Recently I had the experience of working with my son at his school's theater tech shop where I learned just how far he had progressed in the realm of power tools, woodworking and associated skills. I learned not to mess with him when it comes to using a pneumatic staple gun, or if he knows the old "measure twice, cut once" adage. He knows. He also knows his way around a room full of electronics.
I shouldn't have been surprised. I have been watching him over the past few years, dragging disparate pieces of computers, video game consoles and sound equipment. He has, over that time, cobbled together a great many working devices that have gone on to useful lives in his room and those of his friends. The reputation he has gained as a "tech wiz" is earned, and his efforts are appreciated by his teachers as well. My son is that kid who will eventually raise his had while the class waits for someone to come and bail them all out of a class in which they would have had to listen to their instructor describe the power point presentation instead of watching it appear magically projected from the digital projector that, without my son's rescue, would be a very expensive paperweight.
Which brings me to this past weekend, during which a new home theater component came to our house. This one was for dad. There isn't any other way to shade it, since all the excuses and rationalizing about how we will all benefit from better sound in the living room would border on the ridiculous. I pitched it to my wife in the following manner: "Dad needs a new toy. He's been good all year and he's been saving," I should have quit when I was ahead. I am a grownup, after all. I don't need to justify the purchase of stereo equipment.
Unless I need my son to help bail me out of all the wires and connections that need to be made. We brought the new box with lots of buttons home after dinner on Saturday night, and I proceeded to apply all the hookup skills I have used from my sordid component laden past. I got speaker wires twisted and tightened onto the posts that allowed music to come out of the boxes across the room. The music was coming from the CD player box that had wires that I recognized, and then things started getting hazy. There were more wires than I had remembered. Where does the blu-ray player go? How do we make the Tivo play through the surround sound? What does an FM antennae look like these days?
There was my son, having already downloaded the remote control app to his phone, he helped me sort out the spaghetti of HDMI and composite cables, and when he was done the whole mess was shoved back up against the wall where we took turns trying to make noise come out from all of the different boxes at ever-increasing volume. It was past midnight at this point, but the relief I felt kept me happy and awake for another hour, fiddling with inputs and outputs. Shiny. New. Fun. My son retired to his room, where he had his own swirl of music and electricity to enjoy. I thanked him for his service, and welcomed him back to play with our new toy anytime. Did I mention that he's my son?