The television remote went missing last night. My daughter and her friend had been playing in the den all day and, somehow, no one knows exactly how, the remote vanished.
Let’s be honest. This blog is mostly about First World Problems. That’s what I write about because that’s where I live. Disappearing remotes are a significant annoyance. Disappearing remotes are maddening. They are piercingly aggravating. There is a small basket where these things are meant to go: the remote for the TV; the remote for the DVR; the remote for the DVD player and the remote for the VCR. Yes. We have four separate remotes. Please don’t judge. I know people who have more.
The point of this story is not remote control madness. This is not even a moral tale of laziness and being ruined by point-and-click convenience. The point, if there is one, is the blind fury of discovering the missing remote at 11:30pm and the obsessive worry that follows realizing the missing device might never be recovered. The mind races toward the scenario of having to purchase one of those awful universal remotes with too many itty bitty buttons and the work of reprograming all those settings by pressing all those itty bitty buttons and waiting and cursing and pressing and waiting and cursing some more.
And the point of this story is the crushing self-pity that comes at the end of a long, tiring day when all that is wanted is a few stolen moments of Netflix before bed and the disappointment that comes when you are deprived of that simple, restorative luxury.
And how the mind races around the room, seeking all the places that controller might be. Places dark and secret. Logical and profoundly illogical. And how, in the mind’s bright panic, the upsetting realization that the remote is not going to be found and that there is no other button so neatly labeled Netflix to resolve the situation and restore order to the collapsing shambles of the day. And how, gripped by fits of fear and frustration, the mind forgets how many other ways there are still to watch the thing that wants watching. How the DVR button still controls the TV. How the VCR and Wii can work together to funnel Netflix down from The Cloud. How laptops and iPads easily stream Netflix and, in a pinch, the very phone in my left front pocket can deliver everything I believe that I need.
But I cannot rest. I cannot relax. The remote is lost. How are people sleeping? How are their dreams not curdled with existential fear?
I search and search in the way I have of not really searching. I have stopped looking about twenty minutes ago and now it is just a parade of frustration and inventive imprecations toward the wayward slackers who don’t place remote controls back in the remote control basket. The proper place where such things belong.