Stuff is has quite a few definitions including both to fill (verb) amongst other definitions, and anunspecified materialor knowledge (noun). Its even been used as inward character such as in "you have the right stuff". Stuff can be used as a euphemism for random things that a writer doesn't have a specific name for, or refuses to use their proper name, like "random stuff" as in random items, or "I have lots of stuff in my car."
Bare walls. Emptiness. That’s how I remember the first apartment the Mrs. and I rented. The only things we had were an old, cheap “entertainment center” I had bought at the local Wal-Mart and an air mattress. The “entertainment center” was merely some pressboard wood planks held together by wood glue and sheer force of habit. I had bought the entertainment center for my dorm room when I had purchased a 13″ TV and didn’t want to set it up on the dresser. I didn’t have cable or a VCR, but dammit I had a TV, which freed me from the capricious viewing habits of my fellow dorm rats in the dayroom. I was free, independent and taking the first steps toward self-sufficency.
I had nothing to watch. Delaware has only one native television channel in the entire state. Channel 16. So while everyone else was whooping it up in the dayroom to some action flick, I was watching a static-filled picture of the Farm Report. Yee-haw! But dammit it was my own TV.
My first roommate moved in shortly thereafter, and he brought with him gifts from afar: a VCR, a CD Player, a stereo, as well as his own car. Most of the stuff he brought with him soon intermingled with my stuff, which meant I didn’t have to go out and by all that crap myself. His having a truck helped out immensely, since it meant I wouldn’t have to walk around all over the place or hitch a ride with somebody else if they were going into town.
A few months later, the dream was over. My roommate started “ghosting”, which meant that he had found some girl to live with, but was also still listed as residing in Room 29 of Building 475. He couldn’t just say that he had moved out, because the rules at the time stated that all single airmen had to live in the dorms. He still took all his stuff, though.
I was back at square one with my proudly assembled entertainment center and 13″ TV with one channel. I was also back to hitching rides with friends. So I sat there on my bunk bed watching the Farm Report and wondering about what I should do. And that’s when it hit me. A CD Player! I really needed a CD Player! My mind wandered off into a utopian technolust fantasy. A CD Player would give me music, blinking lights, and hours of endless entertainment. Yes, I must have it. I will have it!
I jumped up out of my bunk and hoofed it to the other side of the base to get my CD Player from the BX. I was focused on my mission and as I walked through the electronics section, I scoped out the CD Players, shutting out the myriad distractions the PowerZone offered. And there they were, like precious gifts from God deposited on the shelf and illuminating my body with the soft blue glow of their LCD displays. I marveled at all the buttons, dials and stickers proclaiming the special features of each sleek, beautiful black box. Each represented the ticket to eternal happiness and would solidify my room as a place people would want to hang out and party. I scanned the LCD displays of all, and soon the numbers and blinking lights blurred together as my mind wandered off to contemplate better living through technology.
I was snapped out of my reverie by the sight of the JVC CD Player. It looked like it was constructed out of stainless steel, and had, get this- an orange LCD display with lot’s of cool icons and lights. It had these big, ballsy buttons running across the bottom and featured a big magazine for feeding multiple CD’s into the player. A multiple disk CD Player! Hot damn! I walked towards it as it called to me with its electric orange light.
“Yeah, you want me.“, it seemed to say. “I’m big. I’m bold. I stand out from the crowd. I’m not like those generic, cookie-cutter boxes over there. I’m big, orange, different. Buy me!”
Hell yeah, I’m gonna buy you! I searched around the bottom rack where they kept the product boxes and found the JVC. It was the last one left! Surely this is a hot product, known by the slick cats in town to be popular with the ladies. It was also the most expensive player, which ensured quality and hours of pleasurable listening enjoyment. I took the box over to the counter, plopped down $300 and walked out the store, making sure to conspicuously display my new purchase. As I strutted out, I gave the passers-by the look that said, “Yeah, I’m obviously a man of taste and quality. Someone you want to get to know. If you play your cards right, you too can join me in listening to this fine piece of electronica.” I strutted out the doors, through the parking lot, and down the sidewalk to my dorm, waving at the other guys passing me by in their cars.
I raced up the outer stairs of my dorm, blew through the door to the hallway, eagerly unlocked my door and entered my room. I threw my jacket off as I stared in rapture at the simple box whose contents contained my ticket to nirvana. I tore open the box, my adrenaline-powered muscles overpowering the packing tape- and there it was, nestled between two pieces of molded styrofoam. Its gunmetal top gleamed in the dull flourescent light, pleading to be let loose from its foam encasement. I happily complied with its wishes and violently tore it from its cardboard and foam prison. What was left of the molded styrofoam slipped off onto the floor and was quickly crushed under my feet as I gently placed the CD Player on my bookcase-thingy. I quickly undid the twist tie holding the plug wire together and shoved the plug into the wall, sending life-giving electricity to my newest electronic pal. I got back up from the outlet and stared into the face of my new love. A single red light up in the corner indicated that the juice was flowing and waiting for me to turn her on.
I pressed the “On” button, and was immediately greeted with the LCD display and a bunch of mechanical clunks as the unit looked for a CD in the magazine. A shiver ran down my spine as a single tear escaped my eye. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I tore myself away for a moment to find the remote control. Ah, there it is! Over there, trapped in the plastic bag, with its batteries happily awaiting insertion. I removed the remote from the bag, and caressed its rubber buttons. Oh, the buttons! Dozens of little rectangular buttons arrayed on the remote, sectioned off into various shades of gray. Each waiting to be pressed, to do that one thing it was designed and meant to do. White lines, crossing at odd angles with text squeezed in between, told me, the owner, just what the hell each button did. Some buttons even had two tasks! Amazing!
I shoved the batteries in the remote and pointed the thing at my CD Player, commanding it to do all sorts of things. Turn off. Turn on. Switch modes, switch magazine trays. Chunk, chunk, chunk! Ah, it was a symphony of pure electronic bliss. I found the button I was looking for. I pressed play. The LCD scolded my attempt by reminding me that the CD tray was empty. Oh yeah, I needed a CD. Of course! I looked around the room and suddenly remembered that I didn’t have any CDs. My CD collection was collecting dust back home, and I didn’t have a car to drive down there and get it.
I collapsed on my bunk bed and stared at my shiny new CD Player. Its LCD screen steadily mocking me with it’s “No CD” light. It was a cruel, cruel mistress. I turned the CD Player off and resolved to find a way back home to retrieve my CD collection. Yeah, that’s what I needed to do. All I had to do was find a way to get back home, get my CD’s and all would be cool.