Monday, September 03, 2012

Spoon and the 80s

I called my boy Mark's wife in Florida tonight to find out where he was.  The conversation went a little like this:

"Hello Lynn where is Mark?"

"He should be with you Ridi."

"Umm no he is not with me.  Did he fly out to Portland on Friday."

"Yes he did.  He said he was going camping as soon as he got there and wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday without interruptions so he was going to turn off his cell all weekend.  But he really should have called you by now."

"He has not contacted me."

"He will Ridi.  He was going up there to see you.  He says this is a new turn in his life.  He said something about recapturing his youth."

"Huh?  He lost his youth already?  Why?"

I hung up thinking about Mark (notoriously known as Spoon to his 80s buddies).  We are two unlikely friends.  He is Jewish and I am Chinese as you know.  We been best friends for over three decades but in the last 13 or so years we have not seen each other, still we best boys nonetheless.

Somewhere during my motorcycle ride today I found myself thinking about the 80s and our friendship that started at Catonsville Community College in Baltimore.

I was walking to class through the parking lot one typically steamy east coast summer day when I saw this white boy puffing and struggling to put a desk of some kind into the back of his little red Chevy Chevette (a precursor to Prince's "Little Red Corvette" I am convinced).

Spoon's hatchback Chevette looked like this except it was always
dirty and way more effed up.  (Credit)

"You need some help man," I asked as he looked me up and down with white suspicion.

"No I can handle this on my own."

I walked on somewhat amused as the desk weighed heavy on his puny arms.

Years after our first meeting I asked him about my offer to help and he said without batting an eye lid: "You looked like a Puerto Rican criminal and I thought you probably wanted to rob me or stab me or something."

About a decade later I was a best man (one of two) at his wedding.  His pushy father-in-law-to-be wanted me to take the earing out of my ear and cut my hair for the wedding pictures but I literally told him to f*ck off with that 80s flair of mullet don't care-ism.

Fortunately my uncaring coolness did not have any impact on the course of Spoon's marriage.  The fool has been married for two decades now and he has a son that just started his freshman year at college.

The fact that Mark is Jewish and I am a Muslim has never been an issue between the two of us - the fact that he is somewhat of a liberal centrist (dare I say borderline Republican) who loves radio talk shows annoys me to no end though.

Anyway, I expect that our reunion is gonna be "epic" like my boy Kweli might say.  And again when I make my way down to the Florida Keys.

I expect that there will be a lot of dredging through back in the day memories like the summer vacation we hung out in Ocean City, Maryland, listening to Huey Lewis and the News and making out with young 'uns who had fringes that could get caught in a ceiling fan on a good day.

I love the 80s.  It was an awesome decade of foolish phoniness and the music was empty but not forgotten to us - our mullets are sadly gone now along with Michael and his mirror.

My first Tears for Fears concert in Baltimore was perhaps the most memorable of all concert moments Mark and I shared.  The warm-up band was terrible. We had seats close to the stage and Mark was venting loudly.  He was impatient and wanted Roland and Kurt to hurry up and come on stage.

At one point the lead singer of the warm-up band said: 'We gonna do a song for you from our last album."

Without missing a beat Mark stood up indignantly and shouted: "Good!  It should be your last album 'cause you all suck."

It was a classic Beavis and Butthead moment long before Mike Judge put the dudes on MTV.

Folks all around us started cracking up and the dude on the stage stared back in absolute shock.

Anyway, I had a crush a day in the 80s it seems.  Got my ears pierced like the boys in Wham and I fell in love more times than I changed the oil in my Trans Am. (If life was even remotely fair this sista would have been my wife then and probably now too ... well you know what I mean.)

The 80s made cringe worthy cool.  So in memory of the decade before safe sex here is one late summertime shake your head in disbelief shout out to the mostly wasted days of our youth.


Message to Spoon: I would not change a damn thing about the 80s ... well there is one thing, I should not have got engaged to that Cuban sista you introduced me to.

I think she has mostly forgiven you though.

Dunno ;0)


Kweli said...

Be careful, Ridi. My friends who visit Kenya from here in the Beast warn me that reunions are great, but playing "remember when" is dangerous :D. Sometimes it opens up a vortex that takes a coupla hours or even days to come out of.

A black hole.

Perhaps "remember when" occasionally gives one that ant-in-amber feeling.

Ridwan said...

I think your friends have a point Kweli.

My 'remember when' return has caused me to be stuck and brought on a hangover of sorts.

Somewhere in the farewell dinner for Spoon last night I looked at him and said: "Do you think we would be friends for three decades if we met today?"

He said: "Probably not because we have little in common and your blog would scare me off."

He is probably right. At times in life we invest too much relevance in what was without taking into consideration that back-then was described by context(s) - a midlife crisis often underlies all of this.

Reliving back-then is, therefore, a precarious exercise in rearward wishful thinking (even reconstruction) aided by the ever faulty lens of memory.

Nonetheless, I guess we can take a page out of the persistence of whiteness and say the past is in the past or that the past is acknowledged so let's move.

It seems to have worked for that historical brand of identity myopia.

Dunno ;)

Peace my brother,

Kweli said...

Ok, that "let's take a page out of whiteness bit" is hilarious.