This weekend I spent some time with Ava. Her birthday is this week, so I took her and a friend out to do some fun things in DC. I introduced them to Eastern Market, the joys of the local pizza shop, and real gelato. Then we went ice skating at a new outdoor rink near the Navy Yard. Lest I thought for a moment I was the “cool pseudo-mom/aging babysitter” on the block, a conversation about technology brought me right back to earth. It went a little something like this:
Ava’s friend Kay: That guy sounded like a broken record with all that shouting.
Ava: I don’t get it.
Me: A broken record – he was shouting the same thing repeatedly.
Kay: Yeah, like a broken record. It plays the same song over and over.
Me: What? No. Not exactly.
Ava: I don’t get it.
Me: A record.
Ava: Yeah. What’s a record?
Kay: That round thing that used to go around.
Me: It’s vinyl.
Ava: I still don’t get it.
Me: When a record player was broken, the needle would get stuck in a groove and play a piece of a song over and over. It was called skipping.
I also told them about the Walkman, which Ava thought was insane. “You carried something THAT BIG around with you?” she said, incredulous. Like I’d just said I dragged a six-speaker stereo system with me wherever I went. Later that day, we had a conversation about phones. “You know,” I said. “In my time, you could dial a number and sometimes no one would answer. Because they weren’t home. Near the phone. The person was not near the phone.”
Ava: Wait, what?
Me: The person and the phone were not always in the same place. Your home phone would ring and you’d be out and couldn’t get it.
Ava: Like you forgot your phone at home?
Kay: My mom had one of those HUGE cell phones a long time ago. Like when she was first married.
Me: Cell phones used to be huge. The original car phones came in what looked like a briefcase.
Ava: Wait, why would a phone at your home not be with you?
Me: It was attached to the wall. And if you didn’t pick it up when it rang. Nobody answered it.
Kay: My mom has an iPhone.
Me: The Phone. Was Attached. To The HOUSE!
They looked at me like I had two heads. (The photo below is of me [left] and my college best friend. Way back in the 20th century. Talking on a corded phone that was attached to the house.)