I serial-dated girls with dark hair and brooding temperaments who rolled their eyes at the slightest of irritations. Normal boys longed for golden-0haired girls in stonewashed jeans, Not me. I was turned on by pale-skinned women who talked about death and would likely grow up to shoplift.
I bought this book as an early Christmas present to myself. It arrived two weeks late. The book is a compilation of a few writers talking about mix tapes from their past lovers. Each story is unique and interesting, bittersweet with a track list posted on the side. My own similar "mix tape from an ex" is a little complicated, kind of embarrassing, but in true Erica Moreno fashion I'm not one to pass on an opportunity to make fun of myself.
I was almost always the mix maker. I would sit at my computer for hours trying to put together something so beautiful and perfect, something so special that the person on the other end would fall madly in love with me. I would spend hours on the track list, perfecting my fancy cursive, cutting out scraps from magazines and drawing little swirls with sharpie paint pens.
There was a mix I made for an older lacrosse player at my school. He had shaggy hair and kind of a wide nose. For some reason I was crushing pretty hard on him. I made him a mix with all this "obscure indie" (think the entire Garden State soundtrack and like, two or three Metric "Old world Underground" jams.) I slipped the mix into his locker slot (romantic, right?) and waited for him to sign onto aim instant messenger to profess his love to me. Instead, he imed me to say "hey, that one band The Shins is fucking cool," I bit my lip, placed my fingers on the home keys, I typed "yeah, ha, they rule!" This was the list time we ever spoke.
Then there was the mix I made for my "first real boyfriend" in high school. This means this boy actually muttered the words "hey.. will you be my girlfriend?" on New Years eve, actually. I shook my head of curls and smiled, "Yes! Of course!" I would make him barrels of mix tapes during our hot n heavy two week long relationship. We mostly talked on the phone and hugged each other in the hallways. He slipped me the tongue ONCE. I introduced him to The Magnetic Fields, Metric, Modest Mouse, and The Good Life. I remember "Album of the Year" by The Good Life was "our song." A few weeks after we broke up I overheard him talking about "how The Magnetic fields are so fucking cool" in our homeroom.
I wanted to vomit and call him THE FUCK OUT, I introduced him to all that shit! Before he knew me this clown listened to Dave Matthews band, but instead I just went back to chewing on my nails or something.
The pattern (as you can obviously see) was always me trying to trap boys into falling for me, via music. I never thought that my personality or undeniable charm would do the trick, no, no it was a piece of plastic with a ribbon and something witty scribbled on the front in sharpie.
I would make my girlzz mixes as well, but those were less thought out and usually thrown together by chance. I don't think either one of those bitches necessarily enjoyed or appreciated my talent either.
The saga continues..
But then there was one boy. George. George was a year younger than me (I was sixteen) and he was fifteen and a half. He was taller than me which was why I noticed him in the first place. He went to a private school and had conventionally good looking features, freckles and green eyes. Black hair. My mom really liked him, which still to this day is a world record.
We were introduced by a friend of a friend, and took to chatting on instant messenger after school. And then, during a conversation about how much I loved Rilo Kiley George asked "hey, would you like me to make you a mix?" I remember starring at the screen and thinking "ohhh shit" no boy had ever so much as handed me a pot to piss in at this point, so of course I typed back "yeah! of course!"
I think we met up at a local show or something, exchanged mixes. His was perfect, track list and everything, all this new indie music that I'd never heard of. This would start off a month long relationship of mix making. He would make me about one a week and somehow find a way to give them to me. I could feel that he was sort of falling for me, but I tried to just write it off as us being friends. I had my eyes cast on someone even taller, some guy who was way older. George was just too sweet, did too much for me, he was just a baby. But his mixes, goddamn, they were perfect.
Spring came and George told me he was going on a trip to Europe. I pretended to be excited for him. One day after school I had a headache and decided to lay down. I was mid-dream when my mom came into my room and said "Erica, George is on our front porch wearing a suit." Cranky and frantic I ran down the steps, and sure enough, yeah there was George, wearing a fucking suit.
"What are you doing here?" I shouted. I know the words came out more cruel then they were intended. I wasn't used to be surprised, I didn't like surprises. I was the one who surprised people, not wearing a suit, but none the less this was reversing the roles for me. His eyes were cast low "I just wanted to give you some stuff before I leave, to let you know I'll miss you." I felt my stomach drop to my toes, I was such a bitch to him. If you're somehow reading this George I'm really sorry.
He handed me two mixes, some of my favorite paint pens and some other miscellaneous things he knew I liked, because unlike every other guy he'd actually taken the time to listen to me when I talked. I hugged him goodbye, told him I'd miss him and thanked him for coming. His shoulders were stiff and the polyester of his collar rubbed my cheek. He smiled half heatedly but he now knew how I felt, he didn't even have to ask.
I went up to my room and popped the one mix in, the lyrics You remind me of home: the paint cracks when the water leaks from the rusty pipes that are just beneath my feet You remind me of home: the heater's warm but fills the room with a potpourri of dust and gas fumes Ben Gibbard's voice made it all so clear to me, I fucked up a good thing.
But it was too late, he'd already left and I felt awkward. My skin felt itchy. I later apologized to him, told him how much the mixes and him showing up really meant to me. He seemed ok with it, but I knew he wasn't. He left for Europe and I received two postcards, One from Barcelona, Spain and another from somewhere in Paris. The Paris postcard was written entirely in French, as the Barcelona postcard was in Spanish, so I had no idea what either of them said.
When he came back we set up awkward small talk here and there, but deep down I knew I'd broken his heart. Maybe not in the way you break someone's heart when you're a little older, but I was his first real crush (so I felt) and I wasn't every nice. I still feel kinda bad about this.
Anyway, the mixes live on. I still have countless track lists and cassettes/cd's stuffed in an empty wine box under my bed. When I stumble across them I always end up smiling. The last time I facebook lurked George he'd found a really nice girl, hopefully one who appreciates him for the musical mastermind that he truly is.