Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mix Tapes & Passing Notes. I'm Old.

I heard 'You've Got a Friend' on the radio tonight.  Not the James Taylor version, but the Housemartins cover.  This of course took me immediately to memories of a mix tape my college boyfriend made for me [hey Dustin!].

Made me think of all my mix tapes, down there in the basement - the only things that have made the cut after moves from dorm rooms, childhood homes, overseas adventures.  Most are from old boyfriends, and are more memories of the relationship than 42 dried up corsages.  There's one from my best friend when she knew I was feeling homesick my first semester away at college:  Divinyl's 'I Touch Myself' and Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe.'  Then there's one my DJ friend Andrea sent to England for my 21st birthday - Hole, L7, Liz Phair, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Morphine.   

No one makes mix tapes anymore.  I suppose you can dream up a playlist, fill it with tunes for your intended, and if you're feeling super romantic you could even [gasp!] upload it for him/her.  But there's no way you can tell me that carries the same thrill as your biggest crush sidling up to you at your locker and slipping a cassette tape into your hand.  He'd talk to you through that skater fringe hanging over his eyes, slouching adorably, while he played it cool and told you he put some tunes on there he thought you'd like.

That little train of thought got me thinking about notes. Not the kind you take in American History I when you're trying to figure out the Louisiana Purchase.  I'm talking about the ones you scribble in tiny print on notebook paper, or in flowery cursive with the 'i's dotted with hearts and stars.  The ones when you tell your best friend all about how mortified you were when you had to go up front in algebra class and your One True Love was laughing with his friend the entire time - so much that they got detention - and you're completely freaked out that they were laughing at you.  Or maybe the kind of notes you scribbled back and forth during study hall, madly flirting with the senior next to you who normally never stopped to talk. 

So I guess kids don't write notes anymore either.  They can text, IM, Twitter - why would they waste time with scribbling on actual paper?  Here is the part where I hold my hands up, admit to getting old and grumpy & harking back to the good old days before romance was dead.  I guess I just can't conceive of a world where romancing your crush-worthy 15 yr old neighbor doesn't involve a little cassette work, a little note passing, a little effort.

All of this talk about ex-boyfriends, mix tapes and note writing has made me a little bit heartsick for the golden days of the late 80s.   But not to worry - there's a way to be Flashback Fabulous these days.   You too can peg the legs of your jeans now, without a hint of irony.  I saw a pair of pleat-front shorts in Target just this evening. And you too can order your own pair of blucher mocs from LL Bean, just like you could in 1987.  (You know, IF you suffer from East Coast Prepster envy like I do.) 

That, my friends, is just what I did this week.  My bluchers arrived this afternoon, and I fully intend to tie the laces into those tricky knots so I can slide 'em on & off all day long. No socks, of course.


Now, my seven-year old took one look at them and wrinkled her nose.   Oooh... those are pretty.... spunky. [she did not say this in a nice way]  Do they have to be so... LL Bean-y?  OH SNAP! I got told by my first grader.  

And just like that, I'm right back in the 21st century, old & grumpy, looking back at the glory days.


erica said...

Man, I used to love to make - and get mixed tapes! I actually wrote a post about it a few weeks ago...

I recently came across some mixed tapes from boys gone by... sadly, I have nothing with which to play them!

And, I totally had those shoes...

We must be the same age!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I am terribly, terribly nostalgic for mix tapes and letters - though I must have missed those shoes!

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I keep dreaming up mix-tapes for my husband and even though I could burn him a CD, I just keeping getting hung up on the fact that he will probably never play them because of how digital music focused we are in this house.

Aging Mommy said...

Just reading the first part of your post brought back so many memories for me of (in my case being so very old) the 70's and getting from and giving to friends a mix tape made specially. There is something very intimate about someone taking the time to painstakingly record songs for you, sharing music they like and writing the songs all down. Modern technology has indeed destroyed that form of intimacy. Aaahhhhhh....now I am well and truly off down memory lane.

Cheryl said...

YEGADS you're old! OLD! Wait, what? I'm older than you? Oh yeah. Oops. Did I say old? I meant YOUNG! YOUNG!!

I had those shoes. In high school. As did everyone in Connecticut. No one ever made me a mix tape. Not a one. Sigh.

Amanda said...

Oh man, I still have a mix tape sent to me at Newbold that has not just songs, but spoken messages of love and, if I'm not mistaken, even a poetry reading or two. Oh YEAH! I so ran out to Sylvia's Garden and listened to that thing with bittersweet tears in my eyes the moment I received it back in autumn of 1990!

For every year I was in college in England, I made a mix tape for myself of the most popular songs on the radio combined with quirky tunes shared by quirky roommates (including the esoteric ditty, "Detachable Penis"...thank you Sandy Coen from Spokane).

As for notes, when I was in middle school the rage was for BFFs or couples to maintain spiral notebooks which we passed back and forth for months. These contained pages and pages of incriminating notes all conveniently located in one place just waiting for the inevitable to happen and some pre-teen enemy to swipe them from your desk to share with THE WHOLE WORLD. Except for that one missing notebook, I have all the others I shared with my boyfriend, Tommy, he of the illegible handwriting, in a box somewhere. I'm sure they'd be oh-so-salacious, if only I could read them.

I think we called those shoes "Dock Shoes" or "Deck Shoes." I never had them but the aforementioned heartthrob, Tommy, did. Those, and the black and white checkerboard Vans that were the required uniform of all wannabe skater boys back in 1985.

Lady Seadhli said...

There was an early facebook app that was all about making an online "mixtape" for people. You could even "label" them!

dianeswords.wordpress.com said...

well i never got a mix tape..not really. but i did have a pair of those shoes and loved them. now if you really want to talk "old" -- any of you ever play and 8 track? no? i didn't think so. now THAT"S OLD!!
@amanda--i went to a school in england called newbold. weird...was your newbold in a place called binfield near bracknell? well, i guess i should first ask was it in england?

hezro said...

I was really fancy and even made COVERS for my mix tapes. How about that?! And for one of them I called the radio and left a cheesy dedication, recorded it and then put THAT on the mix tape. I guess nowadays you could make mix cds...of MP3s, of course. How come the artists weren't all up in arms about us copying each others tapes, back in the day??

Betsy said...

I got the best mixed tapes from my college boy friend after we broke up. I'll have to bring them down sometime and we can listen to them. You have a tape recorder??

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