EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE (a 1983 moment)

If you’re under 30, you will probably not understand the full impact of the following sentence. As one gets older time takes on more (and less) significance. It was in my early 30’s that I began to feel a bit frightened by how fast time passes and also how the farther a moment grows in distance — the closer it can sometimes feel. As an example, as I walked down the street today I thought back of an experience which I remember quite clearly. Actually, it literally feels like this memory could be from last week. But, I found myself almost tripping over my own feet when it occurred to me that this little memory was from over 24 years ago. And, how strange that something that was actually fairly unimportant in the scheme of my life lingers so strongly in the banks of my memory.
I can even pinpoint the month and year of the memory — and I know it was on a Friday. However, I do not recall the full date. But, this little memory is from April of 1983 when I was still 16 years old. I will share this memory on my blog, but I feel the need to provide some background.

What led to this memory took place in the summer of 1979. I had just smoked a couple of ‘J’s” with three friends. We decided to roam the ‘higher end’ of the block which was actually a maze of town homes that all looked exactly alike. I lived further down the street in a nice town house, but not as upscale as these. I think we were debating a bit of stupid defacing of public property when we heard a girl doing some form of cheerleading. We walked out of the haze of upper-middle-class-maze and saw the funniest thing taking place on a lawn across the way.
And, this is when I first met “L” — An awkward looking girl who had to be my age but was dressed in clothing better suited to a younger girl. Her breasts were trying not to bust out of a sort of odd Osh-B’Gosh ensemble, her long black hair was parted into huge pony tails, she was sporting a pair of giant-sized owl type glasses which were perched at the tip of her nose, her lace up brown shoes matched the odd dress but her bright pink tube socks had that “special” sort of look and she was jumping about holding a glitter-ized baton. To make matters worse she was calling out some sort of odd cheer. Years later she would tell me that I was acting several years older than I should have. Probably true. But, it didn’t seem that way at the time.

This was “L” and she was lost in this moment. She didn’t notice us gawking at her. One of my annoying stoner friends wanted to do something cruel. I remember lightly kicking him. He probably would have hit me had our female friend not done the same thing to him.

I walked away from my friends and headed toward “L” — she was still oblivious to me. Being a bit out of it I failed to notice the car that was passing as I stepped into the street. It honked at me and brakes were slam’d. My heart skip’d a beat but I found it all rather funny — as did my two friends who I could hear howling behind me. I was barefoot and I remember my toe getting stuck in my bell bottom’d jeans. I almost fell down. The car peel’d away.
L’s baton had fallen to the ground. She was staring at me with a look of both surprise and a sort of horror.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I said as I headed toward her lawn. She did a sort of double take and ran into her house. My friends were lying on the ground laughing and I just stood in her lawn wondering why she didn’t seem to realize that I could see her peeping at me through the curtains.

It would be a year later that I would officially meet L in a class. By that time she was dressed fairly normally but still awkward. She was friendly with a good friend of mine and I would soon discover that she was very good friends with someone who would play a very important part of my life. And, this would sort of be out tale to tell. We would be friends through our college years but never particularly close or trusting. We would share close friendships with several other people and this would be our bond.

As we moved into high school things began to change for L. Either she caught up to fashion or it caught up to her. She became very aware of fashion and adapted it to suit her own needs. Her obsession with her hair and clothing would make her look quite good but also a bit too different for most kids in south east Texas. The odd glasses were replaced by contacts.

She was the first girl I knew to date a guy who was an adult. Not much of a threat, tho. He was clearly gay to all of us, but dressed well, had a car and money. And, he lived across the street from her home. He fully embraced the whole preppy look which L liked in men. And, he loved to dance. I can remember sitting in my car outside of L’s house waiting for her. I think she was still doing her hair — and, her boyfriend appeared at my car window. He convinced me to come in to his place — where, while wearing his torn t-shirt, mini-shorts and headband performed “his own choreography” to the Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” tune — Tho, it seemed to essentially be a continuous repeat of the MTV moment when the male dancers sort of break into a pose and thrust their hips. To be sitting on K’s tiny bed as he gyrated toward me with Stevie singing from his boombox — well, it was a rather awkward moment. A moment which when described to L resulted in her eye-rolling most severe.

