June 19, 2008
You know what kind of people you never see any more? Organ grinders. Do you ever get a feeling of nostalgia for the good old days when you couldn’t walk down the street and either run into an organ grinder with his monkey or slip on a banana peel? I don’t, mainly because the only place I see those things are in old films and cartoons. I never even saw organ grinders when I was a kid, but I thought it looked like a great job going around with a monkey. Actually I never could figure out why the monkey was necessary. Maybe because the organ grinder was holding the organ with one hand and turning the crank with the other, but if he used a strap to hang it around his neck he could always get rid of the monkey, unless people just have an aversion to giving money directly to men with handlebar moustaches and would rather hand it to a small flea-ridden simian. But I digress. Organ grinders seem to have gone the way of men named Aloysius, women named Bertha, and telephone operators. Not that anyone ever saw telephone operators, but we knew they were there. Sometimes I’d like to be able to pick up my phone and, instead of dialing a bunch of numbers, just say, "Sarah, could you get me the Chinese restaurant in Mount Pilot?" And some guy named Mark in Mumbai would say, "I’m sorry sir, how does this relate to your credit card bill?" There are a few things that make me feel nostalgic. I remember when fins on cars disappeared. Well, not exactly, but it’s strange. It’s as though one day I saw cars with fins and then the next day they were all gone. It’s almost like the big computer monitors, which seemed to disappear with about the same level of speed. It’s as though suddenly everyone in the world got a flat-screen monitor delivered at once. Sometimes I wonder what will disappear next. What will make people, in twenty or fifty years, say, "Hey, you know what I never see anymore?" It’ll probably be something we take for granted. "You know what I never see anymore? Light bulbs. Not since they made glow-in-the-dark wallpaper." I get a strange feeling whenever I think about what the future will bring, and what may also disappear in its wake. It’s not exactly nostalgia. It’s like the feeling is the opposite of nostalgia. The worst thing is, whenever I try to explain this to someone they just look at me like I’ve got a handlebar moustache.