Freedom at 10

Women think way far ahead. They plan, plot, and gently let their men loose in a maze that resembles their mind! And those pour souls believe they are getting away with ‘it’. It could be anything from an iPad to an unsupervised visit to Costco or Best Buy. These two incidents will elaborate my point.

Incident One. The wave of Apple’s first iPad mania washed all over me. I cooled my overheated mind to a simmer telling myself that iPad2 will be better. I waited. I prepared the groundwork to get it by iHook or iCrook. There was a major project in my company to introduce tablets and iPads to managers. Being part of information technology, I hit upon the plan of using this to get my iPad. I believed, strongly, that the company would need me to develop apps for it. As backup I thought, I’d research on net-books. In case iPad fell short, I could always get a decent net book for half the price. When my wife saw the price of iPad she shuddered. I immediately introduced the net-book and sealed the deal. Without hearing a ‘nay’ or ‘aye’ my pour soul got battered between the shiny wall of the iPad and that of a rust-colored net-book. Looking back, I wonder if that shudder was due to a chill in the showroom. Could I have had my iPad after all? My soul has become something in between a flotsam and jetsam after 25 years of floating on turbulent seas.

Incident Two. Some Sundays I get the freedom – the nod to go to an electronic shop or even Costco, unsupervised. There is no pattern to this period-of-enjoyment. This Sunday the leash fell away just before 10 in the morning. In between calls my wife expressed a desire to get two things from Costco. I was out of the door with a leap and a bound. And bolted in right back. The weather woman had me again. She had promised 140C. Gloomy, but double digits. With a blowing wind the day was chilly. I grabbed a jacket and made it to Costco under three minutes.

As soon as one enters the world of Costco, the scheming mind of supermarket chains becomes evident. The size of TVs seem to grow every week. The brightest, sharpest, and biggest in front. The smaller ones at the back. Four rows of moving images on TVs thinner than my eyeglasses. I caressed the bigger ones, turned them around, measured the thickness with my fingers.

“Wow. 70 inches. Look at the size of … ” a voice behind me began.

“You are not getting it.” It could only be his wife.

I smiled knowingly and walked to the end of the electronic isle. Like a pup I wandered the aisles of the electronic section with a drooling tongue and wagging tail. They were offering giant TVs for such a low price. Not that I could take home a fourth TV. If someone was tailing me, all they had to do was follow my drool path. I stopped in front of BOSE speakers and turned it on. Two companion droolers also joined me. I closed my eyes and listened to the pure crisp sound from such tiny speakers.

I went through the accessories aisle. I can probably manage a $50 purchase without authorization. But I had most of them. Propped up next to the external hard drives was a small black box that promised to stream YouTube directly to TV. That would save so much of time and effort hooking up the laptop when my wife desired to see an ethnic movie. [These desires are often a few collection of words, sometimes a “hmmmm”, a nod, or a mere look. I have written a book of codes to decipher them all!]

Next to the electronic section was the digital section where a family was taking pictures. “Do not smile.” A huge lady dwarfed over a small girl. The ten-year-old was sitting on the stool and giggling. The mother explained to the photographer that the photographs were for a passport. She asked the young photographer if he had enough experience with children. He replied that he started taking photos only a month ago. “I don’t trust you. Will you take more photos if they did not come out well?” The poor sap promised he will show the images on his camera and then, only when she was totally satisfied, will he print it.

I moved away. My freedom time was ticking along. The Citizen watch with eco-drive looked tantalizing. So did the wireless pod lights. I pondered in front of the automatic night lights on stairs and dark hallways that doubled as flash lights. The Dyson vacuum cleaners were obscenely expensive. The U-shaped computer station looked neat. At $19.50, the battery re-charger was cheap. I pulled out the snow gloves. Four layers of padding. I always had problems with my fingers freezing in winter. It did not have my size.

The choice in shirts was limited. There were more fleece and Calvin Klein sweaters. Calvin Klein! I took off my hoodie and tried one. No. I will need a new closet to hang any more sweaters. Steve Jobs’ biography caught my eye. Just like all Apple designs, even the book on him was clean. At least on the outside. But it will be in the library soon.

When I was in line paying for the groceries, there was a pain in my stomach I could not figure out. As I got into the car, it hit me. I did not buy anything for myself that I wanted, but did not need.

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