Margaret was standing and looking back and forth between me and the stereo in the motorhome, her CD case in one hand, her MP3 player in the other.
We’re on vacation, and one of the very important must-haves when one is on vacation, settled into reclining deck chairs, ice cubes tinkling in the citrus adorned beverage (ah-h-h, limes go with so many things) is good music. Problem is, our motorhome is of the vintage that its state-of-the-art sound system is designed to play cassettes. OK, that’s slightly more modern than an 8-track player, but even cassettes are getting increasingly more difficult to find and play. (That reminds me of a story about a guy who is building his ‘legitimate’ music collection by scouring garage and yard sales for 8-track tapes and players, which he then digitizes to MP3’s…. but I digress.)
I concede, it’s time to upgrade our music system. I already have the CD player but, unlike with newer vehicles, I can’t just pop out the old player and pop in the new one. I think very briefly about just getting a new motorhome, one that already has a CD player, a nice 40-foot diesel pusher with a bumper sticker (“Spending our kids’ inheritance.”) but first I’d actually have to save an inheritance for the kids. No, I have to be practical. Off to Wal*Mart for a Car/Truck/SUV Stereo Dash Install Kit (Wiring Connector sold separately). Yep, this baby can deal with any GM vehicle built between 1982 and 2005. I even spring for the wiring connector. I mean, how hard could this be?
After 45 minutes trying to get the plastic packaging open, I am greeted with a plastic CD player bracket full of holes and squiggly cutouts and a number of plastic trees holding dozens of twist-off parts. I am feeling a little queasy.
The sight of the plastic trees with all those little parts rockets me back to my childhood and my pathetic and frustrating attempts to build model cars and planes. The ’57 Chevy. The P-51 Mustang. The B-42 bomber. They looked so fantastic displayed at the model shop. (Do they still have model shops? Or have they gone the way of the Lionel train stores?) Exquisite airbrushed paintwork over immaculately assembled little plastic bodies.
About all I can remember about trying to duplicate those modelmaking works of art is that the little twist-off plastic pieces aways came off with little bits of extra plastic still attached to them, nasty little bits that I couldn’t get off, even with my x-acto knife, frustrating little bits that would prevent the parts of the model from fitting together properly. The glue (whose fumes, apparently, have since become a popular recreationl drug) always came out in sticky globs and, even when I used a toothpick, oh so carefully, to apply it, would insist on drying into fingerprint encrusted smears on the sides of my project. The paint came out of those nasty little bottles in chunks and the decals would invariably tear and go on crooked. My deformed little aircraft would list to starboard on their little display stands. No project of mine would ever end up in the model shop’s dispay window. Who actally built those perfect specimens?
Suck it in, fella. You can do it. You’re not a kid any more.
Actually, after I found the appropriate instruction for our dashboard (page 20) it turned out I didn’t need any parts from the plastic trees and I could get by using the components holding in our current deluxe vintage radio/cassette player. A carriage bolt here, a few wires connected together (here I was ably assisted by my color-code genius, Margaret), a hip check to get the assembly to fit into the existing space in the dashboard, and…. here I am listening to Hotel Calfornia, performed by Palm Springs’ home-grown guitarist, David Wayne, on a self-produced CD that Margaret bought from him a few years ago at one of the many popular street markets in the area. It’s about time I got to listen to it.
Excuse me. I’m heading for the ice bucket. That recliner is calling to me. Isn’t life great?