I was born to run
I was born to dream
The craziest boy you ever seen
I gotta do it my way
Or no way at all
-“Turn Me Loose”, Loverboy
You remember those 12″ round pieces of vinyl with the grooves in them? We called them albums, but technically they were Long Playing records or LPs, for short. Since I started collecting music about the time the cassette tape began to boom and vinyl started to decline, I didn’t own many LPs. One I did own was Loverboy’s Get Lucky, released in 1981. The album opens with three quick licks on a cowbell and launches into their iconic single “Working for the Weekend.”
The album cover featured the backside of a a guy in leather pants and was probably responsible for an increase in leather pants sales in the early ’80s. While I didn’t buy a pair of leather pants (no comment on bandanas, though), the Canadian band quickly became my favorite group. I managed to record a live concert by them off the radio (an advantage of the new media format!) and played it over and over and over.
In July of 1982, I was 14 years old, and it was the summer between middle school and high school. I had just learned Loverboy was coming to town to play the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in August. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect first rock concert!
I had a big problem, though. Being 14 years old, I was too young to drive, and my parents weren’t willing to drop me off at the concert, even with friends. They sure didn’t want to go and see the concert with me, either. I now see their point, but back then….Anyway, I needed a solution.
In our church’s high school youth group, the rising 9th graders started attending summer activities with the older students to begin the middle school to high school transition. I didn’t live far from the church, so frequently, I was able to bum rides home from high schoolers who drove. Just so happens there were two young ladies I managed to secure rides from more often than others.
Jada was a rising senior, attending the same high school I was about to enter. She drove a sweet little blue convertible VW bug. I loved that car. If I had needed a big sister, Jada would have made a great choice.
Then there was Paula. She was also a rising senior but at a different school. She was petite, with short brown hair and an infectious smile. Pixie might be a good way to describe her. Her car wasn’t as cool. Matter of fact, it wasn’t cool at at all – a small Plymouth Horizon or Dodge Omni hatchback – but let’s just say I enjoyed riding with Paula a little bit more. I’m guessing she thought I’d make a great little brother if she needed one!
As the summer clicked along, I kept pondering my dilemma. Then, it hit me. Sometimes the answer is hiding in plain site. I pitched it to my parents. How could they say no? After all, it was a win for everyone. I’d get to the concert, and they wouldn’t have to worry because I’d be with an older, more responsible person. Perhaps they thought it would never work, but, reluctantly, they agreed if Paula would accompany me to the concert, I could go. Step one accomplished.
So, how to pull off step two? I didn’t have much experience asking girls out. OK, I had NO experience asking girls out (middle school dances didn’t count!), but I really didn’t think of it as a date. More of a friendly arrangement. I’ll buy your ticket, if you’ll drive me. I also didn’t think she would consider it if I somehow presented it as a date. I think I was smart enough to realize despite my affinity for Paula, the age gap was a tad much.
I didn’t have much time, since the concert was fast approaching. I decided the best way to present my offer was during a ride home. I soon managed to secure another ride home with Paula. I waited until we pulled into the driveway and sprang it on her. In my mind, I think it went something like this:
Me: “Hey, Loverboy is coming to town. I’ve got two tickets. I’d love to take you, if you wouldn’t mind driving.
Paula: “Oh, I love them. That sounds great!”
In reality, it probably came out like this:
Me: “LoverboyIsComingtoTown,MomandDadSaidIfYoudTakeMeICouldGo!” (Said like the old FedEx commercial speed talking guy)
No matter how it came out, I did it. I had the guts to ask and somehow the message got across. Paula agreed to go with me. I don’t know if I was all that convincing or if my parents bribed her. Either way, the concert was fantastic beyond my expectations, and the company was pretty good, too.
Soon after the concert, school started and my interactions with Paula became much less frequent. She graduated the next summer, and I got my own driver’s license. I haven’t seen her in a long time, and she may not even remember me. She may even deny the whole story. I can only hope every now and then she hears those three cow bells at the beginning of “Working for the Weekend” and smiles. I sure do.