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the kind of guy I am

I do not shop for sport. I buy food and electricity and things like that, because without them I will suffer. I do not shop for the pleasure it gives me. But I do quite enjoy shopping with my daughter Thea, because she is having so much fun. Don't get me wrong about Thea. I may be at one with nature in my shopping habits, eating what I kill, but Thea is not Buffalo Bill. Not by any means. She enjoys shopping but doesn't have to buy much. I guess she's an amateur, in the true sense of the word.

We were at Ikea the other day, and her only indulgence was a magazine rack which she plans to use as a file organizer. Won't this be perfect, Daddy? she enthused, beaming away.

I don't know about perfect, I said, since it's not designed to organize files. You know, they have actual file organizers here. Why not get one of them?

Because this (holding out the magazine rack) is cooler.

But it's not a file organizer.

Yeah, well, a cow is not a potato. She walked off with the magazine rack under her arm. I had no comment.

Then I saw the alarm clocks. There was a shelf full of them, and I quickly bought the cheapest one, because that's the kind of guy I am.

Buy this round one -- it's weird looking, said Thea.

What about that one? I pointed. You turn it off with a laser.

Oh, Daddy, that's just dumb.

Really? I said. (There it is in the picture. I was tempted, I tell you.) Well, they're all alarm clocks.

And this one's the cheapest.

What a classic case of false saving! I spent the rest of the day programming my cheap clock. For six dollars more, I could have saved twelve hours. (What's that -- fifty cents an hour. Yup, that's the kind of guy I am.)

You know these clocks? There are only two buttons, MODE and SET, and in order to get the clock to do anything -- even tell time -- you have to punch each button in a strict pre-determined sequence. To activate ALARM function, first press MODE button six times, then press SET button until the correct HOUR appears. Press MODE three more times, and then press SET until the correct MINUTE appears. The alarm is now activated. To activate ...

Turns out I programmed it correctly, because the alarm went off at the right time this morning. I jumped out of bed feeling chipper, reset the alarm for tomorrow morning, made the coffee and got to work. The alarm went off again an hour later. And again an hour after that. I apparently programmed a TIMER function without meaning to. I could spend another hour figuring out how to de-activate the times. Or I could take out the battery -- but if I do that, the clock will need to be re-programmed.

I think I may have to go shopping again.


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