Saturday, February 11, 2006

Pop Culture

I was in the bedroom listening to a CD on my personal CD player late last night as Jim watched TV in the living room.

"Marty Ingels is on Becker."

"Oh. Is he still on?"

"There's a commercial and then he's going to be back."

I put the CD back in the jewel case and the player into its little spot in a drawer in the etagere, and went into the living room, which means, as it does for many New Yorkers of average means, that I walked across to the other side of the same room.

"That's not Marty Ingels. His face is rounder and not as pouchy as this guy's."

"So who's that?"

"I don't know. Some other guy. Not Marty Ingels."

Suddenly, there was a short, sharp Bang! from the other side of the room.

"What was that?"

Oh no, do I have to find out? "A balloon popped in my closet." Except that I didn't have a balloon in my closet.

Jim opened the door and looked out into the hallway, looked out the window, I checked out the bathroom to see if the lightbulb in the ceiling fixture exploded. We agreed that it definitely came from inside the apartment, as opposed to our neighbors shooting themselves or others. It's an old building, so we checked the floors and ceilings and corners of the apartment to see if the floor or the ceiling was about to rupture.

I checked my closet; maybe I did have a balloon in there for no apparent reason. Then I got a brainstorm and checked the etagere, which is next to the closet, and opened the drawer to see my CD player with its lid and battery compartment open.

I took it out. "Oh, no! What's this foam?"

The batteries in the player had exploded.

"We'd better get them out of there quick."

But we couldn't. They had swelled and spot-welded themselves to the inside of the compartment. Since it was long past the warranty date, and the cost of fixing it was more than buying another player, we ended up having to throw it out.

My husband offered me the use of his CD player, which he got in a contest almost ten years ago and has used so infrequently that it's still in its original packaging, like Felix Unger's childhood teddy bear. I thought about getting myself a new player, but then remembered that mine had been receiving short shrift in the three years since I'd bought my iPod. I used it once in a while at home, if I wanted to listen to a disc that had not yet been added to my Pantheon of Pod, but more and more, I had just been thinking of CD's not as playable objects but as a permanent storage medium for iPod tracks.

Maybe the player got lonely and blew its brains out. I'd better do some kind of intervention on my old Walkman now. Thank God I wasn't listening to it when the batteries exploded; I've lost enough hearing from all those years of Mountain.

P.S. I had a crush on Marty Ingels when I was seven years old and I used to watch him on "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster." I wanted to ride my bike to Hollywood to meet him, since I'd thought at that age that the country looked sort of like this.

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