Monday, September 22, 2008

The Remote Control of Life

Tivo has changed the way that I look at the universe. I am a Tivoholic. I admit it. I can no longer live without it. I go to other people's houses to watch the game or a show and I can barely tolerate it. I find myself absently going for the remote to fast forward through commercials, to rewind something I missed, or to pause and get a snack. What do you mean I have to wait til the commercials for a pee break?

I'm so used to my Tivo controller that in normal, everyday social situations, if someone says something funny, and I miss it, my reflex is to move my remoting thumb to where the rewind button would be. On more than one occasion I've walked back into a room and missed huge chunks of a conversations. My immediate mental response is to curse myself for not pausing them before I got up. Heck, there's even been boring car rides, long lines, or phone conversations with my mother that just scream out for a fast forward button.

Last night I utilized that pause function in the middle of a show to answer the phone. It was my sister. "Guess who I just ran into at Wal-Mart?" she asked.

"John Laraquette?" I guessed.

I know it wasn't a very good guess, and the odds were against my sister running into Mr. Dan Fielding himself in a discount retail store. But, I hate that "guess who" game. Of all the people in all the world, how in the heck am I supposed to randomly guess who you saw buying cough suppressant and paper towels?

"No," she replied.

"Markie Post?"

"Come on, really guess."

"Richard Moll?"

"It's not anyone from Night Court."

"Oooooo. A clue. John Ratzenberger?"

"You're an idiot."

"Who did you run into?"

"Mitchell Bournik."

"Really?" Mitch Bournik was a good friend of mine when I was a little kid. One of my best friends. There were several years there that we were pretty much inseparable. The playground, the ball field, the ole climbin' tree, the big dirt hill, the creek. It didn't matter where,if you found one of us, you usually found the other.

That all changed when we were about ten or eleven. His dad got transferred to Massachusetts, and I'd never heard from him again. I'd always wondered what became of him, sometimes catching myself looking at people in the mall that look like he might look if I could push the ultimate fast forward button and use that cool age progression software the police and FBI have.
I got lost for a minute in old memories of me and Mitch. Football in the back yard. Epic games of ghost in the graveyard. His goofy no-tooth smile. The crazy trick paper airplanes he made...
When I tuned back into reality, my sister caught me up with Mitch's life. I was glad to hear that she'd given him my phone number. Wow,little Mitch. I hadn't seen him in almost twenty years.
Not two minutes after we hung up, the phone rang again. It was him.

We chatted for almost an hour. He was different. Of course he was different, twenty years had passed. We'd both grown up. We'd grownup different though.

He's a lawyer. A litigation lawyer. He's married. He has a house.A nice car. A good life. A family. A little baby girl. He was kinda snobby. Kinda rude. More than just a little bit arrogant.
This was more shocking than when I found out my former college roommate had furniture in his apartment that didn't belong in the lawn or have a valve stem to blow it up with.

This was monumental. A wife? A kid? A mortgage? Not little Mitch.He's eight years old. He has a boogery nose. Constantly. He laughs hysterically when the "gophter" (yeah, that's how he said it), in Caddyshack, does his little gophtery dance. He's the one next to meat the baseball games, actually tossing his little plastic glove into the White Sox dugout once at Old Comiskey Park. He doesn't care if it's the middle of the game, he figures they have to give him an autograph. He runs up and rolls down the big dirt hill by my house.He wades in the creek to catch "tabapoles." He's the little kid that got lost going to the bus stop. The bus stop that's half a block from his house. The bus stop that you can see from his front door. He also forgot to get off the bus in the afternoon. Twice. He races his bike down our street, jams on the breaks as hard as he can, and measures to see which of us can leave the longest skid mark. He lays on the kitchen floor to play Crossbows and Catapults. He falls out of the tree, plays Star Wars and hide & seek, and sneaks around in the bushes with us to spy on the neighborhood girls. He is the worst wiffle baller in the history of wiffle ball. He's been hit in the face by a fourteen mile an hour wiffle curve ball. Twice. He's my friend. My best friend.

Old Comiskey park was torn down more than a decade ago. That dirt hill we rode our bikes up and down is now the site of town homes. The memory of that dancing gophter was forever tainted by Caddyshack 2.The creek was filled in for a strip mall, tabapoles forever replaced by ninety-nine cent shirt cleaning, Chinese take-out, and four dollar convenience store jars of mayonnaise. That old climbing tree was chopped down. They even pulled the stump. Our long forgotten time capsule probably gone with it.

Everything comes to an end, even childhood memories. In a moment he went from my childhood best friend, he never grew up in my mind, he was always little Mitchy, to some thirty year old guy. From boogery nosed tabapole hunter to dad. From kid who couldn't pronounce gopher to litigation lawyer. From a wide eyed little boy that'd eat any bug you could find for just a dollar to kind of a pompous jerk. All in an instant. Twenty years for me, twenty years for him, but one split second for us.

It altered my world. Next thing you know, people are going to tell me Jay Wilson and Eddie Mayer and Aaron Blum are all grown up too. I don't care if it's been two decades, those people need to stay kids.

When I hung up with him, making vague plans to get together for lunch, I needed my Tivo remote. I needed to stop. I needed to hit record and save things the way they were. I needed to go backwards somehow.OK, maybe rewind and pause are a little ambitious, but this is all going way too fast, would someone please at least invent a slo-mo button?

Old friends who stayed like you remember them would vote at


Bee said...

Pffft! Lawyers! I'm sure there was an underlying mean streak in him you didn't recognize when you guys were kids.

I once bumped into a friend I met a Brown's and we hung out in our early 20s hitting all the clubs on Rush Street. When I told her I was married she did an insulting double take and I thought what bitch!

Then I remembered I use to brag about the fact that no man would ever tame me...

(I hope I can say bitch here.)(If not feel free to de-lete me)

colbymarshall said...

Tivo is basically the best thing that ever happened to me (is that sad?) I couldn't live without it if they (you know...them) were to take it away from me, lol.

Thanks for stopping by my blog anyway! I always try to stop in to comment on blogs that comment for me, so pop over anytime ;)