Many people mourn the loss. Like this writer. And I join them. Not because I still use a Walkman (though we have a cassette player in our 10 year old minivan that still gets plenty of use), but because of the memories I have of it.*******************
I remember the summer before my senior year in high school, going on a church trip to Martha's Vineyard. The whole time on the island, I tried to spend time with a girl I liked and I got nowhere. My buddy Dan and I finally caught up with her in Oak Bluffs, along the busy main drag. He and the girl chatted away while laid down on the steps of an old movie theater a few feet away, sullen, my Walkman seemingly blaring away. Dan turned the conversation around to me, and why she wasn't interested. "Are you sure he can't hear?" she asked Dan, who said, "No, he can't hear," knowing full well that I could hear everything. Turned out she was coming off a bad break-up.
Months later, it turned out that not getting involved with her was a blessing.
I was there for a semester, returned home for Christmas, and then went back, spending a month in Florence, taking classes all day at a language school to improve my Italian enough to survive taking an actual class at the University of Venice.
For that month, I lived with a family that I hardly ever saw, since they left the apartment early, and I came home late. One of the rare encounters I had with one of them came one night when I entered the dad's study. I thought he had heard me knock, but apparently he didn't, because I walked in only to catch him drinking whiskey directly from the decanter. He didn't offer me any, but did say, smiling, "Bush," referring to the then-current vice president and presidential candidate. That was pretty much the extent of our conversation over one month: Republican primary politics, captured in a single, whiskey-soaked word.
But mostly, for some reason, I listened to Sting's Nothing Like the Sun. Somehow, for some reason, it gave me courage. Which I needed, partly because I spent too much time drinking to really learn much Italian, which made my language classes kind of tough, and partly because one of the other Americans attending this particular language school was the daughter of former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. I wanted to ask her to have a gelato with me just so I could say I had "dated" her. But I never did work up the nerve.