a la recherche du temps perdu

Me and the rest of the old fogies here at the home were surely glad in this year of the lord 2017 that we had befriended those lost young millionaires back at the first of the century. Yessirreee Bob, when we heard about those little farts becoming millionaires overnight and having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the therapy charlatans we knew we had to rescue them from themselves. The roots of our own youth struggled up in our middle-aged consciousness and as a group we pooled our money and rode out to Silicon valley and corralled a bunch of them. Drug ’em down to the old Haight district in San Francisco and murmured unbelivable stories in their ears. Took ’em to Union Square and watched as they learned to give money away which did not benefit themselves. Taught them how to plant a tree. Hauled them down to the beach at night and made ’em look at the stars. Played cassette tapes on battery powered players…old Jefferson Airplane and Hendrix tunes. Whispered in their ears of purple haze and humanity.

In kind, they invested some of their dollars wisely in the industry of the future; nursing homes. And in their new found awareness in the early years of the century, in recognition of our efforts of saving them from themselves, they established a special home for us, the aging MacHeads.

It was a typical weekday afternoon at the home. The ocean breeze played across the patio as Farr rocked and dozed in his chair, the old Gibson perioulously close to sliding from his fingers once again. Marty was dreaming and drooling in the porch swing, hugging his Lara Croft doll. Eolake was being reprimanded by the staff (once again) for sneaking around the ladies rooms with his digital camera. Del was in the back yard shouting poetry to the rocks. Lysa was dancing barefoot on the sand. And me? I was in my usual place in the parts room, caressing naked motherboards and fondling my anti-static wrist strap.

Our retirement home was not only a museum of people, but a museum of computers as well. Our younger colleague, Rodney, who had fast-tracked himself into minor internet fame through shameless self promotion, had offered our home as a museum for older Macintosh computers when we first moved in. People cleared out their closets and sent the hardware and software, peripherals and printers and parts, which had become obsolete almost as soon as they had been purchased. Our interest in them was mostly nostalgic. But every now and again I still liked to tinker with them, and reminisce of our glory days.

“Hey Farr! FarrFace! JohnBoy!” The rocking chair creaked to a halt and I grabbed the Gibson before it slid off his lap. “Put…your…hearing…aid…in…and…turn…it…on!”

“If only I hadn’t had the volume up so loud all those years ago”, he moaned.

“Oh, quitcher whining, Farr, and grab the others. I got that old B&W G3 running again! HooHaw! I’ll get Marty.” I strode across the porch and gently shook the old astrophysicist awake. “C’mon, Marty, come and see what I did.”

I rushed back to the parts room and waited for the others to join me. I was cackling with delight. These old boxes seemed quietly elegant in comparison to today’s minaturized computers in colors only recently discovered when the ozone layer finally burned off. Like giant ocean liners the “old ones” gently carried us through the calm seas of nostalgia. I caressed this one as I waited, and whispered into the microphone, “What was your name? Whose life did you enhance in your days of glory?”

I remembered the procession of Macs in my day. The Fat Mac, the LC, Moo the Mighty 7200, Anais the Fast and Quiet, the iBook which had no name, and all the others which followed. They got smaller and smaller, faster and faster, and soon lost their personality and fascination. Now they were just taken for granted, a way of life, the way automoblies and televisions did in our younger days.

The ruckus in the hall popped me out of my reverie. “Look who’s here! Look who came to visit!” And in walked Rodney and Tim with the others.

“Well, if it ain’t Ms. Hardware Horndog. How you doin’ sista?” Rodney gave me a decent pinch where it counted.

“OK, fine, fine, now stop that. You been hanging out with Eolake? Where’s Del and Lysa? I wanna see if this thing really works.!”

“I saw them heading for their room,” Tim replied. We all chucked knowingly. Nostalgia swept over me once again. After a certain age it’s probably just better to remember certain things.

“OK, here goes. I’ve been working on this puppy all day. Wasn’t this a revolutionary design when it first came out, the way the door swung open and the innerds were all laid out? Man oh man, Uncle Stevie sure inspired some good ones.” I reached my blue veined hand with the glitter nailed finger (some things never change) over the keyboard and pressed the power button.

Chime! Welcome to Mac OS 9. The inits marched their way across the bottom of the screen. We all laughed. It looked so funny and ancient. Sort of like watching the Keystone Cops when we were younger. And then we saw it. Whoever had owned this G3 had taken the time before it was sent off to our museum to catalogue our work. And there it was on the desktop in neatly labeled files…. “The Farr Site & Zoo Zone” “Warp Core & Utopia Planitia” “Difference Engine & Abacus” “MacCreator” “MyMac” and one simply titled “Rodney”

“Where did this come from? Who sent this? Where’s the box it came in?” I tore through the storage room, tears rolling down my face. What a touching moment. Then I found the packing box and looked at the label for the return address. Smudged but…ah, here it is….sent by…. Hugh G. Rection, somewhere in Texas….

Life at the home is good these days. The Hells Angels we hired to keep the medical doctors at bay are doing a good job, and we bury our own when it’s time. We sit around and reminisce about the good old days, and every now and then one of us will sneak down to the parts room and fire up that old G3 and remind ourselves that in the fleeting days of the ‘net, we were once loved by somebody.

Beth Lock

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