Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Evil and Desperate Crime of Remote Control Theft
I’m not exactly sure what happened to all that writing stamina I had in Orlando. Since we arrived back in 101 degree Middle Georgia, I’ve had no desire to put fingers to keys even once. And I’ve talked myself out of every considerable topic, deeming it either petty or over-the-top. If my writing were a real job I’d have been fired years ago.
So, now it’s 11 pm. I’m attempting to write. Type, type, type, No, that sounds stupid. Delete, delete, delete. I still can’t think of a topic worth writing about with the exception of several unrelated observations and one particularly bothersome conversation.
Today, while driving to Andrew’s baseball tournament, held at the “In-the-sticks regional recreation facility” in Blum Ruck Nowhere, we drove by a lovely brick building with a sign out front that read “Elaine’s Hairstyling and Tax Preparation.” You have to wonder how some business ventures are conceptualized.
“Well, ya know what this here town needs, Elaine, is a nice place to git yur taxes did while ya git yur hair did….or vicey versey.” I wonder if Elaine is somewhat of a renegade and said “not NO but HAYULL NO” to the standard nail and facial service add-ons that are typical at most beauty salons. Now that it’s past tax season, I wonder if Elaine supplements her income by doing financial consulting during highlights and perms. I wonder if she’ll eventually add other services to her salon, like, perhaps a crematory, lawnmower repair or pawn shop.
One thing about Andrew’s baseball coaches is that they like to celebrate victories….and, well, defeats too. They’re just positive that way. About a mile from the complex where they play is JR’s, a restaurant that boasts all wood paneling décor…. from floor to ceiling. It’s kind of like being in a horizontal forest without any leaves or grass. After a day on the diamond, we all wind up sitting in wooden chairs, pulled up to a wooden table, toasting well-placed homerun balls or the next victory. A few of us (myself not included) usually get quite toasted.
I was still contemplating Elaine’s business opportunities when Shannon, another team mom, confessed something to me that was so devious and coldhearted, just so downright wretched that I don’t know if I’ll be able to look her in the eye again without showing a little fear. I’ll certainly never allow her in my house.
“I collect TV remote controls,” she said hurriedly and half-jokingly, as if wanting to get it out there before changing her mind.
“Yeah, I have quite a few from over the years too,” I shared, trying to find common ground with this odd admission.
“Yes, but you probably have them from TV’s that you’ve legitimately owned. I take mine from wherever I can get them…other people’s homes, doctors’ office waiting rooms, bars, hotels. Sometimes when I’m volunteering at the nursing home, I’ll take a few from the residents’ bedrooms.”
"That's horrible!" I gasped.
"It's not that bad," she chided. "It's actually sort of funny, if you think about it."
There's nothing funny about losing the remote, much less it being swiped from your possession.
“It started at the end of a long and painful breakup from a man I thought I was going to marry," Shannon continued without prompting. "The last time I saw him was when I drove over to his apartment to try and talk things out one last time. It didn’t work. He told me to leave and then turned to walk back into his bedroom. I was so mad…so, so angry. I wanted to hurt him as badly as he’d hurt me. The channel changer was just sitting there next to his Sports Illustrated. You have to understand, ‘John’ lived for ESPN, Sports Center, games…all that stuff. I knew there was nothing I could do that would hurt him more. So, before I could really think it through, I just grabbed the thing, shoved it in my pocketbook and headed out the door.
He never called me, never accused me of anything. And I became caught up in the rush of having gotten away with it. Stealing that first remote was like a drug. I just wanted to do it one more time, then another and another. I hope you’re not judging me,” she added flippantly. “You’re the only person I’ve told because you seem really cool and accepting…and you make me laugh.”
Staring blankly at Shannon as she continued her disturbing confession, I wondered how long must her victims have searched, stripping the cushions off couches, pawing blindly underneath dressers and end tables, tearing the house apart, before finally giving up and purchasing a new remote? How many days did they have to bear trecking across the room to change channels, painfully, one by one, with no “guide” button to press for help? The thought of it leaves me shaken.
“Wow, Shannon. Uhm, thanks for trusting me,” I stammered, lacking anything of more substance. It was then that I spied JR’s TV control, sitting there vulnerably, like a lone Xanax on the bathroom counter at a detox facility.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said jovially, disrupting my mounting panic. ‘I don’t steal every remote I’m around. Hey, when are we going to get the kids together for a play date? Andrew keeps telling Justin about the fort he built. Let me know when you guys are up for it.”
“I’ll give you a call sometime,” I replied, checking my pocket for my phone, just in case Shannon’s compulsion had progressed to other handheld electronic devices.