So I had this moment where something that seemed so awesome to me as a teenager is really just a lame part of ancient history to A., my 6-year-old son.
We were driving down Riverside Boulevard on Saturday when we spotted a flea market going on in the parking lot of the Elks Lodge. Being big bargain hunters, we had to check this out.
On one of the display tables, I saw a huge, yellow Walkman, the kind that plays cassettes and has a built-in AM/FM radio. It also had headphones that go part way into your ears, which used to be a really big deal.
I pointed it out to A., and he was stumped as to what this giant, clunky thing was.
“What’s a walkman?” he asked, looking at me as if I had just showed him a very boring stone used by cavemen to break open dinosaur eggs.
At that point, I really felt old. But A. really didn’t seem to know what this contraption was.
“How am I supposed to know?” he said, rubbing it in. “I wasn’t even born yet.”
Now I can remember that growing up in Oakdale, life didn’t get any better if you had a Walkman like this. Put it a cassette of Van Halen’s “5150,” Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” or the Beastie Boys’ “License to Ill” and you were good to go.
These days, A. loves to listen to my iPod, and he’s a whiz on the computer. Each night, he does math problems for school online. Technology is just a part of his life.
One time I told him that when I was a little kid, we didn’t have the Internet. I’m not sure he believed me. It was kind of like when a tough old relative talks about walking to school in the snow uphill both ways. It just seems too crazy to be true.
As for the Walkman, we didn’t end up buying it. The guy wanted just $2 for it, but my cassettes are long gone.
For A., it was just a curiousity or, as he called it, an “antique radio.”
But it got me thinking that maybe I should show A. some other really old stuff. Like a typewriter. Or a rotary-dial telephone. Or a record.
That would really amaze him.