There is a round thing that hangs on the outside of our shed. It has a hand, but it isn’t a clock. I have noticed that the hand rises during hot weather, and falls when it is cold. On Monday the hand rose higher than it ever has before. It even passed the hundred mark. Coincidentally or not, it was hotter than the dickens outside.
That day my parents worked outside. They knew it was dangerously hot, but they are old school: There was work to be done, and it wasn’t going to do it itself. They call this type of thinking old school because all of the people who subscribe to that viewpoint are all buried in the cemetery after dying from heatstroke.
They worked for a half-hour, then came inside, sat at the kitchen table to rest and enjoy the air conditioning. River and I barked and squirmed to be picked up so we could give them rejuvenating licks, and enjoy their sweet, salty skin. Then they went back to work.
After a couple of hours of mowing, weeding, car washing, garden barrier construction, and rock spreading they were done. They dragged themselves inside and collapsed onto the kitchen chairs. Daddy had a brainstorm. He went to Dunkin Donuts for an ice coffee for her and a Blue Raspberry Coolata for him. They planned to shower then plunked themselves in front of the TV with their tablet and laptop, watched TV, and become a potato while their bodies healed.
Mommy was watching Catch-21 on TV. She was barely paying attention to it, because she was reading on the I-Pad when suddenly both devices froze. She dreaded telling Daddy. He rarely takes such information well. When she told him he unplugged everything, and plugged them back in. He waited for the cable box to go through the endless startup cycle. But, it never was completed. He received an error message saying the cable could not connect to the Internet. This wasn’t good.
Undeterred, Daddy unplugged the router then plugged it back in. He waited for ten minutes. Everything was still down. . A computer voice said they would restart the modem, and everything would be okay. They restarted the modem, but nothing was okay.
The disembodied voice at Xfinity said they were going to text Daddy back to see if the reset worked. Apparently, Xfinity is already living in the future where there are no people, just computers chatting to one another. That text must be lost in the wind somewhere because it never arrived. Daddy upgraded the amount of data on his cell phone account, and then downloaded an app and reported the outage. He scheduled an appointment with a technician the next day. Then they faced the bleak reality of a night without laptops, tablets, and worse of all television.
My parents have been married to 26-years. They have had every possible conversation they could. All they have now is commenting on new things visible on each other's bodies, and recommending they get that checked out, and if they are lucky enough to have dogs, ask one another about things that the pups do that they wished they wouldn't, then decide to get it checked out. Despite that nothing ever gets checked out.
After two hours of this excruciating boredom, Daddy decided to see what he could do to fix the problem. All our wires run underground. They connect to our devices through wires that surface by the gas meter and run exposed in the one-foot crawl space under the house. Daddy removed a slat, and then climbed under the house, where he found the wires and tightened them. It worked! Our Internet and cable were connected again!
For years people will tell the story of the day my dad crawled through a river of shit and came out the other side clean so h,is dogs could post on the Internet and he could watch old game shows until his brain atrophied. Everything was back to normal in the house.
I was very happy. If my parent,s don’t have a TV to watch then they watch me. It is very disconcerting.