Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I had a “Lassie Moment” while watching a rerun of Seinfeld yesterday evening.

Never heard the term? No surprise: I just made it up. To explain it, a little history is in order.

When I was a young Snot-Nose, there was a program on television about a young boy and his collie dog. I speak, of course, of Lassie, which ran from 1954 to 1973. The eponymous Lassie had an IQ somewhere just north of that of Stephen Hawking, and much of the series (as I remember it) had to do with her rescuing Jeff (her first owner) or Timmy (her second owner) from one sort of scrape or another.

The family lived on a farm somewhere in West Bumblefuck - I have no idea where, really - in a house that was furnished in Early Depression. But what the hell - they were farmers. What did I know about farmers?

What I did know was that their telephones were very different from ours. We had your basic black rotary-dial models - no fancy-pants “Princess” phones for us - but the Lassie family had something else entirely. They had a wall phone, one of those archaic jobbies with a wooden cabinet, the two ringer bells at the top, and a hand crank to power the thing up. Modern technology, circa 1930... except this was the late 1950’s already.


Antique Wall Phone
The Lassiephone!

I could never look at that phone without thinking, “Jeez - these people are living in the stone age!” just like the smug suburbanite snot-nose I was.

Fast forward to 2009. I’m watching a second-season episode of Seinfeld, an episode that is something on the order of eighteen years old. Way older than the earliest Lassie episodes were when I was watching them as late 1950’s reruns.

And Jerry is talking on a cellphone that is the approximate size of a cinderblock. Holy Crap!

I exaggerate, but not much. The phone he’s using - whether it’s a cellphone or a plain old wireless handset is not clear - is humongous by modern standards... and the foot-long antenna is downright laughable. For now we have phones that are small enough to replace Richard Gere’s gerbil.

Lotta technological development under the bridge in those eighteen years. iPhones, iPods, laptops, hand-held GPS devices, you name it.

Jerry looked perfectly happy with his Huge-Ass Phone, though. I was waiting for him to crank it up and get Mabel the Operator on the line. Oh, wait - that was Lassie.

So: The “Lassie Moment.” It’s when you’re watching a show on Ye Olde Boobe Toobe and you see a Technological Anachronism. Crank telephones - hell, rotary telephones - slide rules, great big cell phones, stuff like that. And you think, “Jeez - is this show that frickin’ old?”

Have you had any “Lassie moments” lately?

No comments: