As Muri and I pulled up to the La Mirada Playhouse to see Boeing Boeing on Saturday afternoon, we noticed that the Toys R Us that used to be next door was gone. Did you know the one near us is closing, too? Muri said. I didn’t know and it shouldn’t have mattered because I’d only been in a Toys R Us a few times in the past five years. In fact, for the last two years, I’ve bought virtually all of my grandkids toys (and a few of mine) on Amazon. Still, the closing of our Toys R Us made me sad. When our children were little a holiday tradition was a trip to Toys R Us right after Thanksgiving. We’d wander the aisles and fill the cart, imagining how they’d enjoy each of our choices. Wandering the aisles in places like Target just isn’t the same … Toys R Us was just toys and just for the kids.
I suppose to some degree I’m feeling the kind of nostalgia that every aging human feels as they see the world they lived in morph into something entirely different. Even when you’re a progressive old goat like Older Eyes and can see the benefit of the new ways, it’s hard to see the locales of some of your best memories disappear. I spent many happy hours flipping through the racks in record stores in search of new music, so happy, in fact, that owning a record store became a daydream of my twenties … and a CD store a dream of my thirties. Music stores like Tower Records have vanished, and the half-hearted CD sections in department stores can’t capture the nostalgia. Yet I’ve contributed to the demise … I buy virtually all of my music as mp3’s online. Muri and I have always loved books, and if you love books, you love bookstores. We spent many cozy afternoons in our local Borders until it closed … it’s now a Sprouts market. They don’t appreciate us reading in the produce aisle. Today, I heard that Barnes and Noble is beginning to close its stores because of the increased popularity of ebooks. I’ve participated in that, too. It seems … Thought Number One on this Top Sites Tuesday #188 … I just follow the technology … it’s faster, it’s easier and in some ways, it’s even better. Then I look up and something good is gone.
The thing is, part of the holiday experience was being in that Toys R Us with all the other parents, excitedly picking out toys for their children. And in a record store, there was a shared love of music. The guy next to you might notice that you were looking at a Modern Jazz Quartet album and say, Have you heard the latest Brubeck? Or the new Lovin’ Spoonful album might be playing on the store’s sound system. Bookstores were full of book lovers … you could just see it in the way they caressed the clean new cover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as they lifted it off the shelf. You were with your own kind, for Pete’s sake. Today I bought a new Peter White mp3 and downloaded 11/22/63: A Novel, the new book by Stephen King from Amazon. I’m sure I’ll enjoy both but it was a solitary experience. That’s the point, isn’t it? Thought Number Two: As we shop more and more online, we gain time and efficiency but we lose a sense of community. That’s too bad … the world needs that. I wonder if we’ll ever get it back.
What do you think? And, by the way, do you think you could push my button … gently … to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #188? I’d appreciate it.
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