Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Summer Project: Lame-duck childhood (1984)

With August 2015 dragging a little, I started thinking about Augusts past, which I've done before in the blog. But the August that is permeating my brain is 1984. I started high school that month, and the few weeks before now seemed like a transition. Of course, it was a transition, but August bridged the two phases more than I could ever imagined.

Here's the bizarre thing about those three weeks of August before school began: I don't remember much about them. Summer 1984 was so memorable, but not the end of it. The Olympics had ended. The Cubs weren't collapsing, and the conclusion was foregone by that point that they would win the division. Channel 66, which had been playing music videos all summer, transitioned into a normal TV station (airing an array of old reruns). Most of the music popular around this time I associate with earlier in the summer or September (with a couple exceptions: "If Ever You're in My Arms Again" by Peabo Bryson and "Go Insane" by Lindsay Buckingham).

I know I golfed once, with my dad and aunt at Waveland Golf Course early one morning. I read "The Pearl," which was summer reading for my freshman English class (I had torn through "Fahrenheit 451" earlier in the summer). And I probably watched "All My Children" every day. And that's how I concluded the last weeks of my time as a non-high schooler. Exciting, huh?

Part of the perceived malaise, and lack of memory, about those few weeks, might have just been August itself. Part of it might have just been fear -- I was pretty damn nervous about starting high school. And as that nervousness increased, perhaps I gave up on trying to cling to the kid I was just a few weeks earlier. I was a lame duck in August 1984, moving on from the safety of grade school, not quite yet a teenager (though I was technically 13) and a high schooler. There was simply nothing to extract from those three week; I needed to start high school and move on, sort of like pulling the Band-Aid off.

The metaphor I developed is these cheap, cheap audio cassettes I bought from Kay-Bee Toys (a two-pack for a dollar) that summer, and were using to record songs off the radio right around August 1984. The tapes were crap, producing a whistling sound on everything I recorded. A couple survived (I even converted one to mp3), but the audio quality is terrible. After the screeching debacle, I for the most part stopped buying cheap cassettes, getting a few discount ones from Venture (I think), then going with TDKs, Maxells, and Memorexes the rest of my taping career. I realized that if I liked taping songs off the radio, I needed to move on.

In August 1984, I think I realized I needed to move on. But I wasn't in a rush.

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