The Mixed Tape

I don’t make mixed tapes.

You might be thinking, “Nobody makes mixed tapes anymore! They make mixed CDs.”

Okay, yes. You’re right (as usual).

My reference to audio cassette tapes is definitely out of date. Cassette tapes were a widely used format for recorded music until the 1990s, but are not widely used anymore.

But guess what? Your reference to CDs is almost as out of date… Compact discs are definitely going the way of the dinosaurs (very few).

I digress (I do that a lot).

I don’t make mixed tapes anymore… since the “incident”.

You might be thinking, “What was the incident?”

I’m getting there…

I should start by reminding you that I love everything about Christmas (except tinsel).

I love the smells, the sights, the lights, the giving, the getting, the sharing, the caring, the swearing, the cocktails, the turkey… etc.

But I especially like the music, and one song in particular… O Holy Night, and I am partial to Mahalia Jackson’s version. It’s very stirring.

Back to the story…

The year was 1997 (and cassette tapes were still the preferred audio format).

I was sitting up in my bedroom thinking, I should make a mixed tape of Christmas tunes for my English teacher as a Christmas present.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kim was obviously in love with her English teacher because you only ever make a mixed tape for someone you love.”

First of all, I wasn’t in love with my English teacher. Geez.

Second of all, you don’t have to be in love with someone to make them a mixed tape. Sometimes you just want to share music with them… So you stay up all night creating the perfect Christmas mix (new and old, slow and fast) and collaging a custom cover with photos of you and him under a spring of mistletoe, and filling the liner notes with poetry about yearning love that you wrote in his class.

Third of all, shortly after the “incident” my English teacher did end up running off with a student (not me).

I digress (again).

So after spending all night working on the mixed tape, I handed it to my English teacher and said, “I made you a mixed tape of Christmas music”.

He said: “Thank you”.

I said: “You’re welcome”.

You could have cut the unrequited sexual tension with a knife.

After our lesson, he asked the class if he could put on some Christmas music while we worked on our assignment. Everyone agreed. He popped the cassette tape into the player and pressed play.

There were a few seconds of silence as the cassette started…

This gave me time to think about how once my English teacher listened to the tape, viewed the cover art and read the liner notes… he’d fall in love and beg for my hand in marriage.

Of course I’d say “no” coyly, and tell him that I’d like to wait until I’m 19 (but if he simply had to have me then and now, I’d get Stan and Linda to sign off on it).

The music started.

O Holy Night by Mahalia Jackson. My favorite.

But then…

I noticed it wasn’t.

It wasn’t Mahalia.

It was me.

It was me singing O Holy Night.

As I ran toward the cassette player, the class started laughing.

They knew. Everything.

They knew that I had made the mixed tape, they knew that I had accidentally recorded my own voice instead of transferring tape to tape, and they knew my voice would never get me far in life (limited range and very pitchy).

But worst of all… they knew I was in love with Mr. Berg (and now you do too… Geez).


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