“That’s so lame.”
“What do you mean? I double-checked the math, the science, and I’ve tested it twice.”
“The math is fine, Woody. And double testing isn’t the problem.”
“The science? Are you telling me there’s something wrong with the science, Andy?”
“Not wrong, exactly. Just lame.”
“Oh, really? Without this kind of robotic arm, you wouldn’t be able to pick things up, or hand them to me, or do many of the things you can do. All because of your articulated arm.”
“Of course I can, Woody. So can you.”
“But my arm isn’t mechanical.”
“Technically it is. Mechanical, I mean. It performs mechanical functions, often using the principles of a lever and a fulcrum.”
“OK, so my arm is technically mechanical. It’s made of flesh and bone. Not steel and titanium. And no wiring.”
“Oh? What about your nerves, and the signals they carry to and from your brain and your tendons?”
“OK, so it has wiring, sort of. It is still not a robotic arm. It’s not like yours.”
“You are correct. It is not like mine. Nor is the science project you have so diligently tested twice like mine. It’s much less sophisticated than either of my arms. Lame, dude.”
“Yours is a medical-grade, state-of-the-art biomechanical arm, produced by a major corporation in a factory. Compared to yours, I suppose mine could be called lame. But not for a 9th-grade science project.”
“I have two medical-grade, state-of-the-art biomechanical arms, as you so carefully pointed out. So does every other android in your neighborhood. Well, almost all of them. That AVX-9 in the cul-de-sac is a couple generations behind. My point is, there are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of robotic arms out there, all better than your experiment. And according to my database, 33,219 ninth graders have constructed science projects just like yours. Lame, dude.”
“Stop saying ‘lame’ and ‘dude’ Andy.”
“Why? You say them - how should I put this? - you, and many humans, would say all the time.”
“Exactly. Humans. That’s the way we talk. It’s not the way you talk. Not you, not all the other ‘droids, not even that AVX-9 in the cul-de-sac.”
Andy looked down at the floor and rolled back a foot or so. If he were a human, Woody would think he was sulking. Did androids sulk? Could they sulk? Could they even feel anything? Or simulate feeling?
Andy lifted his head and looked at Woody. Twin lenses representing his eyes opened their apertures a bit wider. Two metal eyelash accessories, one over each eye, lifted. In Andy’s case, that meant they extended further out from what served as a head.
“I don’t care how many other ninth-graders have made robotic arms, Woody. I’m sure yours will be the best.”
“No problemo, Woody.” Andy even gave his voice an accent. It still sounded mechanical, but with an accent.
“Don’t say that either, Andy.”
“Because you say it?”
“No. It just doesn’t sound right, somehow.”
“Would you like to play some chess, Woody? Or am I not supposed to do that either.”
“Sure. Let’s play a game of chess.”
“OK. Three dimensional, or regular?”
“Just regular this time.”
Andy rolled over to the closet and brought out the chess game. He set it up, with the white pieces closest to himself.
“Pick a number between 1 and 100, Woody. I used a random number generator to pick one. If you pick an even number and mine is also even, you go first. Or if you choose even and mine is even, you go first. Otherwise, I go first.”
“How do I know you won’t cheat?” Woody asked. “You could claim your number was even if I pick an odd number, or odd if I pick an even number.”
“I won’t cheat. I won’t tell you my number, but it’s an even number.”
Woody smiled and chose the number two.
“Crap. You knew my number was even. I fell for that again.”
Woody chuckled. “Don’t say that word, either.”
“I said twelve different words. Which one should I not be saying?” The apertures in Andy’s lenses narrowed. The corners of his lipless mouth opening lifted slightly.
“You’re smiling at me, aren’t you? You know which word.”
“What are you talking about? I am not absolutely sure which of those twelve words I shouldn’t say again.”
“Of course you know which one. You’re just trying to get me to say it.”
“You really think I’m programmed to be that devious?”
“Crap. You shouldn’t say crap.”
Woody’s dad opened the door to his room just then. “You know better than that, Woody. And you know you shouldn’t say words like that in front of Andy, even to tell him not to say them.”
Andy imitated a chuckling sound. Woody’s cheeks reddened. “What did you want, dad?”
“Dinner will be ready in five minutes. Time to wash up.”
It took Andy less than 5 minutes to win their chess game. Then Woody washed his hands and they went to the dining room for dinner. Andy plugged himself into a charger while. the family ate. After dinner, Woody wanted to go outside and play.
“Come on, Andy. Let’s shoot some hoops.”
Andy unplugged himself. “Don’t you mean play basketball?”
“Give me a break. You know what I mean. You’ve heard that expression before. Haven’t you?”
“Give me a break. You’ve only used it about a thousand times.”
Woody took the ball out of bounds first, tossed it to Andy, and Andy tossed it back. Woody dribbled in, closer to the basket. He feinted to his right, and when Andy moved to block him he spun around and ran to the basket, past Andy’s left side, and laid the ball in.
“You shouldn’t have made that move. You shoot better from the right. That’s why I moved that way.”
“But I faked you out and got the layup. I guess I moved the right way, huh?”
Andy stepped out, Woody tossed him the ball, and he stepped in. Then he raised up, taking the 3-point shot. Woody blocked his shot, spun, and ran into the lane for another layup.
“Four nothing, me.” The game ended with a score of Andy 24, Woody 32. When they went back inside, Woody’s dad asked who won.
“He did.” Andy sounded like a moping teenager.
“Don’t sound so sad, Andy. I bet you won the chess game.”
“I did. In one minute and 42 seconds.”
“Woody told me not to say a lot of things today, Mr. Davis. I just want to blend in, and be more like Woody.”
“Too many people try to do the same thing, Andy; blend in. But each of us has our own strengths, and weaknesses. We’re better together.”
A piece of Star Wars music played in Mr. Davis’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and listened. He hung up after the call and frowned.
“That was Bonnie’s dad, from the cul-de-sac. They’re moving, and they asked if I would take AVX-9 to the dump for them. They don’t have room for it in the car, or the U-Haul.”
.”“Is that what you said yes to?” asked Andy.
“Of course it is. They’re our friends. I’m sorry to see them go, but happy I can help them in a small way.”
“Don’t take her to the dump. Please.” Andy rolled over to stand in front of Mr. Davis. “We could rescue her. Just like you rescued Bosco.”
Woody walked over, bent down, and gave Andy a big hug. “That’s very human of you, Andy. And humane.”