Frodo vs. the Laptop
What if there had been computers in Middle Earth?
Never mind the scenarios in which
Sauron tries to become Lord of the Webrings…or Saruman buys Microsoft
Orcs for Windows and creates an army of hackers…or Denethor finally
cracks because he couldn’t master the Sims.
Instead, picture the well-meaning
Elves giving Frodo the gift of a laptop when they stopped in Rivendell
on their way home, and wisely (perhaps) entrusting Sam with the product
My ‘humorous Sam’ tends to have a bit
of an attitude problem, and my ‘humorous Frodo’ is a little whiny and
self-involved, so bear with me.
Frodo carefully removed the small square laptop from its gilded leather case and caressed it reverently.
“My very own Dell Inspiron,” he said softly. “What a wonderful gift. It
almost makes up for them sending me off with only a Plexiglas elf light
and a kiss on the forehead. Of course, all Gimli got was three strands
of hair, so I suppose what I got wasn’t too bad…”
A knock came at the door and Sam strode in, his arms piled high with
firewood. I don’t know why Mr. Tightwad won’t just get propane, like
the rest of the civilized world…
“Here’s the firewood, Mr. Frodo. Will you need anything else before I go home?”
Frodo was still petting the laptop. “No, Sam, I’ll be fine.”
Sam stacked the wood on the hearth and brushed off his sleeves. “I
loaded Microsoft Publisher, an’ the Babblefish program that Gandalf
sent you for your Elven translatin’.”
Frodo had a dreamy expression in his eyes. “I’ve already thought of a title, Sam.”
“You have, sir?” Sam asked politely, glancing at the clock.
“It’s called Concerning How I Acquired the Ring, Traveled First to Bree
With Three Friends, Acquired a Ranger and a Skinny Pony, and Then Ran
From Black Riders All the Way to Rivendell, Where I Picked Up the
Ringbearer’s Job and Five More Companions, and Lost All But One of Them
At Parth Galen, and Traveled with the Remaining Companion to Mount
Doom, Picking Up a Whiny Sniveling Gray Companion on the Way, Tossed
the Ring, One Finger, and the Whiny Sniveling Gray Companion into the
Fire, and Beat the Bad One Once and For All, After Which The Ranger
Becomes the King, They Threw a Huge Party for Me, and Gave Me this
Wonderful Laptop as a Reward.”
Sam blinked. “If one of the kids chooses it for a book report, the
title will take care of the ‘at least 500 words’ part,” he observed.
Frodo looked offended. “Well, what would YOU title it?” he asked.
Sam thought, How I Wouldn’t Have Gotten Past the Three-Farthing Stone
Without My Gardener.“How about ‘The Lord of the Rings’, sir,” he
Frodo made a face. “But it’s about ME, not HIM!”
“You almost were him,” Sam reminded him.
“Oh, right,” Frodo mumbled. “Well, then, ‘Lord of the Rings’ it is. Good night, Sam. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good night, sir.” The door clicked shut behind Sam.
“Goodness, I thought he’d never leave.” Frodo cracked his knuckles, opened the laptop, and pressed the ‘on’ button.
He frowned and pressed it again.
Still nothing happened.
He ran to the door and bellowed, “SAM!”
“WHAT?” Sam bellowed back.
“It won’t turn on!”
Sam trudged back up the hill. “Did you plug in the adapter, sir?” he asked wearily.
“The what?” Frodo blinked. “I thought it had a battery in it.”
“It does, sir, but the battery has t’charge first. You have to plug in
the adapter so the computer has power while the battery is chargin’.”
Sam reached into the case, took the adapter and its cord out of the
plastic wrapping, and plugged one end into the laptop and the other
into the outlet by the door. The computer whirred to life.
“Thank you, Sam,” Frodo said gratefully.
“You’re welcome sir. Good night.” Sam walked out, hoping to be out of
sight-and therefore pretend to be out of earshot-before the next
problem cropped up.
