The more things change, the more they stay the same. When I was a teen, we had records. Vinyl platters that we treasured and schlepped to each other’s houses to enjoy. Whenever you got a new album, the biggest challenge was how long you could keep it scratch-free.
You unwrapped the sheet of plastic that encased the cardboard album cover. As you pulled off the sheet, it got static cling and stuck to your arm or sweater and you had to ask somebody to pull it off for you and try to get it to stick to the garbage can liner. As you opened the thin cardboard, you inhaled the smell of wood pulp and new vinyl. You pulled the album out and admired the perfectly flat record, no scratches, but the circular grooves that would be the soundtrack for the rest of your life. You could never imagine in that moment that 20, 30, 40 and more years into the future this would always be your favorite feel-good music. Any song from Carole King’s Tapestry album turns me into a radiant 17-year-old without any problems more serious than keeping sand off my towel at Wades Beach, spraying Sun-In evenly on my hair, and keeping my Fresca cold.
CDs and DVDs have replaced records, of course. But they share the common problem of how long you can keep them scratch-free. Unlike records, you can repair scratches on CDs. There are repair kits you can buy from 10 bucks and up, and some reliable home remedies. The two most common I’m aware of are toothpaste and bananas—not together.
Using a toothpaste that contains baking soda, put a dab on a very soft cloth and gently massage the scratched area with small circles, rinse and, if the scratches are still visible, repeat. If you are desperate, try a banana (why does that suggestion sound vaguely familiar…) rub a little of the banana on the scratch and rinse well, air dry. I have used both methods and, inexplicably, they work.
Here’s a thought, how was the banana solution discovered? Who was sitting around trying to think of CD scratch-removal methods and said—“Fruit! Lets try fruit!” Did they try apples or other fruits first? Wouldn’t an acidic fruit, like an orange be a better choice? Maybe the ascorbic acid could strip away oils and dust? Seems like a banana would gum things up. For some reason, I suspect beer was somehow involved in this research.
“Oh, man, I’m sorry. I dropped your CD in the guacamole. Gimme that paper towel, no wait, wet it first.”
“I only got beer, you want me to wet it with beer?”
“No, man, that a waste of beer. Use the coke, it’s flat anyway.”
“Looks better, hey didn’t this have a lot of scratches?”
“Yeah, geez, I think dropping it in the guacamole helped the scratches. How could that be?”
“Who cares man, if it works, don’t analyze it.”
“You think anything else like that would work?”
“Don’t know, got some onion dip, celery, bananas…”
I must admit, CDs are a vast improvement over vinyl records. They have far more uses. I have seen CDs used as coasters, bookmarks, Frisbees, shields, stepping stones (to cross over lava on the playroom floor), eyes for cardboard box robots, lids for hot coffee (with the center hole acting as a steam vent), and I’m sure there’s a 101 other uses.