Don't Stop Believin'

I pulled my bedroom door shut to face the full length mirror.  I didn't particularly like what I saw, but it was better than usual.

Riding the wave of The Official Preppy Handbook, I donned hunter green, plaid, bermuda shorts with a yellow cotton blouse with a ruffle detail down the placket.  Matching yellow knee-socks and penny loafers completed the ensemble.

I had spent hours attempting to curl my hair with hot rollers, and had succeeded in burning the prints off my fingertips, with very few curls to show for it.  I coaxed my bangs into wings like the lady on the Vidal Sassoon commercial, but they failed to take flight.

A touch of Cover Girl blue eye shadow and a swipe of Bonne Bell strawberry lip gloss, all my mother would allow me to wear, were the only enhancements to the awkward angles of my thirteen-year-old brace-face.

The honk of my friend's mom's car out front ended my self-critique session, and I took a deep breath, slid my lucky rabbit's foot into my front pocket, and walked out the door to my first Junior High school dance.


Exhaustion, a huge dinner, too-tight jeans, and the promise of an early morning wake up call from the three-year old were all working against me as I struggled to stay alert waiting for the God-Awful opening band to finish.

This is what one must endure in order to see a Journey cover band late on a Friday night.

Husband had kept my expectations low, informing me that the lead singer was no Steve Perry, but he was tolerable.  I was desperate enough for a hit of nostalgia to be okay with that.  Too much Katy Perry and What Does the Fox Say had been burning my ears, thanks to the nine-year old.  I needed to hear some good, live music to cleanse my palate.

When the band, Raised on Radio, finally took the stage, the first thing I noticed was the four-foot tall, bald lead singer, wearing thick, black glasses.  A cross between Woody Allen and Moby, as one of our friends astutely noted.

But when he opened his mouth, it was good.  It was better than good.  It was about a 7.5 on the Steve Perry Richter Scale.  He hit the high notes in Separate Ways.  He echoed the perfect amount of emotion and energy for Lights.

The guitar solos were dead-on. The drums and keyboards were there. When I closed my eyes, they took me back to that gymnasium in seventh grade, wilting away in the corner, tugging on my sagging knee socks while other girls passed by en route to the dance floor.

The opening keyboard notes of Open Arms tenderly tugged me back to the present, and I grabbed Husband, basking in the reality that I eventually bloomed into a girl with whom someone wanted to dance.

He smiled and laughed and pulled me close.  I buried my face in his chest, breathing in his familiar scent.

Forget partying like it’s 1999.

Tonight, I am going to slow dance like it's 1983.


  1. Going out for the evening is no easier now than it was then, just for entirely different reasons.

  2. Love this story. Great details, I felt like I was standing beside you at the gym wall, waiting to be asked to dance.

  3. I love how you love music. Don't stop believing indeed.

  4. Extremely well narrated!

    Popping over from the yeahwrite grid.

    1. Thanks very much, Shailaja. Glad you stopped by.

  5. I remember the prep handbook! Loved this glimpse of the 7th grade you and the swan you became.

    1. I'm digging around looking for that preppy handbook...I know I have it here somewhere!

  6. Steve Perry was the best. There is nothing like hearing those old Journey songs on a great sound system. Just asked my husband and he saw Perry and Journey in 1980 when he was in Minneapolis when he was in high school. I never was so lucky. Loved reading about you getting ready with hot rollers. Looking at those old pictures of me getting married 25 years ago this month, made me think -- why the hot rollers?

    1. Your husband was lucky to see them...I never had that chance, either. And I am convinced that hot rollers are the work of the devil! Congrats on 25 years of marriage!!!


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