The History of Objects II

I've wondered before what it would be like if the objects of our lives could talk. The roads they've traveled with us, the lives they had before us, and what will happen to them afterwards (like the stuffed animal reincarnated as the hero of a roving junk collector's truck.)

A more pointed question that's crossed my mind for the past two years has been, "why is there a clock radio in the tree?"Ever since we'd moved in, and apparently for at least two years before (when our neighbor joined the building) there's been a white plastic clock radio in the tree out front. Through bitter cold and snows of Chicago winters, and in the summer cushioned by the tree's blossoms, it's hung there. According to our neighbor it's changed a little over time, once dangling more freely until some winds must have picked it up and swung it around the tree trunk more securely. 6:01 a.m. The "vintage" flip numbers mark the moment that the clock last told someone the time. We found out today when Jason and I grabbed a ladder to cut the clock down. I don't know if we should be chastised for removing a hidden neighborhood memorial, or congratulated for caring that our block not look like the battlefield of a long-past domestic argument. (Although a new argument was nearly spawned when Jason tried to climb the tree after the remaining cord and I told him he'd break his neck.)

A domestic dispute is the story we both conjured in our heads, maybe with the man heading out the gate, sneaking out at just past 6 am. His angry lover throwing the clock radio out over the balcony after him. But her passionate anger subdued by the protective branches of the tree, allowing him to duck into his car and speed off.

Of course, the building that pre-dated ours was only two stories, and there was no balcony. And why throw a clock radio at someone? It would have to be unplugged first, and that seems too much work in the heat of the moment.

A coworker once insisted that running shoes tossed over the telephone wire outside a house meant it was a place to buy drugs. (I disagreed since there were many a pair of children's sneakers dangling from the lines by our Quaker school, which was across the street from a church. A pretty improbable place to score.) But if this were true, what would a clock radio over a tree branch say? Is it late 1970's hobo code for "time for the neighborhood to gentrify?"



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