Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday's Words for October 28, 2009

If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a limit to the degree to which I’m willing to embarrass myself in order to share in these essays, the answer is probably no.

Years ago, when the kids were small, we had an electric can opener. I do recall this device, because we had a couple of cats at the time, and every time I would open peas or corn for dinner, they thought it was their food being opened.

My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I think I remember that it was white, had a flip type lever at the top, so that you held the can close, flipped the lever toward yourself—locking the can in place—then pressed down on the lever which operated the thing.

I understand the basic mechanics and the principle of electric can openers and no, it’s not rocket science.

Well, what with one thing and another that can opener eventually went to the great gadget garden in the sky. Times were tough (trust me on this; for the Ashburys, times have almost always been tough) so we bought a manual opener, which worked well for several years until it broke, at which time we bought another manual opener.

About a month ago, I was riding around Walmart (my beloved convinced me that I should use the electric cart since the doctor told me walking was a very bad idea for me until my knee heals). We had our two usual grandchildren with us. The kids thought it was a hoot, granny on this electric cart. They wanted to try it out, of course. They settled for hanging on to the back of it and trotting after me.

We all had a good time, and I got to see more things than usual, as my legs weren’t getting sore. And one of the things I saw, for under ten dollars, was an electric can opener. My current manual opener was beginning to drop the cans in mid-open, and I knew it would soon need to be replaced.

So I put this electric gadget in the basket attached to my cart.

That evening, as I was preparing dinner, I thought I would try out my brand new, time-and-labor saving device.

Do you think I could get that thing to work?

I tried. About ten times. I even got out the directions. I read them. Rather, I looked at the pictures that someone who was a frustrated neo-impressionist had drawn as directions. I couldn’t understand them. I already knew the can went upright and close to the top. Tell me more!

But the directions didn’t, and I could not get that can opener to work.

I was pretty sure the fault lay with the user, and not the device. Every once in a while that which should be simple somehow confounds the heck out of me. I know part of the problem has to do with the fact that I am getting older. Hand-eye-brain co-ordination begins to go out of whack somewhere around the age of fifty. At least for me it did.

That’s one of the reasons I’m so slow to learn all the little do-hickeys and thing-a-ma-jigs on my cell phone; why I still don’t know all the settings on the digital camera I’ve had two years; why I have only in the last little while learned how to pause live TV and why even now, if the kids make a mistake with the universal controller for the television-cable-DVD, I have to wait for either my beloved to get home or my daughter to come over before I can watch the tube again.

And no, more than a month later, I still have not been able to operate that darn can opener.

Meanwhile, just the other day, I was at my desk, working away when my fifteen year old grandson came over to visit. His first words, as ever, were “Can I make something to eat?” “Sure,” I replied, “help yourself.”

“Oh, you have a new electric can opener,” he said. I wasn’t surprised he’d only just seen the device for the first time. Yes, it had sat right there on the counter for more than a month but he is, after all, male. “I do,” I replied, even as I hoped he wouldn’t ask me to show him how it worked. One thing I could do without was being teased by my teenaged grandson.

Not teased, but definitely embarrassed. For just then I heard it. The unmistakeable sound of the-you-know-what as he opened a can of spaghetti.


No comments: