Thursday, August 27, 2009

George, shark teeth, and memories.


Oh. My.

I found my funny for the day.

If you've ever wanted to dig up dirt on me, then this is it. I'm really such a sweet gal, so I don't know why you would want to exact revenge on me, but I'm sure I have my foes somewhere out there in this world, and even though I don't know who you are, here it is. Have at it.

Revenge can be a dirty thing, so I'll just go ahead and save you the time and the hassle. I'll take a preemptive strike and embarrass myself first. I'm putting it out there on the internet, or as me and my peeps used to call it back in the day, the World Wide Web.

Done and done.

But please allow me to start at the beginning.

This whole thing started with shark teeth. When we were on vacation earlier this month, and searching for seashells in the sand, I casually said to the kids, "Hmmm....I wonder if we'll find shark teeth on the beach." The kids were naturally intrigued, and I told them that when I was younger and my parents took the whole family to Florida, we combed the shore and my sisters and I found little shark teeth. I brought them back home and saved them in a baby food jar, although to this day, I have no idea why. They were shark teeth. Out of a shark's mouth. Nonetheless, I thought they were cool, and they became a knick-knack up on a shelf for me when I was young.

Go figure. I had impeccable taste, even in my youth.

When Bill and I moved into our first house, my parents were so ready to get rid of some of the crap that at least one of their six daughters had accumulated over the years, that they loaded up their car, drove to see our new place, and very happily dumped off boxes and boxes of old love letters, high school yearbooks, and various other tchotchkes that I couldn't see fit to part with from my youth. And I love them for saving all of it, even though it was taking up space in their house for years, and it was totally insignificant to them.

Thanks Mom and Dad, because you just unknowingly contributed to my funny for the day.

That was about 9 years ago, but I remember going through the boxes, reminiscing, and discovering that they had saved my little jar of shark teeth. Shortly after, however, all thoughts of shark teeth escaped my mind, until our recent family vacation and I happened to mention it.

Stay with me. I promise you I'm getting to the good part of this story soon.

Well, George would not let this go. For the rest of the vacation, he became a little man obsessed with finding at least one shark tooth, and I realized too late that Virginia isn't great shark-hunting territory. Shark teeth are usually found on beaches further south, but what did I know?

So now when Bill and I hear the words, "shark" and "teeth" together, it's like our little inside joke, and we laugh because we heard these words over and over and over and over and over and over and over out of the mouth of George the entire vacation. We should have just bought him some from one of the many gift shops in town, but he was very intent on finding them on his own. Finally, when he was unable to find any, I said offhandedly, "Well, I'll try to find you my jar of shark teeth at home, and you can have it."

We returned home, and all thoughts of shark teeth had been completely forgotten.

Yesterday morning, however, out of the blue, George looked at me with his cute little face and said, "Mom, can you find your shark teeth for me, please?"

Oh crud. Who can resist that? He even said please. So I had no choice but to drag myself down to the dark basement full of spiders, (and you know how I feel about spiders) to find the shark teeth that I promised my little dude. And as I was digging through box after box of my stuff, I found it. No, not the shark teeth, (I still haven't unearthed those) but....a mix tape that I made for Bill way back in 1993.

And oh man, did it just make my day.

What's so funny about a mix tape, you ask? Oh, this mix tape is hilarious. It was a very unassuming in it's Maxell clear plastic box, but when I looked further, I saw the selection of songs that I had included, and I started snorting with laughter. And of course George wanted to know what was so funny. So I showed him the box and of course, nothing. He really needs to work on his sense of humor.

I apologize if this is only funny to me. Just humor me.

The tape had the oh-so-original-I-should-have-thought-about-copyrighting-it title of: I LOVE YOU! with one exclamation point, and a swirl and a heart next to it.

And because I couldn't resist, here is a picture of the cassette jacket, just so you can see for yourself how insanely bad this mix tape was. Like so bad that I can't believe that Bill and I are still together and now married with four kids. But, in my defense, he made me mix tapes as well, so once I find those, maybe I'll say the same thing about him.

