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Teen Fiction: Saying Goodbye

As told to Raizy Berg

I felt a thrill from having done something I had never done before. I also felt a little guilty that I could listen to a lot of things my parents would never know about…

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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W ell, I guess it was to be expected, I thought, as I tossed the small device into the garbage.

I had received an MP3 player as a prize at a carnival one month earlier. I knew it probably wasn’t the best quality, but I hadn’t actually paid for it, unless little paper tickets count as paying. I figured it would most likely work for a few weeks at least, and I could enjoy listening to music on it for whatever amount of time it held up.

I was right. It worked fine for four weeks, and then it started to compose its own music. I’d turn it on, and it would make scraping and squeaking and grinding noises. I would have thought it was a dying car judging by the sounds that emanated from it. I waited a few days, sort of like when a child learns to play the violin, and you pretend you are enjoying the screeching noises, because hopefully with practice the music will become beautiful. Thing is, it makes sense for the violinist, but it didn’t work with my MP3.

After having an MP3 player, it felt strange not to have one. I tried turning on a CD, but my sister would insist on choosing a different one, or my brother would turn it off because it distracted him from his homework (his homework, by the way, was to color all the alefs on the page adom).

I asked my parents for an MP3 player, but they told me that if I wanted it right away, I could buy one for myself. Otherwise, I could wait the eight months that remained until my birthday.

I really wanted to listen to music, and I did have some money saved up, so I began to do some research. If I was going to buy my own MP3, it had better work for a long time, and work properly. I wanted it to play the music I chose, not to compose songs consisting of sounds reminiscent of squeaks and bangs.

I finally chose the MP3 that seemed the best option. One of my friends had owned one for a number of years and she was happy with it.

“No children practicing violin?” I asked, just to be sure.

“No,” she answered, probably wondering if she had heard the question correctly. “Why would I play that kind of music?”

I told my parents I was ready to make the purchase. My mother offered to drive me to the electronics store the next Sunday. I was truly looking forward to the day I would once again be the satisfied owner of a working MP3 player!

*

Back in the car after my big purchase the next Sunday, I tore open the packaging to check it out. I hadn’t yet downloaded any music, so I scrolled through the options to see what else this little gadget could do. It had a music player, which is what I wanted, but it had more than that. There was a picture-viewing option, so I could store pictures on it, in addition to my music. There was also a voice recorder.

I wasn’t quite sure why I needed that, but maybe it would come in handy. One thing that looked interesting was the radio option. That would be good for when I got bored of my music and wanted to listen to the Jewish radio stations.

“It has such cool stuff, Ma!”

“That’s great,” my mother replied, without taking her eyes off the road. “Like what?”

“Picture viewer, voice recorder, radio, and the music player part.”

“Enjoy!”

“I will,” I pronounced. “And this time it better last longer than a month.”

At the time, I thought that’s what I wanted. Within a few days, I was no longer certain.

As I was waiting for the computer so I could download my music onto the MP3, I turned on my new device and chose the radio option. As I clicked my way through the stations, I realized I wasn’t locating any familiar stations. The options consisted of the news with some non-Jewish music, music with some news, and all the same things in Spanish.

I wasn’t interested in any of that, so I turned it off.

A few nights later, most of my family was asleep, but I wasn’t ready to go to bed. I took out my MP3 and scrolled down the list of songs. Then a thought popped into my head: “I wonder if there’s news on late at night? There must be others awake at this hour wanting to hear the latest news.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 660)

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