Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hop into my time machine. Let's make a call.

Welcome to my own personal time machine. Look at the pretty, 1970s effervescent colors! Now let's remember how much things have changed between that then and now space.

In my lifetime, music has gone from LP to 8-track to cassette to CD to ipod.

When traveling, we used to refer to a map that rarely folded back to its intrinsically inconvenient paper rectangle form. It was usually somebody's crappy road trip job to re-fold the map, and that job could last for a hundred miles. Now, there's an app for the map. Its knowledge of my whereabouts is creepy and also wildly convenient.

There was a smattering of pap and schmaltz on the four tee vee channels from which we picked, and now it all seems innocently, retrospectively, comfortably charming. 

All things vintage have found a distinct, comfortable niche among collectors. If the Scarcity Principle is referenced (, collecting obsolete items is nothing less than smart. Supply will invariably dwindle, which increases demand.

But there are folks like me who like these familiar relics just because they're cool. Like reflecting on the history of a broken romance, these artifacts were taken for granted when we saw them every day, and they're much more richly appreciated now that they're not around all the time.

Case in point: the old clock we converted into a table. Clocks (and their smaller wristwatch counterparts) are on my list of things that are heading for obsolescence. It's unfortunate, because so much great design has been put into the keeping of time.

We'll always find the time to find the time somewhere, but the atmosphere that's created by a mid-century, grandfather, desk, wall, mantle or anniversary clock can't be replicated by a phone or computer.

And then there's the phone.

I don't have a land line any more, but I enjoy the look and feel of an old phone. I remember the "It's for you!" when the phone rang, and I remember being uncomfortably tethered to the curly cord.

I don't know if our 2011 selves could function within the parameters that were completely normal a decade or two ago.

Recently, my son's friend Amelia and I were sitting in the chairs that flank my clock table. While we were chatting, she mentioned that she liked the phone, but she didn't understand how to dial a number. Do you have to rotate the dial clockwise all the way, with every number?

We faux-dialled, just to replicate the process of making a call, and it seemed to take forever.

It used to seem so fast, but that's all we knew.

My colorful time machine brought me back to the present very quickly.

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