L’s odd sensibility and quick wit made her a perfect match for me and J. Tho, her sense of duty and fears also made her an ill-match at times. She was always a bit of what I think can best be called a “goody-two-shoes” but with a very dark side.

When we skipped class — L went and took notes. When we were doing “bad” things she would read. But, somehow she fit in to the grand scheme of it all.

And, she was the only friend who ever seemed ready to “out” me from the very first time I met her. I never quite got that — it seemed to surprise most of my friends. But, not L. She knew I was queer from the minute she met me. Tho, not supportive. She enjoyed more trying to taunt me to come out to her. Of course, she was this was with everyone on some level. L was always looking for weaknesses upon which she could tease or play. Interestingly, it was somehow fun to be around. Tho, one could never tell her a secret.

I always took great pride in being aware of the arts and what was going to be the next big or interesting film or bit of music headed our way. Up until 1982 I was only aware of two or three things that really mattered to L: Toni Basil, Cheerleading, her hair and all things that glittered. It was a great pain to her that she had never gotten it together to be a cheerleader. So, she would make fun of them while secretly wanting to wear the uniforms and do the cheers. We all knew this because she knew all the cheers and would always be aware of “who” had not only manufactured the school cheerleading uniforms but would also know “who” had designed them.

Anyway, it was in early 1983 that L told me that a very important movie was coming out and that we had to see it. It was going to be about dancing, music and fashion — and, she advised that the filmmakers had to be thinking of she and I when they filmed it. I wasn’t interested. This was a girl who listened to Howard Jones — by choice and she thought he was a brilliant artiste!?!?! …but, at some point, she told me that I should be interested because “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra” was involved. (I should note that L always pronounced Streisand’s name like that to annoy me) — This was when I learned that she was more aware of the details than I had ever known. I had immediately corrected her and began detailing all I knew of the upcoming YENTL — when she would hiss, “You are so totally homosexual!” …I would offer a lame protest which she immediately would ignore. To her credit, she never directly attempted to “out” me in front of others.

But, she explained that this new movie was created and produced by “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra’s” boyfriend, Jon Peters. Further to the point, L had found a picture of Streisand wearing a torn sweatshirt with crimp’d hair vs. the afro I had come to know and love. “See? This is the future and we’re seeing this movie!” L declared as I looked at the picture. I still have no clue regarding where she had found the picture but it appeared to be have been taken in London — and the writing beneath it stated that Barbra was sporting a new look that her “live-in love” was bringing to the big screen in a film to be called FLASHDANCE. (this is not that same picture, but as close to it as I can find)

So, at that moment I was sold. It was a Friday in April of 1983 when L shocked me by confirming that she would skip the second half of the school day so that we could see the very first screening of FLASHDANCE at the movie theater. L never skipped school — so even a half day was a big deal. Funny that I am unable to remember why J could not join us, but she couldn’t. So, after discarding the ever-so-lame note that L had created to pass for one from her mother excusing her from school at 11AM for a doctor appointment. I remember the note was printed in L’s script that made all “s”‘s look like deformed “5”‘s. And, she had actually drawn little flowers to dot the “i”‘s —- I had her copy my routine and we drove out of the parking lot at 11:15AM and headed toward the movies.

We would both be turning 17 at the end of the year, but were still not old enough to be admitted to an “R” rated film. However, L had dressed in a very high-end outfit — this was one of her “looks” that got her into clubs with her boyfriend. She messed up my hair with some hair stuff she always carried in her purse and told me to act like I knew what I was doing and we would have no trouble. She was correct. The old lady in the ticket booth just looked bored and annoyed.
L would have none of that. This was a very big day for her. I remember feeling a bit panicked as she leaned toward the ticket booth glass and squealed:

“Look, I did my nails for this movie! Smile! This is FLASHDANCE day!”

“Just ignore her. She gets excited by big hair and disco music.”

“Maaaaatttttt! It is not disco! It’s cool!”

I remember that the theater manager seemed gay and was working the popcorn stand. Before we were out of his hearing range L screamed: “Oh my God! Like, he was so totally flirting with you! You should go back and get his number!”

I ran past her to the cinema in which we would soon be exposed to this important film. There were about 10 other people at the screening. …And, 6 of us were a ‘gaggle’ of obviously gay college boys — all dressed and pressed in the latest in preppy fashion which L adored.
“Let’s sit by them! Come on! I bet they love “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra” too!”

