Coffee Stains: Bet your bottom dollar

Annie was my second cassette purchase; The Muppet Movie, the first.

Sure, I had owned several LPs (mostly from the soundtrack genre), but when we got our first tape recorder, our view of music changed forever. We could, you see, record one of our records onto the tape and then hit the REWIND button and listen to that song or songs whenever we wanted. And this gave way to the concept of making a tape for someone. I did it for my friends and later for Lori when we were courting.

I think we still have the tape and…well, hold on for a few moments, let me get it (I think it’s in the impossible-to-open drawer below the built-in china cabinet thing). It might be… (Oh, and by the way, “It’s a hardknock life” is playing..yes, it’s the Annie soundtrack). Be right back (Oh, now she’s singing “Tomorrow“…warm feelings…”clears away the cobwebs and sorrow”…and “say, oh!”)

[Steps away from the eMac for moment]

Okay, I’m back and I couldn’t find it: I think it’s upstairs. I did find the following tapes: My Songs: Evan (one of those tapes where the singer inserts your name in the song), American Pie (Don McLean–1988), and Lori’s first cassette tape: You Light Up My Life (Debby Boone–1977). We get into these conversations when remembering the good old days of our music, often. Recently it began with my telling Lori about my trip to Martin’s:

“So,” I say, ” I got the creamer and coffee and the sandwich rolls and then made my way over to the Starbucks.”
“Did you get me anything?” she asks.
“No,” I say. “I thought you wouldn’t want anything.”
“Oh,” she responds.
“Anyway,” I ,because I want to tell the punch line. “So, the bartistaperson is making my latte thing…I know, I wanted something different. Guess what she’s humming?”
“No!” she says.
And then I hum, which isn’t a super reliable way of getting music across to another human being, but for some reason that’s the mode I went with…and she got it.
“Yep! Uncanny, eh” I say and then we start singing/humming the words/tune of “Maybe” from Annie.

Then I remind Lori that my second cassette purchase was the soundtrack to Annie; The Muppet Movie, the first. She mentions the Debbie Boone tape and perhaps she sings (with great emotion, mind you) “And you, LIGHT up my life…

We both like music, and I wouldn’t claim that we’re eclectic (which is a common response to “what kind of music do you like?”); no, we’re pretty predictable. She was listening to the radio during the early ’80s while I was amassing quite a soundtrack collection (which was started with The Muppet Movie and Annie). And so, it’s no surprise that I would make Lori a tape for our first year anniversary of courting (yes, I know it’s dating…courting sounds a bit more formal).

It’s roughly 90 minutes of my favorite songs of that time with commentary between each song (yes, it is dreadfully painful to listen to…simply cruel to anyone who hears it). And I think Lori listened to the whole tape once (until we found it 10 years later and abandoned the tape’s second listen). The title of the tape: “365 days with Lori Bickel.” And no, I will not digitize the thing; it really needs to be put out of its misery–or ours.

The tape recorder that evening in a dorm room in Winona Lake, Indiana was my way of creating a thing for Lori. And back in the 1970s when we got our first Panasonic Tape Recorder (it was red plastic with a black handle) my sister and I would create a wide variety of stuff. Most were silly little skits that always seemed to end with some guy falling off a very high cliff into a very deep valley floor (I think it was usually the Grand Canyon…we’d seen the two-part Brady Bunch vacation enough times to know what it looked and sounded like…though no one fell off the cliff).

And here’s how it’s done:

You’d start with a high pitch “Ahhhhhh” and slowly descended to a lower, more intense and louder “Ahhhh” and a the last moment you’d take you thumb and “squish” the built-in microphone. It was a really cool sound and we really thought that’s what a body impacting the Grand Canyon floor sounded like. We were suckers.

And we all are, aren’t we: suckers? We’re predictable as much as we say that we are “an individual.” We will hum some silly line from some silly Disney film or some silly Broadway song. And sometimes I have to catch myself, because I might just enjoy the moment too much. Someone might see or hear my silly humming song, that might break out in a full-blown “The sun will come out, tomorrow!”

Okay, well, I need to pick up the boys. Looking forward to listening to the “Xmas Music for the Van, volume 2.5” CD.

“Maybe”

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4 Comments on “Coffee Stains: Bet your bottom dollar”

  1. Rich Herdman Says:

    Having been present for alot of “The Courting”, are you sure you didn’t insert the Brady Bunch-inspired death scream on your “365 Days with Lori Bickel” mix tape of love? Or did “Make ‘Em Laugh” from the “Who Frame Roger Rabbit” CD take too much room?

  2. vergil66 Says:

    Yes: you are very much a part of this story and it’s really your fault that Lois and I met. (For those of you who don’t know, I transferred to Grace during the senior years of both Rich and Lois).

    If I remember correctly, I think the tape had a lot of Phil Collins stuff on it…When I find it, I might just do some liner notes and cross post it here (painful experience, mind you).

    Good day to you, sir.

  3. Linda DeCicco Antonazzi Says:

    Hi Chris,
    This is fantastic! How long have you had this blog? Coffee stains is a great title. Love the picture of you!!!!
    Merry Christmas to you and Lori and the boys,
    Linda

  4. vergil66 Says:

    Linda,
    Thanks for stopping by (with a link from note to Red Pontooners). I’ve had the blog, for the most part, since 2003 and the “Coffee Stains” I started writing in November. It’s mostly a weekly note to my students, but there’s usually enough there so that other folk would get it. What I really like about it: I now have a deadline to write something every Tuesday. (Very cool).

    Thanks for stopping by and hope the best Xmas back to you and your family.

    Peace,
    Chris


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