She minces no words.

Dont Mince Words

Component milestones – Keeping my mind on a better life

Posted on May 23, 2004 by Marna

Some people mark significant events in their lives by where they were. Well, I was eating a Swanson TV dinner when I watched Nixon resign, I was in biology class when someone heard on their Walkman radio that John Lennon had been shot, and I was walking out of the Fulton Street A/C subway stop when the plane hit tower two.

But I don’t remember my past that way. I remember by components and associated entertainment. In 2002, I bought the first DVD for my player at Pleasure World on Eight Avenue. “The Best of Three Guys on One Girl” was a spectacular little Czechoslovakian import. That same year, “Fragile” by Sting, was the first song I heard out of my Ipod. I bought my first VCR after I got divorced in 1995 and “Blue Velvet” was the first movie I watched. When the cost of CD players came down, I went out and bought one along with “The Best of Blondie” in 1988.

My favorite component year was 1978. My brother and I had much different musical tastes from our parents and the Telefunken player in the living room didn’t give us the pre-teen privacy we needed to rock out. Dad went to Sears and got us a record changer with 8-track player and set it up in the basement. We could go down there, stay cool, and create our own audio experience without having to hear “turn that music down” anymore.

The first 8-tracks I purchased were Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and Styx’ “Pieces of Eight.” While Leif Garrett was my teen crush, Tommy Shaw was my older-man rocker lust. Between the hard rock riffs and Hammond organ solos, I felt Styx was America’s answer to Queen. On numerous occasions, I’d let “Pieces of Eight” loop back to the beginning while planning my wedding with Tommy Shaw. That is, until my mother screamed, “It’s dinner time. Get up here now.”

Yesterday, I was in Target getting my usual stash of monthly supplies. When I went down the last aisle, I noticed the music end cap display had the Styx anthology. I giggled and decided that this would be my guilty pleasure purchase of the day. When I got into the car, I torn into the CD case and thanked the lord for giving me the fingernails necessary to break through all that damn security wrapping. I slide the CD into the player and dodged the SUVs on my way out of the parking lot.

I fast forwarded through a lot of songs, but by the time I got to Venice Boulevard, I found it–disk two, track one. I rolled all my windows down, cranked the volume until the doors shook. My hair was up in pigtails, I had a t-shirt on and I was wearing cat sunglasses. I looked about as ridiculous as a middle-aged man with a toupee in a Miata.

Only one song could prompt me to turn into a mobile American Idol audition. It was “Blue Collar Man.” While I was having my 1978 component flashback, I was also realizing the relevance of the lyrics on my life since that time. Numerous layoffs had sent me to the unemployment line. I was constantly looking for a job, a chance at some security. I rocked out at stop lights and played steering wheel drums. Adjacent cars smiled and laughed at me. Tommy Shaw wasn’t speaking to them.

Make me an offer that I can’t refuse

Make me respectable, man

This is my last time in the unemployment line

So like it or not I’ll take those

Long nights, impossible odds

Keeping my back to the wall

If it takes all that to be just what I am

I’m gonna be a blue collar man

Keeping my mind on a better life

When happiness is only a heartbeat away

Paradise, can it be all I heard it was

I close my eyes and maybe I’m already there

I’m starting to understand why old people wax nostalgic about the good old days. I never thought I’d be doing it in a Honda on Venice. This was just another milestone in my life as I dream about getting a plasma TV and Tivo.

Soon, real soon.

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  • About Marna

    Marna’s writing career started as a Pentagon intern. Early exposure to $500 toilet seat press releases made her appreciate creative nonfiction. Now she has more than 25 years of senior-level marketing and communications success working with Fortune 100 companies, government, nonprofits, small businesses, startups, and agencies.

    Stats: 377 Posts, 132 Comments

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