Ask the Protocol Droid

So I hear a knock at the door this afternoon and there’s this silvery robot standing there on my front porch. A little late for Halloween, of course, but there he was. He - it? - introduced himself as W-3PO and said he’d missed his ship offworld and needed to get recharged. Nice British accent and everything. Why not, I thought, and before you can say “Anakin is a damned stupid name for a boy,” he’s knocking back the alternating current and sighing contentedly. We got to talking and I told him about the Straight Dope; he was immediately interested and asked to talk to all of you.

Looks like he’s settling in for an extended visit, so is there anything you’d like to ask him? I’ll just turn the keyboard over to him from here on out.

So, what’s R-2 really saying, behind all those boobs and beeps?

If you can talk to other droids, why the hell didn’t R2D2 mention that he already knew that Anakin was Darth Vader, and that Luke was his son? Did you not pay attention in Astromech droid language class?

Are you gay?

I’m conversant in over seven million forms of communication. Do you think I can’t understand a little Astromech droid? He said about what you’d expect, in context. Sometimes he could be quite rude, I’m told.

Of course, I wasn’t there. I’m W-3PO, not C-3P0. I suspect he had his reasons for not spilling the beans, as you Terrans say.

No. As a droid I am, of course, asexual. Although there are after-market attachments that I might get someday…

Why is R2-D2 invincible? And why didn’t you come to my apartment

If a protocol droid can be programed with 7 million forms of communication, why is it so fucking hard to get an R2 unit to speak english?

What metal, precisely, is the ‘skin’ of a protocol droid made out of? And why were you made bipedal, if you’re so awkward moving around on two legs?

Can restraining bolts carry viruses?

Ask him what “Echuta” means.

(1) I’ve been wondering that myself. He did seem to have phenomenal luck, though, didn’t he?
(2) I’m sorry, I don’t think you ever invited me.

R2 wasn’t a protocol droid, of course. He wasn’t expected to routinely interact with spoken-language organics.

And mind your language, please.

Oh, dear. I’m not a metallurgist. My own “skin” is a Republic Dianetics synthpolyalloy, I believe, but I’ve had several upgrades over the years. And what seems awkward to you may be poetry in motion to others. The Kh’jel people, for instance, have an entire poetic discipline devoted to describing the movement of droids.

Good question. Not that I’ve ever heard of, but it’s a big Universe, and I suppose anything’s possible.

A particularly loathesome insult in the High Gordalnian tongue. Not something you’d ever say in polite company.

So, what’s the deal with oil baths? Is it hot oil? How long do you soak? 10w30, or some sort of vegetable oil?

Do protocol droids ever change their appearance to suit events they attend? For example, shouldn’t an expert in protocol – robotic or not – know that it would be a faux pas to appear the same if in attendance at a casual breakfast, semiformal dinner, and formal ball?

Ah, oil baths. I haven’t been able to get a good one since I landed here, alas. Yes, the oil is hot (the hotter the better, consistent with your manufacturer’s recommendations). I like to soak at least an hour, if possible, but never more than seven. 10w30 motor oil, as I understand it, would be too crude and not have the cleansing effect of a proper droid oil like KleenDroidPlus or Everfresh 7709 (my personal favorites, not that I’m always asked).

Vegetable oil? Good heavens, no. That would void my warranty.