Going Going Bygone

     I wonder, every now and then when I have finished wondering if we will ever own cars as energy-efficient as Fred Flintstone’s, how much longer television will continue.  My television provider (remember when you used to just turn on the set?) has let me know I can renew service at a higher price OR stream everything they have onto my phone or computer.  I realized that I tend to watch only when going to bed at night or getting up in the morning.  Most of my TV-style entertainment comes from YouTube, where I can summon up what I want to see without worrying about schedules.

     One of the things I watch regularly are videos about what parts of our society have disappeared and which are about to disappear: important stuff like typewriter erasers and rotary phones.  They’re kind of cute, since they are put together by beings thirty years younger than I, so some of the phenomena they observe are things I never heard of in the first place.  But this sort of discussion always makes me wonder about the things which didn’t make their list.

     For example, I recently discussed groceries with someone older than I am (there are two or three of these people left) and she was recalling the shock and trauma which afflicted her, oh, once a week when she would forget to open the freezer carefully.  They had the style of fridge which was standard in my years, with the freezer on top.  The stuff in the door would shift and that little can of frozen orange juice concentrate would come sailing down to bash her toes.

     At our house it was mainly frozen grapefruit juice concentrate, and I was maybe a little quicker to jump out of the way, but I do remember those frozen missiles.  But I haven’t browsed the frozen food cases lately and wondered: do they still….

     The Interwebs tell me the answer is “Well, kind of.”  One or two companies make a container that LOOKS the same, but it is now made of plastic and peels open.  Americans prefer the real thing out of a carton or plastic bottle: easier to drink without thawing and mixing it up and probably much more natural (even if the fine print says “Made from concentrate”.)

     While I was at it, I looked up airmail stamps, those wildly expensive (ten cents!) devices you licked and put on a letter if it was going overseas or if you wanted it to go really really fast.  The U.S. Postal Service suspended this sort of thing in 1977, saying most mail that went a certain distance traveled by air anyhow.  Well, kind of.  There were still airmail options available right up until 2012, when the USPS stopped it all over, provoking the same complaints from people who collect airmail stamps.

     This lack of solid fact is pandemic on the Interwebs.  I wondered about my wardrobe in the Sixties, which, on cool days, included zipping myself into a parka.  I knew these still existed, but had they all been rebranded as hoodies?  A definite answer came from the Ones Who Know These Things: parkas exist.  They have linings, see, while hoodies do not.  Well and good, until I ran into the store selling lined hoodies for cool winter wear.  This world is filled with trouble-makers, marshmallow manicotti.

     I take it for granted that drugstores no longer exist (drugs are evil, so these establishments are now called strictly ‘pharmacies’) and postage stamp machines survive only in supervised areas (since the quarter that used to buy you three first class or six ‘vintage’ stamps now wouldn’t buy you enough postage to mail a postcard).  And I understand why the current generation will never understand the phrases “ten cent cone” or “penny for a gumball”.  I fear for the future of the flashlight (why use something you know you’ll have no batteries for when you need it if you can just use the app on your phone?) and the glove compartment road map. 

     But there is hope.  The car cigarette lighter was reborn as a charging dock for phones, and craft projects requiring pipe cleaners can continue since these are now marketed as straight craft items, bypassing the whole tobacco accessory business.

     So bygones don’t HAVE to go by.  A few dedicated people with imagination can bring a dying institution to life again.  With that in mind, I think I will watch some television during prime time tonight.

     If I can remember where I put those cables for my VCR.

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