I NEVER REALIZED the power of television until this past weekend when I experienced a life-altering event. My remote channel changer died. This event reduced a forty-something, semi-intelligent woman to thumb-sucking.
First, I had no idea where to look for the controls on my TV set. Slap me and call me dense but where did they hide these little suckers? I haven't had this much trouble looking for controls since Oldsmobile hid the door latch by placing it vertically on the side door post.
I've had this particular set for three years. Television and I grew up together and have lived together since 1960. Yet I've known airport security people more intimately than I know this electronic roommate of mine.
Frisked the console
I frisked the console for five minutes before I pressed some magic button and a hidden drawer dropped down. Now I faced a whole new dilemma. These controls were designed with a munchkin in mind. One of my fingers spanned two of the ergonomically-correct buttons. Furthermore I had no clue as to which button controlled which function. Truth is, it's been so long since I had to look at such a panel that the last choices I recall seeing were horizontal and vertical hold.
I know what you're thinking: Why didn't she read the manual? Well, when you experience a sudden loss like this, who thinks to look up the insurance policy?
After exhaustive research, I did manage to figure it all out and returned to my place on the sofa. The thumb-sucking started then, when I realized I would actually have to get up and walk across the room every time I wanted to change the station. This is a sad statement of my physical condition, my attention span, the quality of television programming and the decline of our country.
How did I ever manage to watch the same show for more than 15 minutes? How did I ever last through commercials without flipping from one program to another? When did I hone these schizophrenic tendencies that permit me to watch and follow two television shows at one time? It isn't television that hypnotized us into our national lethargy. It was the invention of the remote. (If I could just train my dog to bring me my dinner, I would never ever have to leave my sofa.)
And now television and cable programmers say that soon we'll have interactive capabilities from our living room. We'll be able to commute, computer-bank, travel and visit friends without ever having to leave our collective sofas. Joy. I should weigh 3,000 pounds by the year 2001.
For now, this little technocrat is simply waiting for her channel changer to be resuscitated and considering the remote possibilities of her future.
7+ Linda L. S. Schulte writes from Laurel.