When long ago isn’t so long ago

There had to be a wrench that worked — after all, I had put the thing together — but I couldn’t find it.

Finally, the last one in the box — literally the last one, not the “last one I grabbed because I found it and therefore didn’t need to look anymore” — worked. It wasn’t an ideal fit, but it would do the job.

So I sat on the floor of one of our upstairs bedrooms and started taking apart the futon.


I wasn’t looking to replace it, since it was perfectly comfortable as far as I was concerned, but a couple of the pieces were starting to pull apart. What finally sealed its fate was the armrest coming off when we tried to pick up the end of the futon. It wasn’t because of a loose bolt or screw, since the armrest and side of the futon were all one piece.

It just ripped off.

Suzi pointed out that I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that the futon had met its demise, since it was more than 20 years old.

I started to argue, but realized she was right. She and I have been together more than 20 years, and I owned it when we met. I got it when I moved into my second apartment, which was large enough to accommodate something nicer than a foam fold-out bed that I bought from my neighbor’s lawn sale along with a foam chair for $20.

As year, houses and couches went by, the futon became less a part of everyday life, taking up residence in our sports room, which had mostly been a place where one of us could watch TV if the other was watching something downstairs that didn’t hold much appeal. (This usually meant Suzi watching more-suited to her interests than the NASCAR I was watching.)

However, the futon had gotten more use in recent months, now that the sports room is the site of our Thursday-night “adventures.” (We wrap up “traveling” through the United States in a couple weeks, and then it’s off to a long sojourn in England.)

Its pieces are now in the basement, in part because I’m not sure how to dispose of them and in part because that’s a decent amount of wood if we have to cobble together an impromptu home repair.

”There aren’t many things I’ve had for more than 20 years” was a thing that happened in my brain until the part that actually thought started laughing … because I’ve had a lot of stuff for that long.

Shirts, for instance … which you can do when you don’t dress in the latest fashions and your shirt size has remained the same for ages.

Books, too, especially sports books. My bowling ball. My desk (and more than a few things in it).

Along with whatever flotsam and jetsam that could be needed to fix something someday, the basement is a treasure trove of stuff I’ve had for a long time. My golf clubs and baseball gloves are down there, along with all my old Yankee yearbooks.

Stacks of videotapes are in a plastic bucket without a VCR to play them on — although I still hope they’re part of the next “retro” craze — and although I found the small plastic case that held the cassettes I used to listen to, none of the tapes I found were actually mine.

However, not being able to find my old Debbie Gibson cassette — I don’t remember if it was “Out of the Blue” or “Electric Youth” — is not nearly as bothersome as realizing Debbie Gibson is 50 years old. You see … the whole thing is that she was a star when she was a teenager … and that’s when I was a teenager, and … well, you know the rest.

More bothersome is realizing that while it’s still the same number of trips around the sun as it always has been, 20 years aren’t what they used to be.


A longtime joke between one of my former coworkers and me is that I once heard her on the phone referring to “1996 … when I was 5.”

That means she’s turning 30 this year, but more importantly, it means in 1996, she was in kindergarten and I was finishing graduate school. Twenty years ago, she was she was in third or fourth grade — and I know some people reading this were even younger — while Suzi and I were in our late 20s and dating. (Our 20th wedding anniversary is next summer.)

That stuff I have that’s more than 20 years old? Some of it’s actually closer to 35 or 40 years old.

One of the sports books in my collection is a Summer Olympics preview from … 1984. There was excitement over Carl Lewis because “Lewis’ long jumping could leave Los Angeles with an unforgettable moment. He could well reach Bob Beamon’s unreachable jump of 29-2 1/2 (Bill note from 2021: he didn’t) and also conceivably win the 100 and 200 and help win a relay. That’s four gold medals. (He did.)”

Less optimistically, the U.S. men’s soccer team wasn’t expected to do much, and were only in the tournament because Los Angeles was hosting (plus ça change). France won the gold medal over Brazil in the Rose Bowl, and as for the American women, they won the gold medal …

… in Atlanta in 1996 …

… the first year women’s soccer was in the Olympics.

The 1984 Olympics were so long ago, I wondered where the women’s soccer preview was, because I had actually forgotten that women playing soccer in the Olympics was actually a fairly recent development.

If you want to consider 25 years ago “fairly recent.”

Which for the purposes of my life, I’m starting to realize it is.

We replaced the futon. It’s basically the same style, just a little less bulky. It’s quite comfy.

And since we were adding a new futon to the papasan Suzi bought for herself, she decided it was high time to redo the room. We moved some stuff around, but the biggest change is that we repainted the walls light blue.

It looks good, and not just because I am an absolute boss with a paint roller, although I am. (The secret: load it up with paint and roll the dickens out of it. Don’t skimp.)

If the new futon lasts as long as the old one did — and just as importantly, if I’m still around for it — I’ll be pushing 70. I’m guessing “20 years ago” will feel a lot different then.

I’m also guessing my old desk will still be around. I might get buried with that thing.



4 thoughts on “When long ago isn’t so long ago

  1. Every once in a while I decid that we’re going to sort through old stuff we have. The videotapes are long gone, and we’ve never had any sports memorabilia, BUT furniture we got. Lots of it, most of it no longer used. Like you though, I may be buried with some of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The week gone by — June 20 – A Silly Place

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