I'm a twit. Or is that a tweet?
I warble of Twitter, the social media infliction that allows a person to tell the world in 140 characters or less what he's eating for breakfast. I don't know why.
But now I'm one of them.
See, it started like this. I wrote a book. My first novel, ''Bash and the Pirate Pig,'' releases Sept. 1 from B&H Kids. In it, a cranky city kid gets dumped for the summer on a farm where his cousin runs him through a series of crazy adventures filled with life, laughter and God. With the release date looming, the publishing house suggested I tout it on Twitter.
''Sure,'' I said. Then I called my daughter. ''Melissa, how do I screech?''
''Kind of annoyingly, Dad.''
''I'm serious. I'm supposed to do that squawk thing. You know, caw. Cluck. Quack. Chirp.''
''Yeah, that's it.''
''First, log onto your Twitter account...''
She sighed. ''I'll take care of it, Dad.''
Melissa called back a little while later. ''OK, you're on Twitter. Your name is @BurtonWCole.''
''My first name is @? Like when Prince had changed his name to that unpronounceable symbol?''
''It's 'at.' It's how people message you - @BurtonWCole.''
''Uh-huh. So what do I do?''
''Tweet something to your followers.''
''Followers. The people who subscribe to your tweets. And you can follow theirs.''
I tried to puzzle this out. ''So they're following me and I'm following them. Who's leading? Are we lost?''
''Just tweet something, Dad.''
I stared at the screen. ''So then I'd, um, wait, I just, uh...''
''I'll take care of it.'' A few minutes later, my first tweet appeared:
''Just 1 month till launch! #Bash&thePiratePig #books #Libraries #goodbooks #writing #lovereading''
I asked what I thought was the obvious question: ''How do I fit my X's in tic-tac-toe squares that small?''
''They're hashtags, Dad.''
''Oh, so when I tweet what I had for breakfast, I can say runny eggs on corned beef hashtags?''
''Nobody tweets what they had for breakfast.'' I heard her eyes rolling across the phone waves. ''Hashtags mark key words so people can find you.''
''Uh-huh. So if I type something, like, say #Sandra Bullock, she'll get my message?'' I couldn't see my wife, Terry, liking this development one bit. ''OK, but if #Sandra Bullock or #Valerie Bertinelli calls, and I end up on the couch, remember, it was your idea.''
''Dad, that's not how... Forget hashtags. Tweet. You're limited to 140 characters, so use text abbreviations.''
I shook my head. ''No way. Somebody might clobber me.''
''It's simple. Use LOL for laugh out loud, IDK for I don't know, CYL for see you later...''
''HGOMCMDSUTTAFMAHACWIDNTMTIDKTIITTLIWAI,'' I recited.
''I don't know that one.''
''It's 'Hey, get off my case, my daughter set up this Twitter account for me, and haven't a clue what I'm doing, not to mention that I didn't know that if I typed THOSE letters, it was an insult.'''
Melissa sighed. ''Dad, just tweet something!''
So I did: ''This old man plays his first tweet: Is it too late to go back to paper and postage stamps? #FirstTweet''
Then I drew my X in the upper left corner of the tic-tac-toe board.
---- Write the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook, or tweet. His daughter will answer.