Before the husband goes away . . .
I’m a news junkie. Who isn’t right now? The phone, the radio, the Internet — all day long. Then at night you turn on the TV so you can scream and yell at the news in the comfort of your own home.
But not if you have my new universal remote, in which case you’re screaming and yelling at either the volume with no picture, or the picture with no volume. The world is passing you by.
I thought I could point this thing from anywhere in the house or the neighborhood or the polar ice cap and it turns on the TV, the music, the Blu-ray, the CD, maybe even the car and the hair dryer.
But not if I point it anywhere near furniture or tilt it slightly left or right or hold the power button down too long or point the thing too short or chew a piece of gum.
Then it asks if I need help, which I do, not that I’ll admit it to an uppity piece of plastic or to my husband, Ray, the master, who however is going away on a twoweek trip.
So with my head between my knees, and my addiction going from daily to play-byplay, I admit I need help because the state of the world is the one thing I can count on to keep me up at night. And who doesn’t need that especially if you’re home alone.
I march into his office and demand a lesson. I arrive with a notepad, my glasses, a flashlight for tiny print and positively perky so he can pretend I’m an eager apprentice not an embarrassing failure he has chosen himself.
The remote has defeated me.
In Ray’s defense, he’s already written down directions with pictures. And in my defense, I’ve tried to follow them. “Play with it,” he says. “Point and shoot, experiment, have fun.”
I’ll experiment with parsley on a sandwich or have fun with bubble bath, but the news I want straight and quick. I don’t want to miss a whole knock-down round in the latest fight.
Ray: OK, let’s try. No, no no, you’re holding it all wrong. You can’t point it through the couch. Press the button quick then keep it pointed at the receiver. No, no, no, you just did the opposite. No, no, no. Come on, try.
Eventually, I get it right. We watch the news, I yell and scream at the TV. “Do I really need this?” I screech. “Can’t I get a break?”
Ray: Well, you could watch a DVD. I know you don’t do that much, I mean it’s not the news, but maybe ...
I pull out one of my favorites, “Hairspray,” and push some buttons. “Good Morning Baltimore” fills the room and Tracy Turnblad plumps her hair. We laugh.
Ray: OK, now think what you just did. Come on, try. When you put in a movie, you need to give the receiver time to get the signal from the cable box to the Blu-ray to the television.
Me: Is that like getting the so-called facts to the so-called press secretary to the so-called media to the screaming public? Ray: Exactly! We move on to Pandora. Ray: So I created a number of stations — Uptown Funk, Dance Party, World Groove. Just move the buttons — no, these buttons — until you get what you want, come on try.
Bruno Mars comes on. We dance around the living room, go crazy. I turn the volume way up, all by myself. We’re having fun, we’re singing, we’re playing. We’re not screaming and yelling at the TV anymore, a lesson in the lesson.
Me: You mean I can use the remote for something other than the news these days? Is that still allowed?
Ray: Come on, just try . . . Donna Debs is a longtime freelance writer, a former radio news reporter, and a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. She lives in Tredyffrin. Email her at email@example.com.