Well, we've finally reached the end of a long, hard battle. I can honestly say that some of these entries were pretty good and, thanks to my crack judges David and Scott, we can honestly say that the following five entries are some of the best "Give Grandma a Gadget" writing to come out during 2005 in the Month of August on the First Day of Said Month. Read on after the jump and then make your choice at the very bottom of the story. Remember, our contestants are vying for the charming Pocket Candy by Xtatix. Every vote counts!
Note: None of these have been edited for clarity, spelling, or couth. Please take the essayists ability to use spell check into consideration when voting.
The digital age is upon us and the pressure to keep up with the neighbors on who can wire their grandparents up the most is in full force. It need not matter if grandma is ready, capable, or in need of any digitalization of her lifestyle what matters is that while Bob and Suzy might have a bigger SUV, and Phong and Quy have smarter kids my grandma is more wired. Grandma needs an MP3 player. One must settle upon a player that begins with the letter X . Such a player would mean that you are a rebel and surf on the edges of society more than if your player started with the letter i . Settling upon Xtatix I would have to say the Shooter is the product for her. The shooter serves many functions in one device. You can wear it around the neck, thus saving me from having to buy separate bling . She would also think that its her long lost brooch and be delighted! Its prominent position on the neck also signals to Bob and Suzy and Phong and Quy Hey look what I got. I m plugged in, its not white, and thus I am cool. It has a 12 hour battery life, which would last more than her waking and lucent hours. It has a backlit screen , and coupled with it around the neck, makes her easy to find in the dark when she wanders away from the house in fit of Alzheimer s dementia. With a 12 hour battery life, coupled with a dependable schedule, I can time messages in between the Glen Milller Orchestra and Benny Miller for those daily reminders that used to get repetitious and mundane. With her Alzheimer s, everyday will be the first time she hears it thus making the need for only 1 playlist! For instance, using the voice recorder and her playlist, when she awakens at 9 AM, her day would start off like: 9:00 AM - Good morning Grandma, love you. 9:03 AM Flush the toilet Grandma 9:04 AM Don t forget to pull up your pants grandma. Music 9:10 AM The bowel on the floor is not for you grandma. 9:12 AM The prunes are on the 2nd shelf to the right of the fridge grandma. With everyone having a Razor phone, subscribing to the same blogs, kids going to the same prep academies and dogs to the same groomer the need to differentiate ourselves extends to not only how we care for our parents, but how wired, hip and functioning they are. Xtatix s Shooter would serve that function for us perfectly.
Rob writes—if you call it writing:
I BY GRAMMA A CLAPPER BECUS SHE LIEKS CLAPPING AND CAINT SEE IN THE DARK.
I have a pathological need to enter essay contests, but I live in such fear
of actually *winning* that polished turd of a flash player that I had to
ensure that there was not a chance in Hell of it happening.
Thank you, this has been cathartic.
I love my grandma. Of course, I'm talking about my one living grandma. Nobody liked the other one. If she were alive, I'd write about giving her an overclocked vagus nerve stimulator and leaving it at that. But I'm talking about the unimbalmed old lady that is my mother's mother.
In the twenty-six years I have known her, she has been the same great
old lady she always was, minus a little bit of hair and agility and
memory. But I wouldn't buy her a PDA or a robosuit or a can of white
spray-on hair. Do they even make spray-on hair in white?
She's almost 100 years old now but my grandma still plays golf, fishes
and drives a car. She even has a computer and types e-mails for her
husband because neither of them can hold a pen steady enough to write
and my grandfather is usually too busy making martinis. (Look at all
the gadget opportunities!)
I haven't even mentioned how lovely my grandma is when she genuflects
in church or dances in the Florida sun, or how much she loves to hear
old Glen Miller recordings. Still, I wouldn't get her a pair of Oakley Thumps.
A lady like my grandmother would seem to be doing just fine without
any gadgets at all. She's pretty, she smells nice, she has a lovely
voice and her manners are always perfect, especially when she cuts the
cheese: she only excuses herself aloud if someone obviously heard her
break wind. In fact, I think my grandma's only flaw is the volume of
gas that passes her colon, or more precisely, the volume of the noise
she emits expelling it.
If my grandma could use a gadget, it would be a set of Bose Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones (I have a set and I love them) specially modified to to be worn on a belt and to act as
loudspeakers to cancel her uncontrolled noises. I believe this gadget
would allow my grandma to be the most perfect 97-year-old lady even
when she's farting in the drug store incontinence aisle.
