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The curse of the freaking sad smiley

Note: This piece is an extended version of ‘Windows 8 Blue Screen Smiley‘ which was originally posted on this website a while back.

My new HP Pavilion g7 was a beauty of a machine. Since I had acquired it 2 weeks ago, I had fallen stupidly in love with it. By stupidly, I mean I was seriously contemplating having sex with it and making little human-laptop babies. It had the new Microsoft Operating system Windows 8 pre-installed, which was just the icing on the cake. For the non techies, think of it like finding out your blind date, that has been charming with you with humorous texts and never-ending supplies of wit, is also a stunner. That warm feeling you experience in your loins at that moment is what I had been feeling for 2 weeks now. Life couldn’t get better.

Today morning had been a beautiful one, despite it being a Monday. My girlfriend for the night had turned out to be one of the homely types. I woke up to find she had cleaned my abandoned kitchen and used it to prepare for me breakfast in bed. My only burning issue for the day as I left home had been whether to categorise her as adorable or a potential psycho. But you know what they say about the way to a man’s heart. I had therefore arrived to work a vibrant man.

I proceeded to my desk, opened up my laptop, gave it a proper dusting, said a few sweet nothings to it as it powered up and smiled like an eejit as the welcome message came on the screen. This was going to be a fantastic day. My first order of business was to partition my hard drive so I could have a section for securing my important data, and another for general happiness. I downloaded the partitioning software that had served me well in the past and went about the partitioning task. This wouldn’t take long. Partitioning software asked me to restart my laptop to complete the changes and I happily complied. I took a sip of my coffee as I listened to the g7 purr while it went about its business. Yes, it purred as opposed to making the other cranky noises other laptops make. Special, I tell you. It shut down successfully and kicked off the starting up leg of the restarting process. This is when the unthinkable happened, a blue screen appeared.

Now, anyone who has used a Windows PC should have encountered the blue screen at least once. It is the equivalent of a baby crying to inform you, the attendant adult, that something is amiss and the problem is beyond its comprehension, so figure out the problem as well as the solution. If you haven’t encountered one yet, count yourself lucky. For those who have, just pray you never encounter the Windows 8 blue screen. It comes out of nowhere, a mass of blue with a few words telling you how the shit just hit the fan (not in those exact words but, you get my drift) and the words are proudly accompanied by a sad smiley.

Before Windows 8, a blue screen was just that, a blue screen. Every time you saw that flash of blue with white random words telling you how screwed you are, you would just mutter to yourself and whoever was in the vicinity, ‘Oh no, not the blue screen!’ The correct course of action after this would be to stand up, head to the nearest wall and bang your head 5 times, see some stars and then look for a fix. Now, someone had decided to complement all this misery with a giant sad smiley.

I looked at the screen in horror. “No, not a smiley! Cummon, not a freaking smiley.” was the thought that kept on floating through my mind. I could feel my heartbeat increasing and a drop of sweat started growing in size on my forehead. I started losing feeling in my hands and the cup of coffee I had been sipping from escaped my loose grasp and broke into several pieces on the floor.

The resultant sound was unable to take my gaze from the giant smiley on the screen, but it attracted the attention of Thomas, my next cubicle neighbour. He leaned back in his chair to see what the problem could be only to find me staring at the screen while muttering, “Not now evil smile face”, repeatedly. He probably thought I was being dramatic, as usual, because he chuckled and dismissively said to me, “Snap out of it Bosco, it’s just a bloody blue screen.”

The thing is, Thomas, and most of my other friends don’t know my well-kept secret, which is that I have always been highly superstitious, and especially when it comes to smileys. This superstitious nature is the reason why the smiley that accompanied the blue screen was having such a strange, ordinarily uncalled for, effect on me. This side of me was kept a highly guarded secret because this knowledge would have caused me unspeakable teasing from my friends. This I’d learnt the hard way from several teasing incidences in high school.

The origins of my superstitious nature can be traced to my infancy, and the major cause is being brought up by my eccentric great grandmother. Nama, as I called her, was without a doubt the oldest person I, or anyone else in the village knew. She had outlived her 12 children, my parents inclusive.

When I was 3 years old, my parents had died in the infamous 1990 landslide that buried half of our village of Katembo deep in the hills of Kabale. That unfortunate day, I had escorted Nama to the opposite side of the hill to pick herbs for her medicines. We returned in the evening to find half the village in various stages of alarm and distress as they tried to dig out the other half that had been buried by the soil and rock. Only 5 people were saved that day. After the mass burial ceremony of the missing villagers, my parents included, my great-grandmother had insisted on raising me up despite protests from my other relatives who thought she was too senile for such a task. Long story short, she won custody over me by beating all my relatives at a dance off of the rather energetic traditional kiga dance. The dance off had been her suggestion.

I was still staring at my laptop screen with increasing trepidation as these memories rushed through my mind. I seemed frozen, unable to think, or do anything to deal with the blue screen and its smiley. The vibrancy I had been feeling since leaving home had long since fled through the first gap it found as soon as the blue screen smiley had appeared. Depression was now setting in faster than a gold digger removes her panties at the sight of, well, gold.

The sweat drop had managed to grow sizably and it was beginning to feel the pull of gravity. It leaned at a precarious angle on my forehead, but it was not yet big enough to experience free flow down the grooves of my skin.  To speed up the process, it started convincing the smaller neighbouring sweat beads to join forces with is so it could gain the necessary weight for free flow. This was a very charismatic and forward thinking bead of sweat, something you couldn’t say for my brain which was drawing blanks on what to do about my current predicament.


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