Adventures In Babysitting

September 1, 2012

A buddy of mine has, for a good decade, had the cushiest gig known to man, serving as a nanny to a couple who are cardiologists.

His duties mostly consisted of driving the two kids to and retrieving them from school. In return, he had quarters in a huge home in a posh neighborhood as well as a handsome salary.

As the children have been driving for several years, his responsibilities have been minimal and, now, the position has been rendered obsolete. I fear that he will have a difficult adjustment to the true working world.

My lone experience in child care offered me a taste of this good life.

As a junior in high school, several of my friends and I opted to take Home Economics, causing a bit of a stir as the class had traditionally been reserved for girls which was one of our reasons for taking it.

(our other reason was the expectation that there would be food)

The class did put us in close proximity to some of our more desired female classmates, but, in an unfortunate development, no cooking was involved and, thus, there were no foodstuffs for us to consume.

To my surprise, as the following summer break was ending, our teacher recruited me to watch her three children.

The trio of boys ranged in age from nine to twelve and the gig, as outlined to me, was simple. The afternoon would be spent at the pool of our town’s country club, where my teacher and her husband were members, and, then, home until their return later that evening.

So, for a couple hours, I lounged poolside at The Club. This meant my one task was to make sure that no one drowned.

(actually, water safety fell under the jurisdiction of the lifeguard on duty as – had they drowned – it would have reflected most poorly on him)

This allowed me to give full attention to Kate, a classmate who had arrived shortly after we had encamped. She settled into the chaise lounge next to me, accompanied by her string bikini, to take advantage of one of the last days of summer to work on her already impressive tan.

By the beard of Zeus, the only thing that would have added to the experience was had I, like Chevy Chase in Fletch, ordered a steak sandwich and a steak sandwich and billed it to the Underhills.

The evening ended with me and the kids, back at their house, watching Miami Vice and eating take-out pizza.

Easy money.

Here are four songs from the waning days of that summer of ’85…

Godley & Creme – Cry
from The History Mix Volume 1 (1985)

The duo of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme had once been members of 10cc and had become acclaimed producers of videos.

(Duran Duran’s Girls On Film, Asia’s Heat Of The Moment, The Police’s Every Breath You Take, Wrapped Around Your Finger, and Synchronicity II, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes…)

So, not surprisingly, it was an innovative video – using the same morphing visuals that Michael Jackson would use for Black And White‘s clip – that garnered the duo attention on MTV. Radio soon caught on to the song’s twangy, hypnotic goodness and Cry became a hit that seems to have been largely forgotten.

Talking Heads – And She Was
from Little Creatures (1985)

I was well acquainted with Talking Heads beyond their Top Ten hit Burning Down The House from a couple years earlier. When Little Creatures was released earlier in the summer, I was charmed by the cerebral rockers jaunty ode to levitation And She Was.

Though I didn’t hear the song much on radio, it became one of the few songs by The Heads to make the Hot 100.

Jeff Beck – Gets Us All In The End
from Flash (1985)

I’m not sure if I knew of Jeff Beck before 1985. Perhaps I’d come across the name, but I certainly knew no music by the legendary guitarist (who more than a few folks would argue is the greatest guitarist of the rock era).

Flash had already gotten airplay (and MTV play for the video) with his soulful rendition of People Get Ready, on which Rod Stewart provided vocals. On Get Us All In The End, Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall guested on vocals while Beck handled the guitar work which is simply ferocious.

Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love
from Boys And Girls (1985)

Roxy Music was another act with which I had little familiarity in 1985. I know that I’d heard Love Is The Drug on 97X, but I wouldn’t discover them in more depth until a year later when, as a college freshman, a French professor would play the group’s classic Avalon before class.

It was certainly on 97X where I was hearing Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry’s Slave To Love and I liked the suave fellow’s style.

Advertisements

H ve A Great Summ r

July 31, 2010

For years, the realization that July had become August produced a Pavlovian sense of dread in me.

