In the summer of ‘85 or ‘86, after I finished the 4th grade, my mom sent me to summer camp for the first time which was a tragic experience for a misfit kid like me. My parents were divorced which was not exactly cool back in ’80s Greece. I went to a public school which was frowned upon in a camp full of kids that went to private schools. I had the wrong clothes, the wrong face, the wrong body. I did not know anything about anything back in those days and there was nothing cool I knew how to do.
The only thing I had to show for were my running skills. I was fast which made me an asset, if not a necessary evil, for my team in any activities that involved running (like baseball or track) but a complete nightmare in games that involved anything else (like basketball, volleyball, handball, swimming). Still, for those few exceptions I would gain points for my team thus becoming temporarily popular among the popular kids. And those were my only highlights during camp.
The camp organisers forbade my mother, she told me years later, to come and pick me up, even though I begged her to on the phone. I had to learn to be social, they said. As if that was a choice. Social I never became, but I did get accustomed, like kids normally do, to being unwanted and looked down upon. I learned to keep a low profile and survived weekly, secure in the knowledge that Sunday would come eventually and my mom would visit me and spend the day with me.
During her visits she always liked to bring me little somethings in the hope that they would make me miss home a little less. And they did help. To me they became home. It was during her first visit that she brought me this mixtape some friend of hers had made for her with hits from the ’50s and ’60s along with a Walkman (my first one - a fancy and expensive present in those days). No words could describe what that tape and cassette player meant to me. I would listen to the tape over and over again and dance in my head travelling to happy worlds completely oblivious to my hostile surroundings.
I discovered this tape again today in an old shoe box. It still plays even though I would have expected it to have given up after the overuse I had made of it. I realise now that those songs apart from having been my haven, were probably my first encounter with the genre known as Rock ‘n’ Roll. I also discovered something funny. It turns out I had taped over the first two songs probably some time back in junior high so I got to hear my voice from the past a) reciting the periodic table of the elements (who knows why) and b) singing “Hey Jude” (probably while listening to the song through headphones)…funny and eerie at the same time!
If you are on Spotify, you can listen to My Mom’s R’n’R Mixtape
How to be alone
Killing yourself in Hollywood
Don't forget to smile!
"I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."
I hear music...