Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Big Hair

I truly enjoy re-connecting with music I have let gather dust for a prolonged period. Old favorites ignored for a couple of years tend to sound like new music again.

Music by the B-52s was some of the first music we bought strictly on CD. We own no B-52s on vinyl. Along with Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" CD, we began our traumatic transition from the old turntable mode to the new read music with a light beam CD mode. I was skeptical to say the least. The albums "Wild Planet" and Clapton's "Unplugged" CD convinced me that CDs were a definite improvement over the reliable but delicate record with the music violently pressed into a piece of plastic. CDs were clean, unsullied, pure sound.

I learned to have faith that light could be turned into music. But to this day I still have trouble getting my mind around the idea. As far as I am concerned it is magic. They just won't admit it. They make it seem it was developed through hard work and research when all it is is some VooDoo doctors shaking rattles made of bone and hair over a dead chicken as they conjure up a spell someone found in a dusty moldy old book from the Dark Ages.

No more scratches, clicks or skips. Or so I thought. It was not until much later we came to know the anquish of CD skip. Way worse or at least equal to the auditory torture of a record skipping over and over again. Especially painful when experienced with the volume turned up to wow.

I can remember buying my first B 52s CD because I liked the big hair on the ladies on the cover. Doos that took me back to 1966, 8th grade and a girl named Carol. I had spent 3 weeks or so finding the backbone to ask her to some Junior High dance. I was awkward and clumsy, but had been assured by good friends she would say yes. Now that I think about it, the women begin molding us right out of the gate. As soon as those hormones get fired up, we are lost. I cannot remember where I got the idea to go to a dance. Hmm.

Just like the many Proms over to Oxon Hill High, we would dress to the nines, wear or supply a corsage and the ladies would spray copious amounts of Clairol heavy duty high performance hair spray to keep their Doos riding tall and proud. I remember Carol seemed to have gained a few inches on me when I stepped into their foyer so her Mom could fawn over us and take the obligatory pictures they would have a good laugh over in 15 years or so. All scrawny 5'8" of me standing there adjusting my heavy rimmed glasses next to some blonde amazon who had been 6 inches shorter when I saw her in school earlier that day. Then I noticed the spiked heels and outrageous pile of hair on her head.

I remember sweating profusely. I remember clammy hands. I remember feeling self concious in clothes and shoes I seldom wore. The tie my mother hooked me up with and made sure was just right. I remember the zit I shouldn't have messed with before heading out to impress Carol. The panic I experienced in front of the bathroom mirror when I realized popping it had not been a good idea. After completing my crude manipulations, it had grown to the size of Mt Fuji, all angry and red. It didn't help that it was right in the middle of my forehead either. I remember wanting to be somewhere else.

My mom waited out in the car. I followed her specific instructions. Helped Carol on with her wrap. Opened the car door for her. "And fer chrisakes be a gentleman". That one might be tough, but I was willing to give it a shot. The ride to the John Hansen Jr High gym would have been quiet but for my mom's tendency to keep her lips moving as long as someone was within earshot. Damn, my mom could talk. I am sure Carol responded politely, but all I remember is wishing my mom would suddenly go mute. Be struck by some force that rendered her incapable of speech.

When we entered the gym, I was taken aback. What had been just the place I took PE in had been transformed. Streamers, balloons, and huge paper crepe sheets over the 10 foot windows. And everywhere - Big Hair. Every girl there had either a beehive piled high, or some monstrosity packed to the roof behind rock hard bangs. I was scared of these women. They were no longer the girls I picked on at lunch. They had all been changed into women. Well, in my 8th grade mind they had mutated into something to fear.

So we stood around awhile. Carol hooked up with some girl friends and they giggled over near the stage while me and the guys schooled together near the back door looking fearful and uncomfortable. Like we all wanted to bolt into the night and escape this madness. Finally a very bad band started to rock and Carol grabbed my hand and led me to the dance floor. Siff legged and with a classic white boy grip on the beat, I did my best to not embarrass myself. My only solace being whenever I watched another couple they looked as awkward as I felt.

I noticed none of my tough guy friends were present. The Big Mac pants, BanLon shirt, Chuck Taylor sneaker crowd who used Brylcreem by the bucket to make their Elvis hair stay in place were all hanging out in the parking lot smoking butts, farting, and making fun of us wimps who had been corralled into taking some girl to the dance. Yeah, they were tough. No prissy girly dancin thing for them.

In the beginning I wished I could join them. Afterall I had finally been accepted after a few fights and after I made the basketball team. But something happened. I finally got the rythmn, danced my way to some comfortable place with Carol and I ending the night having truly enjoyed ourselves. We even slow danced a few times. And I didn't panic.

A seminal moment? One of those early coming of age moments? The fact I still remember that night would indicate it was.

1 comment:

KayInMaine said...

I'll never forget the first time I went to the prom. I wore a baby blue full length gown that was off the shoulders and underneath it, I had on a full length slip. Well, my date and I arrived at the prom and as we were walking down the stairs into the room where the prom was being held (it was at The Atrium in Brunswick), my wicked high heels I was wearing got caught in the slip and snapped it down to my feet. How embarrassing! This happened in front of my science teacher who throughout the rest of high school never let me live it down.

Fun times. ;-)