I saw an ad for a $350 remote control the other day.
Allow me to repeat that for those of you sitting in the back. A remote control. Costing 350 bucks.
Of course, the makers of Take Control would want you to know that this here isn't your basic remote. Rather it is, or so it says here, "a simple solution to a growing domestic problem." Meaning the heart-rending issue of remote control clutter. Of too many clickers.
If the ad is to be believed, clicker chaos will soon be a thing of the past. Most any device that operates by a wireless remote can be controlled from this one unit, which you program through your home computer and run via touch screen. We're not just talking about your basic CD player or VCR, but also your remote-controlled light dimmer and window blinds. Theoretically, at least, you can even turn on the air conditioning and start the car, all by using one gadget from the comfort of your favorite chair.
I wanted to see this for myself, but the local Radio Shack was sold out. Which amazed me. I mean, how do you sell out of a glorified clicker that costs twice as much as a decent VCR? No, forget "sell out." How do you sell such a thing, period? What sort of human being is enough of a sofa spud and control freak to want something like this?
The male sort, of course.
And here, I'll make a politically incorrect prediction: You will not see many women walking out of the electronics store with these things. You will, however, see many women dragged over to the display by their husbands. You will hear the hubbies deliver teary-eyed speeches on the household's desperate need for this device. You'll hear them wheedle, beg and bargain in a manner that would demean a self-respecting 12-year-old until the woman finally sighs in surrender.
We are, let us face it, a gender of gadget junkies and gizmo heads. Technology sluts, that's us. My late cousin Nate used to buy two of every new thing--one when it first came out, when the price was high and the technology buggy, but he just had to have it, and then a second six months later, when the price fell and the bugs were exterminated . . . and he just had to have it. His bedroom was a shrine to techno-gimmickry, filled with multiple electric tie racks and automatic coin counters. Nate would have loved Take Control.
It's a guy thing. Okay, a guy sickness. The only thing that jazzes your basic testosterone-equipped human more than a gadget is a gadget that allows him to exert command. Like your basic global positioning satellite system, which allows a man to know at a glance exactly where it is on the planet that he is hopelessly lost. So even the name of this thing whispers as seductively as sex to guy ears: "Take Control." Trust me: Guys will buy them by the gross.
Which only goes to show how far the mighty have fallen.
Once, we mounted our horses and hunted the buffalo, revved our machines and tamed the forest. Now we sit in our La-Z-Boys and click the clicker.
And God forbid the clicker should be misplaced. You'd rather spend half an hour searching for the thing than the half a moment it would take to get up, walk across the room and change channels by hand. Not to disparage clicker-hunting. It's the only exercise some guys get.
So how much worse do you figure it'll be now that the new super clicker has arrived? And pray tell, what's next? Me, I see a clicker that controls a robot that raids the refrigerator. It has a camera that transmits an image of what's inside; you touch the item you want and it's delivered to your chair.
Pretty soon, a guy won't have to get up for anything.
I find that a little scary. So I'm going to have to take a stand here, going to have to travel the high road that says that it's good to dare, to aspire, to get up once in awhile. I'll leave for the rest of you lazybones the low road that says, "Honey, could you get me something to drink, as long as you're up?"
It's a matter of principle, of sacred personal conviction. I will not be buying Take Control.
At least not until the price comes down.