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Close up detail of a classic car at a car show

Filed Under , , on November 7th, 2015

Scrolling Oldie

By Seth Kabala

The man rolled down the street behind the wheel of his classic Chevy pickup. He turned the radio dial as far as his wrist would allow, feeling a bone crackle in protest. He passed pop, country pop, hip-hop, and several other closely related mutations, but failed to find what he wanted: classic rock.

Long, tightly-curled blonde locks fell from his scream-creased forehead, thinner than they’d been three decades earlier, when he’d been the front man in an 80s rock band. In his mind, rock music should have occupied top billing on the dial, taking up so much space that no matter the station where you landed, you were treated to a stream of golden tones reminiscing on the regrets of murder with Queen, benefits of Southwest whore houses with The Eagles, and chasing your dreams no matter the cost with Journey.

What was now termed classic rock was just good music. The best music, in fact, for it needed no explanation. The themes were as aurally obvious as the nipples of a well-endowed swimmer are apparent through a thin, red suit emerging from cold water with sunlight flowing over the swell. It was in your face; it was real; and it was becoming forgotten at the ass end of the dial.

* * *

During the Amazonian process of benefits registration for my new job, I was ordering birth certificates for my kids. The process required me to enter my birthdate in the form of month, day, and year. I had to scroll way down to find 1981, those digits a virtualized instance of a cold, hard fact: I am old.

I don’t know what it was about this particular form that stood out to me. I’ve filled out online forms before. We all have. Probably, if you’re like me, you relax your eyes while the scroll bar descends to the year of your birth, taking little, if any, notice of any dates until yours comes into view. It’s an exercise in denial, as if ignoring the years that came after your entry into this world will compress time, raise wrinkles back to evenness, and restore your rightful place as the superhero in your adolescent son’s eyes, instead of the villain.

But we do it. Until we don’t. On this occasion, my vision became hyper aware, taking in every year and every detail of each year. I even flashed to scenes from the respective years. It was unnerving. All I’m doing is ordering some freaking birth certificates, I thought. This isn’t supposed to be a trip back to better times.

But were they better times?

Before proceeding, I paused to reflect. What meaning could I derive from the ability to return to historical scenes upon the stimulus of seeing scrolling dates in a form? Were those better times just because I was younger? No, it had to be more than that, for what defines better?

I define better as pertaining to an instance wherein one has a question about the best course of action and is able to draw upon experience gleaned from prior mistakes. Case-in-point: I now know that a career in public service is the best for me and my family. Better than staying up nights worrying about how to buy food and wishing I could turn into a wearwolf, which would allow me to find food for free, though the chasing of said food and murder charges would be a bitch.

That knowledge led to a new job, new city, new adventure, and new requirements, like ordering birth certificates. It’s a problem.

One I can solve.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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