When I flipped over this cardboard insert, I discovered that I had written, "Happy 1 year Anniversary! 1/19/93, All my love, Clare, xoxoxo, (another picture of a heart)"

Clearly I had an obsession with hearts when I was a teenager. Because that's what true love was all about back then. Hearts. Check out all the metallic heart stickers stuck to the cardboard. Just what every 18-year old male wants from his girlfriend. Heart stickers. Ugh.

My powers of seduction still astound me to this day.

Let's go through the list of songs, people.

1.) In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel - Okay, I'll admit that including this song on the tape doesn't embarrass me one bit. It's a great tune, and I met Bill at a high school dance when this song was playing. He was a student at the all-boys Catholic high school, I went to the all-girls school, and our eyes locked across a crowded floor, and that was that. Well, kind of. Basically it was a gym with a big blue tarp on the floor, full of sweaty, hormonal teenage boys, and all our friends were dancing with other people, so he shyly looked at me and said awkwardly, "So you wanna?" as he gestured toward the floor. And yes, we left space for the Holy Spirit, lest the parental chaperones bust us.

2.) True Companion by Mark Cohen - So boring, so lame, so tired, so unoriginal. So mix tape material. But then again, I was a very literal 18-year old, and when Mark Cohn (I spelled it wrong back then) crooned in his raspy voice, "So don't you dare and try to walk away, I've got my heart set on our wedding day..." it was probably my passive-aggressive way of saying that he shouldn't ever break up with me. Who knew I was a psycho girlfriend with my not-so-subtle subliminal messages? Teenagers are so stupid.

3.) Almost Paradise by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson - Okay, now it's starting to get embarrassing. And it's looking more and more like the playlist over at Lite FM. (In fact, when I'm done, I can call over there and donate this tape. Mama smells a tax deduction.) Whatever happened to Mike Reno and Ann Wilson? Has anybody heard from them? Do you think they ever google their names, and if so, will my blog come up? Will it make them feel famous? Will it make them feel like they are almost in paradise? Knockin' on heaven's door? I hope so.

4.) A Whole New World (from "Aladdin") by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle - Okay, now I'm full-on, unequivocally, 100% embarrassed. Like, can't believe I'm showing this to everyone embarrassed. But there's no turning back now. I'll just write through the pain. Aladdin? Seriously? I have a vague memory of Bill and I seeing this movie together when it was in the theater, but did I find it so incredibly romantic that I had to include this song on the tape? Did the love story of the two CARTOONS, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine touch my teenage heart so deeply that I thought, "Damn. Bill and I could be that way." Who knows? Cartoon love is hot. What I do know is that I like to say the name Peabo. Peabo. Peabo. Peabo. Yep, still fun.

5.) When I'm Back on My Feet Again by Michael Bolton - Yes, that's it. Michael-friggin'-Bolton. Cue snorting laughter. And this was back in 1993, so Michael was still very much sporting a mullet. Now, I am DYING to know what my thought process was on this one. DYING. First of all, the title, "When I'm Back on My Feet Again," implies that there was some inner turmoil in my life at the time. Why didn't I pick the classic Bolton tune, "Time, Love and Tenderness?" Did I fall down somehow, and I needed to have Bill help me get back on my feet again?
Okay, and here's the part where I know Bill never actually listened to this tape at college, at least around his friends and roomies. You know how I know? Because Bill actually had friends in college. And they were pretty funny guys too. And straight guys who listen to Michael Bolton don't have friends. So there is NO WAY that they would have EVER let him live down the fact that he was listening to a mix tape with Michael Bolton on it. None. I cannot imagine an 18-year old Bill saying, "Dudes, we can leave for that kegger in just a few, but check it out dudes, I gotta finish listening to Bolton croon this song. It totally touches my heart, dudes." Nope, it's just not possible. However, Bill and his friends did used to say "dude" a lot. That part is not made up.

6.) I Love You Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel - This is still a good song, but not one of Billy Joel's best. Once again, I was a literal 18-year old, so I wanted Bill to know that he didn't have to go changin' to try and please me, because I never wanted him to work that hard. I just wanted someone that I could talk to, I wanted him just the way he are...was.

