Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mix tapes

The borrowed car I drove to Herndon last week only had a tape player. On the third day, it occurred to me that I have a few dozen cassette tapes that I haven't played in years. I went through the tapes and was surprised to discover a few made for me by friends and boyfriends. Most notably there were some from Joe (the best boyfriend ever), the second DC boyfriend and my friend, Alicia. The tape from Joe contained Peal Jam and Toad the Wet Sprocket, not mixes, so I skipped that. The tape from Alicia was a birthday present (for my 26th), which I'd never listened to the whole way through. I figured I'd give it another try. The tape from DCBF#2 was labeled "For Fun!" Only the names of the songs were listed, and I didn't recognize all of them, so I grabbed that. I also took an Elvis Costello/Cars/Marshall Crenshaw mix that I made for myself years ago that I used to listen to religiously.

It's so much easier now, to burn a mix cd on a computer, but the problem with that is the enormous choice. It was easier then to look over all of my LPs, pull a few out, pick the tracks and start recording. It was harder to do it in real time, to keep the tape from recording the beginning the of the next song, to fill up the whole tape and not leave five empty minutes at the end. The art of fitting in the last song was one of my specialties.

In the car, I put on "For Fun!" There were an awful lot of Bob Dylan songs, most of which I did not care for (I prefer early Dylan). Some of the tunes I enjoyed. Listening to the tape filled me my usual mixed feelings regarding DCBF#2. I was touched that he'd gone to the trouble of making me a tape. But, the songs didn't go together and I only liked about half of them.

As usual, I was touched and annoyed by DCBF #2, even five years post-breakup.

The other tape, made by my friend Alicia, I tried to listen to again. There were a bunch of songs by the Gin Blossoms, most of which I didn't care for. The other songs? Eh. I gave up before I finished the whole thing. But was I annoyed? Nope; just touched that my friend had gone to the trouble of making me a tape.

Why is it that I hold a boyfriend to a higher standard? I guess I expected DCBF#2 to know me better—to be more sensitive to my tastes. But why? Alicia and I have known each other since were 14. We saw each other almost every day for four years and at least monthly after that. When she moved away for grad school, it was to Chapel Hill. I followed her there, by chance, a year later and it was not even a question that I would stay with her when I arrived. Yet, I still can't listen to the tape she made for me. Clearly, she didn't know my tastes at all, but our differences in musical tastes didn't affect our friendship.

Honestly, differences in taste had nothing to do with why DCBF#2 and I broke up. It had more to do with his need to please me and his frustration when he didn't succeed. He would do something to make me happy, but I wouldn't always get happy. Then he would get mad. Ah, well, that's one break up I don't regret in the least. He's married now, hopefully happily, and I wish him the best.

All those tapes go back to the drawer they were hiding in. Who listens to tapes anymore anyway?

Grateful for: the old tapes.

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