Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Saw Him Dancing There by the Record Machine

Here is a picture of me and some girls (Kathy A. among them) from my 20th high school reunion. How drunk do you have to be to think taking close-ups of your alcohol induced ruddy faces is a really good idea? Apparently, exactly this drunk.

A few weeks ago, Trevor at Creekside Review wrote a post asking which songs could take you straight to a certain time and place in your past. I could have answered by saying, almost every song I hear. Although, some songs are definitely stronger than others in that respect. Last week, Stinky was listening to the local classic rock radio station in the car when they played Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll". I hadn't heard it in a long time, and was amazed at how it delivered me right back to New Year's Eve my junior year in high school.

My brother had kindly offered to lie for me to my legal guardians and say I was going out with him, so I could attend my friend Kathy A.'s party. Kathy A.'s dad was either a Methodist or Lutheran minister in town. Being raised Catholic, I get many of the Protestant religions mixed-up. I can tell you the difference between the obvious ones like Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Amish and Baptists, but the subtler sects escape me. Both of Kathy A.'s siblings went to Iowa State and so the party consisted mostly of their friends.

When I first got there, Kathy took me to her bedroom to show me what she got for Christmas. She was super excited about her new Joan Jett album and whatever Journey album came out that year. (Escape?) After we worked up some courage, we went downstairs to mingle with the college kids. I didn't talk at all, at first. I'm usually happier watching the proceedings than participating in them anyway, and college kids were even more intimidating to me than my high school peers.

Kathy jumped behind the bar and asked me what I wanted to drink.

"A Coke?"

"No. A real drink. What do you really want to drink?"

"Like alcohol?"

"Yeah. Haven't you ever been drunk before?"

"Um, no. I wouldn't even know what to order..."

"I'm having an Amaretto Sour. They're really good. They don't even taste like alcohol. Do you want one?"

The first cocktail got me drunk, but Kathy made me several more Amaretto Sours throughout the night. Fortunately, I don't remember much about that evening. I vaguely recall ringing in 1982 with champagne, because for whatever reason, my socks were soaked with it. I also remember very awkardly trying to flirt with older boys, and that image makes me shudder with every muscle of my body. If my older sister had seen me, she would've yanked me out of the party by my hair.

My brother picked me up and coached me on how to be drunk and act cool in front of my Aunt and Uncle. (he was somewhat of an expert on the subject) Too bad I wasn't in any state to learn new lessons. As soon as I entered the house, my Aunt asked me how the party went. "Fine," (I did remember the "one word answers to adult questions" rule my brother told me in the car) I said and promptly walked right into the wall. Because I had always been a good girl, even though my socks reeked of stale champagne, my Aunt didn't seem to notice anything strange about me slamming myself into a wall.

I didn't puke from them, but I've still never had an Amaretto Sour since. Come to think of it, it might be fun to try one again. Does anyone know, are they as sickeningly sweet as I remember? I also didn't get drunk again until college when I more than made up for my high school abstinence.

I didn't relate that quaint little story to my daughter upon being transported back to high school by Joan Jett. My girls already think I'm nutty enough as it is, they don't need to be exposed to the crazy while I'm at the wheel of the car with their lives in my hands.


Lynnster said...

Yep, the Journey album would have indeed been "Escape". Ouch that I knew that immediately...

Bice said...

So many of the classic rock songs of the 70's take me back to specific memories from that time. Good times I had. I wasn't much of a drinker but man I could smoke the weed all night long.

Trevor said...

Thanks for the link. I wish someone had told me about the "one word answers to adult questions" rule.

Any reference to grass that uses the definite article makes me laugh. I'm a simple man with simple tastes.

The Retropolitan said...

Amaretto Sours aren't bad. One of my friends or ex-girlfriends used to drink them. I like 'em, anyhow.

As for songs... well, they ALL take me back to specific times. I'm not much of a music person, so I tend to anchor and listen to the same few songs for whole chunks of time, enough so that I can't listen to them unless I want to go back to then.

