I was driving home the other day, and in front of me was a tween (I haaaaaate that word) girl on her bike. I knew she had to be between the ages of 11-15, because she was wearing shorts that could double as a belt, and had highlighted hair that probably cost more than the entire contents of my refrigerator. She was weaving in and out of traffic like Amy Winehouse on a particularly spectacular bender, and as I rode the brake at a whopping 5 miles an hour with visions of lawsuits dancing in my head, a thought popped into my head:
"That little bitch is texting. I bet my fucking life on it."
She finally wove over to the side long enough for me to pass her, and as I did, I looked over my shoulder to see that she WAS texting, goddammit! On a BIKE! In MOTION! On a road with AUTOMOBILES which were ALSO in motion! Without a HELMET! And I drove the rest of the way home in a rage, ranting and raving about the state of humanity today at the top of my lungs to exactly no one. Because I was alone in the car. And not texting. IN A MOVING VEHICLE.
My girls over at 30 is the New 13 and If You Believe, Clap are now (right now! Go read!) talking about pre-teen fiction they wrote/pre-teen characters they are trying to write, and how the pre-teen mind eludes all logic indeed. What the hell were we doing at that age? And more importantly, what the HELL were we WEARING? What did we DO before cell phones and MySpace and the internet in general? We were less likely to end up on "To Catch A Predator," I know that for certain, but christ on the cross, at least we TALKED. Do pre-teens...talk? Anymore? I picture withered vocal cords and super-strength thumbs becoming part of the evolutionary process.
I know I am a bitter old lady, but I swear to god, if I see one more in-motion-vehicle of any sort with an operator in the midst of texting her fucking BFF, I am going to put on my old Anthrax t-shirt and Doc Martens and start bashing their highlighted heads in.
(This post is brought to you by my upcoming 31st birthday, of which I am not obsessing about AT ALL.)
Scene: I frantically look for gas that is less than four dollars a gallon. Spotting a station that is boasting $3.89, I careen across four lanes of traffic and pull up to the pump. Being a good Jersey girl, I wait for the attendant. Jersey girls never pump their own gas. (Ok, no one in Jersey pumps their own gas. One of the myriad perks of living in the Garden State.) Enter gas attendant.
Me: Hi! Fill it with regular, please.
Gas Station Guy: Ay, mami. Habla usted Espanol?
Me: Uh...A little...Un poquito. Muy, muy poquito.
GSG: *laughs* I teach you, mami. I teach you good.
Me: Yeah...uh, here's my card.
GSG: *ignores my outstretched credit card* I teach you after we get married. You marry me, mami? Usted esta tan caliente. You so hot.
Me: *nervous laughter* Uh...gracias. Here's my card.
GSG: *takes card, starts pumping gas. From the back of the car, he's still talking.* Caliente, mami! You marry me, okay?
Me: *I do not respond, as I watch the dollar signs clang on the gas pump. Wide eyed from horror at the price tag of this tank of gas, which would be plenty for me to live on for a week in different circumstances, I finally realize he is STILL TALKING.*
GSG: *handing my wounded credit card back* We get married, mami. I take care of you. Te quiero, hermosa señora. I love you.
One of the plusses of going through all my moving boxes is finding crap I haven't seen in many, many a year. Other than completely hilarious old pictures I really have to get into a scanner, my favorite find so far has been a box of old cassette tapes. More specifically, old MIX tapes.
Now, kids, gather 'round and let Granny Banshee tell you about mix tapes. Back right after the Ice Age and before the internet (I know!) when teen angst reared its ugly head, or when you were sooooooo in love, ohmygod, you made mix tapes. Some were for you, intricately composed of the songs that really SPOKE to you, man, this is the story of my LIFE, only Pearl Jam really UNDERSTANDS ME and my PAIN of being 14, man! Others were worn to a staticky thread after that amazing boy broke your heart, you don't even LIKE that song, but oh, oh, you still love him, and once upon a time he loved you enough to make you a mix tape, so you listen to it over and over, carefully backing it up onto ANOTHER tape in case, horror of horrors, your Walkman ate the tape or you lost it on the bus. Liner notes were carefully and artistically fashioned and dated, and sometimes you were so proud of your efforts that you actually considered LAMINATING them, so deep was your passion for mix tapes.
Nothing can compare to the dedication needed to make a mix tape. CD mixes are okay, I GUESS, but nothing like the real thing. And forget iTunes. No. No passion there. A slight to the magic of the mix tape. No, the real deal involved sitting on your bed in a pile of cassettes, wearing your fingers to the bone carefully constructing your list, then, in an OCD act worthy of Howard Hughes, recording the tapes on your double-cassette boom box, re-playing and pausing for optimum editing. You worked that pause button like a SAFECRACKER, finding the one millisecond difference between a perfect segue and a disasterous cut-off of the last song. Tapes were also a very specific length, and let me tell you, if I had given a millionth of the obsessional time I took to make sure all the songs would fit on a 90 minute tape (45 minutes on each side, no leeway) to high school math, I would have been accepted to MIT. If you screwed up? You had to go back and do it ALL AGAIN. And don't even THINK of recording at double speed to save time. The audio isn't as good, and that would prove that your dedication to the mix tape was a SHAM. No, you sat there for hours until the tape was perfect, and then worked yourself into an absolute panic attack wondering if your music tastes were cool enough to be worthy of your high school paramour. (Hint: they never were. Such is the pain of pubescence.)
So I've been listening to my old tapes in my car. Yes, the only tape player left in my life is in my 2002 Kia, (don't smirk, the Kia demands AWE and RESPECT.) It's pretty amazing how music takes you back to specific times and places, with incredible emotional memory. I was playing an old tape my pal Mark gave me back in the day, and I swear, as soon as the grainy audio started, I was back walking down Amsterdam Avenue on a summer day. I still can't listen to most Sarah McLachlan without remembering the walk across Boston Common from my dorm to the classroom buildings. And forget about the songs from the Soul Asylum Unplugged show, which I taped from the VCR to the boombox, to the mix tape. I mean ALL the mix tapes. Every single one from 1994. And I made a LOT of mix tapes in 1994.
I remember being out of my mind frantic when my Walkman was stolen during AIDS Walk 2000, not for the machine itself, but because it contained a mix tape that K-Bat had made for me. Don't worry, K-Bat! I had made a backup tape! Banshee don't PLAY when it comes to mix tapes.
At this point, I am seriously, seriously considering finding a way to burn all my tapes onto mp3s, because these cracked and worn tapes are only going to hold on for so long. But I'll never, ever, throw them away. I wish I could make more. It makes me sad that angsty teenagers will never know the emotion of crouching over a boom box, thinking of that special person you are absolutely certain you will love forever and ever, spending insane numbers of hours constructing just for them, only for them, the perfect mix tape. Because that? Is love.