Monday, June 29, 2009

Someone bring me my Police tapes and a walker...

The BBC is trying to make me feel old. BBC News -- Giving Up My iPod for a Walkman 

The kid took three days to figure out that the tape had another side. Sadly, that doesn't mean the kid's stupid, it just means that I've reached that age when the things I coveted as a child are no longer recognizable to the current batch of whippersnappers. He probably looked at his dad with the same look I gave my dad at that age when he told me that people used to shave with a straight razor*.  

Stupendous. I mean, get real, kid, that's some bona fide high technology there. Before that, we had to carry around a Barbie record player if we wanted to listen to music on the go. Next you're going to tell me that the Atari 64 isn't the wave of the future... 

Much like the iPod, those things were pretty expensive for the time and my parents didn't see any reason to hand a piece of expensive technology to a kid. Especially a kid who couldn't keep from dropping a peanut butter sandwich, much less a tapedeck the size of a small paperback. They were probably right -- If I hadn't dropped it, I would have lost it because that's the sort of thing I'm famous for. Ask me about my retainer some time.  

Not that I owned a Barbie record player either. Our "Hi FI" stereo set was a piece of furniture. It was made of wood and was roughly the size of the USS Constitution (though it may have contained more trees). My sister and I sat in front of it listening to the Carpenters and Roy Clark with my mom and dad. We had a little turntable in our room that our Aunt Cookie gave us for Christmas but it sat on a little rollie-cart and couldn't be taken anywhere. The whole thing was anti-portable. It was big and clunky and by golly we liked it! Carried it uphill to school in the driving snow... and... um... (grumble) 

I eventually bought a Walkman, of course. With my own money after the price came down and they weren't as trendy anymore. It's probably still knocking around in a box somewhere. Shortly after I obtained my precious tapedeck, the CD was introduced. It taught me that chasing technology is an unwinnable game and you should note that I still don't own an iPod or whatever. 

By the end of the week I'll officially be six years past the point where I became untrustworthy by the standards of my parents' generation**. (That's pretty funny to me.) And this creates an interesting through-line for my nephews: The things you are so desperate to have now will be silly and/or alien to your kids. 

Meanwhile, my Walkman will be a certified antique and I can sell it to my grand niece or nephew and retire on the proceeds. Cranky old curmudgeons have to plan ahead.  


* We'll ignore for the moment that when I do shave (which obviously isn't often), I use my great grandfather's straight razor.  
** The internet wants me to believe Pat Boone said it, but it was probably just a cover of someone else's quip.

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).