Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still of some use

A couple decades ago I stayed at a friend's and loved the way his family's brand new stack stereo outfit ushered grace to every room of the house. I was so impressed that, once home, I took my family out to Best Buy and bought a Sony stack three feet wide and two feet tall, complete with two speakers so big we could barely get the whole outfit in the station wagon.

We set it up in the living room, stuck those massive speakers behind the couch, and flipped it on. Beautiful. Great sound. But the truth is, we didn't use it all that much, no more than we used the living room in this old house.

That was 20 years ago. For some time now, our children--who are no longer kids--giggle at that bulky old, big-as-a-love-seat Sony. Today, music lovers get great sound out of a wrist watch. Having a stack system that huge is, well, flat-out silly--even embarrassing. I'm old enough to read mockery quite personally, and since it's easier to get rid of the Sony than to call in the grizzlies, like Elijah did, we simply decided to get rid of the doddering monster.

I don't have a day of Depression-era skimping in me, but I was reared by a couple who did, including a mother who remembers her father crying about where his next buck is coming from. What I'm saying is, it wasn't easy to get rid of that old Sony, not because it brought back such great memories, or because it was in perfect shape (the amp was tempermental anyway) or because it was such a lovely piece of furniture.

I took off the glass door, dismantled what I could of it, and hauled it away, in pieces, on a day the city was running a program through which people could dump their left-over electronics--TVs, computers, printers, and what not--for free.

Just not the speakers.

I don't have a stomach for dumping stuff that still works. Call me a Calvinist or Silas Marner or whatever you'd like, but I hate "planned obsolescence." I mean, I didn't shed tears or anything, but, after all, with some coaxing the thing still worked, sort of. I was dumping that old thing because of the derision, I think--"ha ha, look at Mom and Dad's dorky stereo." Well, pardon me for living.

But the speakers--those huge, powerful speakers--I just couldn't dump 'em. I remember my father scowling at the "Strawberry Fields" when they wailed out of the first stereo I ever owned, years ago. I got in trouble at the Christian college where I attended for playing Simon and Garfunkle so loud people could hear it in the President's Office. The speakers could move mountains. Besides, they contained no electronic circutry, no lead, no landfill contaminants, I told myself. I can't just dump them.

So I set them outside, a comprimise. It was garage-day sale time in town, and the streets were full of bargain hunters. We put a "free" sign on 'em, and I set 'em out front.

It was raining slightly, which I'm sure wasn't good for the two of them, but I lugged them out there, stood them up on the grass, where they stood, sadly, leaning into each other as if sharing mutual grief.

For about fifteen minutes.

Some guy in a car came by, opened his trunk, and that was it. They were gone.

I felt like a saint. The Sony stack is history, I'll bear no more grief from my kids, but someplace, somewhere, those great old speakers are still turning out sound, filling the house with the joy the way they were meant to, way back when. Somebody grabbed 'em right off the street, and it didn't even take a half hour, and I'm thrilled that they're still of some use.

Made my day.

Shoot, I'm still smiling.


Kris said...

My husband had a set of those speakers--couldn't part with them for anything. I think they survived the garage sale we had, and they are now hidden back in some (large) nook of the garage.

Until I start giving him a hard time about them again...

Quiremaster said...

We're still using a pair of Denon speakers that one of my older brothers traded my Dad for an old car back in the mid-70s -- and they still sound great! Those musical "wristwatches" may be cool, but set 'em next to your big old speakers and you'll find out which sounds better. Reminds me of those massive old upright pianos that everyone traded in for the stylish little spinets ... that sounded terrible.