Published Friday, March 15, 2013
I thought the old guy at my grandmother’s house was my grandfather. He called all of us “Charlie Horse” most likely because he couldn’t remember our names. I would later discover he was actually my grandmother’s dad and lived his final years with her.
“Come in here, Charlie Horse,” his voice would bellow.
I’d run from one side of the small mill house to the other, Keds scuffing up the hardwood floors, racing to be the first Charlie Horse at the finish line.
“Get that lady off the TV,” he’d say.
I’d go over to the television to change the channel. The TV was a huge piece of blonde colored furniture with a fabric panel covering a speaker on one side. Grandmother had adorned it with a doily and some kind of plant in a pot. Her ever-present figurines dotted the house and the TV was no exception; a tall French lady in a glamorous porcelain gown stood to one side. Regal as she was, French lady was no match for the V-shaped rabbit ears that stood high behind her.
The plastic dial was huge in my six-year-old hand. It was yellowed with age and had grooves cut all along the edge. There was a window cut out so one could select the channel. Ca-chunk, ca-chunk, ca-chunk, I’d turn that dial. I found it peculiar that the channels in that North Carolina house landed on different numbers than our home in the suburbs of College Park.
“Hold it, Charlie,” the old guy would command.
I’d stand there for a minute watching him squint at the black and white images while he decided if that channel was better than the previous.
He’d lean back in the recliner. “Go, on.”
Ca-chunk, Ca-chunk. I’d wait as the screen changed to the new station.
“That’ll do,” he’d say, and I’d skedaddle out to play in the yard, not a care in the world. I’m sure the old guy wondered how he’d get that channel changed once his current Charlie Horse had scurried off.
It’s surreal to realize how different things are now. The old guy would be befuddled to see Charlie-free television, thanks to the invention of remote controls. He would probably not care much about streaming video, Internet or even camera phones, mainly because all of his dreams would have come true with that remote.
I can’t imagine how it can get easier but surely it will. My little Charlie Horses will remember the old days when you had to pick up a laptop, put it in the lap and make sure you have a “good connection” to get onto the Internet.
The last time our grandLittle Asher was here he played on his electronics and I played on mine. I was in my recliner and he was on the sofa. I glanced at the clock and saw that my favorite TV program was about to come on. The remote was on a bookshelf nearby.
“Hey Asher,” I said. He looked up. “Would you please bring me the remote?” He hopped up, grabbed the remote and brought it to me. I pushed the buttons and the TV came to life.
If I could say one thing to the old guy, it’d be this: some things never change.
Kathy Bohannon is a weekly contributor to The Newnan Times-Herald. Kathy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .