Have you ever tried to turn on the TV at someone else's house? It's like trying to figure out what toy will stop a 2-year-old from having a first-degree meltdown while you're baby-sitting for the first time.
I'm in the guest room at Melody and Mac's house, and just want to watch the news before nodding off. They've told me how to find the light switch in the bathroom, how to jiggle the toilet handle, where to find extra blankets, even what pets might crawl into bed with me.
"Just make yourself at home! Our fridge is your fridge," they tell me, before they totter off to bed.
But I receive no help in the TV department. There are five remotes in the guest bedroom. One for the TV, one for the cable box, one for the DVR, one for the ceiling fan and a red one that doesn't seem to do anything, no matter how many times you push its buttons. Of course, I don't know which remotes do what right away; it took a while just to get this far.
Today's news will be in the history books before I figure this out.
I can get the TV to turn on and I can get the cable to turn on, but not at the same time. Oh, I see -- you have to turn on the DVR first, then the cable, then the TV. Wow, is that loud. Click, click, click -- nothing. Whoops, you have to turn down the TV volume with the TV remote, not the cable remote.
Now, which channel has the news? Melody and Mac's channels are totally different than mine, since they use a different cable service. Their service is much better. They get all kinds of channels I don't. Oh wow. It seems Melody and Mac subscribe to a lot of premium "adult" entertainment channels.
Now I can't turn the TV off. It's getting louder. I have pushed every button on every remote 10 times. It sounds like I'm hosting an MTV-style Spring Break party in the guest room. Finally I get up, unplug everything and climb back into bed.
I hadn't noticed it before, but the mattress is harder than the tiles on the bathroom floor. It's like trying to sleep on a brick. I would toss and turn, but I'm afraid I'd bruise myself.
The next morning Melody says, "I had no idea you were such a night owl! Maybe you should have your hearing checked. We could hear the TV at the other end of the house." I apologize for interrupting their sleep. She winks at me and says, "Oh, we weren't sleeping."
Suddenly I remember the slew of X-rated channels. Ewwwwww. TMI.
Maybe I'm just not a born traveler. I have friends who go all over the world for months at a time, and they tell me how much fun they have. "Oh, you'll love Thailand! We spent six weeks there and it changed our lives. We lived in a grass hut and caught our own fish." They're making Motel 2 sound like heaven. Six weeks? I've only been away two days and I'm already missing my own bed, my own remote controls, my own bathroom.
I don't like having to be on my best behavior in someone else's house. My worst behavior is where I really start to shine.
"How about that mattress?" Melody asks, with obvious pride in her voice.
I don't know what to say, so I go with, "I've never slept on anything quite like it."
"Yes," she says. "I love the way you can make it harder or softer with just the push of a button."
So that's what the red remote does.