Tape Decks and Friendships
A calling card of cool, mix tapes fluttered round Res’s like carrier pigeons. My long friendship Alistair began with my tracking him down in Retief Res as “the guy had a recording of Love and Rocket’s Kundalini Express"; which seemed the epitome of grinding goth cool those early weeks of first year.
I met my life-long friend Gary when I heard The House of Love’s Christine playing from his room. I walked in, introduced myself, and we lay on the floor, arms outstretched, listening to the song as it shimmered round the room.
Larissa had a box of tapes all labelled either “God Be in My Head”, or “Suicide Mix (numbered 1 through to about 37, as I recall)”. She came across as a stout, intimidating lesbian, but we became firm pool-playing mates when I discovered she had the first Kristin Hersh and Cranberries albums on tape.
Tapes and Girls
Making a girlfriend a tape was a customary phase in a relationship, usually somewhere between the 3rd or 4th date. You could lie in bed, and wonder if far off down in campus in Phelps or Jameson Res, she was listening to the same songs and thinking of you. Bands like The House of Love, R.E.M., U2, The Pixies, Lloyd Cole, The Stone Roses, and the Manic Street Preachers formed our emotional semaphore.
Tank Girl and Green Underpants
The night the slavishly lusted after Tank Girl and I finally got together one night, the amorous mood was derailed for a moment by her seeing my green day-glo underpants, that I’d unadvisedly fished out of the communal digs laundry pile that evening. I managed to stifle her giggling and things continued along giddy nicely. Weeks later I made her a “Kryptonite Underpants” mix, and gave it to her wrapped in the same (now laundered) lurid green underpants of that first night. She cried laughing.
CD Mixes Are Not the Same
Long before before cell phones, email, and recordable discs, mix tapes provided a shorthand of cool, an artefact that could be passed from hand to hand, like shared imagined music videos of each other in our heads.
I miss them.