Recently, I sold my old Citizens Band car radio on eBay, mostly because almost no one was answering me anymore when I would warn them that I had just spotted a bear in the air and that they should stick to double nickel in the granny lane.
For those of you unfamiliar with CB radios, they were the 1970s version of today's cell phones, especially if placing a call on today's cell phones meant you contacted everyone within a 10-mile radius and randomly started talking in the worst code ever.
I am certain police officers everywhere were completely baffled by the Enigma machine that was CB speak.
"Oh, no, fellow officer sitting beside me in our patrol car! Did you just hear what I heard as we eavesdropped on this Citizens Band radio? Another bear is sitting under a highway overpass and taking pictures, apparently right next to where we are sitting in our police vehicle with our speed radar! We need to get animal control out here NOW!"
The CB was popularized by shows like "BJ and the Bear," the 1980s TV series that centered around a grown man who spent his life traveling in the cab of an 18-wheeler with an uncaged chimpanzee as what appeared to be his domestic partner.
As a 10-year-old with what was then my dad's CB radio, nothing seemed like a more enviable lifestyle.
So, for roughly a two-year stretch from 1979 to 1981 — which coincides exactly with the TV run of "BJ and the Bear" — I used every car trip to determine whether anyone had their ears on and, if they did, to ascertain their 10-20.
There I'd be, leaning over the back of the front seat and holding a stretched-out microphone cord and conversing with truckers like Texas Switchblade or The Horndog Rambler about bears in the bushes or the best area chew-and-choke or my 10-20 in relation to that convoy of silver bullets.
I would pretend that I was BJ. And my dad was Bear.
I held onto that CB long after we stopped using it. A few years ago, I found it, boxed up, in our basement storage room. When I plugged it into the car, it still worked.
So, on one Saturday, we drove around listening to the static from that CB radio. Every once in a while, we would hear some voice, and I would spend the next few minutes saying "Breaker One Nine! Breaker One Nine! Anyone got their ears on? I've got a smokey to report!"
No one, though, ever answered.
My kids, forced to endure a few hours of this, found it impossible to believe that this could have ever been cool.
Even after I explained to them the story of "BJ and the Bear" and how, when I was a kid, I would get to talk to real truckers and pretend that I myself was a trucker, long-hauling across the nation's highways and getting in wacky adventures with my chimpanzee sidekick, named Bear.
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.