“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Bette Davis said that, and I agree with her 100 percent. Staying tough and upright on that slippery slope demands diligence and a sharp mind. Those of us who succeeded in dragging our carcasses across the finish line into the new millennium have technology to assist us in our struggle. Electronic gadgetry may not repair the damage done by time and gravity, but it will, by damn, keep our brain cells sparking and our synapses snapping.
Yesterday morning, believing masterful prose possible on my iPad if I had a keyboard, I journeyed to Office Depot where the bright, clear minds of youngsters waited to help me. After several long minutes of watching me stare at the large display of cases with keyboards, cases without keyboards, keyboards without cases, and cases inside other cases, a nice young man came to my rescue and together we selected a darling little Logitech Bluetooth stand-alone keyboard.
Spirits running high, I rushed home to begin my masterpiece. Why and when did they stop providing instruction manuals with electronic gadgets? Surely even kids need instruction manuals, don’t they? Well, maybe not.
I remained calm. I had stayed *tuned in* so was not without resources. A quick click and a few words typed into Google mined an illustrated how-to document, several forum discussions, and a YouTube video starring a geeky young man explaining exactly what I needed to do to “pair” the keyboard to the iPad. Why do they call it “pair” instead of connect, do you suppose?
After several frustrating attempts, the marriage was consummated. I carried the happy couple out onto my porch, sat down in my rocking chair and began typing: Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. As I played with buttons and keys, I recalled something from the video about pairing my keyboard to my iPhone. What a cutting edge notion! Why I would ever want to use my keyboard with my phone doesn’t matter — I would be akamai, plugged-in, savvy. Performing another ceremony, the already-wedded phone became one with the keyboard, a proper ménage à trois of electronic gadgetry.
Exhausted, I retired for a much-deserved nap. When I awoke, my iPad no longer cleaved to its keyboard. What the hell happened? Did the iPad break off contact in a fit of jealous pique when he caught the keyboard paired with another behind his back?
The next morning, I took my divorced gadgets back to Office Depot, and the same nice young man confirmed that the Bluetooth (the connection thingy in the keyboard) was monogamous, giving affection to only one device at a time. My young hero un-paired the phone, re-paired the tablet, and restored harmony. I patted him affectionately as I went out the door.
Now I sit on the deck of a waterfront restaurant, sip a glass of white wine and watch pelicans dive for fish while seagulls squabble over scraps. As I admire my companionable tablet and keyboard on the table in front of me, I reflect on the possibility that they and their brethren might abhor old people. When I first examined the keyboard at the store, I heard a groan coming from inside the thing, an *oh no, an old person* kind of groan. I imagined parts rolling their tiny capacitor eyes and shaking their little capacitor heads, dreading the hours of poking that lay ahead as the old person muttered about the good old days when a two-pronged plug stuck into a wall made things go without any fuss.
But I cannot concern myself with the delicate feelings of electronic gadgetry. I neither give in nor give up my quest to conquer the ups and downs of my slick slope with dignity, and for that I need electronics. I shall strive to unlock the mysteries of why the dingy thingy went ding and the keyboard unpaired and the essay I wrote vanished from the screen. I know that every battle I fight and win keeps the Dread Pirate Alzheimer imprisoned in the basement and Dead-Eye Dementia huddled in his closet. I further resolve to daily feed my mind hands full of colorful bonbons from the huge candy box called the information highway.
And whenever and wherever possible, I shall seek out every blinking, buzzing, pulsing, humming electronic gadget created so that when I slide down the other side of my slope, I need only pair my electronic device to the great Star Trek in the sky and command:
“Beam me up, Scottie.”