I started thinking about buttons, switches, and knobs yesterday. My apparent inability to properly function inside an automobile I’ve owned for years started the whole thing. It’s not like I was nervously nestled inside a US F-16 Fighting Falcon at a local drive thru scanning the skies for any Russian MiG 21 Fishbeds on my tail; Although, my focus was on paying for the two McDonald’s sausage egg McMuffins I ordered moments earlier through their crackly flight deck Command Center a few yards back. Paying was necessary through an open window of a car I was – or should have been – all to familiar with. Thus buttons, switches, and knobs.
Flat black ones, skinny worn out rubby ones … semi-round, notched, protruding, convex and concave ones all at my command. A simple twick of my finger on one of the flat pancakey pads made all four plastic skinny sticks on the doors go up and down. With proper planning, my simultaneous action of turning a cylinder and pulling a knob at the same time could spit squishy blue liquid at odd angles into the eyes of passing pedestrians. A larger protuberance causing humans to speak angry nonsense into my auto space through airwaves designed, apparently, for the most radical of thought while comfortably to my right sat another thumb flicker controlling P-D-D2-N-and-R. Too much. Just too much for a guy wanting to simply pay for a couple of sausage egg McMuffins.
All this to say I was still sitting as an auto-pilot, in a line taking way too long, thinking a lot about buttons, switches, and knobs (BS&K).
It started at the beginning. The Genesis for all of us. No exceptions. Lift up your Wal*Mart Balenciaga knock-off t-shirt and see, or feel around down there. It is the first button we experience and, in the poker game of life, you’re either inney or outey. Guys, admittedly, develop a fascination early with these dainty dermos depressions that continues on into adulthood (which could explain my problem today)… while ladies move on to more mature, fancy button words such as Cloisonné, Mandarin, and Satsuma. Speaking of diaphanous design, male-right and female-left on shirts seems to be buttonous balderdash. At what point in the history of apparel did one decide, “Hey, here’s an idea: since I think most females are right brained, thus left-handed, and most males are left brained, thus right-handed … let’s manufacture all the men’s shirts one way, and all the women’s shirts another …”? I did some research on this very topic. Here’s my finding, in the most simplest of terms, and logical of explanations : MEN; WEAPONRY. WOMEN: BREASTFEEDING. Got it. Can we move on?
Cute as a button I’ve never been. Not even sure who ever was, in some twisted nineteenth century mind. Before precise language was invented in the 20th century, what child appeared so similar to a round, bulbous, plastic twinklet bottom feeding in a sewing basket that the only word to describe such a child was, “button”? A term, mind you, only two letters removed from, “butt”. A butt that’s starting to tingle from sitting too long. Where were my sausage egg Mcmuffins?
Switching to switches. The ons and offs of life. I have a mechanic who loves to work on the very car I sat in waiting for my highly sodiumized sausage sandwiches. His favorite word, I believe, is switches. Never a fix goes without a mention of it and, as evidenced by post fix explanations, apparently everything worth running in my car relies on switchery-witchery in some form. “This switch does this and that …. ” is what I hear. I’m not a switch guy, so he can go on (and off, perhaps) about the “medrodoflow valve switch not triggering a drugnut sluffer plug wetterpew ping switch” … and it is about the same to me as, “You want fries with that?”. Which I didn’t because it was still breakfast …
Knobs. Ah, knobs. Certainly plentiful, but I bet there are more pennies, toothpicks, and straw wrappers jammed in between all the cracks, creases, and crevasses in my car than knobs in the known universe. Nature has no naturally forming knobs of use to anyone … unless you count great Aunt Ethel’s hairy knees which are, now, of no use to her since the bad skateboarding accident last year. Why she tried a frontside/backside powerslide on unproven retirement pavement is anyone’s guess. She’s ok. Tony Hawk sends his regards to her frequently … and his sympathies to the rest of us more often than that.
Artificial knobs to turn in life for many, many things …. most important among them: doors. Specifically, handles for doors. Knobs we grasp in the dark while pulling doors mightily back – over big toes, perhaps crunching them with such early morning force we must use our loudest foghorn voice to awaken the spirits of the household calm. Doors and knobs opening forcefully forward into a loved one nose standing invisibly to you, but bloody visible on their face waiting impatiently for a quick apology… and a tissue you don’t have. And, if it was your wife? A knob forthcoming on your forehead after pan mysteriously appears from her right back pocket and places said knurl on your noggin. You won’t be ok for a while. Tony Hawk will not be sending you anything.
I was waiting. Finally ready to pay. Money in hand. Btw, ya get a deal on the sandwiches: 2/$4 … plus tax. $4.24 ready. Buttons, switches, and knobs in place. Mind at ease. Hungry, but alert. Command Center gave the all-good as I saw the dual window slowly open to my left. There it was!! My reward…a steamy closed bag sitting on a counter only two feet away. One task left. Open MY damn window. Is that a button, switch, or knob? Sh*t. No manual override … for me or the frea**ing window. This one? .. wipers on. Really? 🤦🏻♂️ yeah sure. Let’s just go ahead and unlock the doors now, too.😲… oh, here they are. Sure THIS works!! .. I’ll open the BACK window first before finally figuring out what the right button is.😏….
I’m quite sure the young man didn’t notice anything. Had I landed a fighter jet in his drive-up lane, he might have. Regardless, it gave me pause to think about something other than January snow, politics, and everyday mental stressors. For $4.24 and a little more sodium, I think the sausage McMuffins were worth it.
Now, if I could only convince Aunt Ethel to fly a US F-16 Fighting Falcon …