Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Love Machine

By now Joo Joo had everything a House-Helper 4K could ever wish for. The new apartment he’d been brought into came complete with a state-of-the-art washer and dryer set, microwave, oven, grill, dishwasher and steam press. And to top it off, he was blessed with one of the messiest slobs of a human he could ever imagine. Not a moment went by when Joo Joo didn’t have something cooking, the washer washing or the dryer drying while he pressed shirts, stitched buttons back onto where they’d come from or swept up the area where the cat’s food spilt all over the linoleum kitchen floor.

For weeks and weeks Joo Joo was so excited about his work. He wanted to work more than anything. He felt like a robot with a purpose, with the greatest purpose any little robot could have. Every time he cleared a plate from the coffee table in the lounge or let the cat out the door he felt as though he was saving a life, saving his owner’s life, from becoming a pile of inexcusable waste. He felt more like a four-foot-tall robot rather than his realistic two feet.

These feelings of pine-sol scented joy soon faded. Joo Joo felt as though there was something missing in his robotic little heart that needed to be there. For a robot, like any other intelligent being, feelings are so often hard to place. He found himself in a state of despair.

After weeks of having become so disheartened about his purpose in life, something new came into Joo Joo’s world. While vacuuming the thick carpet of the lounge his owner came home with a giant box labeled in black and white, with a picture of some marvelous machine on the front of it. Joo Joo offered to take the box and introduce the appliance to the others, but his owner refused and explained to him that the new appliance wasn’t going to be staying here long.

Joo Joo’s excitement faded, fast. ‘Not staying here?’ the thought echoed through his entire metal chamber of a brain. He stood staring at the glossy box for hours; by his calculation it’d been three hours and 25 minutes he’d stared at the box before his owner spilt a giant plate of chicken parmesan onto the thick, ivory carpet.

While staring at the box he learned so much about her—the new appliance. He’d heard about her kind once. She was a “Cappuccino Queen.” He read the instructions on the side of her box about how to turn her on and where to put the beans and milk in order for her to “work her magic.” While cleaning that day all Joo Joo could really think about was getting the new appliance out of her box.

Joo Joo felt a determination to meet this new appliance. It was like nothing he’d ever seen or operated and what he felt from reading descriptions on the box was awe. He would have to open the box some time at night when his owner was out or asleep. Joo Joo planned in his head the entire afternoon. He fantasized about what it would be like to really see her.

The afternoon and evening dragged on as Joo Joo’s desire to meet the beautiful appliance grew into an obsession. He kept his eye on her at all times, zipping in and out of the kitchen from time to time to check that she was still there, sat wrapped up in her glossy, black and white box. For this his work suffered significantly. Luckily for Joo Joo though, his owner wouldn’t notice the spots on the inside of the microwave or the crease in his shirt.

The time came when, finally, his owner left for the evening. The liter and a half of oil in him pumped faster and faster the closer and closer he got to the box of his beloved Cappuccino Queen. He propelled himself on all three wheels right up to the front of her box and carefully steamed the tape seal open with his built in mini-steam cleaner. Faster and faster his oil pumped and his spoon-shaped eyes glowed ever so brightly.

As he lifted the lid he began to see nothing but white Styrofoam. He went through the motions of flipping the lid back and wedging his metal claws between the foam and the cardboard box to pull her out. When he finally uncovered the shiny black and chrome appliance he lost himself in her shape.

‘A perfect rectangle of love,’ he thought. Thick, black, sleek plastic skin and silver, metal buttons, levers and twisty knobs, she captured his heart in a glance. He reassembled the foam and put it back into the box with all the instructions and extra buttons. He placed the beans that she came with into his stomach compartment and stood facing her. She glimmered in the dim lounge light.

He reached his arms around to either side of her wide girth—she seemed about as wide as he was tall, and as short as he was wide, a perfect match for sure. He lifted her with so much easy and twirled her around, the cord dangling behind them like the train of a wedding gown. His claws tingled, he thought, at the touch of her firm plastic frame. If a robot could, Joo Joo would be the first to turn into jelly.

He took her into the linen closet in the big hall and placed her onto the lowest shelf on top of a few freshly washed, fluffy towels and rushed off for the milk from the fridge. He would want to have all her items ready for her the moment he plugged her into the socket and switched her on. His little wheels could barely move him fast enough, he felt.

He took the beans and milk and set them onto the floor. The closet light turned on and the door shut, he carefully took her plug in between his claws and fitted her into the wall. The moment he did she buzzed awake with excitement. Joo Joo jumped, knocking over the bag of beans. After a second she calmed down, but he could not.

He apprehensively reached for the small silver switch labeled POWER and flipped it up. He’d have held his breath if he had any. She came to life immediately, covered in different colored lights and enthusiastically humming at Joo Joo.

He stood staring at her. He had never seen such a remarkably beautiful piece of machinery in his short little robot life. That void he had felt before, that idea he couldn’t put his claw on… she was it. He was in love.

He pulled her bottom drawer open and took out a small cup and a strainer, and set her up like it had said on the side of her box. He put in the beans and without a moment hesitation she started to jiggle around, grinding the beans into a fine powder. Joo Joo became so excited at her motions he nearly blew a circuit in his robot-head. She spit out a serving of powder for Joo Joo to pack into the strainer and then she began to froth and foam; she began to work her magic on Joo Joo.

After the motions of making a cappuccino were complete they sat quietly in the little closet. He stared long and lovingly upon her shiny silver buttons and she let him wipe all her sliver buttons clean with a kitchen towel.

Joo Joo had forgotten about everything else that he was programmed to do. He forgot about the spots in the microwave. He forgot about the washer-dryer set. He forgot about letting the cat out and he forgot about vacuuming between the cushions on the sofa.

Joo Joo’s existence boiled down to the service and adoration of his new friend, Cappuccino Queen. She consumed his every thought and his every motion. He felt as complete as a robot could.

He kept his love hidden in the closet and masked her beautiful smells with Orange-Clean in order to keep her a secret from his owner. He’d thrown out her box hoping that his owner would forget she ever existed, but in fact he didn’t. Joo Joo was questioned by his owner: “Hey, what did you do with that new appliance I brought home the other day?” Joo Joo responded by saying he did not understand, then helped his owner look for the missing appliance in order to ease any suspicions his owner would have had.

His owner ended up buying another, less expensive, cappuccino machine to do whatever it was he would do with it. Ignorant of Joo Joo’s love affair with the sleek cappuccino machine, Joo Joo kept on working diligently for his owner.

No one but Joo Joo and his Cappuccino Queen could ever understand their love, and no one ever would. He kept her happily secure in the closet, their love nest, for the rest of their mechanical lives and they continued, night after night, to make perfect cups of cappuccino together.

PS i know it isn't poetry, but it is about a robot :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's Greg from the undergraduate conference. I loved it! You portrayed JooJoo's humanistic qualities masterfully. My fav. line was "He felt more like a four-foot-tall robot rather than his realistic two feet." Good job, i haven't had time to read the others yet, but when i do ill commment on them as well.