Friday, February 29, 2008

What Year Is This Again?

Yesterday afternoon I walked past the open back door of the bakery downstairs. They often leave the back door open all day, filling the alley with the aroma of freshly baked rolls and croissants. (Why yes, this is in fact hell on my diet. How did you know?) Yesterday though, it wasn't the smell of fresh baked goods that I noticed. I'm not even sure they were baking any. What I noticed was the music. It wasn't their usual top 40 pop. Instead it was George Michael's Careless Whisper that sauntered out to greet me.

It's funny how time can play games with your memories. I didn't even like that song when it came out. I was busy being a deadhead stoner (that's almost redundant, isn't it?) and would never have admitted liking a pop tune like Careless Whisper, even to myself. I was much too cool for that. In an ironic cosmic joke, however, I was forced to listen to it for hours on end until it infiltrated the very fiber of my being. That year, 1984, I was working at a clothing store in the mall, and corporate policy dictated that we had to listen a prerecorded selection of top 40 music. I'm sure it was developed after in-depth sessions with a focus group and with the declared goal of staying current and appealing to the appropriate demographic, but that didn't mean it appealed to me. Not by a long shot.

Working shifts in a mall there were moments of down time, time for gossiping with the other staff. During one of these moments I discovered that my new coworker was dating the teammate of my own on again off again "friend with benefits", for lack of a better term. We'd been seeing each other on and off for years, whenever I was between boyfriends, but that spring was the only time we'd actually tried, albeit halfheartedly, to make a go of it. Before, I'd just called him when I was between relationships and needed a date; he'd never volunteered a lot of information on his own status. I should have asked. I found out more that evening then I'd ever wanted to know. Our fledgling couple status died before it started, and the friendship never really recovered.

Today, 24 years later, hearing that song is like stepping into a time machine. I can still see the pale beige carpeting, the racks of polyester prom dresses and the crew neck sweaters (what on earth I was doing working in a store like that I'll never know. It didn't last long), and I can still hear George Michael coming through the tinny speakers in the ceiling. One line of one song and suddenly I'm back in 1984. I'm even singing along, for I still know all the words by heart. Thankfully the song ends eventually and the world spins back into its correct axis. It's 2008 again and I'm able to leave high school angst and poor decisions far behind and smile at how far I've come.

Still, every once in a while, I hear the strains of that old melody and wonder what happened to him. I wish him well, and hope that his life is a good one.




I was already writing this post for Sunday Scribblings time travel prompt in my head when I read about the new Flashback Friday, so here you go, two prompts in one. Twice the bang for your reading buck, or if you're a pessimist, half as much content. Either way, whatever works for you.

26 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I always thought that song was sensual, with the sax and all. Hearing it transports me back, too.

I posted two at SS -- my Writer's Island piece and the original Springer story. If that doesn't take you back to high school dreams, nothing does.

Wait until you see what I'm working on now for Monday, though!

Pieces of Me said...

I guess we're all coming full circle then. I thought I was the 13 thirteen year old again walking around with puffed sleeves I bought from a bargain rack sale in Gimbles while hearing that song. 1984. Geez.

Lis Garrett said...

It's amazing how songs, like certain smells, affect our memories. I was 7 in 1984, so my recollections of the song are from flashbacks on the radio. I never remember hearing it when it was popular. My sister was into Madonna at that point, and Borderline or Material Girl always remind me of jumping on her bed and singing into a hair brush and of wearing Loves Baby Soft perfume or Jean Nate. LOL!! OMG! The 80's rocked! (not)

susiej said...

It's almost as if our memories get wrapped up in the music -- and it is now permanently part of the music. Great recollection.

Mrs. W said...

Aah, I know what you mean. There is one particular song that reminds me of one particular man... waking up mornings together to the radio playing that song, every day... it even brings the smell of the room back to my nostrils. Is that odd? And as horrible as that relationship turns out to be, it's always a sweet memory when that happens.

johemmant said...

I saw Wham live that year. He and Andrew Ridgely put shuttlecocks into their pants rubbed them around then hit them into the audience with badminton rackets......girls were fainting (not me, I might add) and someone shouted very loudly just as GM was starting up Careless Whisper on his acoustic guitar 'i got a pube'. I went with a friend in a tongue in cheek way and they were such bloody good fun, such a riot to dance to......see thanks to your post I've just had my own little nostalgic thang :)

UL said...

oh you bring back so many memories, Robin...yes, music always takes me places...careless whisper is my all time fav...

Crafty Green Poet said...

music can really take you back, definitely true

redness said...

Thank you for the Wham down memory lane - wake me up before you go go ;)Excellent post.

keith hillman said...

A great post and some hillarious comments! Nice one.

gautami tripathy said...

How I love that song. Come to think of it, it is only Wha! song I truly llike! Thanks!

timely intervention

myrtle beached whale said...

I love the way a song can bring back memories of a time in my life. Aromas do that to. My very first real girlfriend wore Esti Lauder Youth Dew. To this day if I pass someone wearing it..........

Tempest Knight said...

It's amazing how a song can trigger so many memories and evoke something within, eh?

grace said...

Robin, I was just listening to that song in the car this morning. Saturdays is mellow 80's program and yes, it took me back in time too.

Robin said...

Sure, make me feel old Lis, you young whippersnapper you ;-).

Jo that is truly revolting. Ick.

MBW - my high school sweetheart's father was the regional manager for Paco Rabanne cologne. To this day every time I smell it I think of him (the boyfriend, not the father LOL).

anthonynorth said...

Several times a day I'll relax listening to one CD or another from my hundreds, and they're always oldies.
They range from the mid-sixties to mid-eighties, and every track is a little time machine.
Nostalgia is not only relaxing. It's therapeutic.

Phyllis Sommer said...

we are actually sorting through all of our cd's tonight (trying to create a system, oy...i gave up and went back to blog-reading, but hubby is working at it) and just looking at the discs from college brought back so many memories. great post, as usual, robin!

Amarettogirl said...

Another great post on music and its power to transport us! I really liked your writing - its clarity and descriptions were right on!

Mom101 said...

Isn't it amazing how music can bring back every memory, every sense so clearly? Nicely done.

Irene said...

1984....great year....I was a junior in high school. Actually, it wasn't that great of a year (I hated HS).

But I do remember this dorky guy who decided it would be "cool" to play George Michael in the school talent show. He sang Careless Whisper. He thought he was IT. Short shorts and all. SO funny. The 80's were great.

paisley said...

how is it that songs like that invaded our subconscious when they knew damn well we were way to cool to ever listen to them... and i freaking know the words too!!!!! that is too much isn't it????? great post robin.

SandyCarlson said...

That is a traveling tune. All that stuff from the 80s takes me back to high school and the good friends, the turkeys, and the very bad cafeteria food. I had more fun than I ever appreciated at the time.

Domestic Spaz said...

I absolutely love that song, actually.

It was my sister's wedding song. They're divorced now.

Robin said...

A song about cheating was your sister's wedding song? Methinks that might be stacking the deck against yourself right from the start...

Preethi said...

I was just listening to Careless Whisper yday... lovely tale about full circle!! :)


My time capsule

Shannon said...

LOVE IT! There are so many songs that have the effect on me. I love hearing about your high school memories!