Mix tape afternoon

1980s mix tapes

The term was winding down. Two more days of finals and summer break would begin. I had my last test that morning, so I made plans to meet him for lunch.

Headed home to work at my aunt and uncle’s restaurant, our usual college crew was coming back for the tourist season. I was looking forward to reconnecting with old friends. He was leaving for work too, three hours away… and me with no car.

I knew my mom would have a cow when she found out we were planning on meeting up in Chattanooga in July. Just like she did that first summer we were apart and my monthly phone bill was $100.

I would have to find someone else to drive me to the Greyhound station.

Today was our first anniversary. This time last June we had our first date, a blind date. Funny how the two people who set us up, can’t stand being around each other now. Sorry for them, but great for us.

Crossing the quad I saw him waiting outside the bookstore, a small gift bag on the bench beside him. His smile was like a warm hug, and I couldn’t wait to hold him. We had so little time left before we went separate ways.

We held hands as we walked to the deli on the corner. I kept trying to get a glimpse into the bag, wondering what he had hidden inside the pink tissue paper. Sliding into our usual booth, he put the bag on the table between us while we ordered. When the waiter finally left, he push it closer to me without a word.

I laughed at how much paper he stuffed inside. When I reached the buried treasure, I felt hot tears spring to my eyes. Picking up the bag to get a closer peek, I tipped the opening toward me without lifting out the three small, plastic cases.

Looking up at him, he smiled that little boy smile and shrugged. He made some silly excuse about not wanting me to forget him. I couldn’t find my voice, but shook my head to tell him that would never happen. I sensed the stirrings, faint but unmistakable, of an afternoon love.

Later, while we listened to all our favorite songs, we counted the hours until we said goodbye. Damn, I was going to miss that boy.

Master Class
Inspired by “A Christmas Story,” by Jean Shepherd.

21 thoughts on “Mix tape afternoon

  1. Oh. Oh, this. *sigh*
    in our basement is a box of cassette tapes and many (MANY) of them are ones made for me by various boys. I never get rid of them, no matter how many times we clean that basement or PURGE, those babies are staying.

    One has the soundtrack to the SHORT LIVED musical *Chess* on it where I heard “One Night in Bangkok before it became a radio hit and felt so ‘in the know’. Those mix tapes tell the story of my love affairs (just like your’s did) and so I know why you hold tight to them and wish for a tape player. 🙂


    1. Back in the day, making a mix tape was a lot more involved than it would be today. I guess that’s why they mean so much, that you KNOW who ever made one, was serious. I won’t give up my tapes either. They are like little time capsules, transporting me back to those innocent (or not so innocent) times.


  2. Any man who cares enough to write the artist’s name in their logo-ized font, is a man worth keeping! Wonderful post, and an excellent weave on the prompt (just as a fyi: the movie A Christmas Story is actually a “mash-up” of sorts of several of Jean’s short stories. I highly recommend getting the book, if only to appreciate where all the story threads originally came from)


  3. I love that you used creative nonfiction this week! Such a sweet story. I wish mine were as romantic. We are a comedy of errors of sorts, LOL!


    1. He made her mix tapes, cassettes, of their favorite songs. This is based on a true story…the tapes in the photo are ones my husband made when we were dating in college. Too bad I no longer have a tape player.


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