AOL CDs

CDs to install an awful internet service

I know that these are already irrelevant and that a younger person probably has no idea what I’m talking about. Basically, these CDs are what AOL and other companies would send you to try to get you to try “the internet” with. Amazingly, I even remember getting these offers on floppies, which are an ancient technology used by mythological humans in the 1990s. I know the concept of getting a CD just to start the internet seems strange, considering that these days if you start a computer it’s probably online. And if not, your phone is. But, back in the day, these CDs were everywhere. You’d get them in the mail and see them at every cash register. They’d be all over the place. So, as a kid, I couldn’t help but just grabbing everything that said free.

If you can imagine anything more awesome to a kid than this, your parents must have given you LSD.

Of course, I experimented with the usual ways to abuse these things — as frisbees or as microwavable mayhem. But, the point of this story is not about those obvious (though interesting) ways to break the free AOL CDs.

One of my best friends in elementary/middle school was Pierce. He and I would always hang out, and always ended up going to the movies with his mom. (I remember at least 10 cases of her bringing a soft drink smuggled in her purse and it somehow exploding in the movie theater all in her purse…) One day while at the theater we discovered what was essentially the Holy Grail of free crap — and entire box of AOL CDs. Obviously, we grabbed as many as we could carry — fat stacks of these things. I don’t know why we didn’t get a bag, but instead we just stuffed them in our clothes and tried to remain innocuous.

Secretly, this was our goal. Why didn't we use nails? Stupid kids!

When we got to Pierce’s house, we instantly decided what we had to do: destroy every last CD. After about 20 or so CD frisbees, I think we finally figured out the best way (worst way?) to possibly do it. We went outside and stuck them in the cracks in the road in front of his house and lined them up until there were probably 30 or 40 CDs. Then, we set up a laser pointer that would go from his second story window onto a stop sign right in front of the CDs. The genius result was that people would drive, get flashed in the eyes by the laser pointer, and then bust a ton of CDs with the most loud crack imaginable and then get puzzled, stop, and see what the hell had just happened.

Somehow we were never caught. I don’t get how because we did this literally right in front of his house and we would just hide in the bushes. But I’m glad we didn’t because this makes for one of my favorite childhood memories.

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