How to turn on the television: A lesson in home gymnastics

Having trouble with your cable and/or remote control?  Fed up that your universal remote doesn’t operate your home entertainment devices as it should?  Tired of pressing that power button and having the TV switch on, but not the cable box?  Or, the cable box switching on, but not the TV?  Sick of the electronic boxing match?  Well, bid farewell to your frustration my friends, for I have the answers.

Your cable box and TV can be switched on at the same time using one button on the universal remote.  The window for this is small, so you must be in exactly the right spot in the room to make this happen.  If simple efforts, like pointing the remote at the systems and pressing “ON” don’t work,  try the following:

1).  Stand three feet in front of the equipment and center yourself.  Aim the remote in a neutral position between the two devices.  Press the power button.  Experience disappointment when this doesn’t work.

2). Stand three feet away and two inches to the right.  Press the power button.  Experience further disappointment.

3). Stand three feet away and two inches to the left.  Press the power button.  Curse your luck that you’re missing Dr. Phil.

4). Stand two feet away and three inches to the right.  Stand two feet away and three inches to the left.  Stand four feet away and ¼ inch to the right.  Stand one foot away and ½ inch to the left.  Stand on one foot.

5). Sit on the back of the couch like it’s a perch.  Dangle upside-down from the ceiling like a vampire bat.  Do ballet.  Be a figure skater, coast across the floor and press the power button just as you complete a triple axel.  Try a head-stand (hand-stands won’t work unless you can hold the remote in your mouth and press the power button with your teeth).

6). Talk to the remote.  Calmly and sensitively.  Explain to the remote how important it is to the family.  Tell it that you aren’t angry with it, you’re disappointed in it.  If it doesn’t respond, send it to its drawer for the night without batteries.

7). Call the cable company, just for a soothing laugh.  The customer service representative who handles your call will most likely sound like he’s all of 15 years old, will do his best to speak English, and tell you that his name is “Bob.”

8). Cancel your cable subscription and read a book.

It never used to be this complicated.  Television sets in the pioneer days didn’t come with a remote control.  One had to get out of his or her chair and actually walk over to the television and switch it on manually…that is, with their bare hands.

Back then, if the TV didn’t come on, bare hands were used to smack the sides of it, push it, shake it, and pound its top until it came to life.  The picture looked like hell, but was better than a dark screen, we always thought.

Otherwise, we’d have to read a book.


Men: You’re territorial and you know it


I have found few certainties or truths in relationships with men.  Stereotypically, it’s the female who is unpredictable and complicated.  In my world, it’s the men who are difficult to read.

There are really only three certainties about men that I’ve identified since I started dating and/or sleeping with them.  I won’t be forthcoming about that length of time, just trust that I’ve been at this awhile.

First, there is a moment of closeness and intimacy in which he will say just about anything.  It is at these times that I am most successful at securing a promise.  Many Christmas and birthday gifts were procured this way.

Second, they’re great for yard work.  If they’re no good at it, they’ll work at it until they are.  Yard work is the perfect excuse for them to get out of the house and not have to explain where they’re going.

Third and last, they’re territorial.  Not so much about his house or car (they count, too), but about the woman in his life.  And I’m not talking about his mother.

They’ll swear up and down that they’re not, and I’ve heard soooo many single men tell me that they wish they could find a cool woman he can just date and not have to have a “relationship” with.  It never works, they tell me, because she gets attached and can’t handle it

Then I throw back my head and howl in hysterical laughter.

Because it ain’t us, fellas.  It’s you.

I’ve tried it, tried it, tried it.  I am said “cool woman” mentioned above who has had times in life that she just wanted to date without exclusivity.  The same thing happens every time and I end up breaking it off. 

As usual, the beginning is fine.  We agree to spend time together and go our separate ways when it’s time to leave for work.  I don’t meet his mother, he doesn’t buy me jewelry (the latter part is always open to negotiation).  No drama, no attachment, no politics.

But, the first time I don’t pick up my phone when he calls…

“So, I tried to call you the other day,” he says when I catch up with him later.

“Yeah,” I reply.  “And, I’m calling you back.  What’s up?”

“Oh, just wanted to see if you wanted to do something.  So, were you working late the other day or what?”

