There ain’t no Modine Gunch porn site on the Internet.

And if there is one, it has nothing to do with me.

And if it does have something to do with me, I didn’t do it on purpose.

I got to explain.

I ain’t no computer genius like them hackers you hear about.

But this Christmas, my gentleman friend Lust got it into his head to surprise me with a personal computer.

And now, instead of picking up the phone and calling, my kids start e-mailing me to say they might fail algebra or be pregnant or go to Florida over spring break and want to charge it on my credit card. So I got to check e-mail every night before I read my St. Jude novena and go to bed.

Next, my daughter Gumdrop starts carrying on about how she misses the old days when she used to run over to her grandma Larda’s all the time. That was back when the whole family lived on the same street in Chalmette.    

After Katrina, naturally, we all washed up in different places. I’m in an apartment in the French Quarter and Gumdrop and her little family are an hour-and-a-half away in Folsom.

She says she wishes my little granddaughter Lollipop and me could read stories and bake cookies together like she did with Ms. Larda. (What she actually did with Ms. Larda was watch the soaps and play gin rummy. I think she been brainwashed by the Family Channel.) Anyway, when she hears about my computer, she gets the brilliant idea to mail me a Web cam, so I can read stories to Lollipop.

A Web cam, in case you don’t know, is a tiny video camera. You install it on top of your computer and, once you get it set up right, you can sit in front of it and talk, and whoever you are talking to can see your lips moving and a couple seconds later, actually hear what you said. 

After it comes, she phones and asks if I’m in front of it, so I take it out the box and sit in front of it and say yes. Then she starts telling me what little pictures to click on so we can see each other. I click on them and nothing happens. So she tells me again, and I click on them again, and nothing happens again … and this goes on for a long time. Then I hear Lollipop’s voice pipe up with something and Gumdrop says Lollipop thinks I should click some different pictures. I do what she says and all of a sudden there’s Gumdrop’s face on my screen, glaring at her computer. And there’s Lollipop at the bottom of the screen, on her mama’s lap, looking smug.

By now it’s past her bedtime – so I promise her a story tomorrow.

I lay awake thinking about how kids in this day and age learn to go online before they learn to go on the potty. I think that prenatal ultrasound test that their mamas all have  – the one that tells whether they got a boy or a girl in there – also beams some extra cells into their little brains or maybe it installs a computer chip.

When I wake up next morning, I’ve slept though the alarm and am almost late for work. I just have time to throw off my nightshirt and jump into my clothes and shoot out the door.

I lead French Quarter tours and we end each tour at Lust’s bar, the Sloth Lounge. That evening, after my last tour, I sit down at the bar and start telling Mojo the bartender about the Web cam in my bedroom. He gives this little smirk and then leans over the bar and whispers he can connect me up with some hot adult Web cam sites. Now I ain’t stupid. I know “adult,” is another word for “dirty old men.” I explain I’m reading bedtime stories and he says, “So that’s what they’re calling it now.” I give up and stomp out.

When I get home, I hang up my clothes and am standing in front of the closet in my bra and panties, looking for something comfortable to put on, when I notice a blinking light out of the corner of my eye. And I realize. It’s the Web cam. I never turned it off last night. I’m online.

I throw myself on the floor and crawl under the desk and pull out the computer plug. Then I stand up and peer at the camera eye. It ain’t off.  It switched to battery power. I drop to the floor again and slither into the closet, shut the door and feel around until I find some jeans and a sweatshirt and I get them on. Then I come out and tell the computer, “Delete. Everything. Immediately.” It keeps on blinking. I hold down the power button. It goes off – I think. For good measure, I put a sock over that eye.

Then I call Gumdrop. She says I got nothing to worry about, because she set us up on a secure network. Except, of course for hackers.


Well, if it weren’t for Lollipop, that Web cam would have gone sailing out the window right then. But I promised.

So that night, I read Lollipop her story and we play us a little gin rummy when her mother’s out of the room. Then I tell her good night.

And then, before I press the power button, I read my St. Jude novena to the hackers and tell them good night.

So what if I ain’t a computer genius. I can outsmart certain adults.