Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Beaches Tale

The following is a true story. I wish it wasn't, but it is.

My first marriage lasted just three years, from 1987 to 1990. During that time, my ex-wife bought exactly one LP to add to "our" collection--the soundtrack for the film Beaches, the one with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, the one with the monster hit "The Wind Beneath My Wings." I never listened to this album. I think I instructed my first wife to only play the record when I was not around and I'm pretty sure she complied. (We had a reciprocal deal with my Led Zeppelin LPs.) When we parted ways, I packed up my record collection and left Virginia so that I could return to Southern California. When I set up my system and filed all my records, I found that I still had the copy of Beaches. Ugh. I offered to send it back to Virginia, but I never heard back.

For years this LP sat in my collection, unplayed. Whenever someone would browse through the collection, they would invariably spot this particular LP, pull it out, and ask me why in the world I had it. I can't remember if I had a stock answer or not, but eventually I'd just say something like "Long story." I often joked about throwing it in the trash, or playing frisbee with it in a supermarket parking lot, but deep down it's against my nature to destroy an LP, any LP. So it remained.

By 1998 I had remarried, and my second wife and I wound up moving next door to her mother in beautiful Tujunga, California. During that time I once again found this record in my collection and I had to explain the story. My second wife's mother, as it turned out, was a huge fan of Bette Midler and loved the film as well. She also had a turntable. So I gave it to her and told her to enjoy it and never play it when I was around. Once again, there was compliance. Unfortunately she passed away in 2003, and all of her records wind up coming back to me, the only person around who still listened to vinyl. Once again, Beaches was in my record collection.

When my second wife and I split in 2005, we also split the record collection. Wife #2 already had a decent record collection when we met, and in our twelve years of marriage she bought quite a bit of music for herself. I had to give up plenty of favorites--all the Elliot Smith and Liz Phair went to her, much to my regret. But yes, for some reason Beaches remained with me. I just couldn't get rid of it.

Many years later, when Colleen and I moved from Colorado to New York (this would be 2015), we had a huge garage sale to condense our belongings for the move. I sold off many of my "worthless" LPs, and finally I had a pile that I simply marked "FREE." Someone grabbed that pile, and Beaches was in it. "At last," I thought," that album is gone." For good.

Flash forward to this past weekend, when Colleen and I visited her aunt in Massachusetts. "I have a bunch of old records in the basement," she told us. "Do you think anyone would want them? Otherwise I'm just going to give them away or throw them out." Of course I decided to take them. When we brought up two cardboard boxes full of records, about 100 in all, I searched through them. Usually I expect the bottom-of-the-barrel LPs when I find a stash like this, full of the usual Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Herb Alpert records, the ones you always find at the tiniest and saddest thrift stores. To my surprise, these albums were mostly good, everything from The Beatles to Bob Dylan to Neil Young and more. We grabbed the boxes, put them in our trunk and headed home.

I'm going through them now, and what do I find? You guessed it, Beaches. FFS.

I went back to my record collection and looked through the Bs, because the only way this story would get stranger is if I still had that first copy. That would have made a much better ending, I know. But it's obvious that I was meant to own this album for the rest of my life. So I'll keep it because, frankly, it amuses the hell out of me. Maybe I'll play it. Maybe I'll like it.

Besides, if I got rid of this one, another would come along. Right?

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