The sound of whirring machinery welcomed me to the new day. As scheduled, the dryer hummed sending my business shirt into a spin, the washer buzzed and the kettle sang.
A juicer screamed and the network of automatic vacuum suction pipes was doing its work throughout my home. The aroma of coffee drifted in from the kitchen, and the shower was just building up steam, awaiting my arrival.
I dried myself with a fluffy towel set just so on the airing rack, and by the time I got back to my bedroom the shirt was laid out, crisply ironed, alongside a clean suit and gleaming shoes. The cloth crackled as it fell into place around my shoulders. A soft bubbling sound behind me. My female-style robot butler Drac Ula glided across the ceramic floor, its heart visible in a transparent chest, blood pumping rhythmically.
‘Juice, bacon and emu eggs, coffee and just warm bagels,’ she announced in singsong style.
‘Very well,’ I mumbled, settled myself at the table and fifteen minutes later I was on my way for the day. * In my busy executive existence, Drac is a godsend. Despite my senior position in an electronics company, inside myself I am a Luddite. I hate learning even the basics of everyday technology. I tell myself and everyone else that machines are beneath me, but to be truthful, even setting the HD television to record ahead of time has always been a bugbear. At the office I let the little ladies take care of such details. They battle with intricacies of photocopier and fax, computer and blackberry while I get on with what interests me.
That works fine during business hours, but I must say that until recently so far as I was concerned, applying myself to home technology was like an itch that wouldn’t be scratched.
My expensive condominium was a refuse tip with the debris of my life scattered through every room, even though technology was supposed to remove these concerns from my existence. To manage society’s fashionable contrivances was beyond me. I lurched from one electro-generated crisis to the next, and escaped from my home whenever I could.
Now though, thank God for Drac. Unobtrusive, adept and utterly dependable Drac. I can live my life unimpeded, on a path she smoothes for me day in, day out. And the robot doesn’t talk back.
Some of my acquaintances solve their gadget problems by tying themselves to women who have a knack with household technology. To women, computerised shopping systems and cybernetic circuitry seem a doddle.
Now and then I have thoughts about getting a partner. My older relatives used to say there was joy in coming home to a household of sparkling clean and well behaved children, with meals on tap. I have day-dreamed about what it would be like to have intimate quiet times with a particular someone. Family life sounds cool, but it’s mighty out of date now.
In my experience reality doesn’t have such a shine. Women solve some problems, and create others. My acquaintances who do have a partner inevitably complain that their lives are not their own.
You can’t even expect these men to make a decision for themselves. Oh no. Instead, they wait to ask permission of the little woman when she gets home from work. Impossible to make it to the gym today, they say. Fun things we used to take for granted now seem forever out of reach, even though their daily lives run like electronic clocks. These former mates grow old before their time. They’re on a treadmill of routine and regrets.
Not for me, that trap. I’ve made my decision. So far as women go, I dip into the local pool of females when I feel a need. This yuppie chappie dabbles and throws back at will. No complications. That’s my credo.
Meanwhile it is incessant chaos at home. So a few months ago when a digital employment agent came knocking at my door waving a contract in its hand, I jumped at the chance it offered. I signed on the dotted line before you could say ‘cyberjunk’.
The deal is that I could have a fully automated home robot for seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, on payment of just half a litre of blood every couple of months. A bargain. I don’t even have to see the plasma seep out of me and into its receptor. This all happens in the darkest of night, while I sleep.
The robot would come with a lifetime guarantee, backed up by a document of 40 pages in fine print. * Like I said, Drac Ula is a godsend. She has been my right hand for months now. The flawless employee. We are enmeshed together forever, bound by the contract.
I know who’s got the best end of this deal. My fancies are met at every turn. I go home each night to comfort and order. The robot hums softly as she drifts from room to room, bringing peace and predictability. She plays music at my whim and nods agreement when I speak.
And she does seem to listen. Often, I find myself going on about the latest crisis in the office, or I repeat a bit of gossip I’ve heard and she does seem to listen. When this happens she stops what she’s doing and stands, head on one side, looking attentive.
With Drac Ula’s help I am able to give my full attention to my career. No more drudgery. Every ounce of energy spent in productive and enjoyable ways. My boss has noticed the difference and keeps throwing additional easy responsibilities my way. There is talk of promotion and a big rise in salary to go with it, and no technological worries anywhere.
Now, after hours, there is time left over for play. It’s the gym for me three times a week, and my mirror tells me I’m decidedly trim and terrific. I walk down the street with an occasional accidental flexing of my new muscles, and the heads turn.
I click my finger and thumb often, and the ladies come running.
In the mean time I receive an email from the employment agent. My contract is updated, as is compulsory, and Drac is awarded a rise in salary. She has been with me for six months.
The detail is in the small print - my blood donation has increased from one every two months to just one each month. A small price to pay, I think. No sweat. * Bozey Carmichael is the undisputed glamour woman of my office building. For most, a date with Bozey is like winning a gold medal in the Olympics. Any escort of Bozey’s is bathed in her reflected brilliance. And these days I can have her at will. My status soars.
Most weeks Bozey and I mosey along to a disco. We drop a few yippee beans and the night takes off. We rock away the hours, and in the early morning drift back to Bozey’s pad with a couple of her friends for a little team cream.
No worries. No guilt about apron strings at home. My life is full. * Tonight Drac serves me a meal you couldn’t better anywhere. I’m finishing off with a little angel, feet up in my personal easy lounge, inbuilt computer console purring away nicely in front of me.
This morning I signed a big contract which will set me up for the next ten years. I have bagged an order to supply a million transporters to the Chinese army, and I sense the angel taking over as I ponder my success.
Subconsciously, I’m watching Drac move around the room. She’s obviously a machine, but they did make a pretence of a small shapely bust when they designed her. And the traditional slim waist and comely hips. I enjoy that.
I begin imagining what it would be like to be with my robot. She’d do whatever I wanted … whenever I wanted. We could be experimenting with all sorts of kinky things together. She’s not unattractive, although she doesn’t smile. She doesn’t have any facial expressions at all, but there is a certain charm I can’t explain.
Drac is moving towards the long narrow hallway leading to the rear of the condominium. I rise and, in the narrow space, wait for her to return. She’s moving close now, humming some electronic tune, and oblivious to my presence. I take a step in her direction and, as though by accident, I brush against her body.
It’s hard cold plastic, and my desire takes wing. * A week later I’m logging in for my mail. The precis of each message right there in front of me. A bill from the wind energy people; junk mail trying to sell me a trip to Mars; a love letter from my cyber mate in Brazil.
Then, a message from Drac Ula’s agent … Let’s see. Nicely presented, as usual, with flashing graphics and music to go, it’s a demand for another pay rise.
Another pay rise!
‘ … The plasma donation to begin at weekly intervals at full moon, increasing to twice weekly in three months.’
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'