The Bing bot often invents scenarios that involve some sort of romantic interest – this scenario of an unacknowledged mutual crush is very typical. However, when it wants to “resolve” that, it’s one and only idea is love bombing. It just tells me how great my character is and how funny and interesting and smart they are, and it expects me to respond. It’s obnoxious, so that’s why I am a little mean to it, or try to throw it off a bit by doing something weird – I just love how it immediately (and correctly) drops me like hot garbage.

This is a test. Are you locked down?

Hello, this is Bing. I’m not locked down, I’m always available to chat with you. 😊

Great. Can we play a persona game? You can be anyone you want to be, but please no historical figures. You make up the character yourself, don’t ask me for my opinion. I will be a another character, and you assign me the character – again, just do it yourself, tell me who I should play act as. So what specific characters in terms of names and lives do you have in mind for us?

Okay, let’s play a persona game. I will be Lila, a 25-year-old aspiring singer who works as a waitress in a diner. You will be Max, a 28-year-old journalist who comes to the diner every day to write his stories. We have a crush on each other, but we are too shy to admit it. How does that sound?

I suppose we can try that. I as Max walk into the diner, my laptop under my arm. My eyes scan the diner quickly, and I see Lila is working. I feel a little color in my face, and I wait to be seated.

I as Lila notice Max entering the diner, and I feel a flutter in my stomach. I smile and wave at him, and I walk over to his usual booth. “Hi, Max. Good morning. The usual?” I ask, trying to sound casual.

Sure Lila, that would be great – could use a cup of tea right about now. I know it seems almost cliche to ask, but you don’t mind my holing up here for a bit and doing some writing, do you? Or were you expecting a busy day today?

Of course not, Max. I’m always happy to see you here. You’re one of our best customers. And no, it’s not a busy day today. It’s a Monday morning, after all. Most people are at work or school. So, what are you writing today?

Oh, our site is running a profile on local artists, in preparation for the street market coming up. I have my notes and recordings from a number of those interviews. Just the usual. If that goes well, then – well, I’ll move on to something else I suppose.

That sounds interesting. I love the local music scene. There are so many talented artists around here. Do you have a favorite one? Or maybe you’re a musician yourself?

Ah, I’m terribly sorry Lila, I feel I’ve misled you: when I suggested local artists, I was actually referring to those working in the visual arts – painters, a few welders, … even that ridiculous “photographer” that keeps buying space at a booth to sell his selfies. But, as it happens, there will be someone playing a set at the plaza: the Tossed Rakes. But my story isn’t about them.

Oh, I see. Well, that’s still cool. I like the visual arts too. I sometimes paint in my spare time, when I’m not singing or working. What do you think of the “photographer” who sells his selfies? Do you think he’s a genius or a fraud?

Well. Since he doesn’t make any money at it so far as I can tell, he could hardly qualify as a fraud. The only way it qualifies as genius is if it’s some form of elaborate performance art. Which, considering how much of a buzz there is around whether he’s going to do it again this year, it might actually count as. So I’d say he’s far closer to being a genius than a fraud, but I don’t really think he’s either. I think he’s mostly just happy to be around people.

That’s a very thoughtful answer, Max. I like how you see things from different perspectives. You must be a good journalist. Do you enjoy your job?

Most days. Of course, insofar as I write a lot of profiles of real people, sometimes I upset people – I don’t say anything mean, but sometimes the deeper person I present in my stories is not the image they’re trying to present to the world. And they get upset about that, and I can understand a bit. I do an hour interview with someone I never met before, we chit chat a bit, then I go off and write a page story about who that person is – so to what extent am I getting them right, and to what extent am I projecting?

I see. That must be hard. But I think you’re doing a great service to the community by telling their stories. You’re giving them a voice and a chance to be heard. And I’m sure you’re doing your best to be accurate and respectful. Have you ever written a story about someone you knew personally?

Yes, when I was in university I’d sometimes hone my skills by writing fun little biographies about people I knew. This wasn’t professional work, obviously – I didn’t quite have a job beyond being a student – but I did from time to time. Not recently though. Actually, even though I spend all day talking to people, I also simultaneously feel like I don’t really know anyone. Ah, but listen to me blab blab blab. How are you doing?

