Bejewell on September 17th, 2008

I settled into my morning as usual today - logging in, responding pointlessly to pointless emails, savoring my first few sips of coffee, trying madly to keep the depression of my boring-as-hell job at bay… you know, the normal weekday morning routine.

I pulled out my best weapon – my trusty iPod – and plugged in, following my general M.O. of Shuffle Songs.

I started with a little Nellie McKay, a regular on my iPod random rotation.  Then my new BFF Duffy crooned Warwick Avenue while I lip-synched with flourish (something I do pathetically often and have been caught at more than once). MIKA was up next, with a very gay, Carly Simon-esque, choir-filled Happy Ending, and I don’t mean the massage-parlor version.  Nevertheless, I bounced along in my chair.

And then it started.  Song Number Four.

Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale is an obscure tune from the gorgeous, Norwegian, flash-of-light 80′s-era band A-Ha.  The band’s best known today for their one big 80s pop hit, Take On Me, which appears on pretty much every 80s compilation CD ever made.  It was super-catchy and, perhaps more importantly back in the glory days of MTV, had a BAD ASS video in which an average-looking girl was whisked into a black-and-white comic book world by a delicious hunk of Norway goodness, who happily sang to her through a magic mirror until scary guys with lead pipes came after them, at which point he found her a way back to the real world, facing certain doom to save her.  But just when you thought it was all tragically over, Comic Book Fate found a way to let him bust through the pages himself – a little dirtier and sweatier, yes, but finally liberated from the restraints of his black-and-white world and free to Live Happily Ever After in Technicolor with his newly found, average-looking heroine.

For a boy-crazy, average-looking 8th grade girl prone to devastating crushes, that video was the equivalent of a wet dream.

Of course, I fell hopelessly in love with the lead singer, Morten Harket. (Do you mind if I call you “Morty”?) And by “hopelessly in love” I mean my own peculiar fucked-up 13-year-old version of “hopelessly in love,” which meant I clipped pictures of him from Tiger Beat magazine and pasted them on my wall alongside all the other fellas I was “hopelessly in love” with, like George Michael (neon shorts and all), Sting of the Spiky Hair and Dangerously Loose Clothing in a Room Full of Candles, and of course, my always gender-bending eyeliner boys John-Nick-Simon-Andy-Roger (I still love you Simon, you handsome devil, you… BEEJ+SIMON=TRULUV4EVA).

But I digress.

I made the cassette tape of Morty & Co.’s album Hunting High and Low mine as fast as I could – then listened to it from the beginning of Side A to the end of Side B over and over and over again, until I could finally Take On Me no more. I instantly fell out of “hopelessly in love,” the cassette tape callously discarded and forgotten, along with countless other cassettes from artists as varied as Echo and the Bunnymen, Concrete Blonde, and Debbie Gibson. (I had a weak moment, okay? Fuck you. I bet you’ve got skeletons, too, Judge McJudgerson.)

Life went on, and I did, too. I discovered new musical genres and technologies. Cassettes were replaced by CDs, which lasted until the iPod and satellite radio took over my electronic entertainment life. Groups like A-Ha were long gone, distant memories of a distant past.

But then a year ago or so I went through a nostalgic 80s music phase and, in a downloading frenzy, bought the album again. And found most of it surprisingly good. In fact, a lot of it still holds up today — you can even hear echoes of it in new songs by bands like the Killers and Zero 7.

(In fact, you know that über-popular U2 song Beautiful Day? I challenge you to listen to Side A’s The Sun Always Shines on TV and NOT find an eerie similarity.)

Which brings me back to Song Number Four. The first few notes played and time just…


For one long moment, I was back in the 8th grade, standing alone in my bedroom with all the posters and painstakingly clipped Bennetton and Espirit ads on the walls, the familiar neon-red-and-gray-checkered bedspread, my closet filled with miniskirts and felt hats and acid-washed jeans with strategically placed rips and Sharpie hearts.

MTV occupied the TV screen behind me – back when MTV still actually played music videos, before reality TV took hold and reduced it to an unrecognizable mess of 30 minute shows about spoiled, rich socialites and skater boys.  I didn’t have to hear the words or look behind me to know it was on – it was ALWAYS on in those days.  MTV provided the soundtrack to my life during those formative years.

Man, I didn’t have a care in the world. Bills, home maintenance, health insurance, car repairs… they were all SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM. My only concerns were hanging out with my best friend the Queen Bee, finding the perfect lip gloss, and impressing boys. Priorities were conning my mom out of more money for shopping at the mall on Saturday afternoon and finding some way to prolong my possession of the denim jacket that stunning, bright-eyed transfer student Arlo P. had loaned me, which I DID NOT WANT TO GIVE BACK — because it still smelled faintly of Polo cologne and, also, I was “hopelessly in love” with him, too – even though I knew he thought of me as “just a friend.”

There’s no real story here – I wasn’t making out with a boy in my bedroom only to find myself dumped a millisecond later, or biting anyone’s tongue off - not like Auds in her own musical flashback.

No, I was just there, standing still in my old room, appreciating the amount of time and effort I put into each poster on the wall, the Seventeen magazines I’d read cover-to-cover and shelved with care, the desk I’d painted myself to match the bedspread, the closetful of clothes I both loved and hated, the feeling of Carefree that enveloped me, knowing my mom was in the other room to take care of Everything Else.

I knew I’d have to come back to reality – I wasn’t so far gone that I thought I could stay there – so I tried to soak it all in. I tried to FEEL it all. I let it wash over me as the Norwegians wailed that obscure, Side B song Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale and, for that moment, let me straddle both worlds.

And then I came back. The song was through. The White Stripes took over and I resumed my day in Technicolor.

But it was a nice moment.

