Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Time My Dad Started Recording Over Videotapes of Me

My family's video camera from the '70s broke before I was born.  We never got another one, despite Dante's and my pleas for one throughout the '80s and '90s, so the only videos that existed of me before adulthood were from public performances where copies were sold en masse.

I was in annual church musicals and some school plays.  I started taking private voice lessons in sixth grade.  I remember when my parents made that decision.  I had just sung my first solo in a church musical at age eleven (the musical was "My Way or Yahweh" and I played a slave or possibly a very unimportant priest of the god Ba'al), and my parents apparently felt I had done a surprisingly adequate job.  I remember sitting in the back seat of my dad's van while they sat in the front discussing whether I should take private singing lessons in an effort to pursue this talent.  They decided I should.  I remember feeling excited.

The first time those lessons really paid off was an eighth grade talent show.  I had two years of lessons under my belt and had finally worked out the kinks of my voice that made me sing too sharp or sound worse than someone without training at all.  I sang "On My Own" from Les Miserables, and it was the first recording of a performance I recall listening to afterward and thinking I actually sounded good.

I was in high school when my dad came to my room with the VHS from my eighth grade talent show and asked if I minded if he taped over it.  I don't recall what he wanted it for -- a bad '80s movie or a rerun of MacGyver based on what I know of his taste.  We had a hoard of recordable VHS cassettes -- multiple cabinets of them -- and even now my dad has multiple hard drives filled with terabytes of old movies and entire series he has recorded from TV and never gotten around to watching.  I guess I either asked why that particular tape or paused too long because my dad prompted, "I mean, it's not like you're going to watch it again, are you?" 

I said, "I guess not," and he was one VHS cassette of old reruns richer.  I don't know if my dad taped over all the old videos of my performances, but I recall seeing others that had been relabeled in his handwriting before I moved out for college.  I've considered asking my high school classmates on Facebook if they have any old videos of performances I was in, but for now it seems awfully self-indulgent and pointless to collect old videos of myself mostly singing when I'm not sure I'll ever want to watch them.  Much like old family photos, they were simply something I wanted to be able to look back on and show to my daughter when she is older.  For now though there are simply no videos of me before adulthood.

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