Personal Relics: The Pink Clipboard

I used my translucent pink clipboard the other day. I had an essay I wanted to proofread, so I detached the clipboard from its underused lined pad and clipped the essay onto it. The lined pad, with its years’ old plans and next big thing ideas, I put back into the organizer on my desk. I have things so well organized in that rudiment of civilization that I hate to take them out. But I needed the clipboard, so it came out.

I am reaching the age where every little trinket in my life has an origin in the mists of my time, and the clipboard originates from my college days. Not so much my college days, but the weekends in between my college days. For a brief period, I gamed with a couple of friends in B—’s basement on Sunday nights. Sunday afternoons, I could use my father’s car, so I would round up the gang and we would spend Sunday afternoon and evening in the basement of the townhouse where B— and his mother lived. The basement had the décor of a middle 20th century rec room, with a tile floor, the old couch, and a card table. On the off-hand weeknights, we’d gather to game or to pretend we could play musical instruments together. But on Sunday nights, we’d game.

A couple of late adolescents, dice, pencils, and paper called for something more, but we didn’t know what. Until B— discovered it. One weekend, he presented each of us with a clipboard to make it easier for us to maintain our personal character score sheets. As he produced them from somewhere offstage, he said he’d been to an office supply store and found a sale. Considering that we all earned a minimum wagesque paycheck at the time, his bounty probably represented a not insignificant portion of his disposable income. Much to our chagrin (and, no doubt, to the office supply store manager who eventually put them on sale), the clipboards were pink. No right-minded young man would use a pink clipboard.

But they were free enough at the time, and no right-minded minimum wage earner overlooks the generous excess of a friend. Particularly when that gaudy and potentially effeminate excess can be enjoyed in a basement where overlooked New Year’s parties, games of strategy, and Ghostriders’ band practices occurred. We accepted the plastic clipboards, no doubt edgy statements at a time where clipboards were still made of laminated chipboard, and we used them throughout those Sunday evenings in our youth.

As I proofread whatever it was I wanted to revise, my attention was split to include the history of the device upon which I was working and those nights long ago. I’ve had the clipboard longer than I’ve had my degree, my wife, my career, my Web log, and my son. Whenever I need a place upon which I want to correct my printed scribblings or, for some reason, to attach tablets which already feature their own hard cardboard surfaces, I turn to this single pink, semi-transparent piece of plastic.

Of all the things I’ve mentioned, it will survive. When these words are forgotten, when my marriage and my line have faded into even greater obscurity than from which they have sprung, when my Internet postings have finally emanated into the ether, when the library has given me much pleasure has moldered into fertilizer for future weeds, some archeologist aeons hence will dust off this pink clipboard from the remnants of this homestead or some landfill. With some thought and study, future historians might regard this one possession of mine and will find it reflective of its owner and his civilization.

A plate upon which this primitive dined, no doubt, with a metal clip to hold upon it the wriggling prey.

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