Think about it: One day, the devices of our everyday lives will become kitschy curiosities


October 07, 2007|By JANET GILBERT

We were watching an episode from the first season of Seinfeld, wherein Jerry picks up an early portable, cordless phone to take a call.

"What's that?" my youngest son asked.

"That's a cordless phone," I said.

"No way!" he replied.

"Seriously," I said, "that's what the first cordless phones looked like."

Sure enough, there's Jerry, walking around his cool New York apartment with what looks like a shoebox pressed to his ear.

"It's so ... huge," my son said.

"We had one just like it," I said.

"Do we still have it?" he asked excitedly. I think he wanted to take it in to school to show his technologically savvy friends, much the way a budding paleontologist would want to show off a rare dinosaur-bone find.

"Sorry," I said. We tend to get rid of obsolete things, but not my parents.

Let me clarify. What I mean to say is that my parents hang on to things because they know they will eventually become funny and could serve as excellent "gag" gifts.

For example, my parents recently stopped by and brought back the first generation of the emergency car phone that my siblings and I had purchased for them one Christmas years ago when the devices became available. They had saved the instruction booklet with it, explaining that they had never really tried the phone and would surely have had to refresh themselves on how to use it if they needed to. It occurs to me that this would have vastly complicated any vehicular emergency situation.

"Let's see, refer to page 6 for the emergency phone connection diagram, and, honey, would you pass me that tourniquet while you're at it?"

The phone has the same chunky appearance as the one in the Seinfeld episode, and, scientifically speaking, it weighs more than your average head of iceberg lettuce. My son thinks it will be a perfect prop for "period" films set way back in the 1980s.

But my son's keen interest in this outdated object caused me to me think: I'll bet there are some things in my possession that will become kitschy curiosities.

Of course, as I look around, I can't help but notice that some things are not evolving very fast. Slow-cookers. Scissors. Hose-end sprayers. Hammers. Quilts. Jazz. In fact, if you can get your hands on a 50-year-old example of any of these things, it's probably just as good as the kind you can buy today.

But it is pretty obvious to me that by the year 2027, the flash drive, remote, laptop, digital camera and the ear bud will all join the ranks of the unrecognizable and downright laughable.

That's why I'm thinking about capturing the following ordinary moments in my typical day on film for the future entertainment of my friends and family. Visualize with me just a few samples of my uproariously funny back-to-the-future photo album:

Here I am, opening my car door with my key fob.

That's me, setting the self-timer on my oven.

I'm updating my virus protection in this series, using my cordless mouse.

I'm using the garage-door opener in this exciting shot. And here I am in front of the keypad.

I'm putting broccoli into the microwave here.

And in this last shot, I'm activating the alarm system, and if you look closely in the background you will see my espresso machine.

Just to be sure I cover all eventualities, I might throw in a shot of me opening the mail while talking on a land-line kitchen wall phone, working out on a treadmill and listening to my iPod, and loading paper into my printer.

And if you, like me, find the potentiality of all of these changes discomfiting, I have a suggestion. Simply toss a chuck roast into the slow-cooker, put on some jazz, and open a good old bottle of wine.

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