I was going through some old stuff this weekend and found a treasure trove of crap that I have socked away. For instance, I found the never-used front licence plate for a Chevy I owned in a previous life. And instead of tossing it, for some reason I felt compelled to keep it. Because, eventually, I'm going to open one of those restaurants with old licence plates and rusty signs and other goofy shit all over the walls.
I also found my old pager. How fucking old school are pagers? Remember when cellphones were still rare and everyone--but mostly drug dealers--carried pagers? There were stores like "Beepers, Etc." and "PagerLand" that all they sold was pagers and pager accessories. Whatever pager accessories are. I mean, when you get down to it, a pager itself is an accessory. Do accessories really need accessories of their own? That makes about as much fucking sense as getting a pet for your pet. Remember how everyone thought that pagers going off was fucking annoying? Little did we know that pagers beeping was a panacea compared to the annoyance of nearly everyone in the world talking on cellphones constantly. Speaking of pagers, I was reminded of an interesting, and quite dead, technology my father employed during the 80s--the voice pager. It was quite an odd service. You'd call the pager's number where a recording would greet you, imploring you to please leave a message after the tone. You'd say something like "Yo, bitch, give me a call at 214-555-9876" or something like that. Meanwhile, my family would be enjoying a nice meal at a sit down restaurant. My father, always somewhat forgetful, would have neglected to turn off his pager. All of the sudden, the serenity of our meal--and that of the diners around us--would be shattered by a high-pitched beeping from my father's pager, followed by the message you'd just left for him on the voicemail system. And this wasn't like high quality audio or anything like that. No, it made your voice sound like you had just drank a fifth of vodka, filled your mouth with pebbles and were suffering a seizure while you left the message. Half the time, you couldn't understand the message, but--get this--there was no way to retrieve it once it had been sent from the paging system to the pager, so if you didn't hear it or you had the pager turned off, then forget getting any important messages.
Eventually, my father graduated to the bag phone. This was probaby about 1989 or so. I have vague memories of accompanying him to the cell phone place--I want to say it was called something like "CellularOne" or "MetroCell" or some shit like that. There wasn't Cingular or AT&T Wireless or Sprint in those days--just cell companies with very limited networks and few roaming agreements. Anyhow, I remember going with him to the cellphone place and he picked out a bag phone and opted to have the optional car package installed. So while they programmed the phone--by opening it up and plugging it in to some kind of computer as there were no SIM cards--they got to work installing the car package into his truck. The car package consisted of one of those old-school curly cellphone antennas mounted on the rear window, connected to a wire that you could plug in to the bag phone while you were in the car. All this for like $1300 and a flat rate of 25¢ per minute. Yay! The phone weighed about two pounds, had a standby battery life of about four hours (one hour talk time, maybe), and was just about the smallest phone available, save for those "Saved by the Bell" brick-style phones that had worse battery life and horrid reception.
Another thing I found in the old stuff from my past was my mortarboard from my graduation from college, way back in 1999. It was your standard black affair, but for some reason I got a lot of fun out of it by wearing it and yelling "Yahtzee!". Which is probably the most obscure reference ever. Why? Because way back in the day, the Yahtzee box had a cartoon of a professor wearing a mortarboard on it. You'll have to take my word for it, as I regret that I am unable to find a picture of an old Yahtzee box anywhere. An interesting sidenote is that Yahtzee is a Canadian game invented by an upper-class (which means, in Canada, that the government can take most, if not all, of your income for tax revenue) couple who called it "The Yacht Game" because they played it on their yacht.
I also found a shitload of old school cassette singles (or cassingle
, as coined by some brain-damaged marketing moron) from the early Nineties. There must be at least a few hundred of them, and it depresses me how much money I probably spent on them (as well as on the several hundred CDs I bought in high school and college...godammit, why didn't mp3s come along sooner, therefore letting me save money by stealing music?). I plan on--slowly, I'm sure--scanning these singles' covers to create an online gallery of cassette singles right here on SSW. That way everyone can see what kind of crap I used to listen to. Yay!
One of the most interesting things I found was a big box of letters and love notes and all that fun stuff from one of my exes from way back in the day. I'd boxed them up a long time ago (why do people always keep this stuff instead of tossing it?) after we'd parted ways. I briefly considered trashing them, but I thought that perhaps they deserved a good reading through first. After all, it might be fun to try to remember why I dated her, because I certainly can't remember a good reason now (though the sex was pretty good). That, and I've been thinking of how to rewrite my first novel, Waterloo
, which is very, very loosely based on the end of our relationship, and I think they might help recapture and remember what it was like to be in college and stupid and in love. Don't worry--if I find anything interesting, I'll be sure to share with you, my readers.
There was a lot of crap in that closet I cleaned out. Class t-shirts from high school. A big box of negatives and contact sheets from my senior year when I was yearbook photo editor. My first drivers licence, when I looked totally different (though at least I didn't have a mullet). All in all, it was an interesting trip down memory lane. And on some level, it made me sad. It's kind of depressing to think about how much things have changed in the ten years since high school. All the money I've spent on alcohol and other pleasures. How out of shape I've become by sitting on barstools or watching mind-numbing TV instead of getting out and doing stuff. How pointless empty sex has become. I realized that, like it or not, I'm getting old. And while I enjoy life, I don't think I do to the fullest. And maybe this is the last best time to change who and what I am. I mean, maybe it's time to get up off the couch and start exercising again. Time to start eating healthy again. Time to cut back on the carousing about. Time to start sleeping just a little bit more. Time to start maybe dressing better. Time to--ack--start thinking about maybe meeting that one special someone and settling down. Time to get that novel published. Time to launch that new website. Time to find out who Rifleman can really be. Time to change everything.
Or maybe not.