Or, How I Learned to Silence my Inner Robot


By Gregory Purvis


November 9, 2008


Once in a while one of the five people who read my blog will ask,

“What’s with the name ‘Evil Robots’?

I always give them a different answer…meaning, there are at least five answers to that query.

I shall provide another ‘Official Answer’ here…

‘Evil Robots’ comes from several sources, some serious, some whimsical. All silly.

Yes, some of you may remember an old skit from ‘Saturday Night Live’…one of those fake commercials they do so well.

But it would be a mistake to give Lorne Michaels and his revolving crew too much credit here.

There are deeper meanings.

It’s just that I can’t think of any of them at the moment.

Because I’m pissed off. In the American sense of the word. To my friends across the pond, ‘pissed’ refers to a state of inebriation—ironic, since if I was drunk, I’d most likely be able to come up with some serious-sounding reason why I named this blog ‘Evil Robots’ and maybe I’d also have some sense of social responsibility come over me, and I wouldn’t continue this any further. Because they say God protects fools and drunks.

You see, in many ways, I think robots have it easy. Their belief systems (such as they are) and their socialization skills are supplied by some unseen, unknown entity. Unlike us, robots (especially robots of the evil variety) can truthfully offer the excuse that their actions may be blamed wholly on the programming skills of their maker. It’s the ultimate ‘The devil made me do it’ excuse, the great Get out Of Jail Free card.

Robots are products of their programming, without any real free will of their own. And evil robots (if there could even be such a thing) are even better. They can literally get away with anything, doing the devil’s work and leaving the faults to fall where they may.

Now, some people might say that we are like robots ourselves—that we are simply acting from the programming of our heredity and environment, mixed up in some insane concoction that most likely will never be revealed to us.

Except that this is, of course, utter nonsense. You can beat your child all day, every day, and force the most heinous abuses down his or her throats until they finally run away or stick you full of holes one night while you are sleeping. But this does not mean that the child you’ve so thoroughly botched will grow up to be a Ted Bundy, a John Wayne Gacy or a Myra Hindley.

Robots, however, don’t have to be brutalized to be bad guys.

A simple bit of BASIC will likely do the trick:

            100 REM Evil robot program

      110 rem © 2008 by evil genius

      120 call clear

      130 print’’>I am an evil robot!<

140 print  >enter correct code or I will eat you!<a$

150 input A$

160 call clear

170 if a$ = >666< then goto 200 or goto 600

200 print >hello master. Shall I kill, rape, or start a                 religion?<B$

210 input b$

220 call clear

230 if b$ = >kill< then goto 300 or goto 240

240 if b$ = >rape< then goto 400 or goto 250

250 if b$ = >start a religion< then goto 500 or goto 260

260 goto 200

300 print >by your command!<

310 run subrtn “kill$

400 print >by your command!<

410 run subrtn  rape$

500 call clear

510 print >the devil made me do it!<

520 goto 510

600 call clear

610 print >my you look tasty!<

620 print >yum! Yum! Yum!<

630 run subrtn monstrousappetite$

Even if you had better things to do when you were 13 than play with a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A home computer, I think you get the gist of things. Humans don’t have such simplistic designs for their ‘programming’. Even a single choice can have—literally—millions of possible options and outcomes. Even for an uber-geek like Bill Gates, the code for ‘what shall I eat for lunch today?’ could take a lifetime to implement…when you consider that an unappetizing but still plausible answer to this question might turn out to be: ‘a 9-piece Chicken McNuggets Value Meal with a Diet Sprite’, a slightly odd (but probably healthier) ‘ketchup sandwich and a cup of curdled goat milk’, or as off-the-deep-end-of-the-fruitcake-pool as ‘filet of my neighbor’s cat, a bag of fried maggots with a Ranch dipping sauce, a side of fresh lawn clippings, and my mother’s left ear. Oh, and a Diet Sprite’.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that some people could use a bit of programming in their lives.

Take for example the mother of two standing in front of me at the 10-Items-And-Under check-out line at my friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart in Fort Payne, Alabama.

This woman should thank her lucky stars that MY programming (or lack thereof, depending on your view) is currently doing a passable job of preventing me from going postal and doing what she ought to be doing: shutting her precious little Aidan the hell up.


My God, people. Where do you come up with these names? What is he, a soap opera star?

No. He’s a 3 year old with Aryan blonde hair, a permanent pout and the MOST aggravating voice I have ever heard. I would, quite honestly, prefer to listen to rusty iron nails being dragged across a blackboard while suffering from an ice-cream headache and a good, swift kick in the balls than put up with another ten seconds of Aidan’s ear-piercing whine.

And even though I am only being truthful here, there are now two or three people who consider me little better than the trifecta of evil serial killers mentioned above.

Most likely, 90 percent of those people who are horrified at my Aidan-bashing are women.

And that may very well be because they are reacting to programming of their own.

Or I’m just a mean-spirited asshole.

If they ARE reacting to their own complex biochemical and hormonal programming, then at least it’s come by honestly. Because if you are going to hate me for Aidan-bashing, please make sure it’s not just because you have a momma’s little bunny-wumpkins of your own screaming at a stranger right this very minute yourself…while you, dear lady or gent, look on in stupid, bovine disregard.

You see, I understand the need to procreate. It is a powerful force, engraved on our genetic template with a diamond-hard stylus. We cannot hope to defeat this programming. It is, after all, the very thing that keeps us soldiering on, working for the man, paying our taxes, and spending money at Wal-Mart.

Fine. I get it.

But can’t you please tell Aidan to shut up?

This kid is three years old, I would guess. He has the kind of look that grandmother’s dream about: curly, white-blonde hair, bright blue eyes, the flawless white babyskin that made Oil of Olay a household word.

