Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Boom Box

Technologically delayed as I am, I do realize this is news to no one.

But I guess I always took for granted that one would always just be there, somewhere on the shelves of my nearby K-Mart when something went wrong with my old one. Not so. At least not the same form.

A few months ago I'd accidentally launched my old boom box off my bed in my sleep. I sometimes listen to audiobooks before I go to bed. Apparently that night it lead to some restless dreams and... Well, let's just say it's no longer functioning.

I have other devices. I love my iPod, and frequently listen to things on my computer. But the boom box is the thing I drag around with me - out in the yard pulling weeds, digging through my garage in search of something of my brothers, in the basement doing laundry - listening to books-on-tape I check out from the library.

So when my old one died, I went out to get another one. The standard know is a portable player with a spot for your iPod. Makes sense, and I'll probably eventually get one of these, but it doesn't help with the library audio books. So I asked a clerk, who was nice but treated me as though I'd come looking for flint-sticks to make fire. Together we found one portable player close to what I was looking for. But it only played CDs. No tape deck.

That's when I discovered it was really over.

Now, I know it's become an 80s cliche' - the tiny, zipper-clad break dancer with the boom box the size of a filing cabinet perched on his shoulder - but there was something incredibly liberating about being able to take music "out of the bedroom" which was where everyone I knew listened to albums. There were portable radios, sure, but you were at the mercy of the local DJs. In every group there was an opportunity to create a "personal soundtrack."

When I turned sixteen, I got carnations from my first boyfriend. For at least a year I carried cassette tapes around in the empty flower box and got attention about both. I drug that thing to band camp, parties, sleepovers, and weekend youth group retreats. I knew others who hauled their tapes around in a duffel bag.

Surely I'll get up to speed on downloading my audio-books on my iPod, but I'm sure going to miss grabbing that handle in my hand, finding just the right placement on the pavement (or flower bed, or dryer) and punching the play button with just the right amount of pressure.

RIP boom box...


  1. Got one on the back porch right now. The family takes turns with the genre. Taylor Swift is playing right now, but she will soon be replaced by some vintage Van Halen!

  2. Don’t give up on your mixed-tape dreams! There are places that still sell boomboxes. Heck, Amazon has an entire boombox category in its electronics department with 153 items. Go now, and retrieve your cassettes from the trash. Yes, Virginia, the 80s can live on if you want them to.

    Now, if only I could just find a decent 8-track player…

  3. Hey Mooney! I love that you reside in a place where Taylor Swift and VH can co-exist peacefully. Way to be a good parent and remain true to who you are.

    Never change...