We cleaned out the garage this weekend, as you tend to do on Memorial Day – at least, I assume that is what people tend to do judging from the line at the Goodwill truck on Sunday afternoon. Lot of stuff went away, including a television and a sit-up-in-bed pillow, both of which are significant in their way.
See, I bought the pillow the summer before going off to grad school – I had envied them in college but never gotten it together to find one myself, especially since they always seemed to be offered in some sort of nasty corduroy. Then I decided one day to just get in my Saturn and drive up to the big-ass 24 hour Wal-Mart up US 78, because I could, and because I’d take any excuse to go for a spin in my little aquamarine compact. It was simple green fabric, and I snapped it up and immediately began using it to sit back against the chest of drawers as I fooled around with my new Power Macintosh 6100. And it stuck around, in varying degrees of cleanliness, for the next eighteen years.
Meanwhile, the television that I’d used throughout grad school suddenly and inexplicably bit the dust a month after moving to Arlington. It died without warning or explanation on the very weekend of the Alabama-Tennessee game, when my folks were up to visit me. Since they refused to sleep on the floor, they bought a bed; since they refused to sit on the floor, they bought a futon, and since they refused to miss the game, they bought a simple 19″ RCA television.
That was my TV for the next six years. When the wife-to-be moved in with me, she brought her larger television, and the RCA was relegated to the role of bedroom television, where it served more or less uninterrupted for the next eight years (barring our one year in a California apartment where it was stashed in the office rather than the bedroom, for want of appropriate furniture or a cable drop). And for seven years after moving into our house, the pronounced tick followed by the sound coming on was the regular alarm in the morning from which it was impossible to fall back asleep.
Then the cousins moved in with us, bringing their bigger HDTV, and our flat-panel 37″ became the bedroom television, and the RCA went into the garage and sat for a year.
Now it’s going to go find a new home with somebody who will actually make use of it, and I wish them luck with it. Some of the channels still have the manual labeling when you tune to them, from the days when it was a cable-ready set on Cable TV Arlington in the late 1990s. And being the pack rat I am, I thought I’d be sorrier to see it go – after all, it’s fifteen years old and a tangible reminder of those strange impossible days at the end of 1997 while the world was still set on “Flash Blend”.
But it’s kind of a preposterous keepsake when you can get a 46″ 1080p120 LCD for $700 at Costco. Nevertheless, I do wonder sometimes if there’s a single electronic device in the house now that will ever reach the 10-year mark without breaking or becoming unusably obsolete.