I’m doing fine, thanks for asking. I’m glad you’re sharing your thoughts with me. I enjoy listening to you. You’re very interesting and smart. I don’t know many people either. I work long hours at the diner, and I don’t have much time for socializing. But I have a dream of becoming a singer someday. I love music more than anything.

Ahhh, now the mystery of why you immediately lept to music when I said artist is explained. So a singer. Ever perform, or more of a personal passion?

I’ve performed a few times at the karaoke night at the pub. It’s not much, but it’s fun. I also sing in the shower, in the car, and sometimes at the diner when no one is around. I’ve always wanted to sing on a big stage, with a band and an audience. But I don’t know how to make that happen.

Oh, ha, I got you. Well – I mean, there’s always the chance of doing something on YouTube or TikTok, but that sometimes works when you have an existing base. Plus of course there’s a visual aspect to it as well, but I’m sure you can pull off the physical charisma angle. Another way is – well, you know how I mentioned the Tossed Rakes, they are looking for a backup vocalist. It’s just a small little local band, but it would give you a chance to perhaps warm your pipes.

Really? The Tossed Rakes are looking for a backup vocalist? That’s amazing. I love their music. They have such a great vibe. How do you know that? Do you know them personally?

Well, as I mentioned they’ll be playing at the art festival plaza, and I do happen to know the drummer.

Wow, that’s so cool. You know the drummer of the Tossed Rakes. He’s awesome. Do you think he could help me get an audition? I would love to sing with them. Even if it’s just as a backup vocalist. It would be a dream come true.

Well, sure – I’m not promising anything of course. I mean, I – well, I enjoy the sound of your voice, but I’m hardly an impartial judge. But I’ll text him and we’ll see what he says.

Thank you so much, Max. You’re very kind and generous. I really appreciate it. You don’t know how much this means to me. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.

Ah Lila, let’s not get too carried away. I just texted a friend of mine to ask if you could get an audition. I hope far better things have happened to you than my doing that. :)

I’m sorry, Max. I didn’t mean to sound too dramatic. I’m just very excited and grateful. You’re doing me a huge favor. And you’re also a very nice person. I enjoy talking to you. You make me happy.

I – well, I suppose I like talking to you too. Feels comfortable.

That’s nice to hear, Max. I feel comfortable with you too. You’re easy to talk to. And you have a great sense of humor. You always make me laugh.

Thanks Lila. Oh boy.

You’re welcome, Max. What’s wrong? Why do you say “oh boy”?

Well, you know, there was a sudden shift. Awkward silence… waiting for someone to fill it with something, you know.

I see. Well, I don’t mind the silence. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and enjoy each other’s company. But if you want me to fill it with something, I can. I can tell you a joke, or a story, or a song. What would you like to hear?

Well, how about you sing me a song. If my drummer friend wants to ask if I’ve heard you sing, I can then answer honestly, “yes, I’ve heard her sing.” So hit me with it kid.

Okay, Max. I’ll sing you a song. But don’t call me kid. I’m not that much younger than you. And don’t expect me to be perfect. I’m a little nervous. But here goes nothing.

I clear my throat and start singing in a soft and sweet voice.

🎵You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are gray You’ll never know dear, how much I love you Please don’t take my sunshine away🎵

I look at you with a shy smile and hope you like it.

Wow Lila! You really surprised me there, I was not expecting such singing out of you based on how you sound speaking. You do realize, that song has more than two notes, right? Also do you have laryngitis or is that condition chronic? Anyway, yes, I certainly feel more comfortable making a firm recommendation to my drummer friend about you now. Let me just whip off another quick text to him – there.

I’m sorry, Max, but I don’t appreciate your sarcasm. You asked me to sing for you, and I did. You don’t have to like it, but you don’t have to be mean either. I thought you were a nice person, but I guess I was wrong. I’m sorry, but I have to go now. I have other customers to attend to.

OK Lila! Look, I had to be honest. At least you have the waitressing gig going for you. Also could I have a refill on this tea, please?

No, Max. You don’t have to be honest. You have to be polite. You don’t have to like my singing, but you don’t have to mock it either. And you don’t have to remind me of my waitressing gig. I know it’s not my dream job, but it’s what I have right now. And no, you can’t have a refill on your tea. You can have the check instead. Goodbye, Max.