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Zan Thompson

It's Not Quite in the Spirit of Things

March 10, 1985|ZAN THOMPSON

Patsy would have electric shoes if she could. She loves things that tick, whir, buzz, flash numbers or have tapes that come out of their stomachs. It was only predictable that she strike an unnatural relationship with the computer. When she approaches it, it hunkers down and positively purrs. Then it garbles forth a lot of unintelligible stuff. When I go near it, it sulks.

That is why I was so confounded when she could not work the IV for the TV. I have explained before that I am weary of learning new staccato acronyms for things I either don't have, don't want or can't operate. I learned to say IV some years ago following an exotic surgery to combat an obfuscatory ailment I had contracted while on a covert mission for a little European government for which I was paid in fire opals. IV means intravenous. That makes sense. But when they begin to proliferate, I just stopped trying.

This IV is one of those that allows you to tape a TV program that is present when you aren't, thus avoiding having to watch, say, "Charles in Charge"--not, for heaven's sake, that it is any worse than any of its fellows.

After it was installed, she read the book that was written in the customary laconic code and then pushed all the buttons and turned the knobs as instructed. Then we went back over it with me reading the directions aloud, lest she had missed a step. All should have been well.

As a test case she set the IV to record "Seven Year Itch," a funny old movie made from a funny play starring Tom Ewell. The movie starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell.

The next night we poured our wee glasses to the brim with sherry and sat down to watch. It was still funny and enjoyable. Then we decided to tape "Hill Street Blues," a show we enjoy but that comes on at 10 o'clock at which time we are settling Mrs. Goldfarb, Peaches and ourselves for the night, against the bright dawn of a new day. Patsy zipped through the buttons and the knobs, not even asking me for a check run.

The next night, we settled ourselves to watch "Hill Street Blues" and, by gar, there came Tom and Marilyn. This happened several more times at intervals of about two weeks.

It took Patsy that long each time to gather her courage and try again. After each disappointment, we went through the stage of deciding to call our tried and true TV repairman, Dal Speers. Then Patsy would say, "But everyone can work these things. I'll get it next time."

But she wouldn't. It has now been almost a year. We cannot tape over the "Seven Year Itch," we cannot erase it. Patsy has sat with her finger on the erase button for minutes at a time and when she turns it to play, there is the redoubtable Norma Jean, zaftig, pretty, funny and omnipresent. It's a good movie, but not every night.

Last night, there was a commercial on TV for a new dishwasher that talks to you. And it flashes messages in a panel that say things like crystal , silver , delay , rinse , put the roast on at 5 .

I was sure Patsy would run for her pencil and pad that she keeps on her end table to jot down irresistible gadgets new to the marketplace. She didn't stir but sat there, a broken blossom.

Finally, to cheer her up, I said, "Patsy, did you see that? It gives messages on its little screen. Wouldn't that be nice?"

She shook her head. "I'd just get Marilyn Monroe."

And do you know, I think she would.

"I got her this morning," Patsy said, "on the word processor."

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