Some people had memberships to exclusive country clubs. Others reserved their membership budget for a summer pass to the local pool. Our family? We were members of The Columbia House Record and Tape Club. Our membership benefits included an initial eight selections of our choosing for the low cost of $5.99 (plus S&H), and then a ninth selection for only a penny. We had all the new releases: Hotel California by the Eagles, Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, and then the occasional “Director’s Selection” that was automatically sent because we didn’t return the postcard back to Columbia House in a timely fashion (additional postage required). Or at least that’s the excuse I gave to friends when they made fun of the Helen Reddy and Sonny and Cher tapes we had in our collection.
I remember being offered the opportunity of picking out TWO 8-tracks for my birthday and I chose The Eagle’s Greatest Hits and The Village People’s Greatest Hits. Clearly, I was still developing my musical taste and had to afford myself a heinous misstep here and there. The Village People quickly landed in the “Don’t open in front of ANYONE” drawer that also included The Starland Vocal Band (Afternoon Delight) and Vicki Lawrence (The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia).
Oh, yeah, baby. That’s the good stuff.
What always freaked me out about the 8-track tape was the fact that right in the middle of a song – usually during the chorus – the song would start to fade out only to give way to a very loud and intrusive CLICK, and then fade back into the song a few seconds before the CLICK so rudely interrupted. As if it was trying to fool you into believing “you didn’t just hear that. And we made up for it by re-playing the bit before the CLICK. That didn’t happen. You are getting sleepy… ” Riiiight. I wasn’t fooled. Even if I was only seven.
Hey! With all that clicking going on, maybe we were being conditioned to react to something? Much like “clicking” for positive reinforcement during dog training. Perhaps the creators of the 8-track system were thinking along these lines: “When you hear the click, you will love 1970’s music.” It certainly worked that way for me.
Technically, I prefer albums. Of course, albums are not very portable and could never rival the ease of use that compact discs and MP3 players offer. Could you imagine trying to play an album during a road trip? Or while running on the treadmill? I can see it now – walking into my gym lugging my turn table, finding a place to precariously balance it to keep it steady, hoping that nobody nearby is planning to jump or make sudden movements that would make my record skip. And then hooking up my extra large headphones, which connect me to my stereo with that springy spiraled cord, dials on the side of my padded ears to adjust the volume. Â This cumbersome getup begs the accompaniment of tight polyester athletic shorts, tube socks pulled to the knees, Puma sneakers, and a mesh shirt. Sassy.
Makes me wish Gold Circle was still around. Remember that place? You could get EVERYTHING at Gold Circle. Groceries, mesh shirts, 8-track players… they had it all. Not quite as cool as Target, but it was the best Central Ohio had to offer back in the day. Unless you were more of a J.C. Penney Outlet kind of shopper.
Anyway, 8-track tapes lost their popularity near the end of the Harvest Gold and Olive Green decade. I should add here that one of the only 8-track tapes worth any sort of money is Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood. Not many were produced thus making it very attractive to collectors. Too bad all I still have in my collection is the 1973 release of Frampton’s Camel. I doubt it will end up in my will.
So, Ben and I are in New York City at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We are in the Pediatric Observation Unit (AKA: the POU – pronounced “poo”). Ben had surgery bright and early Friday morning to remove that suspicious spot hanging out on his rib. Dr. LaQuaglia only needed a little less than two hours to snip out the rest of that rib and decide that it was NOT cancer. He believes it to be scar tissue (here’s where we all exhale a very long and audible sigh of relief). He used all of Ben’s original scars – same location for incision (had to take it a wee bit further this time), same scar for his chest tube, etc. As of today, 48 hours post-op, he’s been relieved of his foley catheter, the chest tube, the epidural to control his back pain, and the heart monitors. The only thing he’s currently hooked up to are fluids. He can take pain medicine as needed, but so far he’s refusing additional pain meds. He says he hurts a bit but not bad enough to take the meds. He doesn’t want to be groggy anymore. WHAT A KID! He is a true superstar.
He’s not enjoying the exercise the nurses are making him do. He is currently required to periodically sit in a chair and take walks around the POU. He is certainly favoring his left side and says that the location of the chest tube is actually more ouchie than the incision on his back. Right this moment he is sitting up in bed, playing with his little Pikmin character, and watching Spongebob on TV. He ate three of six chicken nuggets. And his hair is coming in very dark. Too bad that this next round of chemo is going to knock it out because I’m very interested to see what he would look like with brown hair.
What’s next you might ask? Well, tomorrow morning, the surgeon will come by and take a look at him. Then his oncologist will come and take a look at him. We’ll be discharged from the POU and probably re-admitted to the oncology unit for chemo. If that goes as planned, he’ll have five days of inpatient chemo and then we’ll have a maximum of three days to high-tail it back to Colorado before his blood counts bottom out. Once his counts drop, we’ll most likely end up in the hospital for neutropenia. I’m sincerely hoping that we can make it back to Colorado before this happens. Juggling all this hooey is a menace.
Overall, I’m pleased with how well Ben has rebounded from this surgery. The main issue I’m seeing is that he seems to be struggling with being more emotional than usual. He’s mad (NOT common for him) and wants out of this place BIG TIME. I mean, really. Who wants to be stuck in POU?
We’re just waiting for the next CLICK.