You Taped Over What?!

Words that made you shiver
March 23, 2011
You Tapes Over What?
Words that made you shiver

A work of BITS.

There were a few phrases that scared a kid straight in the 80's and 90's. "Buckle up, it's the law" (very scary voice right before Ghostbusters on Saturday mornings), "Where's your homework?", and "You taped over what?!" The summary of the article says it all. Those words still send shivers down my spine. I wish I could tell you that I made this mistake once, and quite honestly, looking back on the wrath of my parents, it astonishes me that I made this mistake so many times.

This article is something that any 80's or 90's kid can relate to, because we ALL did it. The following is a series of short stories consisting of crime, punishment, lies, and deceit. Kids nowadays don't need to deal with this stress. The worst they have it might be, "You erased what off the DVR?!", but that doesn't at all sound intimidating.

Now by this point in time, you have all come to know me fairly well. I had a little mischief in the day, but nothing too serious. Like any other kid, I found trouble from time to time, but it wasn't ever THAT bad. You also know me as a pop culture and media geek. Now you might think that I've only been so savvy in that realm as an adult, but the truth is, I've always been like that. I've wanted every movie, every TV show, every everything.

I was one of those kids who would see something on TV and if I liked it and didn't have it on tape, I would grab a tape and hit record. Oddly enough, I never recorded over any of my own materials. With all do respect, I always pulled that tab on the tape to make sure it never got erased. Unfortunately, no one else in my family thought to do this.

The first time I did this was in 1990. My brother and I were watching Sesame Street when they starter performing a song that I liked. I had to have it. So being 4 years old and not knowing any better, I press record on the VCR. A few minutes later, my mom comes upstairs with the laundry and asks what we were doing. "I'm recordin' Elmo, Ma!" A frantic mother rushes to the VCR to hit stop. As it turns out, my mom and dad had decided the night before, to relive a fond memory from 1989 called Christmas Day.

I got a Ghostbuster Firehouse, a Proton Pack, an Ecto 1, and a Nintendo. It's a good thing that I still have those toys, because I have no other record of it, not in it's entirety at least. My mother was angry, my father was heartbroken, and my brother was crying because people were yelling. Me? Well, I didn't say much aside from sorry, but that didn't stop me from being punished. I went for an eternity without being allowed to touch a tape, although let's be real, it couldn't have been more than a week or two. Still, you would think that by this point, I would have learned my lesson right?

Ha! Wrong. Another holiday casualty: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, taped off of CBS. Even worse... it's still 1990. For a kid who was smart by the books, I wasn't so bright when it came to common sense. Good ol' Rudy...well I decided I'd rather watch Underdog. Remember when Nick started rerunning the show? So do I, since I have a record of it! Again, stupid me throws a tape in without looking at it, and I hit record.

The show ends, and I'm all proud to have another addition to my collection. I rewind it and eject it. When I grab the tape, I look at the label. Now keep in mind as a 4 year old, I didn't know how to read, but I knew association. I knew it was Rudolph because I recognized the design of the sticker on the tape. Holy crap, I've done it again. Now there's no way I can fess up to this one. My parents will kill me!

I start thinking of how I can destroy the evidence. I thought about dropping it down the stairs and saying, "I tripped". I thought about leaving it in the car and letting it warp. I thought about tossing it down the storm drain in front of the house (literally). I even thought of telling my parents that a robber came, but all he took was Rudolph (again, seriously). Tripping was out because the VCR was in the living room, as were the tapes, so where was I going with it? The storm drain was out because I couldn't cross the street by myself. Warping it was a bad idea, because why would the tape be in the car? And in the summer no less. The staged robbery was out because, let's be real, that's just too insane.

Instead, I come up with the simplest of the simple minded ideas: Every time my parents ask me if I want to watch it, I say no. Every time, I had another excuse why. Somehow, it actually worked. I avoided watching this tape for years. 6 years later, my dad tells me he wants to record a Honeymooners Holiday special from the 50's. I grab the Rudolph tape and say, "Here Dad, we don't watch this one anymore." 21 years later, no one is wiser to what I did. My dad got his show and I replaced Rudolph on DVD (it still bothered me til this year).

Was it dishonest? I guess, but a kid's gotta do what a kid's gotta do. Now there are two more stories that also haunt me to this day. Keep in mind, as a dumb little kid, I erased a lot of tapes for nonsense, but for the most part, they weren't irreplaceable. The Christmas tape was irreplaceable, and so were the following two. The first being my dad's Superman tape. Now I'm not talking about the horrendous Superman films with Christopher Reeves. I'm talking about the original George Reeves Superman TV Show from the 50's.

My old man loved the Man of Steel. One night, I think it was either Nick At Nite or Turner Classic Movies, decided to do a one night marathon of the television series. My dad taped for hours and hours. I don't think this tape lasted a week before I came along and wrecked it. It was the first time I ever saw my dad upset. I was 5 years old. Now I had seen him, furious, mad, and angry, but never upset. I remember the guilt I had. The endless pit feeling in my chest.

I knew how badly I had messed up. The worst part is, I can't tell you what I recorded; it meant that little to me. Superman didn't return to TV, and my dad didn't have his tape. About four years ago, they released Superman on DVD. I made sure I got them for my dad. Nearly 15 years (at that point in time) later, and I still felt horrible...You want to know the biggest kick in the ass? He never watches them...

The final one I'm embarrassed to saw happened when I was about 17 years old. Yeah, I screwed this one up all the way to full time DVD. It was my 10th birthday party. I had it at an indoor baseball facility made to look like a stadium. It was a great place for a sports freak like me. I hit the walk off single to win the game, and I was carried off the field. I blew out my candles and opened my presents. It was a good day. Pop that tape in now. You know what you get? Behind The Music: Weird Al... I'm not kidding.

Now I don't at all feel bad about this one. I set the VCR to tape while I was at work. I had a blank tape in the VCR. My dad, as his does, decides to relive a happy memory, rewinds the damn tape, and leaves it in the player. He couldn't have just let it stop at the end right? Then we both would have been happy. Well, he isn't sad about it because he never knew it happened. Oh well, the deceit continues into my 20's.

Thanks for checking out my latest work. It's a different kind of piece for me. It isn't as retro as I usually get, which isn't always a bad thing. I figured that this was something we all could relate to. And yes, it is retro technology. This being retro junk, a place for reminiscing and trading stories, I thought it still fit the mold of the site.

My next piece, completely retro: Free With Proof of Purchase...coming soon to a Retro Junk near you.

Later Retro Junkies.
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