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Obsolete Objects

Illustration by Michael Rushbrook

Whoopi Goldberg told a funny story on her talk show. She was walking down a busy street with her granddaughter and the child asked, “What is that box for?” Whoopi’s looking everywhere for boxes—like wrapped Christmas-present boxes.

“What boxes are you talking about?” she asked her grandchild. “That big box,” the child pointed, “the one that says ‘us’ mail.” Of course, Whoopi realized she was talking about a free-standing blue U.S. Post Office mailbox on the sidewalk. The only kind of mail the little girl recognized was e-mail!

My cousin tells a similar story about my daughter. The two were having a big conversation about Maddy’s adventure in Chicago over the summer. Maddy was trying to tell Denise about getting separated from her group and how she and her friend figured out the way back to a central location.

Denise was really distracted, though, because Maddy kept referring to “the fold-up-thingy.” She talked about going down this street then that street and her friend checked the fold-up-thingy.

After another twist and turn and Maddy holding onto the fold-up-thingy, Denise blurted out, “Maddy, are you talking about a MAP? OMG—you don’t know what a map is!?!”

I hadn’t ever thought about it, but our kids find their location using their phones…they have the App for directions and the GPS right in their smart phone. The “fold-up-thingy” is as foreign to my kids as the big blue mailbox was to Whoopi’s granddaughter.

And that takes me back to a question my youngest daughter asked me one day.  

“Mom, what’s vennel (sounds like kennel)?”

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Vennel—Lady Gaga has one coming out.”

“You’ve lost me, Sky…I have no idea what you mean.”

“Come on, Mom. You and Dad have lots of vennels in here. I want to buy new ones.”

“Spell it,” I suggested.

From across the hall I heard, “v-i-n-y-l. Vennel.”

It dawned on me that she was looking at our peach crates of ’70s and ’80s LPs, called “vinyl” on the record covers!

Oh, how a kid’s innocent question makes a parent feel obsolete!

JENNIE Montgomery anchors the evening news at WJBF-TV. She’s married to Scott and they have three children: Zack, 19, Maddy, 18, and Sky, 17.

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