Life After Remote

Our remote for the telly in our bedroom started going out last week. At first, the channels would go ’round and ’round when I simply wanted to go up to the next one. This would be nice for surfing, but it wouldn’t stop until I pulled the back off of the thing and took out one of the batteries. Of course, my first thought was that it was indeed the batteries going, so I put in new ones. It seemed to help for a few days...

The next thing to go was the volume. If I wanted to increase it a little, it got stuck and went up all the way. This wasn’t so nice the first time it happened at 2:30 in the morning when Nettl was asleep. It did the same thing when decreasing the volume, which wasn’t quite as irritating. Still, these little glitches happened only once in a while so I didn’t sweat it.

As of last night, however, it’s completely unusable. Everything stayed stuck all of the time when it was just lying on the bed, with neither of us even touching it. I “retired” it. What should I have expected? We bought it at Big Lots for a whopping four bucks. So now I have to live without a remote until I can get over to Satan*Mart to buy a new one.

I’m pathetic, really. The TV sits on a table beside my desk; I can reach the controls without even moving much, just a small stretch of my left arm. In my own defense though, the controls are little black buttons on the bottom of the set and I really can’t see which one is which with my ever-weakening eyes. It’s like reading Braille.

I remember life before remote controls. We didn’t channel surf in those days. Of course, there were only three channels where I lived: KEYT Santa Barbara, KCOY Santa Maria and, if the weather was nice, KSBY San Luis Obispo. Later, after we moved to Ventura County and had access to L.A.’s channels, it was a different matter. I still remember getting up at night after everyone but my dad was in bed, and walking past the living room to see him sitting on his ottoman right in front of the set, turning the large channel dial. Manual surfing.

He was an electronic genius, so it didn’t take him long to invent, and build, the first TV remote I and my friends had ever seen. It was connected to the telly by a wire, and the loud “ka-chunk, ka-chunk” noise the set made with every channel change pounded right through the wall and into my head that lay not eight inches away. But that was in my pre-insomnia days when I was a teen and could sleep through the Jimi Hendrix Experience on my record player.

I’m not really a channel surfer though. In fact, I wish I had an expensive remote that would store my favorite channels so that I could travel between them without being subject to Joan Rivers’ drumhead-taut face peddling a miracle wrinkle cream (sorry babe, but all that cosmetic surgery didn’t come out of a $30 bottle of goo), the Mad Money guy screaming at me like a banshee, and that scary pink haired Lady whose eye make-up melts down her face when she prays. I watch only a few channels, actually: Food TV, HGTV, Travel channel, History channel, Bravo, Movieplex, PBS… Still, the ability to surf allows me to see just what I’m not missing on all of the other channels. I miss that.