Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reaching The Science Fiction Future

Once again, because I am aging -- as opposed to gracefully dying young -- a recent event has reminded me of an adventure from my youth. The Boy (Woodrow Robert, according to official state records) has rendered his old box spring set useless. This is probably a no-fault occurrence, as he has been on this bed set for several years. Thus, my young bride betook herself to our local furniture gallery, Greer's, to procure a replacement. We have shopped here exclusively for the past decade due to superior aid and service, as well as decent prices.

She explained to the person who helped her that she was looking for a twin box spring at a discount price, since The Boy is eighteen and will be going on to his Naval career (his decision) in only a few years. He located a discontinued model whose price had been heftily lowered, quoted the cost, and the deal was made. When she inquired about method of payment, debit card, check, whatever, he actually said that cash was good. Cash? Nobody takes cash anymore, without a gun pointed directly at their temple.

I went the next day with my truck (the one that is now old enough to vote and buy tobacco products), and, when the time came to render remuneration, I dragged out my wallet and produced the government issue, paper representations of my labor. Then the woman behind the counter counted out my change, without benefit of any electronic device, coins first, then bills, as God intended. It was very surreal, in an historic context.

I remember reading futuristic fiction and watching films in my adolescence, wherein people would buy things and pay with "credits." Our society has now reached that point, such that my debit card takes care of my fuel and food purchases, as well as the occasional stop for consumption-grade ethanol at Bob's. Which, finally, brings me to the memory that reared up from all of these occurrences.

When I was married the first time, all those years ago, we -- as a couple -- decided to spend July 4th weekend, 1980, in Knoxville. For young people who had hardly ever been anywhere, or done anything, this was a big deal. I made a reservation at what is now the Marriott, but was then the Hyatt Regency, near the Civic Coliseum/Auditorium building. At that time, this was the closest thing to a luxury hotel that Knoxville had. We parked the car as near to the front door as possible, and perambulated to the front desk, where the young lady who was operating things was deep into a terribly important conversation, which I interrupted, being the rude person that I am.

I made known that there was a reservation with my last name attached, and she grudgingly checked the records. She then asked how I intended to pay, and, with not a hint of guilt on my part, I pulled a wad of filthy, possibly terminal, cash from my wallet (Lord knows where it had been). Now, in my fuzzy memory, I can see the young lady handling the bills -- two-fingered -- as if they were infected with cholera, or perhaps anthrax. I'm certain that is just my mind doing a little creative editing, but it entertains me, nonetheless.

Having procured my, probably diseased, change we made our way to the hotel room. Here is what I remember about it, with absolutely no memory edit whatsoever:

-- It was dusty. I wrote my name into the dust on the bureau; it was that bad.

-- It needed to be vacuumed. There were dust bunnies under both beds. I looked out of curiosity inspired by the coating on the furniture.

--There was a beautiful window view of the rear parking lot.

-- The water heater did not work. Cold showers, what a treat!

When we checked out the next morning, cutting our two-night stay to one, I detailed the reasons with the desk-charge-of-the-moment. He was somewhat apologetic, and inquired if another room might be offered, but I said, "No, I've had enough luxury for one weekend. I'll find a hotel that wants my business and money." I got my second night's lodging money returned, and we stayed that night at a Holiday Inn that was on Papermill Drive.

The room was sparking clean, and had been vacuumed that morning, as far as I could tell. Also the water heater was obnoxiously efficient, such that I spent extra time in the shower, just 'cuz I could.

Oddly, I don't really remember any details of meals eaten or events attended, though I'm certain we watched fireworks somewhere. But those memories are so clouded by the events at our "luxury" hotel, that I simply cannot seem to recover them, and that bothers me. I nearly always remember good meals and times, but not from this experience. It's a consternation.

Someday, maybe, there will be a neurological instrument that can restore memories. I hope I have enough credits to hire it out.


  1. but the question is: if said neuro-implant becomes available, will it have an 'edit' option? Obviously not to edit the actual memories, but perhaps to edit over the things that you really don't want to remember? fr'instance -- the particularly pleasant aroma wafting on a warm summer day of a recently expired skunk, or anything blowing your way from the Rohm and Haas buildings ... then there are the subjective memories, that upon further perusal, don't need to be revisited - e.g. our sone subsisted near-solely on mother's milk for his first year, and those first few weeks were *scary* -- I mean, somehow that milk took a two-week vacation to New Jersey and made it back to arrive in his diaper a shade of green found nowhere else in nature ... I can stand forgetting that ...
    Still, there are other things I would like to remember better ... fireworks as a kid, when I still believed that they were almost magical ... the taste of that perfect midsummer strawberry, or that recipe that went over so well, but that I can't quite pin down exactly right to recreate ...
    ah well ... walking through the park and reminiscing ...

  2. Wait, where is yaguari having mid-summer strawberries? All the strawberries of my acquaintance mature in May. Makes for a darned short season of happiness.

    Anyway, I'm awfully glad to read that you had a vacation while you were married the first time. And I love finding places that actually appreciate King Cash. They're becoming more and more rare, y'know.