“L, I’m not gay. And, lots of people love Barbra Streisand!”

“Oh, puleeeez! Everyone likes “The Main Event” the Bee Gee’s songs she did and that song about the tree but only you and those cute boys like that song about rainy parades!”

I could have killed her and all six of the gay boys turned around and watched us as we walked toward two seats about 3 rows behind them.

“See? They want you, Maaaatttt!”

“Shut up, L.”

Of course, conversing with L was always a bit of an adventure. Topics changed without warning. I remember we discussed her hair, the fact that she needed me to make her a new cassette of the 12″ Toni Basil record as her bitch of a sister had destroyed the one I made her — I had to swear not to tell J because she was working on choreography for a new dance number — we then talked about my hair, J’s hair, L’s nails, her boyfriend and her worries that he might be gay — “like you” — but then the lights dimmed. A preview was screened for YENTL. This moment was ruined for me by L pushing me throughout and squealing “Matt! Matthew! Oh my God! Look!” “Oh my God! Maaaaatttt!?!?!? Did she really cut her hair!?!?!”

I tried to ignore her but after one of the gay boys shhhhh’d us, I turned and said, “L, it is a wig!”

…she chattered on and on until the lights went all the way out and the Paramount logo sprayed on to the screen. I had never seen L so consumed by anything. I had never seen her sit still and speak so little for such a long time. L was hypnotized by FLASHDANCE.

There were a few key scenes after which she would lean into me and whisper things like “Oh my God!” “That was so cool!” “Wow!” — in a tone normally saved for religious events.

I have to say that there was something particularly “free-ing” about those two hours. Even as I found myself wanting to make fun of the fact that we were clearly seeing several body doubles in the dance scenes and that the whole movie hinged on a plot about a girl who welded metal by day and danced fully-clothed in a strip bar by night — and the seedy strip club patrons didn’t seem to mind — I didn’t. This was an important film for L and I found it all quite infectious. I took as much joy in the ending of the film as she. And, I felt guilty when I refused to sit through a second screening as I had to be at work in a couple of hours But, I didn’t feel too badly as I believe she returned that night with her boyfriend (who I think loved it more than she!) …and then forced J to see it.

From then on J and I would take great fun in making fun of L’s love of FLASHDANCE. L enjoyed this, too. She loved attention and she enjoyed that one of her obsessions was a mainstream hit. And, L was ahead of the ball on this one. I swear that she was wearing cut up over-sized sweaters and sweatshirts by the very next day after that first screening. And, she had already been wearing those things in her hair — and she had loved leg-warmers from way back.

And, FLASHDANCE certainly meshed into my being. I still love the soundtrack. And, I’ve written of the movie more than a few times over the years. However, last week Paramount re-issued a deluxe packaging of the movie to DVD. It was today as I passed by a poster of it at Virgin that I thought of L and those couple of hours we shared.

…And, how she would be the first person to whom I came out. …to which she said, “Did you fuck K? Just tell me.” …K being her boyfriend who had come out to her a year before me. And, no, I hadn’t. To which she replied, “Good. Well, just be careful and it’s no big deal.”

I haven’t seen, talked or heard from L in years. I hope she knows about this DVD. It comes with a newly re-master’d CD. I am playing it now.

How is it possible that this is almost 25 years old?!?! Most worrying.

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September 24, 2007. Uncategorized.

34 Comments

  1. johnmichael replied:

    Great story!!
    I remember liking the Flashdance soundtrack. In fact you made me want to go hunt a copy of the CD, just to hear some of the music.
    I don’t remember too much about the movie, except that I was a little embarrassed watching it with my older cousins and she played “footsie” with his zipper under the dinner table.

  2. matty03 replied:

    johnmichael! Thanks! Oh, I play the soundtrack all the time! lol! It’s on iTunes.

    …and, that is a great story!

    Flashdance experiences!

  3. Old Cheeser replied:

    As usual Matty, another excellent story. Gosh your life has been packed with incident hasn’t it. Makes mine look boring by comparison!

    So love the 1980s covers on your post and the Flashdance stories. I too remember the movie very well. In fact I purchased a cheap version on DVD recently. Love the dance sequences, especially the ones in the nightclub. Did you know though that Jennifer Beals had a body double for the dance bits as she wasn’t a hot enough mover? Shame.

