Kath’s mother Pauline circa 1984:
“So what is it you’re saving your babysitting money up for, again?”
“To buy a ghetto blaster.”
“That’s a tape player, right?”
Kath (taking a deep breath).
“Yes. But it needs to have detachable speakers so that I can really enjoy the full on sound and must have a double tape deck so that I can tape tapes.”
“To tape tapes?”
“Yes. Not like how you did it in 1979 by putting your reading-for-the-blind cassette machine flat on the carpet next to the radio gram – in glorious mono – and then pressing down the play and record buttons.”
Pauline (bristling slightly)
“Well, we all managed to hear Neil Diamond and Roger Whittaker clearly enough on our Queensland holiday and you used to sing the entire Sesame Street cassette tape soundtrack word for word....”
“True Mum, sorry about that. What I meant was that I really love listening to music but Robert has other tapes that I’d like to tape and I just realised that the public library has heaps of cassettes that we can borrow and copy and----“
“----Cassettes are tapes, aren't they, not records?”
“NO, not records, Mum – records are so out of it, they scratch and they’re really big and you can’t put them in a walkman, can you? Tapes are IN, Mum and they're here to stay.”
“Oh. So when are you going to buy your (pauses to align fingers into the newly-learned quotation mark gesture) ‘ghetto blaster’?”
"Grandpa’s going to get it for me."
"He and Nanna are off to Seoul next month and he said if I wrote down all the specifications, he’d take it into the Duty Free and get me one. I trust him.”
And I did.
AND he bought me back a gold Sanyo ghetto blaster with double tape-to-tape dubbing with variable speeds, detachable speakers, bass and treble knobs, FM tuner and – as an extra cool bonus – a graphic equalizer. I loved that beast! (and Grandpa too.)
“Mum, you know how my birthday is coming up really soon?”
“In around two months, you mean?”
“Er, yeah. Anyhow, I’d really like Spotify.”
“What’s that, a stain remover?” (Put hands on hips to laugh at own joke).
“Oh Mum, you’re hilarious. No, it’s an online music system that’s better than i-tunes because you can listen to entire songs not just snippets, create playlists, send them to your friends who are on it and find everything ever. And my iPod has somehow gone weird and the only music left on it is Enya and Katy Perry for some reason and it goes flat if I take it out of the docking station for longer than five minutes.”
“Oh. Can’t you get Dad to put it on your iPad as one of those app thingies?”
“No, Mum, because we don’t live in Australia any more, everything defaults to Switzerland and denies us access to lots of really cool apps. It has to be set up as a new and separate paid account which will then mean I can use it on my iPad and not just sit at the desktop all the time as the only place I can listen to music.”
“Oh, OK. So you want this account for your birthday?”
Sapphire, brightening in relief that her meat-headed mother finally understands.
“Yes, Mum! It costs about the same as it does to get Dolly magazine every month but I’ll also be able to create an account for you and for Dad and recommend you songs and you’ll get to see what I’m listening to and you can ask me for playlists that I can set up on your treadmill by plugging in my iPad to the control panel and----“
Kath (overwhelmed with techno-talk).
“Fine, fine. Chat to Dad when he gets home.”
Later, on Sapphire’s facebook.
“Have Spotify. DAD IS THE COOLEST GUY EVER.”
Kath, sticking her head into Sapphire's room.
"Er hey, grateful girl, I just read your status update. Remember it was me that spoke to him about Spotify."
"Er no, Mum, au contraire, tu vache. I could see that you had no idea so I showed him the site, we searched for the app together and he did the downloading and registration."
Sapphire, seeing her mother's transparently crestfallen face
"But Mum, there is something else I need..."
"Yes? Those Hungry Games books? No Direction album? 'I love blocks' Minecraft t-shirt?"
Sapphire thinks about mocking the glaringly obvious ignorance for a moment, but decides against it.
"No, but some headphones that are more than just foam circles and fly wire would be nice."
"Yeah, I could think about that. What sort are you talking about?"
"'Beats' ones by Dr Dre."
"NO WAY Jose. I know what they are. They cost three hundred francs and everyone walks around looking like they've got cheeseburgers on their ears!"
"But my friends have them and the sound quality is really, really good. Plus they eliminate all external sounds and you can select white or brown noise when flying and..."
"How about Sony ones, for one sixth of the price, and I'll give you my own version of brown noise for free?"
Sapphire pauses, torn between mocking her mother's naked uncoolness and bad sense of humour and considering the reality of getting some still-good headphones.
Eventually, she utters what Kath knew - deep in her muddled mother's heart - she was going to say.
"I'll talk about it with Dad."