First you have to understand my grandmother. What can I say? She's a recluse, she's self-absorbed, moans continually about her health problems, and the only technology she's ever owned is a telephone, a TV set and an ancient record player and radio console that weigh nearly as much as a baby elephant. Yes, she's intelligent, but it's the kind of smarts that went with her generation, not the kind she needs today. She's content with the way things are and changes disturb her equilibrium. So, I set out to fix all that and make her life easier. She interrupts me before I can finish explaining all of the wonders of the Xtatix Pocket Candy to her. "Baby, you know I cain't operate them new- fangled gizmos... " (Yeah, she still calls her over-fifty granddaughter "Baby".) "Pocket candy?" "You know my doctor told me I have to quit carrying that sugar stuff around, I can't have it anymore with my new diet." Then I attempt explaining mp3 technology to her. Vividly extolling all of the benefits of the small, compact players, the minute amount of space that disks occupy vs. her huge stacks of LP record albums and the old 78 RPM collection. Well, I might as well have been explaining how to build your own Estes Rocket from the blank look I was getting back from Gram. "Baby, why would I need this thing - I cain't play my Andrews Sisters records on it, or my Glenn Miller records, or Frankie Sinatra... so what good is it?" Quickly, I try another tactic, explaining how she needs to keep up with the times, and what an Apple Mini could do for her, how she could surf the net, make some new friends in forums, and burn her old records.... "Burn them??" "Why would I want to burn my records?" "I LIKE my records, Baby... and besides you know about those strict burning laws inside city limits." At that point, I realized a computer might be more than she could handle (or would even want to). Obviously, I was very rapidly getting nowhere, so I approached her with the Prius. Another losing battle, she keeps her 1950's model sedan inside the garage with a tarp over it. "Why, Honey (that's my 'other' name), I'd have to hire me a driver if I got one of those, you know I cain't drive no more!" I felt pretty silly at that point; I had totally forgotten that she doesn't drive anymore, and living on social security definitely wouldn't afford her the luxury of a chauffeur. Finally, I said, "Gram, what if I teach you how to use this amazing little Xtatix Pocket Candy gizmo, and show you how you can take it out in the yard when you work in your flower beds and listen to Glenn Miller at the same time." "Baby, why didn't you say so in the first place?" she replied, and she was ecstatically grinning from ear to ear.
It s tough to buy tech for Grandma. This is especially true when tech means uses electricity.
First we tried the Ceiva digital picture frame. We ll just put it on her
phone line! Dials the web by itself after midnight! Retrieves whatever
photos we ve loaded up! All she d have to do is LOOK AT IT! She can
Did I mention Grandma fears electricity? Right up there with burglers.
She unplugs everything in the house before bedtime. Everything. Except
the refrigerator, because she can t reach it. She d pull that one too,
if she could get back there. So out came the frame s power plug every
night. Unsafe! The Ceiva couldn t make its calls.
You learn to check for power before you sit down to watch TV.
Especially in the morning. One useful gift (constituting our pathetic
submission for this contest) was a power strip. Successful high tech!
It meant she could pull the TV, the cable box, and the VCR all with one
yank! Too bad it had that frightening red light on the switch there.
So she had to pull the actual cord.
Grandma keeps ALL her doors and windows locked, all the time. Burglars!
In the newspaper every day! When you go out to the garage on a visit,
you get about ten feet away and you hear that click behind you. The
porch curtain is just moving. Then you have to bang on the porch door
for ten minutes to get back in, because she can t hear you.
She s 84. Could fall down. And she still drives. Could get stuck or
lost! So we gave her a prepaid emergency cell phone. We glued a big
label on the back showing the keys to press if she had to make a call.
It might as well have been the ignition sequence for the Alamagordo
A-Bomb. She wouldn t touch it.
So we gave her a REAL cell phone. With all her numbers in speed dial.
She liked the concept! Too bad it had to be charged. OUT with that
plug at night! Ironically, it ran down when it was supposed to be
Leaving counts the same as going to bed. So everything gets unplugged
for trips out. This proved oxymoronish for the poor light timers.
They d be PLUGGED IN while she was out! We were FOOLS! (I should not
have suggested, in front of my wife, that she could keep them near the
door to throw at burglers.)
The WebTV keyboard hurts too much to bring up. Let s just say $100 down
the drain. I had trouble installing it, which she unfortunately
watched. And her face, her face - it was like putting her on Fear
Apparently people never really like a gift if, when they first see it,
they make a face like getting an enema. Especially if it has a cord.