He’s dressed in those cute wittle Osh-Kosh (b’Gosh) overall’s name-brand tennis shoes and a Ralph Lauren for Kids t-shirt—all of which will be too small for him in about six hours. Suddenly, in a cloud of psychic power, I can clearly see Aidan’s future, laid out in the Lego brick stars of astrology:

He will grow up, used to getting his way by using the power of his whine to wear down the spirit of his mother. This woman (with the apparently ubiquitous hair-do my brother refers to as ‘the Alabama MILF shag’) may or may not be completely responsible for Aidan’s behavior; it’s simply too difficult to tell by standing in a Wal-Mart check-out line. 

Regardless, little Aidan will be well-used to having his every fault excused because of his Aryan Angel looks. By the time he hits high school, scores of girls will be afflicted with eating disorders in a vain attempt to divert some of his attention away from playing with other handsome, sweaty young lads that are used to showering together. ‘No’ will be an unknown word to Aidan. Soon after his heroics on the football field and in the backseat of his 2020 Ford Mustang become well-documented by the local paper (a paper, I should add, whose publisher once told me that covering high school sports was the only time during the year we ‘are a real newspaper’…a statement that angers me to this day), young Aidan will marry a Dakota or a Courtney (or maybe an Amber). Soon, he will be avoiding child-support payments and helping to (not) raise up the next generation of wunderkinds ready to beat Plainview and go all the way to State. Oh, and shop at Wal-Mart. Wouldn’t want to leave them out.

I was literally shivering as I came out of my trance. His mother—with far more than 10 items—stood, staring off into space. Perhaps she was thinking about little Aidan growing up, too. Whatever the truth, she isn’t telling the little monster to shut his pie-hole.

Now, I’m going to admit something here that I should probably not.

But exercising self-restraint when it comes to my Big Mouth has never been one of my strengths, as you can probably tell.

Sometimes I scare little kids in Wal-Mart.

Just last month, a young Mexican family was browsing through the DVD’s, being followed by Wal-Mart security (great job of being obvious, guys). The two youngest children began playing with the Xbox 360 system display unit. The parents finished their browsing (or got sick of the constant ‘restocking’ going on in whatever aisle they happened to be on), but instead of gathering up their bambinos and moving on, they leave the toddler and a five-year old to the capable ministrations of an eight-year old little girl and her 10-year old brother. Who, naturally, have much more important things to do than keep the little kids out of trouble.

So the smallest kid, apparently enraged that he wasn’t getting any ‘Medal of Honor’ time, begins screaming at the top of his very-capable lungs. And I DO mean SCREAMING.

Somehow, the Wal-Mart ‘restockers’ had all finished their work at the exact instant the adults decide to move on, and everyone else had amazingly disappeared or was instantly struck deaf to the SCREAMS of this kid.

I stare at one of the older kids until they notice me, and then look pointedly at their little brother.

The 10-year old had the grace and humility to tell the kid to shut up, then he, too, leaves. I couldn’t believe this.

The screamer, getting no response whatsoever from his 5-year old sister, begins to vary the pitch and volume of his screaming. The kid now sounds like a pair of mutant toads being slowly hammered to death. The sound is piercing, electric, and inescapable.

I think about slapping the kid across the face and telling him to shut up RIGHTNOWGODDAMMIT!!

But, of course, ‘he’s only a wittle ba-a-y-y-b-b-y!’

Yeah, whatever.

Still, I realize if I do what my instincts (my PROGRAMMING) is telling me to do, I will be the guy everybody is pointing at while the Fort Payne police drag me away, screaming (no doubt) just as loud as the kid…who will of course, by this point, have shut up.

So I walk slowly over to the kid and stand very close to him. I’m careful not to physically touch the kid, or even to look directly at him. I’m hoping the presence of an adult will shut him down.

Yeah, right.

In my youth, adults (ANY adults) could and would shut you down if you got out of control. And my parents would have thanked them, and then given me a humiliating spanking. No one would have thought anything about it.

But if I try this, I know, someone will be calling Child Protective Services—and the police—before I can get the ‘—up!’ half of ‘Shut-up!’ past my lips.

The kid increases his volume. I am now unsure of whether he is actually human.

Can something so small make a noise this loud?


Please, Lord, shut this mutant up.

I lean down until my head is almost even with this kid.

Amazingly, he shows no fear.

And, right in my face, now, he screams again. Louder.

In a carefully modulated voice—loud enough so he and his sister can hear me fine, but not loud enough for the Wal-Mart ninjas, should they materialize on the next aisle, to hear—I say:

“Kid, you are hurting my ears. If you do not shut your mouth, I am going to let my invisible friend, here, bite off your head and swallow it like a marshmallow. He’s a big, hairy, mean Sasquatch. His teeth are nine inches long and he can breathe fire. Now SHUT UP! RIGHT NOW!’

Amazingly, he did.

And this is what I am thinking about when Aidan begins his tirade.

First, he decides he wants one of the Benzomatic flexible-neck torch lighters that are for sale in every check-out aisle. Apparently, crack heads often forget their own need for a good goose-neck torch and by placing them in the check-out aisle (along with toothpicks, candy bars, hand sanitizer, Tic-Tac’s, and Soap Opera Digest), Wal-Mart is providing a much-needed public service.

Aidan’s mother tells him no.

Then he begins, in this horridly needy, aggravating voice, to scream for his father, who has had the good sense to ‘forget’ some item far, far away from this little monster.

‘Iyah-wanna-my-DADDY!’ Aidan screams, over and over and over.

His mother, perhaps suffering from bovine spongiform encephalitis, says only, ‘He’ll be right back, Aidan’.

She is probably praying that is a true statement. I know I am.




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