Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dad's Clock Radio

His first clock radio looked a little like this one, but didn't have quite as much style. Still, it was better than what the Complete and Total Loser's two older brothers had at the time, which was the late 1960s.
This isn't the model the Loser had as a child, but similar.
On a table by his bed, it worked well for years and the Loser listened to AM radio, the local station everyone listened to, and he knew all the pop songs the other kids did. The best thing was the sleep feature. Imagine. Set it to a time up to an hour by turning a simple plastic knob and you could go to sleep and the radio wouldn't wake you again at some hour in the morning when it would seep into your dreams, waking you in a way that made you feel out of sorts somehow. And you could wake to music. So much sweeter than an electronic buzz.
Decades passed and with them fancier models and then none at all.
When the Loser's parents were declining precipitously and he began to spend his free nights there he bought a new clock radio. He considered the purchase with some care. You need a digital tuner these days if you're listening to FM radio in a big city. Anything else will drift. The Loser splurged and went with a Sony Dream Machine instead of the cheap ones you see in drug stores. He paid $50 for it, but they're available for less if you shop around.

sony clock radio
This is the radio the Loser bought for himself and later gave to his father.
Sony's day as the leader in electronics is over for now, but they still make good products and this is one of them. It gets a time signal so the time is as accurate as that of a cell phone. It has a temperature reading and it illuminates well, with levels of adjustment. It'd be better if the buttons weren't flush so you could know what you're doing in complete darkness. It has sound features for those who like that kind of thing (the Loser once had fun by turning it to "rain" while it was actually raining) and you can set it to go to sleep at a different volume or even station than the one you wake to. 
His father commented on the radio. This was a little odd to the Loser as it meant that his father, at age 90, was going up to the second floor, into the Loser's room and turning it on. He mentioned several times how good it sounded for something so small. 
The Loser is thick but not entirely stupid. After his mother died in October he moved the clock to his father's nightstand and bought a lesser version, still a Sony, for himself. His father was pleased and listened to it constantly. 
Once, when they were talking about it, the Loser's father said he put the radio on, the local public radio station being his only choice, and listened to it until he fell asleep, if he slept. He said the radio kept his mind off his grief. This surprised the Loser for two reasons. One, his father was not the type to analyze his motives and even less the type to share his reasoning with others. Two, the Loser was doing the same thing.
Less than two months later, the Loser's father died. Now, four months later, the radio remains on the nightstand, plugged in but unplayed. The Loser will claim it for himself when he and his brothers sell the house and clear it out.

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