I remember fondly a portable television I once had. It was black, white and snow and it had a screen the size of a TV dinner. I pushed a button to turn it on and turned a dial to change channels. The latter was rarely necessary because I only got two channels. Maybe that’s why I didn’t watch much TV. Or maybe it was because there was always a blizzard on. But it was easy to operate and we got along fine.
Today my husband and I have two televisions, both with screens the size of Seattle. There’s only snow on them during weather reports and Buffalo Bills games. I don’t watch my new TVs any more than I did my old one but I do spend a lot more time trying to figure out how to.
I didn’t lose my ability to turn on a television overnight. I’d easily managed the upgrade from my simple black and white one to a color TV that came with a remote. I can change with the times when I have to—and when it’s not too difficult.
But it became more difficult when our television started requiring two remotes. Still, after much patient in-service training from my long-suffering husband, I learned to turn on my TV and find something to watch. Believe me, that was a proud day. And it was important that I learn because I can’t iron or fold clothes without a mystery on television. For some reason Monk, Midsomer Murders and the rest inspire me to do menial tasks. And by inspire I mean make them less tedious and boring and more likely to be accomplished.
All was well for a time. And then remotes started sprouting up in our family room like dandelions on our lawn. I think we have around 75 of them now. Or maybe it’s closer to three.
I don’t think it’s even possible to turn on our TV without a remote anymore and if it is, I don’t know how you do it. This is problematic because remotes have a way of following the last person who used them to wherever that person was heading when they turned off the TV. I spend entire days looking for remotes and by the time I find them, all the clothes in my laundry basket have been wrinkled, worn and put back in with the dirty clothes.
It’s also impossible to change channels without a remote. It seems like if you can’t find one remote, another one should work. Why else do we have so many? But no. Apparently each of our 75 remotes has different functions and they will only do those tasks no matter how many times and how hard I punch their buttons.
And they all have more buttons and arrows than the space shuttle. I suspect that as I’m punching this button or that arrow in a desperate attempt to turn on my television or search for programming suitable to fold clothes by, radios are turning on and off somewhere in my house. Or my garage door is going up and down. Or planes flying over are experiencing problems with their navigational equipment.
And for what? It’s all a monumental waste of time. All I really need is one channel that shows murder and mayhem suitable for folding clothes by.
Honestly sometimes I find tracking down remotes, punching buttons and choosing from the 10,000 possible options so exhausting that I give up and spend the afternoon lying on the couch reading a mystery novel. And that’s why I’ve stopped folding laundry.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time and other books. Contact her at www.dorothyrosby.com/contact.