When it comes to electronics, my family has decided to run with that ancient Chinese proverb: “Let Grandma Hong pick it out.” She’s neither tech-savvy nor does she handle sales reps with some kind of fancy conversational kung fu; she’s simply good at picking things out. I can’t explain it better than that. When I was ten, my parents allowed me to choose their flat-screen TV. Aware of my overtly nerdish tendencies, they figured I’d be better at it than they could ever hope to be. I based my choice on technical specs, product reviews, and brand name. We brought the flat-screen home, set it up in their bedroom—and the thing bricked itself six months later. The Blu-ray player I meticulously researched played a grand total of thirty discs and then no more. The headphones I assured Dad were more than worth the two-hundred-dollar price tag? Sound only comes out of both speakers if he’s facing forward and keeping perfectly still.
Meanwhile, Grandma Hong’s flat-screen from 2008 is still going strong.
Her flip-phone from around the same time still holds a charge.
Her bargain-basket Compaq PC, though rife with desktop icons, has never had so much as a case fan replaced.
Everything she picks just works.
That’s why Dad and I are standing here in the audio aisle of Macro Central, watching and waiting patiently for her to decide which new boombox is going to replace the one that somehow blew a woofer playing Yanni during one of Mom’s aromatherapy sessions with a client.
Grandma Hong ponders the store shelf.
Lifts one of the demos.
Puts it back.
Waits some more.
Finally points. “I like that one. It’s purple.”
And that’s that. No rhyme, no reason. Just a silent, shared understanding that the boombox she’s chosen today will still be in perfect working condition ten years from now.
Dad nods solemnly, motions for me to grab the corresponding box from the shelf and carry it to checkout. Not because it’s the boombox Mom likes or needs or will even do half of what she wants.
But because Grandma Hong picked it out.
Because it’s purple.
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