Sunday, December 10, 2017

An interview with a well-traveled fruitcake

Every year around this time my interest turns, as it does for so many people, towards talking to inanimate objects. Today I have with me a fruitcake. 

GW: Greetings, Mr. Cake.

Fruitcake: Pleasure.

GW: Your season has arrived. Are you stoked?

FC: I am. It’s “go” time. I’m ready. I’ve been napping in brandy-soaked cheesecloth for a month.

GW: This is kind of personal. Feel free not to answer, but have you ever been re-gifted?

FC: Dude, re-gifting is my immortality. No one has ever even brandished cutlery in my presence. They always take one look at me, then kind of shudder, and back away.

GW: How many times would you say you have changed hands?

FC: Well, my first memory is the Summer of Love.

GW: O.K. That’s ‘67. So...50 years, 50 times?

FC: Oh, no, it’s more than once a season. Typically I am given by a boss to a secretary, who waits until he is gone and then laughs hysterically with her coworkers over something. Then they all stare at me in what I can only guess is awe, because a lot of them have their mouths open. Then the secretary takes me home and gives me to a cousin who gives me to a coworker and sometimes I end up with a boss again. In 50 years, I’d say I’ve changed hands, oh, 2,000 times. 

GW: And nobody’s taken so much as a nibble.

FC: We have a saying. If you make it through your first Christmas, you’re home free. 

GW: Can I ask you? What are those bright green and red chunks in you?

FC: An inside joke that went about a millennium too far. 

GW: Fruitcakes are known for their heft. I read somewhere that the ratio of the density of the average fruitcake to the density of mahogany is 1:1. 

FC: Don’t buy it. That’s got Little Debbie’s fingerprints all over it. That’s the sponge cake lobby talking right there.

GW: You do seem pretty solid.

FC: Solid does not mean dense. Although you couldn’t tell that from Congress. 

GW: So tell me. What makes a good fruitcake?

FC: Nobody knows. The good ones aren’t still around. In my business, the last thing you want to be is good. Good means gone.

GW: So I assume you’ll be doing some traveling this Christmas?

FC: Oh yeah. New cellophane on Friday, and at the office party I’m on my way to a new home. 

GW: Well, see you next year.

FC: Oh, count on it. 

. . .



Sunday, December 3, 2017

Our house...is a very very very wired house

It is the 21st Century, people, so it is high time you had a Smart House. The key to success here is acquiring just enough smart appliances so that your house is smarter than your dog but still dumber than you. 

This is harder to pull off than it sounds. 

To walk that fine line, here is what you need:

Smart bulbs. Did you know there are smart, wifi-enabled light bulbs now, which respond to your voice commands? All those years growing up, I remember often thinking, “What I really want in a light bulb is more interactivity.” It’s here. These bulbs can sync up with a particular movie you are watching, or work with GPS so they can turn on right when you arrive home. Gone are the days when you might get home and your light bulbs would be all “Oh, honey, I expected you later,” and you’d hear muffled giggling from the closet as the other bulbs tried to hurriedly get dressed in the dark. 

Smart locks. Unlock your door hands-free with your app’s “automated proximity sensor.” Moses had one of these for the Red Sea. He would lift his arms—whoosh!—then drop them—sploosh—then lift them again. It was hours of fun. Smart locks also give you the power to grant home access to anybody you deem worthy, even if you are not home. When I was a kid, we used a similar system we called the “automated key under the mat lifter-upper,” which was our little brother.

Environment sensor. They have a little postage-stamp-sized doodad now which will monitor your home’s temp, humidity, light, CO2 levels, and probably general interpersonal tensions. It can tell you when your bath is full, laundry is done and, best of all, whether you forgot your wife’s birthday.

Grilling Assistant. Step one: Pop the little two-inch wifi-enabled thermometer into your steak and it notifies your phone when it is cooked to your specifications. Step two: Get in your car, drive to the Human Male Office, and hand in your man card. You’re done.


Your house can now text you if your washing machine is leaking, your smoke detector’s beeping, you left your garage door open and, probably, if the raccoons in your attic had babies. Embrace the Smart House, which exists only to make life easier and relaxing for you. 

Take a look at your dog. Now there is one dude who is already on board with the 21st Century. 

. . .