Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, July 18

Gapers Block

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Anyone out there technologically challenged, despite a perfect fit in the "bright" or higher category of the Standard IQ Test? Have difficulty programming a VCR? Have difficulty even remembering what VCR stands for? Welcome to my world of dingfods and doohickeys. I'm waiting for the government to institute a Program for the Digitally Disabled so I can retire.

My Gram labeled all fumblebum gadgetry "dingfods" or "doohickeys." Pre-techno age, she ingeniously employed her microwave oven as a breadbox. Imagine her angst today. Those of us who are intelligent, bright, clever, artistic, imaginative and resourceful on the one hand, and yet gadetally challenged on the other, find it difficult to navigate our way through the dingfods and doohickeys of life. After enduring the first four stages of gadgetal grief — denial, anger, bargaining and depression — I've arrived at Stage 5. I accept that I'm inept.

Please assure me I'm not oh, so alone by admitting you've suffered some of the following digital dilemmas:

  • Remembering the proper sequence of input buttons on three TV remotes. How about a single remote?

  • Setting clocks, including the essential gotta-getta-work alarm, and watches. I've given up, allowed the batteries to run down, and now wear them as bracelets.

  • Programming conventional and microwave ovens. The wherewithal to instruct the former to clean itself evades me, and cute little pictures of food on the latter would be most welcome.

  • Coffeemaker setup. I've mastered "On" and "Off."

  • Utilizing multitudinous clever features on cell phones. It's official: I won't be text-messaging beings on this or any other planet.

  • Maneuvering through the bewildering maze of answering machine buttons. I've no problem leaving a message — it's the retrieval, replay, storage and deletion that baffle me.

  • Programming car radios and disc players. I've been listening to the same stale station and five CDs for years.

  • Setting thermostats. Ah, the joy of heat blasting in summer, AC in winter.

  • On-screen cable guides. Yikes! I've just ordered 16 movies on Pay-Per-View, all beginning immediately.

Who needs to clap on a light to negotiate that middle-of-the-night restroom visit or fridge raid? My home resembles a landmine-laden field of flashing beams, coyly beckoning me to flirt with digital disaster.

After reading a health newsletter admonition to sleep in total darkness, I've developed a compulsive pre-bedtime routine of sequestering all bedroom beacons behind boxes, drink coasters, even washcloths. As I consent to live in a home filled with intriguing apparati I haven't a clue how to use, my love, with his typical equanimity, endures nocturnal bedframe toe-stubbing and into-the-wall nose-bumping with nary a complaint.

I do admit having mastered computer skills to pull off my exciting career as a legal secretary. I'd be hard pressed to produce umpteen revisions per document if I were chugging along on a Royal Manual. However, when not encumbered by the threat of loss of gainful employment, I keep a paper date book, use a handwritten notebook, read Books-Not-Online, and am confident that the pen is mightier than the e-note when saying "Thank You."

I'm fluent in computer patois, with a few minor modifications: When I boot up, I make a fashion statement. I love being admonished to reboot. Off I go to purchase another pair. Software is cached in my lingerie drawer. Hardware is stored in a toolbox. Windows permit entrance of light and air. A hard drive is any venture onto an expressway in the rain or snow. TMJ causes an annoying right-click in my jaw. A field mouse, joined by furry friends and family members, resides in the yard. The view from our front window includes intriguing web designs, creations of the spiders that gather on our patio. Debugging is done, only if absolutely necessary, with ant spray. Viruses are avoided by clean and healthy habits. Our domain name is The Rebolloso Residence. No cursor exists in our home — we are ladies and gentlemen.

In defense of my anachronistic existence, shrewdly storing my life on paper and not bytes, when "The System" crashes, I'm in hog heaven. No booting or logging maneuvers are necessary to phone a friend, write a note or remember my name. Multiple password memorization isn't required to withdraw 10 bucks from my bank or check the weather report. Speaking of passwords, be very afraid. Hackers are ubiquitous and never sleep. Shun all passwords bearing the remotest resemblance to you, your ancestors, progeny or anyone else on this planet, dead or alive.

My crowing achievement as Digital Ditz? I drive a glamorous classic roadster — blue, reminiscent of Nancy Drew — that doesn't talk to me, start without me, or tell me where to go.


About the Author(s)

Deborah J. Rebolloso is a former Chicagoan who now lives in San Diego. Her writing focuses on humor and satire. Please feel free to contact her at

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