Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Smell of ‘The Internet’

I started talking about this on a comment I left on Foxy J’s blog, now I will expand.

When I was in High School my father worked for a company called Eiger. They specialized in making high-end sound equipment for home theatre systems. My father was their head sound engineer. In their office they had a theatre room. My father would often stay late working on boards, creating new designs and other such things that I did not really understand. Sometimes if he knew he was going to be really late he would let me, my brothers and my mom come over and watch a movie in the theatre room. Sometimes he would invite extended family, and sometimes we even got to bring a friend. It was a great place to watch a movie—comfy couches, a huge screen and some of the best sound equipment known to man, created by my father (no, I’m not boasting about my dad, it really was some of the best sound equipment ever).

I loved going to watch movies over at Dad’s office. But sometimes I didn’t really want to watch a movie. Sometimes I just went so I could get on ‘The Internet’.

At my Dad’s office they had a computer with an Internet connection. The computer sat in front of a huge window that looked over Foster City, a very nice view but I hardly noticed over the bounties of ‘The Internet’. I remember being absolutely fascinated by all the information I could access. All the strangers I could ‘chat’ with. It was so cool! I wish I could remember more specifics about my initial encounters with the Internet, but the only thing that remains is the smell of my Dad’s office. The smell of ‘The Internet’.

The building was fairly new so there was a very distinct smell of newness. New furniture, new walls, new carpet, it was all new. I had been to the locations of my father’s previous places of employment, but none of them smelled as new as this place. It seemed to smack you in the face when you walked in and say, “Ha Ha! I am new and shiny and you are not!” It was a nice place, a new place, a hip place, a place with ‘The Internet’.

At the time this smell of newness really was the smell of the Internet. It was new to most everyone. It was the huge new thing. Do you remember that? It occurs to me that now the Internet is no longer that new. I think it is still great but it’s not all spiffy and shiny and smelling like new carpet. It’s older now and it doesn’t smell new. Perhaps now its smell is that of an old sweater, comfortable sneakers, old books, or a rotting whale carcass. I’m not sure.

But almost every time I sit down in front of a computer to use the Internet I have a moment where I can smell that distinctive new smell. The moment comes, I smell the newness, I remember my fascination, my teenage insecurity and the way chatting online allowed me to be a more confident version of myself. The moment comes, I remember all this, and it passes.

Then I return to my current Internet task.


Anonymous Leata said...

I remember watching movies on laserdisc downstairs at your house when we were wiley teenagers. I remember your dad playing scenes from "Terminator 2" for us to illustrate the wonders of sound...I know this wasn't the point of this post, but now I'm feeling all sentimental!

Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:34:00 AM  
Blogger Melyngoch said...

Next time I walk into the English dept. Work Room*, I'm going to sniff around a bit, adopt a suspicious expression, and say, "Smells like the . . . internet in here . . ."

*the capitalization looks weird, but it actually was named after a guy called Work.

Friday, February 24, 2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Lady Steed said...

Leata...So do you get a whiff of my parents garage whenever you see a laserdisc? or think about Terminator 2? If so,I apologize.

word veri: yramemo

"No Sir, I didn't get the YRA Memo? Was it important? Is there something wrong with the Young Rolling Anarchists?!"

Friday, February 24, 2006 11:58:00 PM  

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