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.

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Bringing Bender Home

August 10, 2010

I’m not, generally speaking, an impulse buyer.

When I head out to the store early on Saturday mornings to snag provisions for Paloma, the animals, and me, I do so with blinders on.

We need peanut butter, cheese, and bagels, so I am tossing a jar of peanut butter, a wheel of cheese, and container of bagels into the cart, checking out and moving on with life.

(unfortunately, our store does not sell cheese as wheels, but I can dream)

I am rarely tempted to stray from the mental list I have compiled for the trip.

Things do get a little dicier when I set foot in Target. For some reason, I find the store – with everything from frozen pizzas to clocks stocked on the shelves – mesmerizing.

(especially the frozen pizzas and clocks)

So, this morning, I set foot in Target to procure a handful of items that I had neglected to get on Saturday’s usual trip to forage. I had successfully rounded up the items and had even grabbed Paloma a book which she had mentioned she wanted to read.

In the book department was a section devoted to DVDs, most of them budget collections – four films featuring Clint Eastwood or Jackie Chan on one disc. There were also single movies and my eyes immediately locked onto one of them.

The Breakfast Club

Maybe it was having read a lovely tribute noting the one-year anniversary of writer/director John Hughes’ death at Stuck In The ’80s last week, but I paused.

I saw The Breakfast Club in the theater in ’85 as I was finishing my junior year of high school. My friends and I were not only the audience targeted by the movie, we were those kids and – as many in our generation did – embraced the film like few others.

Of course, the themes of the movie were applicable to anyone that had experienced high school. It just happened to be dressed in the trappings of the day and, twenty-five years later, I’ve come to realize that little really changes from high school save for the scenary.

I stumble upon The Breakfast Club on cable every so often and usually I am, regretfully, drawn into watching it. Regretfully, because for a good decade, the viewings have invariably been some bastardized version in which rather than Bender suggesting that Mr. Vernon “eat [Bender’s] shorts,” it is edited to “eat my socks.”

It’s frustrating. Not only am I unable to watch the film as John Hughes intended it to be viewed, it is distracting as – despite the time and distance – I still hear the actual dialogue.

And, I realized that it’s been a good ten years or more – when I owned a copy on VHS that I bought used for a few bucks – since I’d watched The Breakfast Club unedited.

I tossed the DVD into the cart.

Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I were beginning our senior year of high school and quoting The Breakfast Club like the pious quote scripture.

(“Yo Ahab, can I bum my doobage?”)

Musically, I was in a state of transition with Top 40 – the gateway to my music obsession four years earlier – having become such a source of disenchantment that I had mostly abandoned those stations.

I was ridiculously intrigued by the modern rock of 97X, but reception of the station was sketchy, giving me far less oportunity to listen than I would have liked. So, I spent a considerable amount of time surfing between a few album-rock stations.

Here are four songs that I was listening to at the time…

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – So In Love
from Crush

OMD’s breakthrough hit in the States was a year away when their If You Leave would appear on the soundtrack to another John Hughes’ movie, Pretty In Pink.

In the meantime, the airy So In Love was serving as my introduction to the British duo.

Jeff Beck – Gets Us All In The End
from Flash

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. As for Get Us All In The End, Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall guested on vocals while Beck handles the guitar work which is simply ferocious.

Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love
from Boys And Girls

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 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.

Mr. Mister – Broken Wings
from Welcome To The Real World

Mr. Mister seems to get a lot of derision, but someone must have dug them twenty-five years ago because – for six months or so – the band was inescapable with several mammoth hits.

Personally, I loved Broken Wings in the day and I still enjoy the moody track. I recall seeing the video – lead singer Richard Page cruising down a desolate highway in the desert – for weeks before the song popped up on radio. Perhaps it was that video, coupled with the song’s lyric, that makes me think of open spaces and miles of it.