Imagine my surprise and shock.
According to a recent news article, some members of the fashionable set have decided that it’s cool to have a stationary telephone. You remember the type. It sits on a table or desk and stays there. It’s boxy. It’s too big, heavy, and awkward to tuck into a pocket. It plugs into a hole in the wall. You can always hear the person on the other end. That person can always hear you. It has no other function than to allow you to make and receive phone calls.
Such phones still exist, even as we all walk around with eyes and ears fastened to cell phones. The older of these stationary phones are apparently referred to now as “vintage.” The article on vintage phones included a photo of such phones, reconditioned for modern use.
Imagine my surprise and shock when there, in that photo collection of “vintage” phones, sat my very own long-time desk phone.
The photographed phone is orange while mine is beige; otherwise they look alike. Heavy, solid base. Large clunky handset. Curly cord. Chunky, three-dimensional buttons. Mine sports a comfortable shoulder rest of a type no longer available. This shoulder rest is so vintage that it has cracked and is held together by a thick bandage of pink duct tape. My phone is not, however, reconditioned. It never got out of condition in the first place as far as I can tell.
I never thought of my phone as “vintage.” It’s just my phone, that I’ve had since my son was little. In that, I’m a bit like my grandmother. When she died at 95, she didn’t know that her house was full of antiques, it was just her stuff.
I’m not clear about the definition of “vintage.” I think it means too old to be fashionable, old enough to have nostalgic appeal, young enough to still be useful, maybe more practical in some ways than new stuff, but not old enough to be an antique which, while more valuable, can be merely decorative.
What else do I have that might be considered vintage?
My favorite shirt probably qualifies, a cotton flannel camp shirt I bought for our first hiking trip in 1984.
My sewing machine, going on 50, is probably vintage, a “portable” that only a person with the muscular strength of The Incredible Hulk can carry for more than six feet.
I might include the portable typewriter I bought around 1970. I don’t use it anymore, but I’ve seen similar typewriters in catalogues that deal with both simple practicality and nostalgia.
Is our couch vintage? We bought it in 1968. I wouldn’t part with it, even at “vintage” prices. It’s so lengthy that I can lie on it to take a comfortable nap, stretched out as far as I can stretch, with room left over for a cat or two.
I suppose I’m using vintage shoes, a vintage watch (wind-up, no battery), vintage dishes, vintage cookbooks, vintage homemade afghans, a vintage London Fog raincoat.
The more I think about it, the more surprised and shocked I feel. When did my stuff stop being just my stuff and start being vintage? And have I become vintage myself? Too old to be fashionable, old enough to have a nostalgic appeal, young enough to still be useful, maybe more practical in some ways than newer people.
Time slips away. One day, everything feels new and young. The next day, it’s vintage.
Only one step remains for my stuff and me. That is to become “antique.” My stuff and I are not ready.
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