I’ll admit, it has been quite some time since I’ve penned a letter to an inanimate object, but today I woke up with my old pal nostalgia just pecking at my brain. I’ve written plenty of angry, excited, and concerned letters to non-human entities—whiskey, the act of passive-aggressive texting, my own hairline—but this time, I felt inspired to write a letter of pure emotion.
This is a letter to you, Cassette Tape Adapters.
I remember when I first found you in the back of a Strawberrys for $13.99. I was barely 16, fresh-faced and curious. Ready to traverse the land in the cushy beige Kia I inherited from my mom—and I was excited to do so with music blasting out the windows. My maiden journey was to the McDonald’s 10 minutes away, where I would purchase 50 brown nuggets made of condensed chicken as*holes and eat them with the type of enthusiasm that teens have for lethal things. Little did I know, but a tape adapter was a small price to pay for a lifetime of good times, loud tunes, and refurbished chicken parts.
I recall the song I chose for my venture into the world: “Police Truck” by Dead Kennedys—a catchy tune about police brutality. Weird, yes, but I’m not here to question the actions of my 16-year-old self. I walked into my car with confidence, knowing I was about to hit the road in a fury of loud punk music. I knew this to be fact, because my cassette tape adapter ensured I could listen to every note of the Dead Kennedys’s deafening sound with crystal-clear clarity.
Unlike the notoriously faulty devices that would beam the contents of one’s music player to the car stereo via radio waves, there was never an issue with the solid line from the audio jack to the tape player. Never a dropped note, no interference from other radio stations, and absolutely zero issues while driving through tunnels. And I drove through a lot of tunnels as a kid—mostly because I had to get places and tunnels remind me of sex, which was and still is funny.
Cassette Tape Adapter, you utilized the car’s most luxurious and elusive hole with grace and dignity, never once straying from your original mission statement of: “I can make anything play.” Play you did. You were with me when I owned my dinky red CD player, my now-defunct NOMAD, my first-generation iPod, my second-generation iPod, my iPod video, that Zune, my iPhone, my larger iPhone, and my even slightly larger iPhone.
From start to finish, all it has ever taken was an audio jack to transmit sound from Point A, to Point B, to Point C(ar).
There has always been a beauty in the simplicity of your design; as technology has improved, you’ve stayed the same. You’re reliable, like a Chinese restaurant on Thanksgiving, or a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, or a Chinese restaurant on Easter.
To stick to your guns through a rapidly-changing technological hurricane is a feat worth rewarding. Hell, I remember looking into my rearview mirror that day of the chicken nuggets...my long dyed-blue hair flapping around in the wind, knowing that I was bound to change. I knew my hair would fade and shorten, thin out, and eventually lead to some serious issues with my appearance—but I also knew some things were always going to stay the same. Like you.
Since my successful journey to McDonald’s, I’ve retained my love for good music, inexpensive fast-food treats, the open road, and an easy way to play my favorite bands in the car with the least amount of effort possible. A car trip isn't sh*t without a soundtrack to frame your enthusiasm. I've listened to nearly every genre of music with your help: punk, ska, rap, pop, and that one winter where I listened to the Garden State soundtrack so many times I actually turned into Zach Braff for a few days.
I've learned to appreciate traffic jams, because I see them as opportunities to revisit old albums that I've swept under the rug—or, when those albums are too far swept, every Weezer CD ever made. Thank you, cassette tape adapters, for giving me some stability in this mixed-up crazy world and making driving bearable. You make me feel less crazy than I should for writing nearly 800 words about a cheap piece of plastic and wire. I would ask you out on a date if you were a woman and constantly look for excuses to bring you up in casual conversation if you were a man. Such is life.