I’m the first to admit that I don’t get out much, especially since I recently figured out how to stream Netflix on my “smart” TV, an inanimate object whose intelligence is clearly superior to mine. So what if this is the equivalent of discovering I don’t have to ride my horse anymore when there’s a much faster alternative called the car.

But when I do venture out, I like places that are far removed from my comfort zone. Places that challenge me intellectually, places that, around every corner, make me stop in my tracks and go, “Wow!” So when a museum of abstract art is too far to go on horseback, I settle for a trip to my local Home Depot.

While on my way to the socket wrench aisle, I became distracted by an onslaught of flashing lights and the dulcet tones of Dean Martin singing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” It absolutely did look like Christmas in this corner of Home Depot, and it probably has since last August. But when you’re in dire need of a high speed brad-point drill bit on a warm summer’s day, one tends to proceed with blinders on.

Anyway, I stopped to check out the latest in fake Christmas trees, a term I used as a pejorative until, more than 10 years ago, my cat Max mounted and floored my beautifully trimmed Scots pine. Fake trees don’t tingle the olfactory glands of predatory felines, they don’t shed needles that show up in my underwear six months later, and if you close one eye and squint with the other, they sort of look real.

I’m a sucker for any gadget that has a tag that exclaims, “Try me!” The first tree I stopped to admire had one, so I pressed the button. Whoosh, the tree immediately grew from seven and a half feet to eight. I pressed it again, and Alakazam, it shot up to nine feet.

I could’ve easily amused myself for hours pressing that little button, but instead I pondered the possibilities before me. My fake tree was not aging gracefully. Many of its polyvinyl chloride needles were turning brown. How long would it be before tiny bits of PVC randomly poked me in unmentionable places? It was time for a new tree.

I decided I didn’t need one that did everything but leave milk and cookies for Santa. I opted for a solid looking seven-and-a-half-footer, a majestic Wesley spruce with — do my eyes deceive me? — lights already attached to it! Where have you been all these years?

It turns out they’ve been around since the early ’90s, about the same time I learned there was something called the Walkman.

So I rushed home and had my new tree up in 10 minutes, which gave me plenty of time to play with the remote that alternately flashed colored lights, white lights, and a frenzied mode that looked like something in a game I witnessed the other day. I think it’s called Laser Tag. I bet that’ll catch on.

It’s a big, wild world out there, for sure, and I’m determined to step out and experience more of it in 2017. 

But there’s a lot to be said for just sitting back and letting stuff happen. Just last week I somehow managed to randomly sign up for Amazon Prime, and just as randomly discovered Amazon on my “smart” TV. 

Now I can stay home and watch television series that used to be trendy five or six years ago. And allow technology to continue to pass me by.


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