THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
“What’s with men and gadgets?” Gwen the Beautiful asked a couple of days ago. “Since you got that new toy you’ve been obsessed!”
She was talking about the universal remote control that had put a wide smile on my face the moment I opened the box.
“This baby is awesome,” I said, pressing the switch that simultaneously turned off the television set, DVD player and stereo receiver. It opened the DVD tray so I could pop out the video I’d been watching. “But I wouldn’t say I’m ‘obsessed.'”
Gwen was downstairs. I was up in our bedroom loft where she couldn’t see me. We heard each other very well, though, and I heard her laugh.
“Oh no? What’re you doing now?”
It was a trap. I tried to stop myself—too late. My thumb was already pressing the “Listen to the Radio” function.
Immediately the receiver popped back on, set on “Radio,” this time, with my favorite station tuned in. I muted the sound in time to hear:
“—I know you, Larry B. You’re going to cycle through that gizmo, and then you’re going to do it again, fine-tuning all the while. You’ll fix it till it breaks, just like your cell phone, my iPod, and our computer.”
“That’s not exactly true,” I said. “I’m seeing what needs to be fine-tuned, and then I’ll plug the remote into the computer and let the software do the fixing.”
I pressed my advantage. “My question for you, sweetie, is why aren’t you obsessed with this doohickey’s coolness? Why didn’t you use it last night instead of turning on the TV with one clicker, the satellite box with another, and the sound system by hand because we lost the controller that came with it last year?”
I waited for my beloved. There it was—another groan.
I turned off the mute. Sweet music filled my ears. By that night I not only had the TV, DVD, and radio working perfectly, but also the VCR, CD carousel, and Tivo. Life was good.
The next day, however, it seemed to me that the subwoofer needed a little tweaking, so the bass would go on deeper for CDs than for TV. I had all day for the task, and without having to bug Gwen because she was taking advantage of the gradual return of her eyesight after a stroke several years ago and driving solo to visit a friend who lives on the other side of the Buffalo National River.
Off she went that morning, excited by her freedom yet a little worried as well. She got there right on time and called me to proudly say she hadn’t had any problems. I did a little victory dance, but didn’t bother working on the remote. Who would’ve known that without Gwen there frowning, fooling with the thing just wasn’t fun?
Instead I did some real work, restringing fence wire, then came back inside just as the phone rang.
“Help!” Gwen said. “I took a wrong turn. I’ve been driving for an hour and I’m on something called Highway 333. Oh, and I’m running out of gas.”
“You’ve got the truck,” I pointed out. “So I don’t have wheels. I could call Brannigan—”
“Brannigan could take forever. Maybe you could give me some directions. Does it help if I say I’m about five minutes from Highway 27?”
“Going which way?”
“I don’t know.”
I went online and Googled a local map. Found where 27 and 333 crossed. “Did you pass Searcy County Airport?”
“Then you’re headed south. Turn around and start back where you came from. When you reach the 27 turn right. That’ll take you into Marshall….”
Forty minutes later, Gwen was safely home. I hugged her exhausted body.
“Listen,” I said, “I know exactly how to keep this from happening again. We’ll get a GPS unit. Amazon.Com’s got a great one at forty percent off. I’ll download the latest maps into it and pre-arrange the best routes. All you’ll have to do is push a button and then drive. A voice will give you directions and a satellite will keep track of your location so the GPS can tell you exactly when to turn—”
I broke off. Gwen’s face wore a familiar look.
“You’d never use a GPS, would you?”
She shook her head. “Sorry,” Gwen said.
What’s with women and gadgets? Why can’t they get obsessed?