But sometimes I party like it's 1999.

EEK said...

That's awesome. Older brothers are pretty great. The first time that I got drunk was when I was fifteen at a wedding. My brother got me a rum and coke because he said it would look like I was just drinking soda. They tasted like burning.

booda baby said...

Zeppelin II, all of it, and Stranglehold. And In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt becuase that tune is just CRAZY. Those are guaranteed transporters.

What a great line 'quaint little story'- !!

Matt said...

Pop music as a reference tag for the archaeology of memory. AC/DC takes me back to HS drinking. The Smiths and New Order remind me of college drinking. I listened to pretty much anything when I got stoned so Simon & Garfunkel to Ziggy Stardust reminds me of a good bakedown.

The mise-en-scene all of the best memories is Iowa City. Man I miss that place.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Churlita said...


I love that you knew that right off the top of your head. Now, that's the kind of knowledge I can appreciate.


So, with all that weed, did you like the twenty minute long classic rock songs?


The one word answers were really important, because the more you talked, the bigger hole you dug yourself in front of your parents - it goes for being under the influence of the weed as well.

The Retropolitan,

So, maybe I'll order one again sometime.

I had to explain the meaning behind 1999 to my daughters, because they had no idea of what went behind the fear of Y2K.


Older brothers do know all the tricks. When you're in high school, I think any alcoholic beverage tastes like burning.

Booda Baby,

Oddly enough, there are still tons of high school students listening to Led Zeppellin. Classic rock is back in, man. I still love Stranglehold.


That region of Iowa was all about the AC/DC when I was in high school.

I have a feeling that Iowa City would seem like a very different town if you lived here now having children and working a real job.

Remiman said...

Oh the stories we keep from our children. ;-)
I didn't drink 'til I was 21. Hard to believe growing up in NYS when the drinking age was 18. I joined the Navy out of H.S. at age 17. My first drunk was my 21st b'day.
My 29 y.o. son likes to tell me, " dad, you caught us almost everytime we did something we weren't supposed to, but you didn't catch us everytime."
I say, "like what?"
He says,"when I think your ready I'll tell you."

Churlita said...


I think that's fair. i probably won't want to know all the things my daughters do during high school. I would stress so hard about it I'm sure. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

The Retropolitan said...

Y2K was the greatest non-disaster of all time. Som much build-up to...Prince music.

Egan said...

So it was worth it to go to your 20th reunion? I skipped out on 10 and 15 didn't happen last year.

Churlita said...


I know. It still cracks me up.


I had totally different circumstances than most people. I moved around so much as a kid, it was just finally fun to see what happened to people I went to school with. I didn't know a lot of people in my high school because I only lived there for 4 years, but it was fun to hang with the few kids I did know.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

maybe your friend didnt make the drink properly??? walked into a wall! HEEEH!

Churlita said...

I'm sure at 16 she made it more like cough syrup.

Yeah, it was funny when it was me, I don't think I'll be quite so amused when my daughters come home like that.

Egan said...

Cool, I can see where that makes more sense. I went to a large public university in Seattle so about 20% of my high school graduating class hung around for the next four years. I couldn't shake them.

Churlita said...


It sounds like you don't really want to go anyway. I don't think you'll be missing anything if you're still keeping up with the people you care about. (and maybe some you don't)

broinlaw said...

" my Aunt didn't seem to notice anything strange ..."

I read that line and laughed for a very long time. Oh the Humanity.

Churlita said...

Bro In-law,

I think it's just a case of her denial working for me, as opposed to how it normally worked against me.

michelle said...

Teenage girls love to tell their mothers that they think they're absolutely crazy. They can't actually think of us as ever having been their age and ever getting drunk for the first time or kissing a boy or, well being anything but their mother. It's so embarrassing for them to think that you were one day a real person!

Churlita said...

Yeah, but that makes it even more fun to talk to them about your younger days. I like to see the discomfort rise to their faces.