*The prompt, “I’m glad it’s over,” was suggested by Dan Landes.
“You have a lot of records,” she told me. I nodded. After she absorbed the magnitude of my collection, she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just use Spotify like everyone else?”
“I don’t know how it works,” I said.
“It’s real simple. I can show you.”
I shook my head. I had agreed to watch my friend’s kid, Claire, while her dad and some of his former college buddies went to Black Hawk for the night. I wasn’t doing anything, and I owed Joey a favor for watching my dogs a few months back.
But I knew nothing of entertaining a 13 year old. Apparently kids aren’t much impressed with listening to analog recordings of music. It was my last ditch attempt to keep her from sending uninterrupted text messages for the next ten hours.
“Let’s play one,” I said, attempting to change the subject. “Who’s your favorite band?”
“Really? I don’t have any Katy Perry.”
“I’m not surprised. You would if you had Spotify.”
“Hmm,” I said.
“What did you listen to when you were my age?”
“That’s a good question,” I said as I thought about it. “Nirvana’s second album came out the year I turned 13.” I reached for the record and showed her the cover.
She rolled her eyes. “They play those guys on the classic rock station my dad listens to,” she said.
I wanted to tell her to fuck off, but I bit my tongue. Since I was also a disagreeable, temperamental little shit when I was her age, I took a deep breath in order to summon some patience.
“I remember listening to this album over and over when I was in eighth grade,” I said. “God I hated that period in my life.” I shook my head at the memory. “I’m glad it’s over.”
“Who are all these bands?” she asked, interrupting my thoughts. “Who’s Youth Brigade? Are they as old as Nirvana?”
“They’re older actually.”
“Oh. My. God.”
“When I was fifteen, I always put the song ‘Punk Rock Mom’ as the first track on the mix tapes I used to make.”
“Mix tapes? What’s that?”
“Cassette tapes,” I said. I pulled one off of the bottom shelf where I keep the tapes I didn’t get rid of.
She stared at it in derision. “My uncle has some of those in his truck. They don’t even make them anymore.”
“Hmm,” I said again. I was about to tell her how one day Spotify would fall out of favor. And then when she was my age, she would agree to babysit some wretched little snot like herself who would scoff at the mention of streaming music. Then she would feel as old as I felt.
But I didn’t say anything. When she does finally make it to her thirties, I’ll be in my fifties and would still seem ancient to her.
After several long, awkward moments, I finally said, “Don’t you have some texts to send?”
Claire rolled her eyes and sat back down on the couch. I put Youth Brigade on the turntable and she put in her earbuds and her face was illuminated by the screen of her phone for the rest of the night.
“So this is how intergenerational meetings occur these days,” I said as I flipped the record. No one heard me.