Carla I Want My Demo Tape Back.

Tony, 42, IT Systems Guy

So I used to be a High School teacher. It was sort of a fall back position when the liberal arts degree didn’t automatically lead to the Pulitzer prize. Being raised by beatniks and hippies gives you a certain level of optimism about how art will save the world and allow you to live a fulfilling life in which money appears somehow through the power of love and community.

One thing college did do for me was convince me I wasn’t going to end up a rock star or a famous poet and nobody was really running communes in the city anymore. I guess I could submit something about my band breakup, which was definitely harsh, but this story is only coincidentally related to that particular learning scar.

I eventually had to get a job doing something, and I decided to become a teacher, because that and the Great American Novelist was all I was trained to be. Funny thing was, when I got into the classroom, I loved it. I taught high school English and Social Studies in a school that had a mix of students from all economic and ethnic backgrounds. I put my heart and soul into the effort, and became friends with many of the students. They thought I was the cool teacher, and I wanted them all to get A’s. I tried to be the teacher that would reach and inspire every single one of them. The times that I did were better than any drug you could name; the feeling you get knowing that you reached someone and changed their life for the better is the most life-affirming feeling I can imagine. Although I gave up teaching years ago because it came down to getting a better paying job or not make my rent, I still feel the warm echo of the joy I felt when one of my students told me I was the reason they started to believe they could make something of themself and wanted to go to school and learn to be a doctor. It sounds corny, but I know that I have done something positive no matter what else I achieve in life.

During what turned out to be my last year teaching high school, I taught a particularly great group of students. As I usually did, I would divulge personal details about my life when I thought it would make a point or would help in some way. I mentioned that I had been in a band during college. One girl, whose name I think was Carla (give me a break, it has been many years) kept asking about the band and I mentioned I thought I had a copy of a four song demo tape we had recorded laying around somewhere. It was a cassette tape, and since I wasn’t going to be seeing anyone in that band again, it was the only copy I had of anything we had recorded.

So because you probably can figure out what came next, first you must ask why I didn’t dub a copy of it before lending it out to an irresponsible teenage girl? Or why didn’t I just play it for her in class or at lunch and then take it home?

Well, I didn’t. Maybe I thought that my classes were so significant to her that she would somehow treat the tape as a holy relic of her favorite teacher, or I am not sure what else. Either way, she lost it. She did eventually apologize, in what I thought at the time was a fairly half-assed way.

It reminded me of something one of my favorite teachers said to me after I became a teacher, which was that the way teenagers survive is by being the most selfish creatures on the planet. This was a teacher from whom I had learned almost all I knew about literature and critical thinking, and in whose class I had thrown up after getting drunk at lunch one day, and he still gave me an A because it had nothing to do with the quality of my classwork.

Either way, I still want my tape back.

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3 responses to “Carla I Want My Demo Tape Back.

  1. i hear you on the teaching. i hope somewhere out there, someone has found your demo tape and is enjoying your music.

  2. “the way teenagers survive is by being the most selfish creatures on the planet”

    So true for as a teacher–like c(h)ristine–as well as the former teen in me.

  3. @heather – I still miss that guy; profundities like that are just another reason why good teachers are to be treasured. (also give him credit for my correct use of the semicolon.)

    @c(h)ristine – yes, that would actually be pretty cool but you know how sometimes you can’t remember something and it drives you nuts? There is one song on there that I can’t remember how to play. Ah well.

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