ED. NOTE: The Mirror is pleased to welcome to our pages, the writings of longtime Campbell River journalist Neil Cameron. Watch for his periodic features and regular column appearances.
Wendy and I stared in horror at the monsters.
They were lined up on the television stand. They sneered at us. They should have been thrown out years ago but, no, we kept them. Just in case.
We had planned a quiet New Year’s Eve, a retro New Year’s Eve. We actually went to the video store to rent movies. It was to be the perfect evening; a few videos, cozied up on the couch by the fire.
Wendy put the first movie in, stepped back and froze. Something was wrong. I came to her side immediately, asking what was wrong.
“The remotes,” she said. “Which one do we use?”
In our fossilized state, the remote controls had been gladly handled over to our daughter. For the past decade. But she wasn’t there. For some reason she decided that bringing in the new year would best be spent with friends of her own age, and not the stone age.
Wendy and I moved slowly toward the remotes. Gingerly, we picked them up, walked back to the centre of the living room and turned to face the television. We looked deeply into each other’s eyes, knowing that someone had to press a ‘play’ button that worked.
Like gunfighters at the stroke of noon, we drew. Wendy was the fastest. She raised her remote and fired. Nothing. I provided backup with my remote, firing off six consecutive ‘presses’. Nothing.
We pressed the buttons harder. We contorted our bodies to get different angles and blasted away. Nothing.
We banged the remotes against our legs and fired again. Nothing.
We banged the remotes against the table, fired again, and nothing.
Then there was a flicker of life.
Wendy noticed it first.
“Something blinked,” she said. “Watch.” She pressed a button and something did flicker. I wasn’t sure what, but something happened to the big blue screen. It was fleeting. Just a flicker. But it was hope.
In the next few minutes Wendy and I thrusted and jabbed at the console, like fencers penetrating an opponent’s defences.
“En Guarde!” I shouted.
Wendy dashed in, parrying the remote first for a body shot, then the head. Nothing. Not a flicker. She retreated. Then I, the man of the house, drove forward with two remotes blazing from my hips. I pressed the play button and every other button over and over again. I knew I was going to hell but I relished taking those damn remotes with me. The gentle tap on my shoulder stopped me. Wendy stood there, I think there were tears in her eyes. I couldn’t stand the defeat. Then I looked down at her hands and there was a remote, its backing taken off, and the battery compartment was empty.
Which of course led us to our next dilemma. AA or AAA? We emptied flashlights and other things that might contain batteries that fit. Nothing.
Then it was into the Drawer From Hell. You know that drawer. It contains the things you quite can’t throw out or put in another place. So you put it in the DFH, but only after you push the other stuff aside to make room for it.
Amazingly, we found the batteries. We struggled, but eventually got the movie going. We snuggled into the evening and our minds left the day-to-day worrying behind. All was good. We lapsed into that mind-numbing state into which a good or poor movie can put you.
And then, “Pee break,” said Wendy. “Put it on pause.”
I agreed and pressed what I thought was the pause button. The screen went blue. Our eyes went wide in horror and trepidation. And in that way, we agreed to put 2016 to bed.