I don't know why I did it. Perhaps I was afraid of not being "hip." Or maybe I secretly thought I wasn't being tortured enough.
The rationale I finally used was that I deserved it. In fact, I needed this doodad! The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that my life would not be complete without this particular gadget.
The item I had come to covet was a tablet. And no, I don't mean the kind that involves medicine or the Ten Commandments. Although mastering this thingamabob would cause me to break at least one of the commandments. Several times.
It has been a brutish winter. We don't dare venture out much, so our sources of entertainment have shrunk. I'll call home several times on days when job responsibilities take me out and about. One afternoon when I checked in my wife's voice was brimming with exhilaration.
"What's going on?" I asked.
You'll never believe it!" she replied breathlessly. "The cat was hiding underneath the cattle feeder and she leaped out and almost caught a bird!"
"Wow! What kind of bird? Just a sparrow, I suppose."
"Nope! She almost caught a starling!"
Sadly, it's gotten so that such events are what pass for excitement at our place. This is because leaving the house might entail becoming entangled with one of the random flash blizzards that plague this region.
I was recently caught in such a snowstorm. The visibility was similar to what you might experience if you submerged your head in a bucket of milk. I was driving so slow that glaciers were passing me when a semi suddenly materialized from the swirling whiteness!
The truck was stuck in the ditch, which was fortunate for me but not so much for the truck driver. It was a jarring sight, like stumbling onto a complete dinosaur skeleton in the middle of a golf course. I mopped the flop sweat and gave a silent thanks to the road gods and got home safely.
I don't know how our ancestors managed to endure these long, nasty winters without cable TV. I suppose they had no choice but to surf the Internet by candlelight.
Which brings me back to the tablet gizmo. I didn't realize I wanted one until I saw TV ads depicting "hip" young people using tablets to do everything from posting on Facebook to researching ratatouille recipes. Some of the tablet devices had so many capabilities, I wouldn't be surprised if they could also cook the ratatouille.
I began to believe I absolutely needed such a gadget. Not for whipping up hot dishes, but mainly for finding out what, exactly, ratatouille is. Does it really involve rodents? Or is its moniker just another example of misleading advertising?
You never know when you might want to look something up while watching TV. Isn't that lady the mom from "The Partridge Family"? Or is that David? Let's ask that all-knowing oracle called Google!
Yes, I could also find this information on our PC. But that would mean getting out of my recliner and walking clear across the living room! That's nearly 15 feet! Who can be bothered with that?
After conducting some judicious research - on my PC, which became jealous when it learned that it might have a home computing competitor - I pulled the trigger on a tablet thingamabob. The main consideration behind my choice was that this particular gizmo involved the word "android."
You might think you could simply unwrap a doohickey that has such a name, charge its battery and say, "Android! I want to watch movies of dogs eating peanut butter!" But you would be deeply disappointed.
First you must go through a lengthy process called "configuration." This torturous procedure entails approximately 782,000 distinct steps, each more obscure and mystifying than the last.
For instance, the device wanted to know if I preferred using the metric system or if I wanted measurements displayed in firkins. Then it asked me to create a password, which I did and promptly forgot. It also asked for all sorts of personal information such as which side of the bed I sleep on and my favorite brand of toilet paper. Stupid smart device! Why can't it just work?
After many hours - clumsy fingers and virtual keyboards are a bad combination - I finally glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel.
"Look!" I exclaimed to my wife. "It's booting up! I'll soon be... NOOO! It's downloading the first of 3,972 updates!"
And in the midst of my mental misery, my wife grinned like the Mona Lisa.
"You're almost as entertaining as the cat!" she said.