Describing Food to a Robot | Teen Ink

Describing Food to a Robot

December 9, 2014
By JRaye PLATINUM, Dorr, Michigan
JRaye PLATINUM, Dorr, Michigan
43 articles 10 photos 523 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you."

"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, 'I just don't care.'?"

“No, Tick, you're not wrong. There's just more to it than ‘necessary for human life’, is all.
“Three times a day, we need to refuel ourselves. You can relate to that, can't you? There’s an endless variety, too, of fuel – FOOD, we call it. Specific nutrients, proteins… Oh, that's all in your programming, isn't it?
“Taste. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory... You know what they are, you understand where they come from, but there’s simply no way I could accurately describe them to you. Like describing color to a blind man, Tick.
“Besides, what you're curious about, really, is how and why we take this...pleasure, in our ‘fuel consumption’. You have to understand; humans are a social, complicated species. We need to connect with each other as often as possible, which is why we take meals as opportunities to do so.
“Growing up, my family had what was called a Table. It was located in the Dining Room, next to the Kitchen. Its primary function was eating, refueling, at Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. As my mother prepared this food in the Kitchen Room, my father and younger brother would sit at our Table and wait. The scent that filled that part of our house was indescribably – oh, hey, don’t hurt yourself trying to imagine two human senses at a time. See, I would associate the smell of food with the excitement, the anticipation of satisfying that seemingly overwhelming hunger.
“When Mom finished making our meal, just before stuffing our faces (it’s an expression), we would hold hands and say a prayer: ‘Dearest Jesus/Be our guest/And may our meal/By you be blessed.’ We were that grateful. We were grateful enough to thank a supernatural being for – Oh, for Gods’ sake, the last thing I’m going to do right now is explain religion to you, sorry Tick...
“Anyway, we sat, anticipated, prayed, and finally, ate. Let me tell you something about food; when it’s done right, it’s one of greatest things in the world. Delicious, nostalgic, unforgettable. Besides that, we humans would become so blissful and content at the prospect of sitting down with loved ones, eating, and talking about our days. Looking back, it’s the simple things that really, truly count.
“Well, whaddaya think, Tick? Think you got it; you understand?”
Like a student just starting to pay attention again, Tick's head snapped up. It's body's faint glow brightened, making his office lighter and warmer.
"I UNDERSTAND, PROFESSOR." It gave him the most appropriate response, through titanium vocal cords and platinum lips.
If it were any other night, the old man would ponder how out of place this being was in his broken, dusty, unbelievably old-fashioned office. There were books on shelves, for God sakes. Tick didn't belong here.
Instead, his words came out desperately. "What? WHAT do you understand, Tick? What – tell me, what?"
"I UNDERSTAND FOOD." It's voice reflected very human innocence and confusion. "IT IS FOR YOU'RE WELL-BEING AND CONSUMPTION." It even tilted it's head as it projected images of people gathered around food-covered dinner tables on the wall. "YOU ALSO FREQUENTLY EAT TOGETHER, WITH FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES. IT MAKES SENSE, YOU ARE VERY SOCIAL CREATURES."
When his mouth stopped watering, a cold, sinking grief slowly enveloped the old man. Pressing his walking stick in the ground - no, he didn't bother with electronic wheel chairs either - he stood.
His breath was heavy and painful as sadness sizzled into anxiety. "We...we were, Tick. Very, VERY social..."
The old man observed Tick's arm as it helped him stand straighter. It's muscles were made of black chords, his biceps of more titanium. No, platinum. No...
Sometimes the old man believed it. Sometimes, when Tick’s eyes lit up after every lesson, he sincerely believed there was some empathy, humanity developing in it’s circuitry. There had to be something, there just… There couldn’t just be nothing.
"These old lungs...seen worse... Trust me." When the old man aggressively shoved the robot away, it's programming concluded that it was doing more harm than good, and should therefore let go. Right after bringing an inhaler to his mouth.
"But you can't trust, can you? You can't trust, fear, hate, love, ridicule, believe...” Limping, he turned away from the being. It's blank expression made him sick. "The last think thing you can do is appreciate" - he swung his cane at the window - "FOOD!"
A split second later, Tick had the old man cradled in a trust-fall position. "WE MUST GET YOU TO A HOSPITAL."
"You're our last hope. Do you understand THAT?" He struggled out of Rock's grasp, landed on the wooden floor with a dull sound. “Your God damned species – that’s all that’s left now. Do you understand THAT?”
Maybe he knew this would happen. Maybe that’s why, twenty minutes before he woke Tick up, he tucked a handgun in his pocket. “You sure about that?”

The author's comments:

I looked up "what should I write today", stumbled upon an online roulette (I think that's what you'd call it...), and was challenged to describe food to a robot. And, got pretty dark pretty fast. Enjoy! :D

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