Billy's Mom's Letters
The following appeared in a computer magazine in Mr. Dvorak's column:
Dear Mr. Dvorak:
Ann Landers wouldn't print this. I have nowhere else to turn. I have to get
the word out. Warn other parents. I must be rambling on. Let me try and
explain. It's about my son, Billy. He's always been a good, normal ten year
old boy. Well, last spring we sat down after dinner to select a summer camp
for Billy. We sorted through the camp brochures. There were the usual camps
with swimming, canoeing, games, singing by the campfire -- you know. There
were sports camps and specialty camps for weight reduction, music, military
camps and camps that specialized in Tibetan knot tying. I tried to talk him
into Camp Winnepoopoo. It's where he went last year. (He made an adorable
picture out of painted pinto beans and macaroni). Billy would have none of
it. Billy pulled a brochure out of his pocket. It was for a COMPUTER CAMP!
We should have put our foot down right there, if only we had known. He left
three weeks ago. I don't know what's happened. He's changed. I can't explain
it. See for yourself. These are some of my little Billy's letters.
The kids are dorky nerds. The food stinks. The computers are the only good
part. We're learning how to program. Late at night is the best time to
program, so they let us stay up.
Camp is O.K. Last night we had pizza in the middle of the night. We all get
to choose what we want to drink. I drink Classic Coke. By the way, can you
make Szechuan food? I'm getting used to it now. Gotta go, it's time for the
P.S. This is written on a wordprocessor. Pretty swell, huh? It's
Don't worry. We do regular camp stuff. We told ghost stories by the glow of
the green computer screens. It was real neat. I don't have much of a tan
'cause we don't go outside very often. You can't see the computer screen in
the sunlight anyway. That wimp camp I went to last year fed us weird food
too. Lay off, Mom. I'm okay, really.
I'm fine. I'm sleeping enough. I'm eating enough. This is the best camp
ever. We scared the counselor with some phony worm code. It was real funny.
He got mad and yelled. Frederick says it's okay. Can you send more money? I
spent mine on a pocket protector and a box of blank diskettes. I've got to
chip in on the phone bill. Did you know that you can talk to people on a
computer? Give my regards to Dad.
Forget the money for the telephone. We've got a way to not pay. Sorry I
haven't written. I've been learning a lot. I'm real good at getting onto any
computer in the country. It's really easy! I got into the university's in
less than fifteen minutes. Frederick did it in five, he's going to show me
how. Frederick is my bunk partner. He's really smart. He says that I
shouldn't call myself Billy anymore. So, I'm not.
How nice of you to come up on Parents Day. Why'd you get so upset? I haven't
gained that much weight. The glasses aren't real. Everybody wears them. I
was trying to fit in. Believe me, the tape on them is cool. I thought that
you'd be proud of my program. After all, I've made some money on it. A
publisher is sending a check for $30,000. Anyway, I've paid for the next six
weeks of camp. I won't be home until late August.
Stop treating me like a child. True -- physically I am only ten years old.
It was silly of you to try to kidnap me. Do not try again. Remember, I can
make your life miserable (i.e. - the bank, credit bureau, and government
computers). I am not kidding. O.K.? I won't write again and this is your
only warning. The emotions of this interpersonal communication drain me.
See what I mean? It's been two weeks since I've heard from my little boy.
What can I do, Mr.Dvorak? I know that it's probably too late to save my
little Billy. But, if by printing these letters you can save JUST ONE CHILD
from a life of programming, please, I beg of you to do so. Thank you very