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Closing in on 30.

No, not me. Puh-lease. I clearly passed that ages ago. But do you know who's turning 30 on Monday? MTV, that's who. THIRTY!

Wait. Thirty? You have got to be kidding me. I mean I feel like it wasn't all that long ago when I sat with my across-the-street neighbor Jeff and his younger sister Jenny, all of us cross-legged on his mom's king size water bed in anticipation of the first MTV video.

For those of you not in the know, MTV first aired on August 1st, 1981 at midnight. Midnight in NYC was 4pm in Kailua, Hawaii. Cable was new and there was no such thing as time delay.

I was always over at Jeff's house. His mom worked all the time and was never home. It was me, Jeff and Jenny and sometimes their older brother John. Jeff and John cooked dinner for themselves, which I thought was fascinating. Jeff taught me how to make banana bread from the bananas we picked out of his back yard. Jeff tutored me to the highest final exam grade in our Alegra class - even higher than him. Even higher than the smart kids who took special classes at the high school. Booya.

Jeff was the second boy I ever smooched, on a dare from his sister Jenny. The first boy was a creepy friend of my brother's. I was invited by his friends to play a game of Spin the Bottle at a party at our house (my mother, tucked discreetly and quietly back in her room). I thought I was with the Cool Older Kids. It turns out to be kinda weird playing Spin the Bottle with your brother there. Simply awkward. I got a nano-second smooch from the boy who was NOT Zane Syden, who was totally the boy I would have been happy to kiss. He was hot. But I smooched the creep and ran. I high-tailed it outta there, buddy.   

But the kiss from Jeff was just more funny than anything else. It was a dare, in front of his sister Jenny, in the evening dark of my front yard. I have some strange memories of that moment: the hum of the TV playing inside my house. The tickle on my bare arm of the hibiscus plant leaf, a neat row of them growing up the length of our porch. I remember holding my breath, the smell of Jeff's warm, slightly oily skin and the flush on my face when we parted faces and laughed at ourselves. How brave we were and how silly his sister was for even thinking of daring us.

But all that happened after those first videos that aired on 8.1.81. We had just met, really. Our family moved onto their street that very summer. School hadn't started yet. We were still young enough to play outside all day. We weren't quite old enough to start getting into a little trouble, like stealing kisses on a dare. Or sneaking out into the street after our parents had long been sleeping, just to stand under the street light and whisper and try not to laugh too loudly. Sometimes his siblings were there, sometimes my brother came out too and the five of us would sit on Jeff's lava stone wall and just talk. Talk away the night- of what? I have zero recollection. No, that's not true. I remember talking about that all new girl band The Go-Go's....they all played their own instruments! COOL! And how super-cute Simon LeBon was, but like, totally not as cute as the boy Brooks who I had a totally rad crush of for like, all of eighth grade. Fer sure, like y'know? 

The first video ever played on MTV was, as most people know, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. What most people can't seem to recall is the second. I always do. It was "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar. I remember sitting there with Jeff and Jenny watching this second video in awe. Pat Benatar was a woman and she was strong! Not a hippy like Janis Joplin or a country singer like Loretta Lynn or a folks singer like Linda Ronstadt. Pat Benatar was a Rock Star. My rock star. A rock star for the girls who wanted to be just as strong and fierce and as unabashedly wear red lipstick. Yeah, I wanted to be just like her. Still do. 

I miss the innocence of that time in my life. Sometimes a little too much, methinks. But when I do, I just listen to a few songs from back then and that feeling fades. I listen to songs like "Saved by Zero" by The Fixx. "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. "Sexy and 17" by The Stray Cats. "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran. "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. "Open Arms" by Journey. I love those songs. 

Today the TV is playing all kinds of crazy retro, 30 year old MTV clips on VH1 Classic. Martha Quinn was so cute. The music and the videos remind me of so much. It brings a smile to my face. It made me look up my friend Jeff on Facebook, just to see what he was up to. We've remained friends, though distant ones, after I left Hawaii in 1984. I kept up with him as I tended to do: an always-moving Marine Brat made me an excellent pen pal. Now Jeff is a tall, tan and chiseled athlete. He's successful and attractive and has been together with his partner Jeff, for longer than I can remember. Jeff and Jeff. It's kinda too cute. 

This vintage TV has me in a remeniscent sort of fuzz today. I won't tell The Candyman though because he has no patience for my little girl tales, no patience for youthful longing. It's okay though, because it's the music that I need in times like this, nothing more. So in honor of these 30 years since that king sized water bed at Jeff's house, I give you the coolest chick I knew in 1981. Happy Birthday, MTV.


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Reader Comments (1)

Oh, Lordy, how I wish I had cable this weekend! You've got ME having flashbacks, too! I loved my MTV in the 80s. Loved it. Remember Flock of Seagulls? They weren't my favorite, but, Dude, how can we ever forget that guy's hair? As for The Fixx, Matthew saw them in concert a couple of months ago. He is still a huge fan.

I'm feeling the need for a meme list: Favorite music videos of the 1980s.

P.S. Janis rocked.

July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGEW

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