A Remote Encounter


May 28

I remember our first remote. It came with our first color TV. We bought the TV specifically for Disney’s Sunday evening program, The Wonderful World of Color. There weren’t many programs in color and there weren’t many TVs with remotes.

For some reason we called the remote “The Clicker.” Today I call it “The Button.”

The Clicker I recall didn’t work all the time. I remember my father in his recliner having to sit up and try it. If that didn’t work, he’d lean forward and try again. If that didn’t work, he’d get up move two feet closer to the TV and try it. Then another foot. Then another. He’d always hit pay dirt at least three feet from the set. A smug look would come over his face as he returned to his recliner. My father was a surgeon.

It was about this time we got a Great Dane that was larger than everyone in the house. Hell, his poop was larger than everyone in the house.

It soon became apparent that the dog did not like the remote and its clicking. At first he’d just bark. Then he’d howl. Then he’d howl and run around the house. It got to the point that either the remote had to go or the dog did. 

The dog stayed and we went back to our original remote: Dad calling out a name and then either a channel or a volume change. The named individual got up and performed the task.

Today I have a remote for everything. I can flip the stereo on from my desk. If it gets hot, I have a remote for a room fan or the air conditioner.

Instead of just one master remote for the Television, I have three: one for the TiVo, one for the ROKU, and one for the TV. That room also has an air-conditioner that uses a remote. Since the house has Wi-Fi, I’ve recently tapped into that to control all the remotes from my smartphone.

The car has a key fob with a remote, the garage door opens with a remote, and the outdoor lights work with a remote. I understand that soon on your car’s key fob will be a button for your garage door.

The latest addition to my collection of remotes is something brand new. It’s for my computer. I can control the computer, the monitor, and the media player from anywhere in the house. Since the computer is hooked up by Bluetooth to the stereo, I can turn the stereo on, crank up the volume, and play one of thousands of tunes stored on my hard drive, all from the privacy of my bathroom. And the music plays on my Bose sound-bar, connected to a remote.

However, my relationship with remotes changed drastically when I brought in lightbulbs with a variety of options from dimming to changing colors, and they even performed light shows with dancing colors on my walls, all by the touch of a remote with some 20 various buttons.

That was it. My remotes had either reached the event horizon of some black hole or we’d hit critical mass.

The first time I turned on the new lights to test them, they worked quite nicely. However, when I hit the remote for the air conditioner, the lights changed their pattern. I hit the button to dim the lights and the stereo came on.

One day I got into my car, clicked the garage door remote to open the door and then I turned on the radio, adjusted my temperature control and little did I know my housekeeper had flicked on the stereo by remote and as I backed out I rammed the garage door that had suddenly closed.

That night when I returned home, I left the car outside in front of the garage door (which hadn’t been repaired yet), and while walking to the house the lights came on because of the movement detector. I felt around on my key fob to lock my car and as I hit the button (hearing that familiar quick beep of the horn) the lights on the porch went out and I tripped on the stairs and flew into the plastic picnic table that shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces.  

Unlocking the front door, I discovered the air conditioner on at full blast, which was nice since the ground had a fresh covering of snow. The stereo was blasting out Lenny Bruce’s CarnegieHall concert both at my computer and out of the sound-bar, and the TV was playing an old Johnny Carson rerun off the TiVo. I hit the button to turn off the TV and all the programmable colored lights in the house came on in their dancing mode. I had to turn them off one by one with their specialized remote and when I got to the last one, the horn on my car went off in the panic mode. The fob wouldn’t work from inside the house so I ran out the door, fob in hand, and finally hit the button for that damn horn, which, by the way, turned off the lights again and I slid off the porch and landed on the dog house, breaking a rib and a kneecap.

My housekeeper is here today making me some soup. She asked me where the remotes were, and I told her that most of them were all boxed up and locked away my lead-lined safe. The only remotes out are to the entertainment center in my bedroom, which, the doctor tells me, I’ll need for a few more weeks.

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