He aimed his keyless remote fob at the door and thumbed the ‘‘unlock’’ button. The door wouldn’t open.
Annoyed, my buddy ‘‘Hank’’ pointed again and pressed harder. Nothing.
Hank glared at the door as he thrust the fob at it as if running it through with a saber. He mashed the unlock button like he was detonating a bomb — once, twice, three times, just to be sure. Then he squeezed the doorknob in a death grip and twisted with a might grunt.
The door remained locked.
Steam began to billow from his ears. I’d never seen steam actually billowing from ears before.
Hank reared back, ready to smash a size 13 cowboy boot right through the door. I hated to see a cowboy boot destroyed like that so I took action.
‘‘Maybe,’’ I commented, ‘‘you should try the house key.’’
Hank froze in mid-kick. He looked at the car keys in his hand and choked off something that sounded like, ‘‘Eep!’’
Hank slid a brass key into the lock and the front door practically flew open. He ducked inside, barely giving me a chance to slip past him before he slammed the door and collapsed against it.
‘‘Did anybody see that?’’ Hank asked.
‘‘Couldn’t help it,’’ I said. ‘‘Your car lights kept flashing every time you tried to unlock the front door.’’
‘‘Eep,’’ he said again.
Hank picked up a remote control from an end table, aimed it at the stereo system and clicked. I heard the garage door rumbling down.
‘‘Oops,’’ he said.
He grabbed a second remote, aimed and thumbed. A ceiling fan whipped overheard. Another remote and I was pretty sure I heard a blender take off in the kitchen.
‘‘Here,’’ I said, stepping across the room to the stereo. I blew dust off the “on” switch and flipped it up. Music began to play.
‘‘Thanks,’’ Hank said. He flopped into his easy chair and pressed a button to start the built-in massager.
I couldn’t blame him, really. Ever since the Zenith Space Command television remote control went into commercial production in 1956, existence buttoned down. Now we thumb our way through life. We even have video games that operate by wireless remote so that we can enjoy a full slate of outdoor sports without the bother of going outdoors.
The idea was to make day-to-day living easier. But perhaps we forgot practicality.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could point a fob at a person’s mind — say, bosses or spouses — and unlock what they’re actually thinking?
Let’s point a translation controller at our teenagers so we can figure what they’re really trying to say through all that mumbling. Better yet, how about a remote control that makes your teenage kid mow the lawn or pick up laundry?
When my computer freezes up, it would be convenient to simply aim a fob at it and press the thaw button. Sometimes, the swift application of a sledgehammer sounds more satisfying, but a fob would be nice.
How cool would it be to aim a remote control at the oven and have a roasted turkey pop out? It could be served to you on the back of the robot stegosaur you zip through the rooms by wireless controllers.
Then I glanced at Hank, who was aiming a series of remotes at his TV while yelling at a persistently blank screen. Through the window, I could see his car lights flicker as the engine fired and quit. The garage door banged up and down. CDs clanked about a changer, lights popped on and off, and a toy fire truck raced across the floor, honking a tiny horn, its tiny siren wailing.
I left Hank’s house, locking the door on my way out. With a key. I’d already tossed the keyless remote fob in the bushes. It was time to thumb my nose at this confusing life of convenience..