As a kid, August was the month in which we were herded back into the educational system. The first day of the month made that impending event palpable to me.

Sure, there was still a few weeks of warm days spent idly doing nothing at all, but – deep down – I felt the awful truth that it was over.

Wimbledon and the 4th of July – two signposts of summer for me – had already happened.

If we had gone somewhere on vacation it would have likely been in July. By August 1st, the trip seemed as if it had happened a lifetime before rather than mere weeks (at most).

August turned me into a dead man walking as I shuffled toward the first day of classes.

Not this year, though, not this summer.

This summer, there is absolutely not one fiber of my being that has twitched reflexively at the approach of August.

Each morning, I sit drinking coffee in a state of early-morning confusion. The local news is on the television where it remains until the weather forecast has been delivered (at which time, it’s ESPN2 and Mike & Mike In The Morning).

Usually, I halfheartedly listen to the weather, mostly making sure that there isn’t some impending weather disaster headed our direction.

This has been the ritual.

But, the past few weeks my attention to the weather report has been increasingly focused. The extended forecast causes me to marshall the limited powers of concentration I possess at 5:10 a.m.

93-96-98-95-97-94

I study the forecasted daily highs like a hobo that has spent his last dollar on a pick-6 ticket and shake my head.

I welcome August this year because August is next to September and – unless this is the year that summer never ends – that means that the temperatures have to abate.

Ten weeks ago, the marque outside a high school on my morning commute heralded the end of the school year. A week later it wished all to “Have A Great Summer.”

This week, I noticed that a couple letters were missing.

Here are four songs that accompanied me back to school in Augusts past…

John Denver – Annie’s Song
from The John Denver Collection

As six-year old starting school in ’74, I knew John Denver. He had one of the biggest hits in the country with Annie’s Song. Mostly, though, I knew him from his television specials.

There he was – granny glasses, floppy hat – traipsing around in the mountains communing with nature, animals, granola-munching girls in bell-bottomed jeans with long, straight hair. I dug the guy.

I still think Annie’s Song is lovely (if a bit melodramatic).

Joan Jett – Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
from Bad Reputation

In August of ’82, I was fourteen and headed from the comfortable confines of grade school to the unknown petri dish of high school. It was a fairly seamless transition as I had Will, my best friend from our neighborhood and a year older than me, as a guide.

Music had really gotten it’s hooks in me that summer. My interest having reached critical mass after simmering for about a year or so. It was mostly radio or mix tapes of songs I’d taped from the radio since I owned no more than a dozen cassettes.

One was Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll which had been massive since winter -when the title song became an ’80s anthem – and throughout the summer with a version of Crimson And Clover.

By August, I was catching up to her solo debut and another stellar cover song.

Godley & Creme – Cry
from The History Mix Volume 1

Three years later, August brought the beginning of senior year. It was a good time, but it had been hyped in the “86”s scrawled on notebooks and spraypainted on bridges since fifth grade.

That August, Godley & Creme’s video for Cry was causing a sensation on MTV. The duo of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme had split from 10cc and become acclaimed producers of videos.

(Duran Duran’s Girls On Film, Asia’s Heat Of The Moment, The Police’s Every Breath You Take, Wrapped Around Your Finger, and Synchronicity II, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes…)

Cry was a groundbreaking video and the song is hypnotic.

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider – Boy Inside The Man
from Tom Cochrane & Red Rider

I didn’t realize that Red Rider was relatively unknown in the States until lead singer Tom Cochrane had a solo hit with Life Is A Highway. Growing up in the Midwest, the band got a lot of attention from several rock stations I listened to in the ’80s.

I was the buyer for a large record store in another part of the country when Life Is A Highway became a hit for Cochrane. It seemed clear that, unless they were more than casual music fans, the customers searching for the hit were generally unaware of Cochrane or Red Rider.

But, five years earlier in August, 1986, Cochrane was still a member of Red Rider and, as I prepared to head of to college, I was hearing the band’s Boy Inside The Man on the radio.