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21 Responses to “Living a Girl’s Adventure Tale”

  1. i loved them too… had the poster on my walls… but i’m thinking I had this on cassette not LP… hard to say… i’m going to have to go to itunes tomorrow and check this out… i am ALL about nostalgia… especially with my 20 year hs reunion in october…

    marlas last blog… the big time…

  2. I have the same reaction to so many 80s songs. Usually I imagine driving in my beat up red Renault Alliance with the windows down, not caring if my long hair is getting tangled. And it’s always summer and I’m wearing a tank top and cut offs and probably on my way to one of the pools where my friends are lifeguarding. And I’m really tan because I’m not at all concerned about wrinkles. Then the song ends and I’m either back at work or chasing three toddlers around the house – worrying about wrinkles. Good memories.

  3. That’s a great post. I think you would enjoy the 20 minute Public Radio piece found here about the iPod.

    Sras last blog post..Iterating and Reiterating all over again

  4. I love those trips down memory lane. That song & video were awesome!

    dysfunctional moms last blog post..I’m Charmed with the Proximidade! Or something.

  5. It’s so weird. This is the second time this week I’ve heard somebody reference that A-Ha video. What’s up with that?

    I love satellite radio for this exact same reason. The 80s channels will play a random 80s song that I haven’t heard since I had a perm, and it’ll send me back to those days, causing me to crank it up and call my friend who it reminds me of and play it on his voicemail, holding the phone up to the car speakers. (Dork!)

    Zellmers last blog post..Is vanity a crime?

  6. We played Duffy’s CD at the bookstore for more than a month, and it was without shame that I could often be found sneaking out of the reference section lip synching along. And when I say “sneaking out” I actually mean emerging like some cool hispter girl, performing with passion, for anyone sitting in the comfy chairs nearbye. Shame? Never had it.

    …and you should see me perform Mika songs in the car…

    This is a great post. Had the same cassette. You’re absolutely right about “The Sun Always Shines on TV”! In my room, A-ha mingled with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany (yep), Nelson, Men at Work, Duran Duran (always and forever, Simon). Those songs are always my ‘go to’ tracks. I rarely fast forward when they come on in the shuffle mode (ok, sometimes Tiffany does. Sometimes!)

    foradifferentkindofgirl (FADKOG)s last blog post..‘I don’t like my job & I don’t think I’m gonna go anymore’

  7. Here in Exile, sans satellite radio (I’m sure it’s available, but not without a new car radio, which, frankly, isn’t in the budget right now) and sans ‘Pod deck in the car, I have my own version of shuffle play: the ridiculous regular radio stations that still play all of those songs (mixed in with what they call “new music” [which I am either too cool or too uncool to like; all I know is it sounds like crap.] Where was I? Oh, yes–) I will be driving along when the radio hijacks me straight back to 1980something with some random song by Great White (oh, shut up, you liked it too) or Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” or some Love+Rockets tune. The thing is, the trip back in time is ALWAYS worth the WTF factor when I return to the present (Oh my GOD where did those 20 years go? Why am I driving a MINIVAN? Whose kids are those?) It’s like a mini-vacation. Even if I do come back feeling old as dirt.

    WaltzInExiles last blog post..Exposed

  8. I have just discovered Duffy and I lurrrrve her. She is my newest Brit-crush!

    Awww yes, Sharpie hearts and strategically torn jeans. I remember those as well as my own crush on A-Ha.

    Ohhhhhh, I just saw Mrs. Waltz mention Great White…back in the days before David Coverdale had contracted every known STD…he was HOT HOT HOT! I was always so jealous of Tawny Kittaine in those stupid videos.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Beej!

    Audss last blog post..Is Trauma Contagious?

  9. That is NOT my latest blog post! Dammit CommentLuv, get it right!

    Audss last blog post..Is Trauma Contagious?

  10. Thanks for the trip through time. Thank God music video can live on through YouTube. Must add A-Ha to my iPod. George Michaels just landed there a couple of months ago.

  11. This is a great post – so many of us can TOTALLY identify with! I had a similar experience…growing up, my BFF and I loved the show Kidd Video and the lead actor/singer Brain Scott. Anyway, one day I was checking out You Tube and I searched for Kidd Video. Low and behold, they have several clips, including one called “Baby coem back to me.” I’m sure I hadn’t heard it since I was in, like the 5th grade but it brought back such a strong memory and I got all giddy just thinking about that cute boy and his little pop song. Anyway…

  12. Like. I totally had a crush on Morten too. He was. Like. So hot. I was one of the first in my neighborhood to get cable service. I remember the first time I showed MTV to my neighbor’s son. He was older than me and I had a crush on him too.

    Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommys last blog post..Updated Reading List

  13. I have never tried to put into words how that song made me feel (Take on Me) but you nailed it.

    That video still makes me all tingly and dreamy. Great post!

    Emilys last blog post..Jesse the Squirrel

  14. I loved that song and the video still! I was just listening to it yesterday at the gym as a matter of fact.

    nandangos last blog post..Saturday Hike

  15. YES. Just, YES. And, also, DITTO.

    Her Bad Mothers last blog post..Endymion’s Sleep

  16. I so loved this post….I just found your blog this am and I must say I have laughed my ass off….you are hilarous!!!

  17. my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ?we leave it to you to decide?.

  18. Very nice Thanks….this web site is the best…

  19. I like Aha and Take on me. Adana Radyolari

  20. You you could make changes to the post subject title Living a Girl’s Adventure Tale to something more catching for your blog post you write. I loved the the writing withal.

  21. You know mate, I posted about this earlier today on my blog. Your blog post has really provided me with some food for thought and I feel you made some really interesting points. In fact, I really wish I had seen it before posting my own blog post! – multiplumb.

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