Monday, April 21, 2008

I can't do anything right

These days I feel that, whatever I do, it’s just not good enough.
Chalk it up to technology, change or the fact that we, as a country, are never satisfied. The point is, I’m sick of always feeling inferior.
Take for example, my recent iPod acquisition. I resisted the urge to hop on the iPod bandwagon the minute the gadget was released back in 2001. “Let’s wait and see,” I told myself. “Maybe this thing will disappear faster than Pepsi with lemon.”
About 3 billion iPod shipments later, I finally took the plunge. I purchased a 80GB video iPod capable of holding every photo I’d ever taken, video clips of my kids doing the types of things that make their Dad smile, and up to 20,000 songs.
“I’m set,” I thought. “With 20,000 songs, I could take a trip to Venus and still never hear the same song twice.”
I hadn’t even figured out how to download iTunes when Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone was now ready to be shipped. It would include all the features of my iPod but allow users to make calls, surf the Internet, open their garage doors and probably cook a well balanced meal all at the same time.
Suddenly my 80GB iPod was about as relevant as my collection of VHS movies.
This seems to happen to me all the time. For Christmas my wife and I bought a recordable DVD player. Not only could we record stuff onto DVDs but, since we recently bought a high definition television as well, we could record and watch movies in “high-def,” as we like to call it just because we think it makes us sound cool.
At the time of the purchase, neither of us had ever heard the phrase, “Blu-ray.” Of course now we know that Blu-ray”, which sounds like a menu item at an upscale seafood restaurant, is actually a technology that competes with high-definition DVDs. I no longer competes. I had barely gotten our DVD player out of the box when I heard the news that Toshiba, the company that pioneered HD DVD technology, was going to stop making HD DVD players or discs. The reason? It ceded the market to Blu-ray. That’s would be like John McCain taking his name off the ballot the night before the general election. But that’s basically what Toshiba did. Now I’m stuck with a recordable DVD player that will only work until my high-def TV craps out.
See what I mean? No matter what I do, somebody is always doing it better. And it got even worse this past weekend.
My wife celebrated her 43rd birthday on April 17. As a professional comedian I pride myself on being able to come up with original birthday gifts and ideas. Sure, it would be easy to make her breakfast in bed, have flowers delivered to our house or give her a day off from all her mom-related responsibilities. I’ll admit, I’ve done all that but I’ve also surprised her with some pretty impressive gifts if I do say so myself. Three years ago, when she turned the big 4-0, I scored Oprah tickets. If you live in Chicago, you know that getting tickets to the Oprah Winfrey show is about as easy as picking the winning Powerball numbers two weeks in a row. Oprah’s website makes it sound like getting tickets is a walk in the park. “Just keep checking back for updates,” the site claims. The last time I checked, there were no tickets available until 2055. I got them only because a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend knew somebody who knew a guy who was related to some other guy who used to work on the show.
This year I decided to go the “Pretty Woman” birthday route. I was invited to a black-tie event in Washington DC and the invitation included Sue. Two days prior to the event, I presented her with three boxes. One contained a black cocktail dress (picked out by me, thank you very much). The other two featured a necklace and matching earrings (also picked out by me under the watchful guidance of the jewelry store employee.)
When I presented them to Sue, she squealed with delight. Let’s face it, when you’re a Mom, your wardrobe consists of sweatpants with accessible pockets to hold the mini-van keys. She put the ensemble on and she looked fantastic. We were ready to hit the party in style. What a gift! What a gentlemen I am! What a…wait, what’s this I hear about Prince William?
In case you haven’t heard, his Royal Highness did something for his girlfriend that made my shopping excursion look like a trip to Wal-Mart. Mr. “second in line to the throne” decided to pay her a visit earlier this month by landing a royal helicopter in her backyard. According to news reports, the helicopter was only on the ground for 20 seconds and nobody got on or off. So what was the point exactly?
I’ll tell you the point. It was to make myself and every other guy on this earth feel inferior. Right now there are millions of guys around the world cluelessly standing in Victoria’s Secret determined to pick out something that makes our ladies feel special. We get perfume squirted on our wrists in the mall just because we want to make sure it smells like our girls. We get talked into buying the one-hour seaweed wrap at the salon because the employee convinced us that our women would love us for it.
But we can’t commandeer an armed forces chopper and casually drop in her. Only Prince High and Mighty can do that.
I just hope Prince William never needs Oprah tickets.

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