    I love the songs too especially “Maniac”

  4. matty03 replied:

    Old Cheeser! Hope you had fun on your holiday! LOL! Hardly! I never even understood why they cast Beals as she could not dance —- but I’m glad they didn’t as it makes it fun to spot when the body doubles with the bad wigs pop up! …in the end you will even notice a very manish one doing the breakdance move — because they used a male dancer for that! lol! So odd!

    …I think “He’s A Dream” is my fave tune!

  5. hot-lunch replied:

    i wish i grew up with u and got to go on all these fabulous mini-adventures… I think i was too young to appreciate the movie but i do remember liking the dance scenes and the music… I liked “Gloria” and then was disappointed that it wasn’t actually on the soundtrack after I ordered the LP from Columbia House. WTF!

  6. matty03 replied:

    Hot Lunch! No, you would not have wanted to go on that ride. Trust me. Tho, I did have some fun. Still do. Oh, I know! I think I was most upset that “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett was missing from the soundtrack!

    …oh, Columbia House. I think I still might owe them $25.04 from 1982.

  7. diamondfistwerny replied:

    1983 was by far the best year for music, in my lifetime. I saw the Police on their Synchronicity tour that Summer. Thanks for sharing!

  8. matty03 replied:

    Mr. Diamond! Those must have been some quite valuable tickets!!!! …and a great show!

  9. Daniel replied:

    I loved FlashDance. I never cared that it didn’t really have a story. Same thing with Dirty Dancing. I would watch the guys dancing over and over.

  10. pakipoptart replied:

    Matty! What a great story. You really captured an era gone by with such honesty and personal insight. This is why I really enjoy reading your blog. I’m going to do a post like this someday with a personal story and 80’s album covers. What a great way to tell a story! Oh and by the way, I never saw Flashdance, but I did see “Flashbeagle” the snoopy rip-off–which i’m sure was nothing like the movie.

  11. matty03 replied:

    Daniel! Yeah, you know the dance sequences are pretty cool. …but, I think the memory of seeing it holds far better than actually watching it now. …but, yes, the dancing is quite good. But, of course — it is flashdancing and that is normally always amazing.

  12. matty03 replied:

    Pakipoptart! I look forward to reading that!!! …and, thank you for being so sweet. I wonder if Snoopy dressed up in a faux tuxedo to seduce Woodstock or anything!?!?!?

    I need to do a search on you tube for that peanuts show!!!!

    I can just almost see Snoopy in a headband with leg warmers.

    Actually, I’m thinking to adapting to a Flashdance look when we move into our swinging new artist loft at the weeks end. ….cuz I’m a maniac.

  13. pakipoptart replied:

    I have to admit, I bought the album. I remember it showed Snoopy wearing a headband and leg warmers. Definately worth checking out! ( :

    Also, good luck with the move!

  14. matty03 replied:

    Pakipoptart! LOL! Good for you! If only you still had it! It is probably worth money! We need to find a picture of the cover!!!!

  15. pakipoptart replied:

    I’m a HUGE snoopy fan, but this is bad on so many levels. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO6ccX90HNI

  16. matty03 replied:

    Pakipoptart! …that was awesome!!!! thank you!!! …Snoopy seems a little “effete” …doesn’t he?

    He’s a FLASHBEAGLE!!!!!

    …I particularly like the fireworks!

  17. Errol replied:

    What fun! Blast from the past– I remember the 80’s all too well and this was a great read!!! BTW– just got a Puma headband to wear to the gym…some of the looks are coming back! he he

  18. Robert replied:

    Oh what a feee-ling!! I liked the part where Jennifer Beal knudged the guy’s crotch! ahaha!

    And of course I bought the 12″ of the title track and Maniac! Oh good times indeed! She still looks hot these days, good for her!

    You had such a color 80’s. I guess I did, too, but not too terribly festive. I’m happy to be an 80’s child, somewhat! haha!

    Nice story Matt. How could you remember ALL of that?!? Amazing!!

  19. ing replied:

    Oh, I wish I was born early enough to remember the eighties, but alas, I’m so very young. . .

    Will somebody tell Snoopy to put on some pants?

