Growing up, my parents kept the radio dial permanently tuned to the oldies station. Even when I eventually realized that the Temptations and Marvin Gaye were not contemporary artists, I willingly conceded all radio rights. The reason was two-fold. First of all, I actually liked oldies music. More importantly though, I didn’t want to explain to Mom and Dad the meaning of “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” partly because I myself wasn’t exactly clear about the definition.
My world crashed when a classmate told me, “Oldies are lame. I listen to ‘newies.’” His harsh but clever words pulled at my insecurities, attacking my fragile adolescent psyche. I decided to seek out the latest hits in order to survive the 5th grade. Without the radio, I was forced to rely on other sources: Fox Family’s Sunday morning video countdowns and of course, “Now That’s What I Call Music” (NOW) CDs.
In case you’re unfamiliar, NOW CDs are compilations of the latest chart-toppers. Not only did these babies provided me with endless hours of listening entertainment, but with the help of my portable CD player, they also allowed me to pose as a sulky, angsty preteen.
Years later, I rediscovered my NOW CDs (Volume 4-10) on a weekend trip home from college. After listening to Aaron Carter on repeat, I decided to bring my collection back to school with me. (I planned to use the music to accompany a party, an “Aaron’s Party,” if you will.) I forgot to unpack my CD case from my backpack, and when I found it during my morning lecture, I excitedly showed the CDs off to a classmate. I mean, who wouldn’t brag about a NOW collection? When I returned home, my CDs were nowhere to be seen. Devastated, I tried to find them. I frantically tore through my backpack. I retraced my steps back to the lecture hall. I even mass e-mailed my class. All was in vain.
That was then, this is NOW (HA!). To this day, I’m convinced that one of my classmates kept the collection, either out of sheer musical appreciation or to play mind games with me. I find the latter theory more compelling. The class was notoriously competitive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of my classmates engaged in emotional terrorism. However, years have passed and I was on the road to recovery. This was until a few months ago when my insensitive friend and classmate, Angela had the gall to remind me of my loss by forwarding me this e-mail: