The Retro Future’s a Nice Place, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

No Telling

It’s 2009 and I’m feeling like an old gal now. I grew up with 2001, A Space Odyssey, 1984, the Jetsons, and the traveling Bell Telephone House of the Future. The first two still give me the willies if I think about them long enough, but my experiences with Saturday morning cartoons and the mobile House of the Future imprinted me at an early age. These would be the real day to day future. Everyone would be flying around in bubbled triangles without seat belts and using punch cards to order food our own kitchens. Mom would still be at home and her job would be infinitely easier with the help of Rosie the Robot doing all the grunt work. We’d all have picture-phones in the kitchen, a bevy of mysteriously hidden cooking implements, and switchboards full of labeled buttons to run the whole house.

Why, there might even be a color TV in every home. Hung on the wall. Like a sofa painting. Can you imagine.

I remember walking through the Bell House of the Future as it sat parked in the Kroger parking lot. I marveled at the slickness, the plastic, the fabulous array of buttons making things disappear and reappear. My mother didn’t seem nearly as impressed. She took one look at that kitchen and shook her bubble-flip hair-do and we left. I suspect she saw what I didn’t. The house of the future still required cleaning and most of it looked like something she’d have to do. A house full of gadgets to make a woman’s life easier, but it was still her life and her work.

In 1966 we could never have imagined the world as it is now. Fast food, breast implants, ten year-olds with cell phones, Smoke-Free restaurants, computers you can hold in two outstretched hands, women with careers on purpose, seat belts and airbags, more than four TV channels, a black president. What?

No, there’s no Rosie the Robot cleaning my house while I’m at work. I still own a broom and a mop and use them both, though not nearly as much as my mother did. There’s no bread-winning man coming home from the office expecting a clean house and a hot dinner either, but that’s another post for another day.

With the exception of all that flying around on invisible air highways, we’ve surpassed the Jetsons and the House of the Future. That 1984 business is a tad too close for comfort, but we haven’t yet been blown to cinders by The Bomb. There’s that.

5 thoughts on “The Retro Future’s a Nice Place, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

  1. I still think I want a Rosie, although, perhaps, I might get her programmed to actually cook food. Seems a shame to waste all that processing power and skilled pincher hands…

  2. Fascinating how our view of the future is so determined by where we are in the present.I loved the Jetsons even though it seemed like we were always seeing the same episodes over and over.

  3. Exactly, Laura. Cooking food and picking up toys and washing dishes. That’s all I really need Rosie for. The rest of the time I still want to be Samantha on Bewitched and just blink everything I need.Steph, I always loved the repetition, didn’t you? Just like when Gilligan’s Island came on and you knew immediately it would be which episode it was. Comforting.2019, Olivander? As long as the replicants don’t look and talk like Sarah Palin, I think we’ll be victorious.

  4. Why was the video phone in most futuristic depictions always in the kitchen?? I remember this.. Why that room? I guess because even with all the gadgets that is still where you will find Mom while Dad is earning the $$..I am disappointed that we have not managed to hover over the roads yet.. Perhaps soon…

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