the video store had boxes that frayed

video storeOne of the surest signs of “maturity” is starting to reminisce.

I think when a person is young, they’re too busy running around and in the moment to spend too much time looking back.

Get some years under your belt and you’ve got a bigger pool of memories to pull from.

Maybe it’s like a reverse picture of Dorian Gray…the memories pull us down to a place we don’t want to go…age us prematurely..I don’t really know.

The thing about my memory is that it’s kind of like I’m falling down a mineshaft…bouncing from side to side with each new thought…until eventually I land on the bottom and settle on one of the thoughts that more often than not turns out to be kind of strange and inconsequential.

Right now I’m thinking about video stores.

Video stores?  With all the important things going on in the world, I settle on video stores.  Why?

Well….back in the day, why, that was really living…why, I remember when Jimmy John used to pull up in his ’71 Charger and honk his horn just for a laugh…

Just kidding, the memories aren’t going to take that strange a turn.

No…I was thinking about video stores…and then I got to thinking about record stores…and then I got to thinking about the mercantile with its penny candy and those movies you could watch for a penny if you were willing to turn the crank and watch the cards flip over….


I really was thinking about video stores…and going in to spend/waste time picking up VHS boxes to flip them over and read the back.

If it’s that hard to make up my mind, why didn’t I ever clue in that maybe there were better ways to spend my time than flipping video boxes?

The thing about video stores….and the thing about a lot of the ways we used to purchase media like records or movies…is that it was such a tactile thing.  Those boxes were solid and clunky…you knew you were getting a “thing” when you went to pick out a movie.

It was a pretty social thing, too…maybe by default but you couldn’t help but engage occasionally with the other folks wasting time trying to decide on which movie they’d get that evening.

I love streaming movies on Netflix…it’s a movie lover’s dream to have a bunch of movies to call up at will….but I couldn’t help but think that it was a lot like going to the video store…a small percentage of decent movies and a whole lot of weirdness that I’ve never heard of before…and lots of time wasted because it was so hard to figure out which was “least crummy”.

“I’m here…I’ve got to pick something out…”

Now, so much is internal and isolated…we sit at a terminal to Skype,  or pick out a movie…read the news…order a blender….buy our books….reserve our books at the library….write a blog about sitting at a computer doing the things that used to take us out in the world…


The video store was such a diversion from “real life” …it was such a squandering of my time (and of all the folk’s time who were waiting on me to make up my mind) …but in retrospect…to reminisce….looking back at it all now…it was pretty much the most interactive media experience that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life.

But…with a few clicks of my mouse, I’ll add another something to my queue and forget that I ever had to stand in line to rent that Jackie Chan VHS for the third time because I couldn’t remember that I didn’t enjoy it the first two times.

Maybe that’s another kindness of aging…you forget what you’ve spent so much time reminiscing over.

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