Missing Fiona Apple

I recently tried to do business with a record-of-the-month club called Vinyl Me Please. It was their idea, not mine. They sent me an email telling me about their featured record of the month. It was Tidal by Fiona Apple. She was all over the radio and MTV when I was a teenager. She’s a slender goddess with sullen blue eyes and large, sensuous lips. I loved her. I still do. “Shadow Boxer” is my favorite Fiona Apple song. It’s a slow, dark, dreary piano ballad. I listened to it on an airplane in the summer of 1998 while I was soaring over the Atlantic Ocean in the dead of night on my way to Germany.

Sweet, sweet memories.

I grew up listening to tapes and CDs, not records. My first CD was Higher Ground by UB40. I got it for Christmas when I was 12 years old. I listened to it in my bedroom while eating miniature Reese’s Cups. I still have most of those tapes and CDs from my childhood. They’re precious. They’re like dear old friends.

A few years ago, Jack White released Lazaretto on vinyl. The surface of the record features an angel hologram. The angel twirls in circles as the record turns. It’s beautiful and bizarre. Like so many other people, I fell in love with vinyl after seeing YouTube videos of the angel hologram. Records amaze me. There are no microchips or laser beams involved. Just grooves and a needle. It’s like magic. Not only do records actually work, they sound deeper and sharper than CDs. It’s like watching a movie in IMAX. Since I grew up listening to my favorite music on cassettes and CDs, it’s amazing to buy those same albums on vinyl and listen to them again.

When Vinyl Me Please sent me the email telling me about the Fiona Apple record, I eagerly rushed to their website to sign up.

But I couldn’t sign up. After inviting me to join, Vinyl Me Please rejected my credit card number. Over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with my credit card, mind you. I want to make that clear. I order items all the time from eBay, Amazon, and Third Man Records. They don’t have any problem taking my credit card. But Vinyl Me Please persistently rejected it.

Do you know what it’s like when you’re thirsty and you slide a dollar bill into a vending machine … and the vending machine spits the dollar bill back out at you? No matter how many times you rub the wrinkles out of the dollar bill, the stubborn machine refuses to accept it. It’s a nerve-wracking feeling. Makes your blood pressure surge. Makes you hate the world.

That’s exactly how I felt when Vinyl Me Please rejected my credit card number.

Finally, I sent an email to customer service. I explained the situation.

A couple of days later, they replied. They said my credit card number had gotten caught up in their “fraud system.” But the problem was all sorted out, they said. My payment had finally managed to get through.

Actually, two of my payment attempts had gone through. Unfortunately, both of those payments went through after the monthly deadline.

So now Vinyl Me Please is sending me two records in the mail.

But neither one of them is Fiona Apple.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go to the kitchen now and hurl plates at the wall.

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