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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THE AMAZON TRAIL All I want for the holidays is a left earbud
by Lee Lynch
2019-12-24

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Not really. My greatest wishes would be for world peace, a year of pain-free good health for all my family, friends, and neighbors, and a brand-new president and Senate majority leader.

It would, however, be nice if I could figure out how to make my left wireless earbud work consistently. They were free and all, so I know I can't expect perfection. A little technical expertise on my part would go a long way to making the new year bright, as they say in the songs. Songs I can only listen to with my right ear.

Speaking of technical prowess, I have a hint for those buying grandma or an older friend a special gift this, or any, season. Whatever you do, do NOT give someone you love a cordless water flosser, no matter how excited you are about yours. Of course, if you get excited about items like water flossers, you've probably already given tutorials to any friend or relation who'd sit still.

I had lunch the other day with my friend the Handydyke, who is in her mid-eighties. I'm a dozen years younger, but we experience life in many similar ways. We were at a Japanese restaurant avoiding all things sushi, which may be another characteristic of aging Americans: stir-fry yes, raw fish and seaweed, emphatically no. Nor is wasabi, however delicious, compatible with elder guts. It's so spicy it reminds me how getting high used to feel.

We were well into slurping up our safe bowls of yakisoba when the Handydyke mentioned her acquisition of a cordless water flosser. "Water ends up everywhere!" she said. "It makes a mess of the whole bathroom!"

"Me too!" I agreed. "I can't control mine. Last night I sprayed the ceiling."

This is true. The cat's afraid to be in the room with me. Where are the industrial designers when we need them? The power buttons on these things are impossible to find by feel, and my glasses are so quickly coated with a mix of water and mouthwash I can't see the controls that were conveniently placed on the side facing away from the user. I don't want to spew the foamy stuff all over myself, so I avoid swallowing while I fumble for the kill switch, certain I'm going to drown. The Handydyke and I choked on our noodles we laughed so hard at our ineptitude.

But getting back to the earbud, I should mention that the set didn't come with a manual. I shouted into the void of the internet for help with this. A few kind people responded that their earbuds had come with manuals. I feel kinda bad that I didn't thank them or congratulate them or ask them if they were the reason Trump is president.

In the great scheme of things, I know my left earbud isn't essential or important to some people. There are things even I want more. Like, I want our democracy back. I want to spend an enormous chunk of defense funds to halt global warming and make decent paying jobs available to all Americans, young to old. I want guns restricted at least at a slightly higher level than water flossers. I want to possess the loving graciousness to say yes when my sweetheart invites me to accompany her to the Tom Hanks movie "Mr. Rogers." Without gagging.

But I just listened to my first podcasts and it would be terrific to enjoy them in stereo. Podcasts were scary for me. My first problem was: why podcasts? My second was, if you ever figure out their use, how do you listen to them? There was some sort of electronic trickery involved, obviously, and if I can't operate a water flosser, what hope was there for me to conquer podcasts?

Then my sweetheart presented me with wireless earbuds. I was relieved she didn't hold my dislike of Tom Hanks and disinterest in Mr. Rogers against me, but it took quite a while for me to tackle the cute little gadgets. Once I did, though, it was full speed ahead. I now have all sorts of knowledge about the former mob in Providence, Rhode Island. About the theft of a rare water lily from an exhibit in the United Kingdom. Why fruit flies aren't always fruit flies. How senators are able to cite laws and such as if they actually know them.

I can't wait to go for a long walk so I can learn how nail polishes are named and whether or not I'm living with a psychopath. Someday, I think I'll be able to listen to the "Women and Words" podcasts by lesbian writers and readers, but right now, I'm sticking with what Google has on offer because I learned by trial and error how to use it.

In my right ear. And never when I'm gagging while immersed in a fracas with my unruly water flosser.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2019

December 2019


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