Be­fore the hus­band goes away . . .

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - Donna Debs

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 debbs@com­cast.net.

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