The year was 1985. I was in the eighth grade, home on Christmas vacation, riding around with my dad in his old blue pickup truck.
We stopped at the Eastland mall for some reason, possibly to have a key made at the little shed that stood in the back parking lot closest to James Road.
I remember making a bee line to electronics section to play the Atari games they’d chained to the shelves, and stare longingly at the Commodore 64 for sale. Then I went to the music store and spent the few dollars I had in my pocket on an album called ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’, by a doomed-to-be-short-lived but highly successful English electro pop duo from Basildon, Essex, that had a number of top ten hits in the British charts in the early 1980s and called themselves Yazoo — Yaz in the US.
Once back in my dad’s truck, I popped the tape in and turned it up, straining to hear every nuance. I was blown away by ‘Winter Kills’. I don’t think my Dad was as impressed. He kept turning it down. He’d done the same thing when I went through my heavy metal phase the previous summer. Fine, it was his truck. (Besides, he’d be dead in just six more years. If only I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have picked so many fights with him.)
He bought me a boom box for Christmas that year and I got a free pair of second-hand headphones from another source. On the bus trip back to boarding school two weeks later, I listened to my tiny collection of Talking Heads, Yaz, and Kraftwerk cassettes until the 6 ‘C’ batteries died halfway through Pennsylvania and I just sat there with my face up against the window while the driver shifted gears into the night. With a heavy sigh, I put the tapes away and re-read my dog-eared copy of ‘Heavy Metal’ I’d been carrying around for weeks. It was my earliest form of erotica.
Isn’t it weird what kind of stuff just bubbles up in your mind at 6:29 on a Monday?