Obsolete

Buying something new can make you feel old. A few years ago, we purchased a new tv. One of my siblings had come over to visit, and he mentioned it.

I grabbed the remote and had no idea how to use the volume. There were these two silver slivers that didn’t seem normal for sound.

My daughter had to show me how to operate it, and in seconds she had everything functioning as it should. The speed at which she does things sometimes makes me wonder how I obtained a higher education.

My brother said without much emotion, “You have to remember we are from the 70s.”

That didn’t make me feel better. He just seemed to have resigned himself to being technologically illiterate. Like, make way for the village idiots! What happened to the fight in him, I wondered.

He and I used to argue over the tv because he had an affinity for police and firefighters, and I was more drawn to the Brady Bunch or Bewitched. He also totally ruined Little House on the Prairie for me. He would pretend to cry loudly during every episode and then laugh hysterically at his poor performance.

“Look, I’m really crying. I have real tears!”

Bravo.

Back then, we had no recording devices, so when it was on, you either watched it or you missed it.

He would waltz right in and flip the channel on me.

“My show is on,” he would announce like he owned the place.

“So? I was watching that.”

His best defense in life was to lay on the floor like a slug and not answer me. He just simply pretended I wasn’t there, and he hoped I would disappear. Usually, I did because he was older, and that’s just how it was.

I surprised him one day when I decided not to take it anymore, and I jumped up and turned it back. This now meant he had to move, and that was not his favorite.

“Chris! Knock it off!” He reached up and turned it back.

I waited a few seconds and did it again.

The big growl of frustration came next. We went back and forth so much that he wasn’t even watching the fire engulfing an elementary school because he decided to keep his hand firmly planted on the plastic knob and one eye on me.

So I decided to try and overpower him, but I was no match for his strength. I found that if I had to get around him, I needed to use another tactic. I did what he did to me daily. I grabbed a handful of his thick curly hair and began to pull him away from the tv. He reached back to stop me.

This removed his chokehold grip so I was able to get my hand on the knob. He countered by trying to twist in the opposite direction.

“Let go! You are going to break it!”

“You let go! You are going to break it!”

“You are going to get into trouble, Chris.”

Oh, please! That old mental warfare trick was used way too often.

“What are you two doing?” My mom materialized out of nowhere.

She pushed the off button.

“If you two can’t get along, then neither one of you is going to use the tv.”

After she left, he said,

“Way to go, Chris.”

Taking no responsibility and not being at all in touch with reality were his trademarks back then.

His beaten-down attitude towards inanimate objects is understandable, though.

I got a Ninja blender that promised to take me down the path to smoothies and getting in nutrients that I didn’t have time to eat. I was drawn in by the idea of cramming spinach into it versus having to take the time to eat it from a bowl. Drinking it down would add precious seconds to my life span, and over time, possibly years.

It came with a blade that could take every one of your fingers off, so I carefully put that inside the canister. I was following a recipe and adding liquids and pieces of fruit, and I was so caught up in trying to do it right that I wasn’t fully paying attention.

The green stuff came last, and I had to fit it in below the fill line. I grabbed a utensil and squished it in while looking again at the instructions. I put the lid on and hit pulverize. I instantly knew something had gone wrong because it made a sound like metal on metal. Before I could shut it off, something flew past my eyes, ricocheted off the ceiling, and fell at my feet. I had left the spoon in it, and apparently, that’s not okay. Because now it resembled a fork.

A huge hole had formed on the side of it and was spraying everywhere. By the time I cleaned it up, I had taken away years from my life. The old way would have been less time-consuming.

There’s a permanent dark stain on my kitchen ceiling, constantly reminding me of my mistake with a kale-based shake.

I got another one, and my daughter ended up breaking it. She was so upset that she promised to put up my Christmas tree that year as penance versus paying for a new one. It was all her idea. Not decorate it, but haul it up the stairs and put on the lights.

The company ended up sending me a free replacement part, so her self-punishment was for naught.

“I think you just put up my tree for nothing.”

You don’t tell someone this after they get scratched and attacked by all the branches, saying they felt violated and had to hassle with burnt out lights. Just don’t say anything. Believe me, let it go.

She’s handed off problems to me in the form of kitchen items that were supposed to be so amazing and weren’t.

The other day she pointed out the three dents that are in my kitchen door.

“Remember that?” she said, laughing.

How can I forget? Just like the mark on the ceiling, there are scars.

She had given me a potato slicer that, once again, promised to provide me with extra time on my hands. It didn’t really come with instructions because products from China rarely do. I put a potato in it and pressed down on the part that would have cut it into uniform pieces and send the false impression I had spent hours laboring over it.

I tried to lift the handle, and it was jammed. This led to smacking it on the counter, but nothing was working. So I decided to take it up a notch.

I threw a perfect 90 mile an hour overhand pitch, and it bounced and flew into the next room. It was still stuck. I did this two more times because three times is usually the charm, and then it went into the trash because it wouldn’t budge. I got out a knife and did it the old-fashioned way.

The most recent gadget to grace my counter is a coffee frother. Why? I’m not sure. It requires batteries, which we are always out of, and it fails to operate even when it should work. One day the entire thing fell apart in my hands. A spoon works better for stirring; just don’t stick it in your blender.

I think of all the things that have gone to the wayside, like telephones on the wall with long stretchy cords, telephone books, alarm clocks with actual bells on each side, and personal checks. Donnie and Marie. All these and more were the “must-have” at one point and now are long gone. They served their purpose and passed on to landfills, except for the brother and sister.

No one gets by without a little awareness of what age they are. As familiar items disappear and get replaced with more advanced options, it makes you think a little. I have found focusing on it doesn’t produce high, happy thoughts even though this verse in Proverbs 16:31 says:

Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Message)

I prefer to color my distinction every seven weeks, so it’s not so noticeable.

There’s something to be said for life experiences that come with time going by. The issues I dealt with in years past have made me more intelligent and able to help those just starting out.

But the one thing that keeps a person young is how they view life, and people age themselves by how they speak and think.

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (Message/Proverbs 17:22)

Try to find the good in everything, and ask God to show you if you don’t see it.

This is promised in Ruth 4:15,

He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. (NIV)

The word ‘renew’ means to give fresh life or strength to. God doesn’t look at numbers. Age doesn’t matter because we were all created with the intent that we will live eternally where time doesn’t exist, and you can never be counted as obsolete.

The most cryptic remote I had ever seen

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