I remember the day I bought Nirvana’s ultra-classic, hello '90s album, Nevermind. I was at the mall with my friend Valerie (who is now called Val), and we were at the record store. Does any mall anywhere still have one of these fabled things? It was the upstairs record store, not the downstairs one. I lived the go to the mall and visit these two stores, especially if I had enough allowance saved up.
I was still buying tapes at this point. But I was beginning to notice those bigger-boxed things that had something new in them...called CDs maybe? I wasn't sure.
I don’t remember what Val bought that day. I want to say we were playing this game where we picked up something we’d never heard of and bought it, though I think I must have at least heard of Nirvana at this point. So it wasn’t brand new to me.
Val’s sister picked us up from the mall that day. It was raining. Her sister smoked cigarettes, and I remember asking at some point, “How does she get away with it?” And Val, or her sister, told me that the excuse is always that “My friends were smoking,” and that it works every time. I filed that one away and used it at a later date.
I think we were listening to a classic rock radio station, and I think the song about “I heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another…” was playing, but I’m not positive. If not that song, some other classic rock song. To this day, when I hear “I heard it from a friend who…” I think of Valerie.
This was a Saturday (either that or it was summer), because that night I was headed to a sleepover at my friend Carrie’s house. What a fun day! Except for the rain. Rain deeply affected my angst-ridden teenage soul.
So, we headed home. I had an alarm radio with a tape deck on my night stand, and so when I got home, as I did, I went to my room. I unwrapped my new tape and took the tape out and smelled the packaging. I hated the smell then. I would grow to love it. But then, the smell made me feel a little depressed. Don’t ask me to explain that.
At this point, I had noticed a funny smell somewhere in my room but hadn’t thought much of it. I was mostly concerned about listening to this tape, and that if my parents heard what I was about to listen to they might not like it (a preoccupation of mine: my parents - and keeping them OUT of my business), so I put the tape in and turned down the volume and listened to…Nirvana. Oh, how it rocked. Oh, how I was nervous my parents might here. Oh, how I didn’t hear my dad approaching.
He knocked on the door.
I turned off the tape.
He opened the door and gave me a strange look. “What are you doing?”
Me, probably white faced: “Nothing.”
He stared at me. “Meghan…?”
What? Oh shit. “I was just listening to this new tape I got…”
“Meghan…what’s that smell? What are you doing in here?”
At that point I was totally thrown off. My heart was pounding harder than it had been when he entered the room. What? The smell? What?
He walked toward me. “Are you smoking something?”
I’m totally flabbergasted. Actually, I don’t even fully know what he means. Smoking something?
Needless to say, that was an awkward moment, and one I will not soon forget. My dad thought I was smoking marijuana. I thought he was about to ground me for listening to Nirvana. And all the while, the lamp on my nightstand was shorting. There was a small electrical fire going on in my room.
And you know what? It smelled a little bit like the inside of a new tape.