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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A remnant of batchelorhood

Gail and I married in 1983 and bought a house right away. Prior to marriage, I had lived in an awkwardly furnished and decorated duplex. ("Decorated" is a kind word.) To be fair the duplex held a few items of quality that I had purchased from a much more fashionable couple who had overextended themselves financially. Everything else in the duplex was junk -- except the batchelor's big stereo.

Didn't every batchelor extolled in Playboy have a big stereo? Listening to it was not the point, although its sound was superb (as it should have been, given the money involved.) The big stereo was a deliberate statement: a way to impress friends, particularly in electrical engineering circles. Most of my contemporaries played the game with cars, but I played the game with consumer electronics. It had a secondary use: to teach my duplex neighbor a lesson when she turned up her stereo too loud. I could make items fall off her walls.

Married men who read this blog will nod with familiarity that over the years Gail replaced or tossed every tangible possession that I brought into the marriage -- except the big stereo. It was an icon of a different era, in more ways than one. Thing is, consumer electronics don't last forever. Electrolytic capacitors decompose, potentiometers fill with dust, copper oxidizes, speaker cones tear, lights burn out, plastic knobs break, belts in turntables snap, and so on.

On a Saturday last month I disconnected all the components in the system and took most of them to the county electronics recycling depot. I did salvage the power amp, although I expect that it too will fall victim to geriatric electronics syndrome soon. Looking back, I'm happy that I didn't buy the 280Z.