Mine is a sordid tale of greed, naiveté, youth and law-breaking. And a band called the Sandpipers. The story begins with a young me leafing through a magazine. Among the ads in the back was one for a record club.
We lost another lawmaker to personal foibles last week. Rep. Mark Souder, an evangelical Christian who touted the virtues of abstinence, resigned after disclosing an extramarital affair with a staffer.
“I am so ashamed to have hurt the ones I love,” the Indiana Republican said as he battled back tears. “I am sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have worked so hard for me.”
I’m not a friend of the former representative’s, I never worked for him and I certainly didn’t love him. Yet, he has proven an inspiration to me. I, too, have a dark secret hidden away. And I, too, feel I should formally set the record straight. Mine is a sordid tale of greed, naiveté, youth and law-breaking. And a band called the Sandpipers.
The story begins with a young me leafing through a magazine. I was only 8, so it was probably either Highlights for Kids or Dissent. Among the ads in the back was one for a record club. (They used to make these things called “records,” which is what people who can remember the Clinton administration once listened to music on.)
“SELECT ANY 12 ALBUMS FOR JUST 1¢,” screamed the headline over two pages containing lists of what appeared to be every album ever recorded. Even a child of 8 could determine this was a pretty good deal.
I tore out the perforated card and wrote down my selections: Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” The Mamas and The Papas’ “Greatest Hits,” The Beatles’ “Revolver” and — lest you get the idea I was too hip an 8-year-old — The Carpenters’ “Close to You” and something called “Come Saturday Morning” by some group called the Sandpipers. I also recall selecting some Bobby Sherman album. Or maybe it was Bobby Goldsboro? I’m sure it doesn’t make any difference now (and doubt that it made much back then).
Anyway, I threw the card and a penny into an envelope, located a stamp and a mailbox in that order, and forgot about it. Six to eight weeks later, a huge carton arrived in the mail.
My parents were skeptical of my claim that I had paid for the contents, until I told them the grand total. Then they were skeptical of the grand total. (I grew up amid a lot of skepticism.)
But as the sounds of Bobby Sherman’s “Julie (Do Ya Love Me)” — or maybe it was Bobby Goldsboro’s “Watching Scotty Grow” — echoed through the house, all was forgiven. Or at least forgotten.
This state of affairs lasted for about a month, until the record club sent a brochure and an order form. There was also a letter to the effect that I was obligated to purchase 12 more albums at something like eight bucks a pop. Even a child of 8 could determine this was a considerable markup.
Similar letters would arrive at similar intervals and their increasingly stern wording led to no small amount of dissension in the home. After all, I was in no better position to come up with $96 then than I am now.
Eventually, the company called to inquire as to when “Mr. Frisch” would begin placing his orders. The real Mr. Frisch, my dad, explained that if they were dumb enough to mail a dozen albums to an 8-year-old without checking his credit references — or at least his allowance — that was their problem. They said something about a lawsuit and my dad said something about how the newspapers would love a story about a huge music company suing an 8-year-old, and there the matter ended.
It probably wouldn’t have hurt to have shipped back the ill-gotten albums, but you can imagine the wear and tear a prepubescent with a Close ’N Play can administer.
So that’s my admission. Like Rep. Souder, I have sinned. But it is good to get it out in the open. I feel unburdened, lighter. And to make it up to the musicians I inadvertently cheated all those years ago, I think I’ll log on right now to iTunes and legally download Bobby Sherman’s “Easy Come, Easy Go.”
Or maybe Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey.”
Contact Messenger managing editor Kevin Frisch at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257, or via e-mail at email@example.com.