Dominique Maclean knew her high school sweetheart, Jacob Alda had an ‘old soul’ the moment she met him. The armful of textbooks she was carrying that day was making it difficult for her to pull open the door leading up to her third floor class. Jacob not only jumped in to open the door, he offered to carry her books.
“It does my heart good to know that chivalry isn’t dead,” Dominique’s grandmother said when she heard the story. “You hold on to that young man.”
Jacob’s friends weren’t too keen about that idea, though.
“Don’t you know?” they all said to him. “She’s cheated on each and every one of her boyfriends. She’s just going to do the same to you.”
But Jacob believed all Dominique needed was the love of a good man, or in his case, the love of a loyal and old fashioned fifteen year old. There were dates to the ice cream parlour, a single red rose placed inside her locker each month on their anniversary, and quiet strolls along the beach.
So it came as no surprise to her when she opened her locker one Friday afternoon to find another present from Jacob waiting for her. On the top shelf, nestled between her gym clothes and her emergency stash of lip gloss, sat what Dominique recognized from visits to her grandmother’s place as a cassette tape. Jacob’s Mix Tape for Dom, the label read.
“What’s a mix tape?” one of Dominique’s girlfriends asked when she showed it to her.
“It’s something old people used to make, like, a century ago or something for their girlfriends and boyfriends,” Dominique explained. “All of their favourite songs would be on it, or songs that reminded them of the other person anyway.”
“How do you play it?” her friend then asked.
“I think my Grandma’s cassette deck still works. I’ll go over to her place after school.”
An hour later, Dominique was at her grandmother’s house, asking if she could use her old tape deck.
“Of course! You can use my old headphones, too. Something like this should be private,” Grandma said.
Dominique marveled at the size of the ancient headphones. It reminded her of the ones people who stand on tarmacs directing planes with miniature light sabers wore. She was also surprised by how much difficulty she had trying to figure out how to make her grandmother’s tape deck work.
“I will never make fun of her inability to understand Snapchat again,” Dominique said as she hit play.
The first song was something her Grandma definitely would have loved, Carole King’s It’s Too Late. The next song was also from the old gal’s era, Blondie’s Heart of Glass. Then came Fleetwood Mac’s You Can Go Your Own Way, followed by Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.
“Who is this tape for? Me or my Grandma?” Dominique wondered, unsure of where Jacob was going with the song selection.
Paul Simon was immediately followed by Roxette and their 90s hit, It Must Have Been Love.
“Great, Mom music,” Dominique said. “When am I going to hear a song I like?”
A few minutes later she had her wish when Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone came on.
“Finally!!!” she said, although her joy was short lived because it was followed by Wilco’s I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
“Shouldn’t I be the sensitive one in the relationship?” she asked.
Two seconds later, Alanis Morissette screamed You Oughta Know into her ears. Then Cee Lo Green sang a very clear Fuck You to her.
“Gee Jacob, what’s with all the shitty relationship songs? I thought mix tapes were supposed to be romantic. I don’t get what you’re trying to say here.”
The next song, which happened to be the final one as well, spelled it out to her best of all. Taylor Swift, the queen of all bad relationships, told Dominique in no uncertain terms that We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
“What the hell? Did he just break up with me? Through a mix tape?”
Jacob had most definitely broken up with her through a mix tape. His friends were right, she was nothing but a cheat.
Dominique was so mad, she kicked in her grandmother’s tape deck. Grandma was so mad about her ruined tape deck, she kicked Dominique out of her house. Meanwhile, across town, Jacob was listening to his grandfather’s collection of old Johnny Cash LP’s. Grandpa knew a thing or two about heartache. So did the man in black.
Jacob never spoke to Dominique again. That mix tape said everything for him.