Frodo plugged in the modem, in case he needed to consult the Arda
website to make certain he spelled the various places correctly. He
knew the Elven webmaster well, and he turned on Instant Messenger, in
case he might be online. Unfortunately, someone else was online as well.
HOBBITPRINCE: Hiya, Frodo! I saw 9FNGRS pop up and knew it was you!
Frodo groaned. (blip): Hi yourself, Pippin. I’m doing important research right now.
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip) (sad face emoticon) Don’t you love me anymore?
Frodo: (blip) Of course I do, but I really can’t talk right now.
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip)Well, if you can’t talk right now, why do you have
IM turned on? Were you waiting for someone you’d RATHER talk to?
Frodo: (blip) No, Pippin, that’s not…
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip) Fine, then! See if I care! (sound of door slamming shut)
HOBBITPRINCE is no longer signed on.
Frodo sighed. “Merry must have eaten the last treacle tart,” he said.
He signed off IM to avoid any more unwelcome intrusions and opened
A prompt came up. WOULD YOU LIKE TO LOAD MICROSOFT WORD FOR HUMANS, OR MICROSOFT WORD FOR HOBBITS?
Frodo blinked. “There’s a difference?” He prided himself on his grasp
of other languages and cultures, so he chose Microsoft Word for Humans.
Another prompt came up: NOW LOADING.
Frodo waited, his arms folded as he hummed a tune.
Another dialogue box appeared. THANK YOU, HUMAN. TO SAVE THESE CHANGES, PLEASE REBOOT YOUR COMPUTER.
Frodo blinked again. “Reboot?”
He looked at the computer. It didn’t have feet. He looked down at his own feet. No boots there, either.
The computer waited implacably.
Frodo tried shaking it. Nothing happened.
“Mellon!” he said to it, hoping the word that had worked in Moria would work on the computer. It didn’t.
He went to the phone and tried calling Crickhollow. The line was busy.
Of course it would be. His two cousins were either online, or talking
to one of their many lady friends.
He found the number Sam had given him for technical support, and dialed the 800 number.
“Good evening, and welcome to Dell Technical Support! For Common
Speech, press one. For Elvish, press two. For Orcish, press three. If
you are calling from a rotary phone, then you are too technologically
hopeless to own a computer. Please just hang up and buy a real phone.”
“Well, that’s rude,” Frodo muttered. “I happen to like my rotary
phone.” He hung up. Well, that left only one source of technical
Sam groggily woke to the rap of knuckles at his window. He sat up,
heart pounding hard. “I knew it. Rosie’s Da didn’t buy the story about
her missin’ the last pony cart home an’ he’s come to beat me up.”
He hurried to the window and opened it. There was Frodo, wearing the
white fluffy robe he’d pinched from the Holiday Inn Express in Minas
Tirith and a sheepish grin on his face.
“Hullo, Sam. I’m, um, having trouble with my computer.”
Sam blinked. “But I gave you the number for technical support.”
“It won’t work if you don’t have a touch-tone phone.”
Sam made a mental note to log on to monster.com first thing in the morning and look for another job.
“What’s wrong with it, sir?”
“I loaded Microsoft Word for Humans, to test my language skills, and then it told me to ‘reboot my computer.’ How do I do that?”
Sam felt a migraine coming on.
“If you had loaded Microsoft Word for Hobbits, sir, it would have said,
‘Please restart your computer.’ That’s all reboot means, sir.”
“Will that work?”
“Yes, sir, just restart the computer. An’ if that doesn’t work, then give your mouse a little piece of cheese.”
“But mine has a touch pad, not a mouse.”
“GOOD NIGHT, SIR.” Sam shut the window.
“Touchy,” Frodo muttered, and went back up the hill.
PART TWO: How Food, Sam, merry, and Pippin Got to Brie, or, Adventures in Microsoft Word for Humans