by Maria Schulz
I haven’t been posting as much as usual because a not-so-funny thing happened to me from April to the last part of May. I lost my phone and internet service.
At first, it was no big deal. I called to report the problem and figured it would be a day or two–TOPS–until we were back up and running. Since it was only my phone at first, I wasn’t concerned.
When I called my provider to alert them to the problem, I naively asked, “When do you think it will be fixed?”
“Monday for sure!” I was told. Since it was Saturday, I thought that sounded reasonable.
Monday came and went. No phone. I called and reported the problem again.
“It will be fixed by Wednesday, for sure!” another perky phone rep told me.
By 3 pm Wednesday, I called again.
“Tomorrow, we will send out a technician to fix the problem. Just stay home between 8 and 5,” the customer service rep (a new one) told me.
Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere! I stayed home all day and no one showed up. I called again to complain.
“The person who told you someone would come out didn’t have authorization to do that,” my new rep told me.
“Do you have that authorization?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Then get someone who does.”
I still wasn’t too upset because I had my internet connection. I could deal with no land line, but my Internet was like oxygen. The next day, a technician showed up at my door.
“Sorry, but I disconnected your phone and now your Internet is down too.”
‘WHAT?” I said. “When will it be fixed?”
“Tomorrow, for sure!” he replied.
Days passed. Tomorrow never seemed to come. For us, it was the equivalent of being lost in the desert with no access to human contact. Want to order Chinese food? No internet to look up the number (who keeps menus anymore?). Want to do some online shopping? No internet. Want to catch up on Mad Men? No streaming Netflix. Want to find a new recipe to supplement your tired old stable of regular chow? No internet. Want to write a new blog post? NO INTERNET.
If my life was a TV show, my family would have sat around the table, holding hands and talking for the first time in ages. My girls and I would have laughed and chatted in a calm, relaxed fashion while we whipped up recipes the old fashioned way: from a cookbook. Maybe we would have finally finished reading Harry Potter…together! Each of us could take turns acting out the parts.
“I’ll be Harry!”
“No, I’ll be Harry!”
I would have stepped in with the wisdom of Solomon and suggested an alternative. “You be Harry and you be Hermoine. I will be Valdemort.”
“Okay, Mom. You’re the greatest!”
Then, my husband would help us put on a show in our barn. Of course, we don’t actually have a barn, but we wouldn’t let that stop us. We would be the next homegrown hit! People everywhere would marvel at our ability to survive internet-free in this day and age. We would be a model of old fashioned virtues and American fortitude. ‘Look at those people,’ crowds would say as we walked by. ‘They have no internet, and they are fine!’
We would finish all 100+ Harry Potter books in no time. And then we would make a camp in our yards, where we would build a bonfire and tell ghost stories and watch fireflies dancing towards the darkening sky while holding hands and singing Puff the Magic Dragon and Kumbayah. Finally, we would make Camp Fire S’mores and create memories my children could blog about when they’re grown and I’m old and famous.
If our internet was still out, we would start working on our own future Broadway production of “Harry Potter: LIVE!” We could kill a few hours writing dialogue and lyrics, not to mention all the time it would take creating the costumes and special effects. I was just glad no one was into Spiderman in my house, because I would probably be the one who had to swing from the overhead cable and I’d end up crashing into the crowd, just like those poor actors on the Broadway stage. Although a hospital stay seemed promising…maybe they would have free WiFi!
Of course, none of this happened. Each day was punctuated by screaming telephone calls to our provider by my husband and me and plaintiff cries of “do we have internet yet?” by my kids.
What does one do when there’s no internet? It was like we had fallen through a wormhole and suddenly were living in Abe Lincoln’s log cabin. On the upside, my children started going outside again and discovering this thing called SUNLIGHT. I think they replenished their Vitamin D stores for the next two years.
My little one started riding her bike again and my older one put her phone away since her data plan was almost at its limit. She played with our dog so much that the dog suddenly decided she didn’t want to go out anymore.
It made me think of the dark ages, when I was a kid. Summer days would stretch out before us and we would struggle to find something, anything to do to fill up the hours. It had to be free and legal, as my mother would say. So my brother Chris, my friend Marianne, and I decided we would put on a show.
I got this idea from seeing a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney musical where they put a show on in their barn. “We could do the same thing in our yards,” I said.
“You idiots,” our older siblings said to us, in between choking fits of laughter. “Who the heck would come to see you?”
We were sure we could get hordes of people in with a little advertising. So we made flyers and hung them up at the local supermarket and around town. Then, we hung up a curtain in the yard and put chairs out for the throngs we just knew were going to come. We even put up a lemonade stand for intermission. The show itself was never really flushed out since all of our time was spent trying to get people to come.
We were sort of relieved when no one showed up, except that now we’d be hearing cries of “I told you so!” for the rest of our lives. Luckily, we had a tape recorder and figured we could fake it. We taped interviews with our adoring public. Chris, Marianne and I took turns doing different accents and making crowd noises so it would seem like we played to a packed house.
Triumphantly, we played the tape for our older siblings, who dissolved in fits of laughter. “That’s you, stupid,” they unanimously replied.
While we did not enjoy the success that came so easily to Judy and Mickey, we admitted nothing and started planning the next big production. It kept us busy for at least another week.
But I digress….
One day, a truck showed up and a technician knocked on my door. “I know how to fix your problem,” he said.
“Sure,” I replied, not believing a word of what he said.
But lo and behold, he fixed it within an hour.
There was great joy in Schulzville when this happened. I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him. My children screamed with delight. We were all back online within seconds. But then, suddenly, everything went down when a second truck showed up and undid everything the first technician did.
When at long last our service was finally restored, we were like those hikers you hear about who get lost in Death Valley. You know, the ones who start drinking their own urine just to survive, only to discover that they were about 200 yards from a local Taco Bell/water source the whole time. We were bedraggled and uncertain, and ultimately, delighted to be back amongst the living.
With our internet up and running, we played games, found new recipes, read the newspaper and then did a curious thing: we shut the computers off and went outside.
And all is right with the world.
Back yard camp outs only happen in my fantasies, but this recipe is one thing I make sure actually happens. I plan to serve them at Harry Potter: LIVE! once I get that barn/stage built.
Bag of Marshmallows
Skewers (or sticks)
Fire up the grill and roast your marshmallows. Next, make a s’more sandwich with your marshmallow and chocolate between two graham crackers, and watch those fireflies dance towards the sky.
So, Hungry Lifers: did you ever get lost in Death Valley…er, I mean, have no internet? What do you do when you’re forced to look away from the computer? Leave a comment below and let us all in on it. Thanks!