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Living with a remote-control hot seat

David Sherman


I’m living with a wonderful woman and one hundred and thirty-eight remote controls. They’re not wonderful. They’re a pain in the ass. Sometimes literally. They’re everywhere except where you look for them.

We bought a fan right after news coated the Internet of how gas-stove fumes can kill you and the planet.

Of course, read about the stove’s homicidal tendencies the day after we bought our stove. Salvation, it seemed, came in the form of a ceiling fan.

This new fan prevents asphyxiation or emphysema from the stove’s noxious methane. But, of course, it doesn’t have a wall switch, despite the half mile of wires that had to be hidden to power it. It comes with a remote control. Small, so it fits in your hand or hides between sofa cushions and under books and magazines. Or, right in front of your eyes. Crafty little bastard.

Year later, bought a new toilet with bidet because we were renovating a 50-year-old bathroom designed for pygmies. I have nothing against pygmies. But this bathroom and I didn’t get along. I whacked my shoulder or head every time I turned around. It wasn’t as much as a bathroom as a wet closet with a tub big enough for a miniature human.

So, we enlarged it, including a taller loo cause it’s easier on aching knees and other aspects of the geriatric side of life. And, a bidet because the New York Times says bidets are all the rage. Wet rumps are in.

Toilet and bidet arrived in boxes and Marc set it all up, from soup to nuts or walls to pipes, and gave us the instruction book. Instructions for a toilet? I thought I had been toilet trained for the last 70 or so years but it would appear not.

Our toilet and bidet is less water closet than stationary space capsule. It glows as well as flushes and, of course, comes with a remote control. Using a toilet by remote control takes time to come to grips with. Not a bad pun, actually.

But, nowhere near as mind-blowing as the remote control itself.

There’s a button for the heat of the seat, a button for the heat of the water, a button for direction of spray, a button for which spray you want, a button for the dryer, a button for deodorizer, a button for a night glow. That’s a cool one cause at night, the whole rigmarole glows blue for the multitudes that don’t recognize a toilet.

The remote control is a wonder cause this one doesn’t move from room to room. It’s easy to find. But, like all of the one hundred-thirty-eight remote controls that control our life, it has batteries. So, there I was, minding my own business, sitting on my warm throne with knees pain-free, and I say, “What the hell,” and press the dryer button and crank up the warmth.

I feel stupid but curious and … warm. Then warmer. That dryer sure is warm.

I press the magic “Off” button on the remote and nothing happens. Except I’m getting kind’ve hot, pleasure is coming close to pain, with scarring not far behind and I’m pressing this button over and over as I’m feeling hotter and hotter. But, taking satisfaction in my roasted rump, it does nothing. I start to worry what happens if I abandon ship and stand up? Will it cover the fresh-painted walls with comforting, warm air that’s a tad less-than-sanitary?

My frantic button-pushing starts kick starts the wash again. And the dryer to stop. But, it won’t stop spraying. And, it’s time to get on with the part of my life that requires my pants not be around my ankles.

Not wanting to sit there waiting for a repair man, I jump up and slam seat down. The sprayer stops and I’m sodden but saved.

We should be shareholders in Eveready because we buy their batteries by pickup truck. Our TV has four remote controls, and I won’t bother to tell you what they’re for because I don’t know. Some take double A and others triple A and neither I or the wonderful woman I share remotes with can ever find them. They like to hide like their partners in between cushions, on the TV table or book shelves. But, happily, we have yet to find them in the fridge or stove.

I’ve always had space heaters for cold corners and living in the Great White North means there are always cold corners. We bought a new one which has a red light to remind us it’s plugged in. But, unlike every other I’ve owned in a lifetime of trying to be warm in winter, it has a remote. This remote walks from one end of the bedroom to the other, gets lost in the sheets or stuck in a desk. But you do get warm searching for the damn thing.

Our propane fireplace is a wonder. After years of lugging split logs, straining my back and shoulders and picking bark out of my nose, I press a button and hot flame delivers instantaneous heat and good cheer. This life-affirming button, of course, is in a remote which usually hangs out under something on the coffee table or the mantle or the book shelves.

When it refused to cooperate, I was ready and willing. Batteries were where they were supposd to be and I changed them. I felt like I was ready to wear a tool belt. One small step for sanity. But, the remote outflanked me. We sat there cold and useless as the fireplace and the remote and its new batteries. Fireplace didn’t light.

Called a repairman. He opened the grill of the fireplace and asked me if I had four triple A batteries. Of course I did. And ten thousand others.

He replaced the batteries in the embedded remote-control receiver, a black gizmo that listens to the remote control and orders the fireplace to light or shut down. It ignores humans.

The one-minute service call cost $200 and four batteries. The gentleman who installed the batteries pocketed the money, said have a nice day and drove away in his Porsche.

Fireplace probably works fine now, but I won’t know until I find the remote.

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1 Comment

Brilliant! But what the world needs now is a battery-operated remote control for the toilet that washes your hands for you before you touch the remote. You could just go with gloves, sweet gloves, of course, but then you wouldnt be able to operate the stupid thing.

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