My family shared a computer from 1997 to 2004. I’m sure that story is universal for anyone who grew up in at least a middle class household. I should probably elaborate a little more on my family. My family of two somehow-still-sane parents and four boys who ran a gauntlet of puberty through my parents house from 1996 until 2008 shared a family computer from 1997 to 2004. Apparently seven years was long enough, because my mother finally got wise and bought us all laptops after we had pretty much put a new coat of lacquer on the computer room desk by the time W’s first term was up.
We ran that Dell Inspiron into the ground. Ruined it with viruses, hundreds upon hundreds of school papers, PowerPoints, part-time job applications, pirated music and thousands of QuickTime clips. Thing never stood a chance. We put it through the ringer. These were by far the worst things we put it through:
1. Errant Fluids
It doesn’t take a pubescent boy long to realize that he needs a cleanup crew after going to stroke town. Rogue splatter is still bound to happen every once in a while, and boy, did it ever with our family’s computer. By the end of our first computer’s run, that thing was covered in little white flecks of…stuff. We explained to our mom that it was just dust that had melted onto the tower due to heat from the computer. She bought it because at that point in time, no one over the age of 40 knew jack shit about computers or how they worked. My mom unplugged the computer during thunderstorms so the “hardboard wouldn’t get fried,” even though it was plugged in to a surge protector in case you were wondering how knowledgable she was about computers.
2. A Mother’s Rage
Mom bought the melted dust story for a few years, but she wised up once she figured out how to check the browser history. I can only imagine how many times that computer had to bear witness to my mother berate our dad for something he had no idea how to acquire. To see a father of four chopped down to that level of emasculation wouldn’t be easy to watch. Daddy Brass was a good man and took many a fall for his boys. I should take him on a fishing trip soon.
3. An Overloaded Hard Drive
Expecting a hard drive on a family computer to last longer than two years is like asking a Honda Accord to win the Sprint Cup. Just ain’t gonna happen. The Sims, Madden 2001, Age of Empires, Roller Coaster Tycoon, SimCity, Half-Life and megabytes upon megabytes of Kazaa, Bearshare and Limewire downloads had your computer’s performance crashing into oblivion long before YouTube, iTunes and tube sites would have saved it.
4. Your First “Screamer” Video
I remember the first time it happened to me and I bet you remember your first time too. I got duped by a “Michael Jackson’s house is HAUNTED!” video on ebaumsworld when I was about 14. That was the first time I fell for the “Make sure your volume is turned all the way up and look really closely!” gag. I should have known better. Next thing I know, Linda Blair’s busted face from “The Exorcist” is all over my screen and the speakers were getting blown out by her screams. I damn near punched a hole in the monitor, scrambled to exit the screen and find a new pair of underpants.
5. When You Tried To Install That Scanner
I was too young to understand Michael Bolton’s “PC load letter” battle in Office Space, but I definitely knew the sheer insanity that was trying to install a so-called plug-n-play off brand scanner on the computer. I spent half of my paycheck just to upload awesome childhood pics for a school project and ended up wanting to commit mass murder and guess what took the brunt of your indignation? Yep. The family computer.
6. Your “Homework” Folder That Eventually Led To Its Demise
874 QuickTime files, 78 gifs, 14 full length mp4s, and thousands of fake celebrity nudes finally led to your computer biting the dust. The old girl just couldn’t take it anymore. Rest in peace..