GREENVILLE, N.C. - All that's left of my brother's pickup truck is a bare patch in the grass beside my parents' barn, where he parked it three years and a new car ago. He thought the truck might be of use on the farm.
Mom finally sold it the other day. The expensive stereo, she said, did not impress the older gentleman who dickered briefly over the price.
"Did you tell him the stereo is probably worth more than the truck?" I asked.
"He said he didn't care one thing about a stereo," mom said.
I had the same thought recently when cruel fate again paired me with the mindless vvvvvthd, vvvvvthd, vvvvvthd of someone's thumping subwoofers at nearly every traffic stop along Memorial Drive, one of Greenville's primary thoroughfares.
"I don't care one thing about your stereo," I thought.
In its day, I'm sure my brother's stereo annoyed plenty of innocent bystanders. Jeff is 10 years younger than I am, and he still lived with our parents in Albemarle when he had the truck outfitted with huge speakers that fit snugly behind the bench seat.
The speakers were powerful enough that certain bass notes at half volume could provide measurable relief for lower back pain.
My father delighted in taking occasional cruises in the truck looking for teenagers hunkered low in their cars with lesser speakers, which they nonetheless deemed supreme.
Nothing deflates a kid's radio pride like a white-haired old man armed with enough ZZ Top to rattle teenage cages.
Even back then, though, I had long gotten over any shock value a loud car stereo might provide.
I haven't been truly impressed by loud music coming from a car since a December evening in 1979. I was working as a clerk inside the Jiffy Market in Johnson City, Tenn., when Danny Ledford put on a brief demonstration of his new master-blaster super booster for a group of guys hanging out in the parking lot.
Unaware that Pink Floyd had recently released its classic album, "The Wall," I was not familiar with the helicopter audio that provides the intro to the song, "Another Brick in the Wall."
The helicopter was loud enough to convince me a UH-1 Huey was deploying troops in the parking lot. I ran out of the store in a mild panic, fully expecting to see soldiers with machine guns securing the perimeter.
Imagine how surprised I was to discover the sound was actually coming from inside Danny's Chevy Nova.
Now that was impressive.
I think about that night sometimes while I'm sitting in traffic, and some youngster - eager to impress the world - is only managing to vibrate the innards of a few people within 50 yards.
If only I could flash the misguided lad a helpful message.
"Don't you realize you're part of the iPod generation?" I want to ask. "Loud car stereos are so 1979."
Teenagers have to do something to get our attention. It will always be that way. Unfortunately, they haven't lived long enough to realize that just about everything with real shock power has already been done.
Might I suggest flagpole sitting? That's been done, too, but not for a really long time.
Mark Rutledge, a columnist for The Daily Reflector in Greenville, N.C., can be reached at mrutledge@ coxnc.com.