Recently I was over my parents’ house for Sunday dinner with the rest of my family. My parents live in a place I like to call ‘fantasy land’ which is where retired people move to once they’ve checked-out of what I like to call the ‘real world’. After dinner my mother asked my brother-in-law and me to move a certain piece of furniture from the basement up to the living room. No problem except that the piece of furniture my mother wanted us to move was an old stereo cabinet from the 1970s. Now I asked one of the most obvious, but dangerous questions I could of asked in this situation . . . why?
So my mother explains how she is tired of how the living room looks and wants to replace the sofa table with the stereo cabinet because the stereo cabinet is made of “fine Florentine wood”. What? First of all the living room is like a museum. It’s used twice a year . . . on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Second, what the hell is ‘Florentine wood’? I actually went online to search ‘Florentine wood’ just to figure-out what I have suspected for most of my life – – my mother doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.
All of the pictures of ‘Florentine wood’ I saw on the internet didn’t look anything like the 1970s Magnavox stereo cabinet in my mother’s living room. According to my mom when Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of those “Sixteen Chapels” at the Vatican he laid on wood planks made from “fine Florentine wood”. Does anyone really think that Magnavox imported Florentine wood for the purpose of mass producing stereo cabinets in the 1970s? My mom does.
Alright, so retirement does strange things to your mind. For example, you start seeing “fine Florentine wood” where it never existed before. Ever. Now I can just imagine the fine people at Magnavox in the 1970s searching the four corners of the globe for the legendary Florentine tree to craft their fine stereo cabinets from. Given my examination of the stereo cabinet I would guess that it was made in Florence, NY from some kind of crappy wood that was painted to look like it was fine Italian furniture. Oooh, my mom is not going to be happy when she reads that.
Inside the stereo cabinet there’s a tuner, an 8-track player, and a turntable with two inches of dust. So after my brother-in-law and I moved this piece of hi-fi memorabilia from the basement to the living room I plugged it in to see if it still worked. It didn’t even have a grounded plug. The tuner was so technologically advanced for its time in 1973 that it doesn’t even have a ‘volume’ knob – it has a ‘loudness’ knob. When I turned it on my mother commented how good it sounded. You know how it sounded? Like an oversized transistor radio with static. You know there’s a reason people buy new stereos.
Now several years ago my mother commented to my sister and I how she had heard a Bose wave CD player/radio and wanted one as a Christmas or anniversary gift. So my sister and I bought one for my parents for a mere $499, but apparently according to my mother’s acoustically challenged ears the 1970 Magnavox stereo in the fine Florentine wood cabinet sounds just as good. Remember, the Magnavox stereo has ‘loudness’, not ‘volume’. Get it? I don’t. As this little episode demonstrates, an unfocused retirement is a terrible thing. When you start rearranging the furniture in a room you never use, you know that it’s time to go back to work. At least watch HGTV and figure out that imitation Florentine wood furniture from the 1970s is not all the rage in home decorating. In fact, even in the 1970s imitation Florentine wood was not all the rage.
If there was a home decorating television show called “That Design is a Crime”, then my mom would be the host. Somehow I don’t think my mom is going to take that as a compliment.
Copyright 2004 “The Welcome Matt”