Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dishwasher

It was a splendid fall day and we had a little time to kill before the new dishwasher was scheduled to arrive. A local tennis club was hosting a tournament so we went over to watch the matches for a while. It’s a gorgeous club, right on the water. It was our first visit since the place was completely remodeled. The building smacks of East Coast classic with lovely stonework and trellises, yet fits its California locale.

The first matches were Father-Son. The youngest-looking guy out there must have been all of eleven years old. He made up for his small stature and lack of experience by a show of bravado between points. He could really strut his stuff even though he wasn’t the best player around. Apparently, it’s all in the attitude because junior, and his not terribly athletic looking father, took the final prize. They looked so happy to win, as we all do.

The next match was the finals of Father-Daughter. For some reason I started to think about my father and how we never got a chance to play tennis together. I didn’t play until I was forty three and by that time we’d been long estranged and he’s since died. It made me sad when I saw the young girls play with their Dads, one of whom was the club manager and tournament director. His daughter was high school age and really good. She seemed to be carrying him, with great volleys and hard ground strokes. It was sweet. Then everything changed.

There was an urgent call for the club manager over the loudspeaker. Then another. Finally, he dropped his racquet in mid point and rushed off in the direction of the pool. Oh, God, no. Please, please don’t let it be a child in the pool. Please don’t let this great day and this fine location be tainted forever. I started crying quietly, thinking about how when we lost my brother, at seven, we lost our family. Of course it was never the same, yet we couldn’t know what it would have been like the other way. With him. It’s been fifty years and we still miss him and wonder.

I have to say right now that people are not careful enough with their kids. Parents worry about the wrong things like competitive soccer, which private schools will lead to the right college and when to get their child a cell phone. They’re not worrying enough about the distracted driver in the SUV barreling around the next corner, talking on their own cell phone. Parents in our neighborhood let little, tiny children ride behind them on bikes, expecting them to be safe. They’re not. Seven year olds, even very bright ones like my brother, don’t have the judgment to be on roads with cars. With increasing frequency we’ve seen parents, two or three young children trailing like ducklings, ride ahead on dangerous streets. All of this was going through my mind as the sirens approached.

For a while we just sat, but eventually made moves to leave. There was obviously something so wrong. The day wouldn’t be the same. Word came back about a heart attack and I felt tremendous relief. It wasn’t a toddler who slipped under when nobody was watching. It was an older person who had a heart attack. It seemed sad, but somehow more right. Then came a different horror, not one I’d imagined.

It was the Dad who’d just won the match with his son - a man of about fifty. He ordered food at the snack bar and had a massive heart attack on the lawn. Could not be revived. It was probably twenty minutes after they’d won their trophy. Feeling stunned and awkward, we left the pool area and went out through the clubhouse. Sitting in a chair in the office, not yet knowing the resuscitation effort had failed, sat the son, looking so scared. I still wish I hadn’t seen his face. He lost his father after sharing one of the best possible moments. His mother had no idea when they left home that morning that she’d never see her husband alive again. We drove slowly home and the dishwasher was delivered right after we arrived. The dishwasher. So hard to be happy about the new dishwasher.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Genius Bar

Fair warning. If you are an electronic device and you live in our house, you are on notice. You must perform or you will be banished. Just this past week we’ve sent the following outdated, outmoded items to the recycling center: one television, two printers, two DVD players, two VHS players and a fax machine. None of them wanted to leave, but they all had to go. One strike and you’re out of here. We have newer, fancier electronics - ones we understand even less.

The problem is that every purge and purchase begets more issues. So frustrated with our inability to watch DVD’s, we decided to start from scratch. We have two lap tops, both of which don’t hold a charge anymore so they must be plugged in at all times. One won’t accept CD’s any longer. The other works fine for three quarters of the movie and then it begins to skip. The DVD player we had in our living room does the same. Can I tell you how many movies I haven’t seen through to the end? Many, and it’s not because I’m sleeping. Actually, I AM sleeping, usually by about half way through, but Eric stays awake and he’d like to see the ending so he can tell me all about it the next day AND how much I was snoring. When we go to rent a movie I usually defer to him because I can sleep through anything.

We could order movies “On Demand”, but I’d rather not. We give enough money to the cable company. I like walking over to the video store and picking something out. The stoners that work there are so sweet. I don’t want them to be run out of business by Comcast. I especially like going to the actual theater, which we do quite frequently. I never fall asleep there. My idea of a perfect Saturday night date is an early movie, then home for one of Eric’s fabulous omelettes or pasta creations with some wonderful wine. We’ve seen a lot of exceptional films, but “Julie and Julia” was magical. I had just started my blog so I appreciated that part and Eric loved all the cooking. He did his Julia Childs impression for three days and did we ever have an omelette that night.

It’s not just that we have obsolete machines. It’s also that we’re really idiotic about technology. I proposed having a techno geek move in with us for a while until we learn how to use everything we own. My husband pointed out that six months after they leave, we’d have to start over again. So true. My cute iPod Nano went on the fritz so I took it to the Apple store, feigning innocence. Alas, they determined it was suffering from water damage. That would explain the ugly spot on the screen. Time for an upgrade to the new one that’s precisely the size of a postage stamp. Adorable. I was pretty proud of myself when I downloaded all my music and adjusted to the touch screen. I even discovered a whole radio in there. I just couldn’t figure out how to turn it off.

I stopped into the Mac store for some help. The place was swarmed. It sounded like a cocktail party. I know a lot of people are hurting, but clearly some still have money. I’m trying to remember why we sold our Apple stock a few years ago. Big mistake. Anyway, even the people selling the super-cute new Nanos don’t know how to turn it off. It goes on stand-by which is fine until it bumps something in my purse and then plays until the battery dies. It took some internet research and six genius bar geniuses to find someone who knew that disconnecting the ear buds turned it off. Problem solved.

The DVD player issue wasn’t quite so streamlined. I ditched the skipping one and found two others in the house that were potential candidates for the living room. I assigned the task of hooking it up to my darling, who shall remain nameless at this juncture. Mr. Tech Wizard reported back that we didn’t have the correct type to go with our cable box. Screw that. Let’s just dump these and go buy a brand new one that will work. Several hours on Sunday were spent (Allie, where are you when we need you?) not getting it to work.

The following day I decided to attempt the job myself. Not to rat anybody out, but in five minutes I figured out it has nothing to do with the cable box. The DVD players we’d gotten rid of were perfectly usable. In ten minutes I had sound, but no picture. Then I had picture but no sound. With Eric’s help we had sound and picture in thirty minutes. We can now watch DVD’s - IF I keep Eric from touching any of the remote controls. Our test movie was “Monty Python” which seemed very appropriate. We’re like the guys riding the pretend horses. We’re pretending to understand the world we live in. We just don’t.