I put the cassette tape into the tape deck and pushed play.
Slowly I turned up the knobs, first the bass, then the treble. I pushed in the loudness button on the new Kenmore stereo my dad had recently purchased. I was only 10, but I wanted to rock! With eager anticipation of bass drums pounding my body, and loud guitars engulfing me in a wall of sound, I slowly turned the volume up.
The knob was at 8 o’clock when my fingers reached it. Slowly but surely we passed 9, then 10, 11, 12. At 1, the stereo ceased to get louder, it just became “crunchy” and by 3 o’clock the music was extremely garbled. I decided after a brief analysis that I didn’t like that very much and dialed it back to 12 o’clock. It sounded weak. What a letdown!
I just wanted to hear the music. Full contact listening. I leaned in towards the left speaker. It became louder the closer I got. Aha! I grabbed both of the battleship gray bookshelf speakers and clutched them close, positioning my ears just right. Wow, was I in heaven! I could feel the bass throbbing my head and arms as I held the speakers, and the wide, wide sound of the instruments enthralled my ears.
Suddenly, and without apparent warning, a shocking sting on my calves shot through my bliss, causing me to turn in terror. I hit my face on the right speaker, and turning around from my prostrate position on the floor, I dropped both speakers, resulting in a rather anti-climatic ending to my listening session.
I knew I wasn’t supposed to be listening to rock music, and I mistakenly thought I was alone with my sins. I was not.
My dad was laughing though, and professed his apology. He hadn’t meant to scare me, but had called out my name several times before entering the room and becoming concerned that I was damaging my ears, let alone the detrimental influence of banging drums and screaming guitars.
It was too late. My ears are fine to this day, but every single resonating, pounding, screaming note has made it’s indelible mark on my soul.