In a corner of my living room are two objects that hold what remain of my once-extensive cassette tape collection. The sliding drawer fake-wood holders contain several cassingles (the inferior replacement for the 45RPM record) and the many mix tapes I can’t bear to part with. Most of the tapes I made myself, culling songs from friends collections, dubbing them from my own tapes and even, when desperate, recording them off of the radio. A few are from friends who also specialized in the magic of mix tapes. Two of them are from boyfriend #4. He was the only one of my boyfriends who ever made me mix tapes* and they were good, mostly because his taste in music was more sophisticated than my own. There’s a bit too much Frank Zappa, it’s true, but there are some real gems on those tapes, two of which are above and still hit me just the way they did when I first hear them: straight in the gut, weakening the knees.
Boyfriend #4 was a summer thing between freshman and sophomore years of college. He didn’t want to do the long-distance thing, so we broke up when I went back to school and he moved on to a woman named after a mountain in California, or–as I preferred to think of it–a brand of soda. That was rough on me, and I pined a bit, listening to the songs he had given me on a fairly regular basis. It occurs to me now that these two songs are perfect breakup songs, and I delight in how the object of my affection supplied me with the musical sustenance to get over him, right from the beginning of our relationship.
*Current boyfriend made me a mix CD at the beginning of our relationship, but in my mind, the mix CD is a completely different beast.