The Tell Tale Tape Recorder

black and white cassette tape
Photo by Pixabay on

It’s the summer of 1984. I’m in between the seventh and eighth grades in middle school. I’m too young to be working, so I’m spending a summer day at my home in southwest Largo, listening to some music on a Friday morning.

Compact disc players were a relatively new thing, so if you had one, you had to be in some money. My old man tended the get the new “gadgets” as they came along relatively first – provided he could get a good deal. This was back in the era where those good deals were in the Sunday St. Petersburg Times, so he’d frequently ask me to accompany him.

One this one particular summer Friday morning, I was listening to a cassette he had recorded off of his vinyl collection. He had a cassette deck that you had to press inward to activate the buttons, like fast forward, play, and so on. This one morning, fate wasn’t too kind to me – I pressed the fast forward inward, and it jammed itself.

Panic, needless to say, set in. I’m a 12-year-old kid, and I began to wonder at that moment if I would live to see the age of 13 in a few months.

Some kids admit all they know in a situation like that. Me, I hadn’t developed that sense of courage yet, so I hid the sunken fast-forward button with a cassette tape box as if that was going to cover things up forever and ever. At some point during the night, my parents must have figured out what I did wrong – because instead of confronting me about it, they had a little fun with me.

They waited until the next day to bust me, milking it like the time on The Tonight Show when Don Rickles had busted Johnny Carson’s cigarette box. With an aunt and uncle visiting to revel in my misery and subsequent breakdown, I confessed to the foul deed and was sent to my room in shame.

It was quickly fixed, I was quickly admonished (which wouldn’t have happened had the fast-forward collapsed inward on THEM) for my Watergate-like cover-up, and life went on.

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