Before this life of kids and telecom equipment, I was a geeky 18 year old attending Northern Illinois University on the dreams that I would someday work as a nuclear physicist at FermiLab or in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory working in Particle Physics. At the time, I hung around pretty exclusively with a group of people who had two common threads in their lives; Heavy Metal Music and Dungeons and Dragons. Over the years, we’ve fell out of touch as we all grew up and moved to different parts of the country.

Fast forward to today as I’m cleaning out my Honda which is going to the shop to fix what was broken by some asshat a few weeks ago. As I’m cleaning out the car, I found three cassette tapes, two tapes of circa 1987 hair metal and one blank, undocumented tape. Seeing as how the only cassette player I own now resides in the Ford Windstar, I threw the tapes in the van to listen to some later point.
Well, that “later point” came about three hours later as Hallie wanted/ordered me to go for a drive as it was too cold to walk around the neighborhood. While getting in the van, I noticed the three tapes and decided to see what condition they were in. The first tape (Holy Soldier….don’t ask, I told you it was 1987 Hair Band stuff) was in good shape and after I listened to the one song I could remember, I hit eject and threw in the “mystery tape”.
The tape starts and I start hearing what sounds like muffled background noise. I start to think that maybe the tape playback head might be a bit off-center, but as I turn up the volume, I hear my own voice in a conversation with Kevin and Lisa Swift and their impending first born child.
A bit of background here, Kevin and Lisa and I were good friends back in the early 1990’s as they both went to NIU for various programs. They fell in love, got pregnant, got married, and were living with Dave and Kurt in Kurt’s huge condo in DeKalb. Dave used to play guitar and on at least two occasions we ended up recording a few minutes of practice. This apparently was one of those occasions, but apparently I had taped over the “practice” portion and had disintegrated into “bullshit session” between Dave, Kevin, Lisa, and yours truly. At the time, the topic was whether Lisa should push or not push when the doctor tells you not to push. This apparently was a deep topic of discussion way back when as this was Lisa first child and I (having designated myself as the ‘expert’ since I had stood next to Cindy through her labor with Krystal) was telling Lisa it was a good idea not to go through all that pain for no apparent reason.
OK, the technical aspects of the conversation are kind of gross and moot, but it brought back a flood of memories where my life was 15 years ago and where I am today. Or for a fact where these other people are as well. I can obviously Google their names and do some digging, but what would be the point? Try to revive a friendship 15 years cold over a smattering of ill-gotten conversation. To find out their now 14/15 year old child is going to high school and is on the Chess Club and they have two mortgages and orthodonitcs payments?
I guess it’s the norm to look back at being completely broke and playing guitar and getting kicked of college with fondness, but I don’t. While a portion of me misses these people, I don’t think there would obviously be a point in reestablishing contact from some creepy guy (i.e. me) from years ago and intruding on their lives. I know it’s always awkward when I get the occasional call from a former classmate (seeing as how my name is pretty damn unusual); why bother being on the sending end of that?
Oh, and to let you know what I put on that tape. I put “The Best of Meat Loaf” followed with “Highlights From Queensryche’s Operation:Mindcrime”. Makes me wonder what cold medicine I was taking in order to put both of those on one tape.