Cassette Tapes Are Awesome Until You Actually Have To Listen To Them
About a decade ago I crashed my car. Bad.
I still remember it pretty clearly. I had a bad haircut and was driving on the feeder next to a highway and listening to music (maybe Missy Elliott's "Work It" or maybe Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" but probably Nelly's "Hot In Herre"). It was the beginning of the afternoon and it was not raining. I was driving and everything was great and then suddenly I was not driving and everything was not great.
I ran right through a red light doing about 50 miles per hour, crashing face first into a woman traveling in a new Ford Mustang left to right on the intersecting street. I hit her square in her passenger side door, T-Boning her car, crumpling it into two discernible sections. It was loud and fast and scary. And stupid. I'd like to say that it was an accident rooted in nobility, that I couldn't have afforded to stop at the light because I was in hot pursuit of a baby thief or a known Nazi. But it wasn't. It was the opposite. I ran the light because I was trying to fish a couple of Combos from up off the floor so I could eat them. (Note: In my defense, Combos are goddamn delicious.)
I remember calling a guy that I went to college with to come help me get everything situated. He answered the phone and I explained to him what happened. He responded, "I've never known anyone that had their life so adversely affected by pretzels and cheese, so I'm glad you called me." He always talked like that. He thought he was a character on a TV show. When his financial aid got cancelled and he had to sit out a semester I secretly applauded the federal government. Me and him don't really hang out anymore.
At any rate, the accident: Beyond the physical jarring, the whole thing was mostly cosmetic; nobody was mauled by the metal and glass, thankfully. There was, however, one lasting, immeasurably sad byproduct: The car I crashed, an early-'90s Jeep Cherokee, was my all-time favorite car.
I don't know why I love that particular make and model so much, I just know that I do. After I'd crashed mine and it was rendered undriveable, I was devastated. I didn't drive again for two years (hours, whatever).
There have been a string of replacement cars since then: a serviceable but gutless four cylinder Isuzu Rodeo, an avocado green Jeep Liberty, a hyper effeminate Hyundai Accent, but none have satisfied me like the Cherokee.
Which is why everything is wonderful these days.
Seven months ago, my wife bought me a new old one; a burgundy, 4 door 1992 Jeep Cherokee. The a/c didn't work and the blinkers didn't work and the headliner hung like something that hangs really low and the engine leaked oil like it'd been shot with a bazooka. It was perfect.
I've been restoring it slowly, and refuse to add anything to it that wasn't there 20 years ago. It's a fun, arduous process that two or so weeks ago saw its first truly pivotal moment: After weeks and weeks of searching, we found someone to repair the original tape player.
(Note: If you call a dealership or mechanic or audio company and ask them to fix a tape player, they will almost always respond like you asked them to sew an arm to your forehead.)
The day that it was fixed, the most glorious day of all, we drove to Value Village, a proper thrift store, and sifted through a large plastic bin of cassettes. They were $0.75 each. I bought twelve total; seven actual tapes and five still-packaged blank ones.
Creating mixes for the blanks is as enjoyable as you're probably remembering, but there's one thing you probably don't: CASSETTE TAPES SOUND LIKE TOTAL SHIT. It sounds like the music is being played in a separate room and you're listening through the walls.