Sometime in July–probably while Eliza was sobbing hysterically because I didn’t give her the binder of DVDs fast enough–I decided she was watching way too many movies. After unsuccessfully trying to coax her to play in her room, I read a page from my own past and downloaded the soundtrack to “The Princess and the Frog.” I was worried the sound of it would make her want to watch the movie, but nope: she loved it. We played in her room and listened to it from start to finish. I promptly downloaded “Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Mary Poppins,” “Peter Pan,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Pinocchio.” (I already owned “The Sound of Music.”)
My 30GB iPod isn’t a plastic Fisher-Price record player. The album artwork on the screen isn’t a nicely decorated vinyl sleeve with liner notes, because there isn’t any liner. But the experience was essentially the same: occasionally she’d hear some cue in the music and refer to it (my favorite is “Kitty! Teeth!” which is toddlerese for “Hey, I hear that freakish Cheshire cat. Creepy.”) but mostly we just played with blocks and enjoyed the background music.
I can’t count how many Saturdays my sister and I spent doing exactly that. Then there were the reenactments, of course. She stood on a chair while I rushed around her, sewing like the industrious mice of Cinderella; we bumped chins more than once doing the ooh-ooh-ooh-HONEY of “You’re the One that I Want.” Our favorite, though, was getting under the sheets with our spooky white-faced China dolls with Pinocchio’s “The Whale Chase” playing in the background. In retrospect, that probably bespoke my future obsession with “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.” And also frequent childhood nightmares.
With my return to work impending, I approached David about the wild success of the soundtracks.
“You’ll need to move all the soundtracks to your iPod.”
“Do you think you have enough room on it?”
“We could get her a used Nano.”
He has nothing against Disney soundtracks in theory, but he’s never really gotten over an early mixup of our iTunes profiles, when Avenue Q and Tori Amos occasionally ambushed him mid-shuffle.
We both had some reservations. A Nano’s an expensive, fragile little bugger. And all the nice tactile sensations of playing music would be gone–something that is not lost on this generation, by the way. Eliza’s favorite pasttime is leafing through her DVD binder and admiring the artwork on the discs. But scouring Amoeba and record stores for Cinderella on vinyl was not a project either of us wanted to take on, and besides: Nanos are tiny. See, this is still a small-space blog.
After some eBay shopping, we decided on a 4GB third-generation, so we could have the video screen. I put in a bid for one sold by a company called NextWorth, one of those firms that collects old electronics, refurbishes and then sells them, and I can’t recommend them enough. They rated our Nano’s condition as “fair,” which is their lowest rating (next to broken), citing multiple scratches, etc. Perfect for us, of course; we wanted a beater, something that could afford to be dropped, thrown or possibly chucked down the toilet. At $50, it was pricier than a record player, but again: small. The condition, in my opinion, was more than fair. It’s in better shape than either of our iPods, with a few little scratches on the screen and the back. Big whoop. My only complaint–and this is our bad, not theirs–is that we probably should’ve gone with the 8GB. It’s almost two-thirds full already.
I opened a new profile on our computer, created the new iTunes, uploaded the music, and the moment I picked the thing up from the shelf, Eliza knew it was hers. She can’t do much but poke at it, of course, and it’s not within her reach; we wanted a beater, but that didn’t mean we spent $50 to have Kali go chaos on it. But the instant we go into her room, she points to the player on the bookshelf and says “Tiana!” or “Alice!” She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it.
By the by, if you’re shopping for soundtracks, the old movies are best, hands-down. The soundtracks intermingle the score with the songs, so it recreates the experience of seeing the movie; the new soundtracks group all the songs at the beginning, and the score at the end.