My hope is that I have found the solution to one of the great problems plaguing mankind: My disappearing earbuds.
I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking, “Mike, of all the troubles facing humanity, I HAVE been very concerned about your earbuds disappearing.”
I appreciate your concern.
I used to not have this problem. I also used to not have kids.
The problem became a serious one about 10 years ago, when my daughter discovered that, through the miracle of headphones, she could have her own private concert and bellow Hannah Montana songs at the top of her lungs, all the while dancing around the house without a care in the world. (For those of you with kids that age, I apologize for getting “The Best of Both Worlds” theme song stuck in your head. I know you thought it was gone for good.)
My wife and I got my daughter her own headphones so that she could enjoy her music. I don’t recall the exact model we got, but I feel confident they had some theme associated with them that bumped the price up 20 percent.
Those headphones lasted about 11 seconds. So we decided it was time to teach her a lesson about responsibility and … ah, who am I kidding. We bought another pair. And another. And another. Yes, we’re those parents.
Soon, our son began to get into the music listening age, which meant we had two kids consistently breaking headphones because kids are destructive little menaces.
As earbuds became more commonplace, we graduated to those, and we found that earbuds are not only as easy to break as headphones, but far easier to lose.
Eventually, there came a point where my wife and I had no choice but to make an edict: You get one set of earbuds, and they are yours and yours only. You lose them, break them, sell them on Craig’s List — your problem. No replacements.
I attacked this problem by getting four different colored earbuds. Everyone in the family had their pair. Mine were black. No one was to touch the Dad Black earbuds. Those are Dad’s. Those are when he wants to listen to some tunes while doing yard work, maybe a podcast in the evening while emptying the dishwasher. Those are Dad’s. No one else’s. Only dad … HEY! What are you doing with my earbuds?
“Mine broke,” said the sad little girl. I’m a sucker.
And so it became the norm, again. We would replace earbuds, and invariably I would be the one drawing the short straw, trying to find a pair when none were left.
It came to a head the other morning when my daughter was heading to school. She’s 15 now, and if she does not have her earbuds, she might as well not have clothes on. It would be that detrimental to her standing in society. (Side note: She invariably has one earbud in, and spins the other one on her finger like a lifeguard whistle. I have suggested that maybe that is why they break so often. She feels that is utter nonsense.)
She couldn’t find her earbuds, and her ride for school was about to leave. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!?!?!?” she told me. She was correct.
Later that day, I was at the store, and waaaaay down on a bottom shelf, I saw a package of earbuds. The price sign above them read $1. A dollar? Really?
I took the earbuds to the counter and asked them for the price. Indeed, a mere dollar. I bought five pairs.
Now, I know you may be wondering about the quality of $1 earbuds. To which I say, who cares? I’ve seen them ruin really nice earbuds or headphones in the matter of minutes. The price is right for me.
So for now, when a set of earbuds is missing, I just go to my hidden stash of earbuds and voila! Problem solved.
Now I know that you’re thinking this is the time that I should be teaching my children about responsibility and the economics of life and all that good stuff. And to that I say, that is why we have pets. There are some real life lessons to be learned when a living creature is involved.
I also know that there some forces of nature you just can’t fight, and one of those is a kid’s ability to render earbuds inoperable or nonexistent.
Hopefully, my collection of El Cheapo earbuds will last for a while. But if they don’t, I’ll just refill the pool. If nothing else, I know it will guarantee I have some when it’s time to do the dishes.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.