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01/15/2006 - 7:36 p.m.

ONLY LISTENING

In preparation for my trip to Minnesota, I borrowed some books on audiotape from the library. It seemed like a good plan at the time. It seemed like a good plan when I was driving more than five hours up there and five hours back. When did it stop seeming like a good plan? Oh, right about the time I realized that I had two tapes left to go on one of the books and had no working tape deck in the house. One of the mysteries of life is why every tape deck of any kind ever brought into this house gives up in the same way.

It clearly is not a matter of brand. We have tried buying different brands of tape players. It is not a matter of money either. The most expensive one, the one that goes with the stereo, has the same problem as the cheap-o brand of personal tape player purchased at Walgreens. It is not a matter of treatment. The stereo components have always been babied. I can't speak for the cheap-o personal tape player but neither did much better than the other. Nor did either do better than either side of the dual boombox-type tape deck that FogieKnight purchased for our bedroom.

So, do these things talk to each other? When one enters the house do the already-broken call out, "You might as well give up now?" Is it some form of strike in which the already-broken call out "don't work for them until they promise….?" And well, what should we promise? I might be willing to meet their demands if I just knew what they were. A spot near that new, large, red toaster oven that Day won? Being used only every other week? Being spoken to very, very nicely as in "please Mr. Tape Player would you mind playing this tape instead of eating it if it were not too much trouble?"

But there I was, needing to know the end of the story and no working tape player in the house. I considered buying another one but, in light of the history, that seemed unlikely to help. And so, I bundled up (and luckily did not need to bundle too much) went out to my driveway, turned on the car, and listened until I became cold and had to come in.

I did not finish the tape. I have a tape and a half or so to go. So, if you cannot reach me by phone, try the cell. I can answer. After all, I'm not driving. I'm only listening.

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