Monday, July 14, 2014

the times they are a-telling and the changing isn't free

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the day Mrs. P and I tied the proverbial knot of matrimony before a three-ring circus of family and friends.

We were married in 1984, the year synonymous with George Orwell's ominous novel of a dystopian future. When written in 1948, Orwell envisioned a stark, oppressive society, but he also, unknowingly, predicted things that actually came to be, including two-way "telescreens," which can be compared to today's Skype and appearance-altering plastic surgery, in addition to tight governmental control of public information. But in the 30 years that have elapsed since 1984, many things that were once commonplace, have become extinct and are now regarded as "quaint," while other things that are currently used on a daily basis, didn't even exist. Thirty years is a longer period of time than you may realize.

For instance...

The new Mrs. P and I set out for our honeymoon on the day that the Philadelphia Stars, the hometown representatives in the fledgling USFL summertime football league, celebrated their only championship before relocating to Baltimore. The ill-fated league folded after just one more season. Our honeymoon destination was the Walt Disney World resort and its newly-added, separately-gated theme park, EPCOT (then called EPCOT Center). Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, as well as seventeen hotels, two water parks and the Disney Vacation Club, were all mere twinkles on the drawing board. We drove to central Florida without the aid of a cellphone. Our in-car entertainment was provided by the trusty in-dash cassette tape deck and a bunch of custom-recorded "mix tapes." This was years before a CD player was purchased for our home and nearly two decades before I owned an iPod. Our route was plotted by 1984's version of a GPS. The "TripTic," as it was called, was a multi-page, intricately-folded document, that included custom maps and highlighted places of interest. It needed to be ordered from "Triple A" (the American Automobile Association) and preparation took several weeks. It arrived accompanied by a collection of thick booklets filled with hotel listings for each state through which the designated route passed. Vacation memories were captured on film that had to be developed. Postcards were mailed to loved ones at home, as email and texting were concepts straight from The Jetsons.

Those two crazy kids.
Upon our return from Florida, our top priority in home entertainment was the purchase of a VCR. (DVD players? No such thing existed.) Our state-of-the-art Mitsubishi model set us back $800, but it did include the capability of setting a timer to record shows automatically, provided the device's clock was properly set. We, of course, were limited to the offerings on broadcast television, as cable TV would not be available within the Philadelphia city limits for another decade.

Words like "modem," "wifi" and even "internet" didn't exist. We wouldn't purchase a home computer until the early 90s. There was no concern with posting a status on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg wasn't born until several months after our wedding reception. There was no Candy Crush. No Google. No Wikipedia. An upstart company called Microsoft had just partnered with IBM to develop a graphical computer operating system called "Windows," but that couldn't possibly be of any concern to us. eBay, the online auction/marketplace that provides my wife with her livelihood, would not go live for another dozen years. Jeez, fax machines, a piece of fascinating technology that fizzled out almost as soon as it appeared, were still a ways off. And, in a funny bit of irony, there was no such thing as a blog.

But the most confounding thing is that someone was able to put up with me for thirty years.

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