Back in the day, when you went out looking to buy a new typewriter, all you had to do was make sure it had the important consonants, the S and the T, and a couple of interchangeable vowels — mainly the I before the E, except after the C.

It did not have to have a touch pad with multi-touch control, a high-definition video camera, face and voice recognition, direct access to the Vatican’s archives or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

It was reasonably simple technology you could understand, except when you had to change the ribbon.

Computers today are far more intimidating, even if you are only using two fingers and don’t know where the carriage return is.
(If you’re too young to know what a carriage return is, well, too bad. You tell me what foursquare is and how you can text so quickly on those little tiny keyboards and maybe we can make a deal.)

Anyway, I have to buy a new laptop and frankly, I’m scared.

My old laptop, which I bought when my lap was much more spry, no longer was able to perform important functions, like starting. Or, as we savvy computer people say, booting up.

We still keep the old laptop around the house, hoping that if we sneak up on it in the middle of the night when it’s not prepared with excuses, it might actually work. Or boot.

But we knew the time had come for a replacement.

So, for the last several months, I have been training and preparing myself for the rigors of computer shopping. It’s arduous, but I don’t want to go out there and embarrass myself in front of some 15-year-old salesperson who will not understand that I don’t know the difference between RAM and ROM.

Unfortunately, I still don’t know the difference between RAM and ROM.

I also don’t know why blu-ray isn’t spelled blue-ray if Bluetooth is spelled Bluetooth.

And I still can’t distinguish a dual-core processor with a Bluetooth-enabled MPEG webcam lithium ion USB port with 640 gigabytes of processing power from a 3.2 gigahertz sauté pan with a 15.6-inch non-matte display.

I have considered asking those who are more computer savvy to come with me when I go out to make my purchase, but most of those people are still in day camp these days, learning how to make lanyards.

So I will try to do this on my own. I think, after all my training, I can pull this off, buy a laptop that I will be able to figure out how to operate, unless somebody asks me whether I want turbo-boost technology or just the toaster that can also do hamburger buns.

Maybe then I might even be ready to buy a not-so-smart smart phone.