There you have it.  The beginning of the end.  He wants to know what I was doing that I didn’t take his call.  And who I was doing it with.

Next thing you know he wants to talk about our relationship and I remind him that we don’t have one.  Then he says he wants to have one.  Then he says he wants to take it to the next level and be exclusive.  Then he’ll want a commitment from me, swear to a phony commitment himself so he can be sure that I see no one else and he can continue sleeping with anyone he wants.

And that’s about the time that I ask if he knows anyone who does good yard work.

So, true, the dating-without-commitment never works out, but the problem isn’t completely with the woman in the arrangement and I don’t mean to suggest it’s always with the man, either.

My point is that they’ll say anything during sex, are handy with a lawn mower and guard their territory like an alpha male lion.

There might be a fourth certainty.  Once you find one you can settle on, sometime in that relationship he’ll want to know how many dating-without-relationships you’ve had in your life.

Which leads us to the first certainty about women.  Asking that question is just asking for a lie

Whatever it is, I’m probably too Springfield for it

It was an invitation to lunch.

When I heard the name of the restaurant, I had doubts, but it was too late to get out of it.  I met my friend, looked at the menu and ordered something that looked like a popular entrée.

We were served and I dug in, spirited to try something new.  I took one bite and dropped my fork.  My friend asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m too Springfield for this,” I said.

“You’re what?”

“Too Springfield.  I’m too Springfield for this.”  Naturally, he was curious to know what “Too Springfield” meant.  That is, outside of the fact that it’s a phrase I coined myself since I was born and raised in…Springfield.  The one in Ohio.

So, what does it mean?  Boiled down, I am “too Springfield” for anything pretentious or unpractical.  If it’s flashy, overdone, unnecessary, ridiculous, complicated or useless, I’m bored.

For example, the child of a Hollywood celebrity recently bought a $100,000 handbag and destroyed it on television for her reality show.

I’m too Springfield for that.  First, it’s outrageous to spend that kind of money on a purse, and I would never destroy an accessory with a chainsaw unless it was an item given to me by an ex-boyfriend.  That’s how we get down in Val’s hometown.

I was too Springfield to consider a trip on the “Titanic Memorial Cruise” this past April.  The cruise took place on a modern ocean liner and followed the precise route of the ill-fated ship.  First, no one travels from England to New York by boat anymore, it takes longer than flying and there are no interesting ports to visit in between.  Second, to dress in period costumes and make a maritime disaster the theme of one’s vacation just isn’t a nice way to remember the tragic death of 1,500 people.

I’m too Springfield for plastic surgery, rock-climbing, get-rich-quick schemes, Scientology, veggie burgers or meditation therapy.  I don’t “exfoliate,” I scrub my dirty face.  I don’t choose friends who “develop my spirit,” I hang out with cool people.  I don’t “have a dialogue,” I talk to people.  And, if I come across makeup in the store with a label printed in English and French, I realize that it must be a marketing gimmick because authentic imports would never go for 97 cents in a department store.

Plus, I don’t care what kind of makeup a French woman wears because I don’t see a French woman in my mirror.

This is not a dismissal of new ideas, culture, technology or progress.  Being “too Springfield” is not equal to ignorance or stupidity and it certainly doesn’t mean that Springfield natives don’t bathe or read and can’t find a dentist.

It means enjoying the simple things because they matter the most.  The love and attention of a parent is far more valuable than a six-figure purse.  You can have your own long and luxurious vacation over a three-day weekend by inviting friends and family to a barbeque in your own backyard. 

And, plastic surgery got its name for a reason.  Pump your body full of synthetics and you’ll look more like the inflated playground at the county fair than the movie star you’re trying to resemble.  Embrace aging and get over it, wisdom is far more powerful than beauty.  I’ve always said that I’d much rather be smart than beautiful. 

Then my DNA replies, “No shit, I already took care of that.  You’re welcome.”

Simple things, simple pleasures, but no simple mind.  That’s Springfield, that’s me.

By the way, I was “too Springfield” for my lunch entrée because it didn’t contain enough of my own diet’s staple ingredients: beef, garlic, cheese, potatoes, pasta or fudge-brownie ice cream.  That’s not a Springfield taste, it’s an Eastside Springfield preference where we don’t bathe or read and can’t find a dentist.