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Beware the Cord Cataclysm

  • Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:56pm
  • Neighbors


That’s the number of cords that I can see without turning my head or getting up from my chair at the dining room table. That’s not even counting the bin full of cords that is stashed in plain sight (I would have to get up to count those). Three of the seven cords are attached to my computer at this very moment. I know that there’s another basket full of cords just over my left shoulder. Between the kitchen appliances, telephone and printer, I can think of at least six more cords behind me in the kitchen. This is just a fraction of the cords lurking in my house.

The bulk of my household’s electronics are in the living room. All the outlets in the living room have power strips attached to them, not to protect against power surges, but to create more places to plug in cords. Cords, cords everywhere, as far as the eye can see! They come in all colors: brown, green, white, and black. There are short ones with funky ends, and long ones with old-fashioned prongs. They lie in dusty tangles in the corners, and stretch across vast open spaces in their quest to connect. They’re taking over the world! Forget about the Zombie Apocalypse, we’ve got the Cord Cataclysm to contend with.

What is to be done?

There are two options: accommodation or resistance. We can learn to live with the encroaching cords, or we can rail against them.

Learning to embrace jumbled masses of cords takes some creative thought, if we’re going to do more than just tolerate them. We could attempt to accessorize with them. If they came in designer colors to complement our décor, we could use them as focal points in our living room. We could make a fashion statement with our headphone cords, striving to wear only the latest styles. Alternatively, we could try to hide our cords while pretending that they don’t exist in our house. We could dig trenches along the baseboards to drop the cords inside the walls, or paint them to match the pattern of the carpeting so they can hide in plain sight.

Or we could resist, and declare our homes to be no-cord zones. Such a radical resistance could be achieved through one of two approaches, either futuristic or historical. Under a futuristic approach we would embrace wireless technology and dream of the day when all our myriad electronics will run free from an electrical power source. When that day comes, all we will have to worry about is that gigantic docking system that has replaced the couch in our living room.

With a historical approach, we would look to the past with fond nostalgia, back to the good old days when two outlets were enough for an entire room and the longest cord in the house was the one that attached the telephone receiver to its base. We would banish all electronics from our homes, choosing instead to check email and play video games at work or the public library. Ultimately, we wouldn’t have to worry about cords in the house at all, since we would rarely, if ever, be at home.

Accommodation or resistance — we have to make a choice. It is fruitless to think that the Cord Cataclysm will pass us by, or that we are somehow immune. We must all beware.

True story: as I sit here at the dining room table, another cord has come into the room and stretched itself behind my chair in such a way that it almost completely encircles me. I’m afraid to get up, for fear that it might snare me or trip me up. I am trapped in my chair at the mercy of the cords that have taken over my household.

But it doesn’t need to end there. I don’t have to succumb to the Cord Cataclysm. I can find the courage to stand up to the menace, step carefully over the cord, and get on with my life.

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and debut author who writes cozy mysteries under the name “Greta McKennan.” Her first novel, Uniformly Dead, is available at Hearthside Books. She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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