  20. sasskitty replied:

    I remember watching Flashdance in the theatre and then immediately ripping all the necks on my sweatshirts, much to the chagrin of my grandmother who had just bought me a VERY pretty pink sweatshirt with a panda on it. Which morphed into a slutty pink panda as i exposed my shoulder and bra straps TO THE WORLD!!!!

    Ahhhh what a feeling….

  21. Kudos to my Blogroll « Defying Despondency replied:

    […] The best Summer, ever! […]

  22. Tim replied:

    I can honestly say I’ve never properly watched Flashdance or Dirty Dancing. I feel so ashamed!! In my defence, I was 6 when Flashdance came out, and I was only interested in Star Wars at that time. To make amends, I will hunt out the Flashdance soundtrack on Bit Torrent now. I always love your reminiscing Matty, the details you remember make your stories really interesting and somehow very human. When’s the autobiography coming out?!?

  23. Minge replied:

    Oh, how delicious. You. The 80s. Flashdance.

    All those memories…!

    Can I preorder your autobiography now?

  24. matty03 replied:

    Errol! That is awesome! Now, try to get back lit by a solid block of white light as you pump your iron! …that would be very flashdance!

  25. matty03 replied:

    Robert! Colorful. Hmmmm… I’m not so sure. …But, I guess it was a colorful as one could make it given circumstances. I can’t remember all that was said — but the conversation(s) bordered to something quite similar. However, it is funny how well I can remember that particular day and the day I first saw L on her lawn. …and it seems like it was just yesterday. Old am I.

  26. matty03 replied:

    Ing – Snoopy was just trying to be true to his roots by keeping the pants off. I’m just relieved he wasn’t wearing a bra. This would have been most confusing for kids.

    …it must be difficult being so young. lol! …I was just calculating it and I guess you were only about 4 when FLASHDANCE was released on an unsuspecting public.

    Sasskitty!!! Yes! Freedom! Flashdance freedom and sexing up of the pandas! Maniacs unit!!!

    Mr. Diamond! …You know my pal, J, — who is back in Texas — still refers to 1983 as her personal summer of love year.

  27. matty03 replied:

    Tim! I miss hearing from you!!!! Need updates on the coolest music, please! Yes, you are excused. A mere child at the time FLASHDANCE came out. …and, you had to be focused on those Jedi’s and their revenge that year I’m sure! It was (and remains) an R rated (or 15 certificate) film to this day. Actually, I was surprised at the language upon this recent viewing! However, everyone should see FLASHDANCE just once! Go West and Rent It, Young Man!

    Minge! LOL! Yeah, me and the 80’s. If only I could remember more important things. Still, it freaks me out that this was all so long ago!

    …no one care to publish my life story. Too sordid I fear. But, thanks for asking!

  28. ginab replied:

    what a great story-memory, Matty! Back when if everyone did not look like shit or like cotton worth digesting, they looked Beally-insane. Is that a fly? Is that Superman?

    Or is that Super snoopy on roller skates!

    -ginab+bb

  29. matty03 replied:

    Gina! Thanks! …yes, and I was (am probably still am) a bit of a fashion victim. I remember owning several “giant” white and powder blue shirts which I thought were so cool. …and, I remember wanting one of the FRANKIE SAYS shirts so badly — but I never saw any in Texas. Later on in the 80’s I also sported that Miami Vice look when I was at work.

    Shudder.

    And, yes, I think that is Super Snoopy on skates!

  30. Minge replied:

    I’d buy it. You hottie.

  31. pakipoptart replied:

    Hope you are well. Miss you!

  32. matty03 replied:

    Minge! Oh, I do so love you! …Not only would you buy my book — you think I’m a hottie!!!

    Pakipoptart! Hi! I’m OK! This move (plus the on-going headache) have just knocked me off my ass! Anyway, am about to sit down, draft a new post, visit all my fave blogs and try to catch up on emails!

  33. diamondfistwerny replied:

    While this was a fabulous entry; I can’t help but notice that you haven’t blogged in a hot minute. I hope all is well in your world 🙂

  34. matty03 replied:

    Mr. Diamond! Awwwwww, thanks for checking on me! I’m fine. Just crazy with this move! Just made a new post and visited your online home as well!

    kisses,
    matty

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