Power, with a side of Control

Today, I received the ultimate power. Today, I was given complete control over the clicker. After struggling to pause and restart the DVD, Señor ultimately handed over the remote to me. "Mira su cara," he announces, and I know that I displayed an irresistibly large grin. It seems that the smaller amount of power we receive, the more appreciative, even the more manipulative we are over it.

I've fought my friends to be the one to hail the taxi. (Note: Taxis are only late at night, due to parental safety demands. Take the train. Walk. Save the world.) Because when we have this small amount of power, when we can forcibly cause another person to submit to our demands, listen to what we prefer, indulge in what we crave, this minute capacity elevates us to a completely new horizon. Because making an obnoxiously bright yellow vehicle pull to the curb on North Michigan Avenue proves our talents rather than just boarding the scheduled train. The self-satisfaction of knowing, I did this, I made this car stop, without me, it would just keep going...

But I have to wonder, how do these miniature acts of despotism lead us in the future? After controlling one element of life, must we strive to have power over more and more? Does Michelle experience this same satisfaction when flipping through the channels on an Obama family movie night?

Everything is relative. There are some battles that need to be fought and others that we need to learn to abandon. And as tough as it is to sacrifice the potentiality of winning, we have to learn that we cannot possibly have our way all the time.

When I turned 16, the last thing on my mind was getting my license, which seems, especially now, crazy. I was annoyed that the state of Illinois mandated I take driver's ed, as I would never really need to drive, and attending an extra class before school every morning to learn the red means stop seemed irrelevant. On my half birthday, I went straight to the DMV to take the daunting test and get the plastic card that would grant me the ultimate freedom, provide me with the power of escape. My first time alone in the car I had no idea what to do: sing? remain silent? flip through the radio? Without anyone to talk to, I felt lost and somewhat distracted. I ended up popping in a CD and focusing intently on the laws of four way stops.

But what does this have to do with the remote control? Well, my objection to driving soon became a desire: I was in control, I could do anything I wanted. I soon became the one to volunteer rides, suggest that I control our route, our speed, our music, and everything in between. I became accustomed to sitting behind the wheel, watching my friends buckle up, and allowed myself to make all the executive decisions.

Leading a Key Club meeting of 100 people doesn't faze me, yet holding the ultimate power over 18 pairs of eyes seems to provide me with a rush of excitement. Knowing that the ability to awkwardly pause the image of a nude woman riding a horse or start the movie again from the beginning, just to cause endless teacher exasperation, with merely the tap of a finger, provides me with a transcendent superiority.

I may be described as bossy. I actually know for a fact that adjective pops up every so often in association with my name... But who isn't? (Don't answer that.) Everyone searches for that little pocket of power somewhere in her life. Whether its choosing the font style on a group project or deciding what type of milk your family drinks for the week (skim, always skim, buying 2% is just rude...) each person has that single act which heightens her status, if even in her own mind.

One of my friends has two remotes to her main television. It's always a war: ANTM or Rachael Ray? Tyra Banks or Animal Planet? Charmed or Charm School? We wrestle each other for both remotes, try to negotiate over who chooses the show and who subsequently eats the extra Oreo. But it's all part of the fun... what's better: getting passively handed a remote by a man who keeps up to five Blackberries in his pants pockets to ensure that his students won't send mensajes de texto or chasing a girl around the house until she agrees to sit through 30 minute meals? I think fighting for your own power just gives it that extra yum-o, and with a topping of EVOO, delish!