Love in a Mixtape

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Love in a Mixtape

Back in 1988, we still looked up movie show times in newspapers, we still were shocked by the Iran-Contra affair on television, and we still made mixtapes on audio cassettes.

That summer, I worked part-time in a bank branch that was so slow I hardly ever had anything to do. I struck up a quick friendship with Randy, a young head teller who dressed snappily in ties with tie pins and was always clean-shaven. Yet I could tell there was something different about him. We would talk for hours, interrupted only by the occasional customer. I remember him talking about the universe expanding.

I was hooked.

Sometimes when the bank closed at 4 o’clock, we continued our conversation into the parking lot, standing at our cars until dark, never pausing to suggest we get a bite to eat or even sit down.

We were both devoted to rock music and endlessly discussed our favorite bands. Soon enough, we started a project. I made him a mixtape on an audio cassette with no labels. His job was to listen, write down the song titles he could figure out, and decipher a story from the words.

We exchanged back and forth like this a couple of times, sharing our favorites from our record collections. We put together stories of “40,000 Headmen” and other adventures.

Right before I was to leave on a trip with my parents, Randy asked me out to dinner. Away from the bank, our easy, never-ending conversation dried up into awkward pauses as we struggled for something to say. I convinced myself it wasn’t a date and went on my trip. When I got back, he handed me a new mixtape.

That night, I sat on my bed with a pencil and paper and popped in the tape. The sound of an organ and guitar filled my bedroom.

Next up was another easily recognized song.

Then, another Clapton song.

  • Take a Chance — Eric Clapton

So, the story so far is that someone’s missing someone, is feeling like a fool, but is gonna take a chance.

Hmm … blue eyes….

I kept listening.

Clearly, a theme of love was developing.

It continued.

I next heard guitar and the words, “Shadows grow so long before my eyes….”

The last song was one of my favorites. “I can hear her heart beat from a thousand miles. Yeah, the heavens open every time she smiles….”

  • Crazy Love — Van Morrison

I read the list over and over, trying to interpret it, telling myself it didn’t mean what I thought it meant.

The next day in the bank, we went through the morning routine. We were actually busy and didn’t get a chance to talk until a mid-morning break.

I made small talk. He brought up the tape.

“Did you listen to the mixtape?” he asked.

“Yes … it was good,” I said.

“Did you figure out the message?”

“I wasn’t sure,” I said. This went on for a while, with him asking me leading questions that I was afraid to answer.

We finally established that it was a love story, from someone to someone who had gone away on a trip.

He asked about “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”

I said that I didn’t know how that one fit in with the others.

“Well, do you know anyone with blue eyes?”

I paused, a long pause. I looked down. I looked to the side. He waited.



I wasn’t sure what to say.

I took the leap.

“Me,” I whispered.

He smiled.

We were married two years later.

Another mixtape romance story (in 42 words): Abandon All Subtlety

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  1. Oh how awesome is that?!

    What a neat way to formally ask you out. I have to admit I would have been like you had it been me in your shoes. So, did you secretly hope it was you but were unwilling to admit to yourself it was a possibility?
    TortugaRachel recently posted..Just sayin’, yo!My Profile

  2. Of COURSE he wasn’t shaving yet – you guys look like you’re both about 14 years old in that wedding picture.

    Wonderful story, wonderful mix. Very glad that creepy Police stalker song didn’t make the cut. Why people think it’s romantic beats me. Even Sting says it was MEANT to be creepy.

    Although I’ve made many mix tapes (and later, CD’s), I don’t have a happy love story about one. I did make a great, don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass breakup mix, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” Night Ranger’s “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” and Dokken’s “Just Walk Away.” Which, sadly, I’ve had to call upon more than once.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted..Bad Kissing 101 – Have You Taken This Class?My Profile

    • Yeah, if “Every Breath You Take” showed up on the tape, I would have taken that as a red flag! lol. Love your mixtape idea about the doorknob! Now that would make a great post–I bet you have some great stories to tell.

    • Thanks! It brought back so many memories writing it. I had never told the story to my sons, so it was fun sharing it with them.

  3. How completely enchanting. I love this love story! Especially the ending.

    When I mix a playlist I also listen to all the lyrics and create a story — not so deeply as your guy did here, but it does make a difference in how the songs flow together.

  4. SOOOOOO Gorgeous!!! This is one of the mosstories I’ve heard … I’m sure there is am movie in there somewhere! You guys just look so incredibly young when you were married – how old were you?!
    sammy recently posted..Drugs or a body ….My Profile

  5. OMG, its so sweet.. this is the sweetest love story i have heard in such a long time.Thanks for sharing this…So sweet…….What a wonderful way to declare ones love….

  6. Oh…my…GOSH! That is the sweetest thing EVER! I was expecting when you got back there was a mix tape with every break-up song known to man. How CUTE you two were (are). 🙂
    Shannon recently posted..{this moment}My Profile

  7. Beautiful story. I was anticipating ‘Is this guy gonna end up marrying her?’ Now, he put in some time making that tape. You couldn’t not fall for him. 🙂

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  9. I LOVE this. What a sweet, romantic way of getting your point across.

    Music has always been huge to me. The first Christmas that we were together, I gave my husband-to-be a CD of mixed music and at our wedding we gave out a CD compiled of our favourite songs.

  10. I love the way you wrote this, I could see it happening, I love that you bonded over music and he told you a story with the titles..and you were right… and you got the happily ever after!! 🙂

  11. That’s pretty creative! I never paid enough attention to pop music to make mix tapes back then, but it’s amazing how much creativity and meaning can really go into one made by someone paying attention.
    Annabelle recently posted..Lessons For a SaturdayMy Profile

  12. I literally felt like squealing after I got to that last line. This was so unbelievably romantic. What a sweetheart and what an awesome love story. This has been one of my favorites from The Lightning and the Lightning Bug linkup. Thanks for sharing and for making me feel like a giggly school girl on this early Sunday morning 🙂

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  15. What a romantic story! I love that the conversation was awkward on your first date, yet he still made you that loving mix. What a great guy.

    Visiting from Mama Kats!
    Jamie recently posted..Bad TeacherMy Profile

  16. OMG! This is one of the best ever stories I’ve ever read. I love this. I’m going to share it lol. Stopping in from Mama Kats.

  17. That is a very cool story. I remember making those mixes. It was a lot more time consuming then. Now you can burn a CD in no time, not trying to diminish the mixes people make today but on cassette you had a time commitment.

    Lovely story.
    Jack recently posted..Of Dads and DaughtersMy Profile

    • Yeah, it took as long to tape each song as it did to listen to it, which added to the sweetness of making one for someone.

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