I was a sexual late bloomer. By age thirty I had never mentioned even one girlfriend to my parents, much less brought one home for them to meet. For a while, they thought I was gay. I wasn't gay, I was a low-confidence geek. And I suffered from one of the worst forms of geekiness. I was, and am, an audiophile. One of those people who thinks that great sound enhances the music listening experience.

After an early drop out I returned to college and graduated summa cum laude. Mom was pleased with me, particularly as I hadn't asked for a dime this time around. And she and my stepfather were divorcing. Wanting out of town, she took my youngest brother and came to visit her oldest son.

Back then the crown of my system was an old set of Bozak Symphony loudspeakers. Infinite baffle designs, in the 1960's they were as good as sound got. Two 12" woofers. One 6" midrange. Nine tweeters. They would do 30 hz organ pedal note and give you change. But they were ugly, and they were big. No make that really big. Think about your refrigerator. Make that your parent's refrigerator. Now imagine two of these in a college apartment living room.

Plus they were ugly. Someone had tried to give them an antique finish, and it had turned out badly. But I'd paid $350 for them, and for the sound, that was dirt cheap. But Mom didn't care about fidelity. When she saw them, she rolled her eyes and sighed meaningfully. Which meant that a maternal pronouncement would soon follow.

Now when mothers reach a certain age they start thinking about becoming a grandmother. As eldest, I was on the hot seat. And I'd never once mentioned a serious girlfriend. Of course, I hadn't had one yet. Upon seeing my Bozaks, mom decided that part of the reason lay in my living room.

"Dave," she began, "girls don't care about sound. They want nice small speakers in their living room that look good. I would never allow things like this in my living room. They'd be gone."

I decided it would be rude to tell my mom that any woman who arbitrarily disposed of my stereo would likely end up dead in a ditch. Mothers don't understand that sort of thing. So I hemmed and hawed a little bit, and pointed out that I would like something nicer and smaller, but couldn't afford to replace them.

Now, if you've just sent back a dozen straight honor roll report cards to your parents they're happy. Particularly when they haven't had to pay for anything. And when future generations might be on the line, they act. "Alright," she snapped, "How much will it take?"

I thought for a minute and named a figure I thought accurate. She wrote me a check. As she handed it over, she made me promise to sell the Bozaks.

Sell them I did. For more than I paid originally. And I took the money and bought a set of Kevek ES-8 loudspeakers after a multistate search that took me into at least two dozen audio stores. The were only three feet tall, and a foot wide. They looked cool. And their sound was magnificent. As my roommate said after only two songs: "I heard things I've never, ever heard before". Mom had gotten rid of my Bozaks. I had better sound. Honor was preserved. And mom might even have had a point. My next girlfriend commented on the excellent sound during our first date. When she asked if I had any King Crimson albums I fell deeply into unrequited love.

Audiophile quality equipment is expensive. And audiophiles arrange their rooms to maximize the benefits. Any woman who marries an audiophile will have to live with that. But the stuff is built like a battleship, and is often beautifully designed. Good design can make an expensive purchase palatable to a less-critical spouse. A nice looking piece of gear is said to have a high WAF, or Wife Acceptance Factor. Personally, if any woman ever accepts my proposal, that will prove that she's very accepting.

my Keveks served me proudly until April 30, 2002 when they were stolen during a break in. They're rare. If you see a pair for sale, they might be mine. The thing I'm really proudest of is that dad is also an audiophile. He heard them once, and promptly put four K into his system. Apparently, fathers can compete with their sons.

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