place where I would probably die at the hands of George R.R. Martin.
I shrieked, “I take it back, phone! I’d rather go to Omnia!”
“I can’t this weekend,” I texted my boss at the library. “I’ll be at the castle,” because I also work at the renaissance faire, and that was honestly true. But it wasn’t good enough for my phone.
“Phone? For real? ‘I’ll be at the castle’ is the nerdiest thing anyone can ever say with a straight face! ‘Castiel’ from Supernatural has. Nothing. To do. With. The ren faire. Like. At all.”
I texted my niece to “Check out this rainbow!” with a picture of said rainbow.
“Phone! It’s a freaking rainbow! It is not related to Ravenclaw! Or any other Hogwarts house, for that matter! You are SO getting extra charms homework if you keep this up.”
Responding to a funny text with a “hehe” almost became “beheadings” but certainly became shock and bewilderment.
“WTF is wrong with you, phone? Who hurt you?”
Dinosaurs are a safe topic, right? Surely I can text Benjamin about dinosaurs without my phone changing it?
“Dinobots,” said my phone, trumping my nerdiness levels yet again.
“Bull shit,” I said in reply.
My phone changed it to “Bull shark.”
“You can remember my favorite exhibit at the aquarium, and yet every time I type the word ‘aquarium,’ you change it ‘Aquaman’?”
“Your move,” said my phone, or it would have, if it could actually speak.
When I texted my husband with a couple of “questions” about an upcoming vacation (alas, not to Quirm), my phone decided I was going “questing,” like an adventurer out of a storybook, and when I asked Jentry if she was “willing” to lend me a book she’d been telling me about, my phone wanted her to make a “Will Save” because D&D? Like my friend is going to have to roll some twenty-sided dice to see if she's lending me the book?
“I don’t know what to tell you, phone,” I said to it, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. “My life isn’t a magical fairytale. These words just don’t come up in the real world that often! I wish they did, but it’s simply not so!”
A chime indicated a new text. It was from Melanie, saying “Look what’s on sale at Reasors right now!” along with a picture of the grocery store shelves, full of cases and cases of delicious butterbeer. She had as good as said, “Check out this butterbeer I found!”
My phone, for all that it can’t make any expressions, radiated smugness.
I glared at it.
Then I said, “Don’t think for a minute that this is going to get you out of that extra charms homework.”