Dolores and I have arrived without incident (for once) and have had a chance to poke around a bit in my parents' new house in Kokomo. It's a pretty place, comfortable but not ostentatious, with a grass airstrip out back (Dad flies small planes) and an actual cornfield, with corn in it, across the street.
The last time I saw the house it was a wreck, in the process of being de-uglified and fixed up. Now that my folks have well and truly made it their own, it would be an earthly paradise if it didn't scare the hell out of me. It's alive.
Nothing in the house works the way you expect it to. Both Mom and Dad are gadget and gizmo freaks, and Dad is an experienced electrician and all-around tech guy. They like to think of themselves as simple people, but the fact is that they can't stop tinkering. There's nothing that works so well that it can't be supercharged in some manner. For a visitor from a backwater like Chicago, the sudden immersion in a fully-wired environment is disorienting.
Upon entering a room, you don't flip on the light. The light switches have been disabled. You have recourse instead to a keypad, which requires you to enter a numerical sequence and an access code in order to enable one of 240 pre-set illumination configurations. Before I sat down write this, I punched in a wrong number and the desk lamp spit out two twenty dollar bills and a receipt.
Everything either beeps, chimes, or talks to you. Weather reports issue automatically from the telephones. The telephones talk to the oven. The washer and dryer offer commentary on world events. Push down the lever on the toaster and the garage door opens. They're going to be ripping out the master bath in a month or so, and installing a toilet that will sense when someone comes into the room and automatically lift its lid.
I don't think I would be able to pee if I felt the toilet were watching me.
I can't turn on the stereo because there are twenty-two unlabeled remote controls on the coffee table, and I'm afraid if I push the wrong one it'll start up the lawn mower or retract the roof.
We've already had a brouhaha this morning when my father's automated recliner shot Dolores across the living room and into the fireplace. As we pulled her out of the flue, covered in soot, she gasped, "I was just trying to check the Weather Channel."
I have to go take a shower now. If you don't hear from me by Monday, you'll know I was eaten by the laundry hamper.