7.) The Inspiration by Chicago - The overall sappiness of this song is unbelievable. But I'll admit, to this day, if I ever hear this song on the radio, I have to belt it out at the top of my lungs. It's that horrifically good.

8.) Oh I Love You So by Preston Smith - I had NO idea who the hell Preston Smith was. And my time machine was broken, so I couldn't exactly use it to retrieve my cassette player and play this song, hoping it would ring a bell. I looked it up on iTunes, and apparently it was a catchy little tune from the movie "Cocktail." So I must have thought that Bill and I were like Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue. But without the Bahamas. And without cheesy umbrella drinks and tiki torches. But hey, didn't Tom Cruise sleep with an older married woman in that movie? Was I subliminally sending Bill a message with this song that if he ever sleeps with an old bag in the near or distant future that I would dump him? Again, I had no idea that I was Psycho Girlfriend. I had a great way of hiding it. My psychotic tendencies must have only come out in the form of extraordinarily bad mix tape music.

9.) The Solace of You by Living Colour - This is another song I had to look up on iTunes because I had no idea what it was. Where was I getting all these songs? I'm about 99.9% positive that I never owned a Living Colour cassette, and iTunes most definitely did not exist in 1993. I wonder if I got a copy of this song by sitting in my room and listening to the radio until a DJ decided to play it, and then I quickly pressed "record" on my Jam Box. Yes, my trusty old pink Jam Box. Back in the day, kids, they were also referred to as "Ghetto Blasters." Chew on that lil' piece-o-trivia.

10.) Love is the Seventh Wave by Sting - Not a bad song. But what do I know? You've seen my taste in music. It's craptastically awful.

11.) American Pie by Don McLean - This was the last song we played at our wedding in 1998. It's a good song, but oh so cliche. And don't you think it goes on way too long? Towards the 25th minute of it, aren't you just like, please end it, Mr. Don McLean? I am.

12.) Father to Son by Genesis - What the hell? This is a song that a father sings to his son about life, and how he'll always be there to catch him when he falls. How did this relate to the love story of Clare and Bill? It didn't. At all. Teenagers are so stupid.

13.) Fallen by Lauren Wood - Horrible, horrible, song, and the third one that I had to look up on iTunes. It's like a really bad Sade song. And all Sade songs are bad. So this song is even worse. Trust me.

14.) & 15.) Faithfully, and Open Arms by Journey - I had to group these two songs together because they are both by Journey. Journey isn't exactly awful, per se, they're kind of kitschy cool in a way, but they are just so cliche on a circa 1980s or 1990s mix tape that it goes to show how cheesy and sappy I was. As if you didn't get that by now.

Last Friday was my 35th birthday, and revisiting my 18-year old self was quite cathartic. Humiliating and slightly disturbing, but cathartic nonetheless. No matter how cool I think I've gotten over the years, or how much I think I have it all together, somewhere inside of me lives a frizzy-haired, sentimental, nerdy girl who thought that Michael Bolton was actually a good singer. (I can't even type his name without cringing.) Thanks for the reminder, atrocious mix tape. You have touched my little 35-year old sarcastic heart.

I didn't have the advantage of meeting the man I would marry when I was a career girl in my twenties, sophisticated and ready to conquer the world. No, I met him at the awkward age of 17, when I thought that true love meant heart stickers. We basically grew up together, so there's not much we can hide from each other. He knows that I used to peg my jeans and wear really bright, hot pink lipstick. I know that he once had acid-washed jeans and Skidz pants in his closet. And now you do too.

There's something I find very comforting about my old best friend, and that's one of the reasons I married him. We keep it real for each other. Our road wasn't always easy over the years, and we broke up a few times before we figured out that we wanted to be together, but somehow I don't think it was because of or in spite of this mix tape.

Who knew that Georgie and his shark teeth obsession would be my little reminder?


  1. Clare,
    This entry is fantastic! Hilarious and touching. Like anyone growing up in the 80s and 90s, I have more than my share of mix-tape skeletons in my closet as well--thanks for being brave enough to share yours.
    Lisa W

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