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Tim Tomlinson – Teaching My Mother to Zoom

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Tim Tomlinson

Teaching My Mother to Zoom


Why would I want to video? I don’t want to video. Because I don’t, that’s why. I don’t want anybody looking at me in the morning. Or in the afternoon, too, smartass. I haven’t had my hair done in months. And don’t give me that bs it probably looks better—how could it look better? I just said, I haven’t had it done.


Click? What do you mean click? Then say tap you mean tap, what do I know from click? All these terms. Click, press, tap. Just say tap. I tapped. I just did. What I have to tap again? I thought you said this was gonna be easy. Listen, I need you to understand something. This isn’t easy for people my age.


People my age—ninety years old, which is what I am—they want to put us in a box in the corner somewhere. In the corner. But we’re not in a box. I’m not in a box. Don’t tell me I’m in a box. What do you know? You’re the one in a box. What do you do outside that box down there in your corner? I haven’t seen you in years. All right, months. Who’s counting? It’s a feeling. Aren’t you the one said a feeling can’t be wrong?


I get on this thing you’re gonna start with the questions. All that you’re-not-wearing-your- Life-Alert bullshit and I don’t want to hear it. I’m not saying it’s not important. It’s important, OK, I’m not disagreeing with you. Just don’t start is all I’m saying. I’m just saying don’t start. I’m your mother. There’s a lot you don’t know about me. I could write a book all you don’t know.


Wait—that’s you? That’s really you? That can’t be you. How can that be you? There must be something wrong with this thing. When did you get so old? But you can’t see me, right? What, you can see me? I told you I don’t want anyone looking at me. Yes I’m wearing the Life Alert. What camera? How do I get out of this thing? How do I


I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hang up. Or click off, tap off, whatever. I must have pressed the wrong— Right. Well, I’m sorry. People my age, it’s not easy. You want to put us in a box. Not you you but you know what I mean. I’m having one of them what do you call it. I haven’t even had my coffee. OK? All right? So you’ll zoom me later? Later today, yes, come on, today. OK. What time?


Tim Tomlinson is the author of Requiem for the Tree Fort I Set on Fire (poetry) and This Is Not Happening to You (short fiction). Recent work appears in Joao Roque Literary Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, and Surviving Suicide: A Collection of Poems That May Save a Life (Nirala Press). He’s a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and a professor in NYU’s Global Liberal Studies. Visit Tim at




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