So, I’m driving home from Walmart, in the rain, mind you, when I pop on the radio and what’s playing on Sirius 70s on 7? England Dan and John Ford Coley’s hit from 1976, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.” Within 20 seconds I’m sobbing into the steering wheel and yelling at the windshield (which was foggy, but that’s neither here nor there) “That man stole my youth!!!!”
Now, to set this outburst into context: Before making the always-regrettable decision to head to Walmart, I’d been watching a “Modern Family” marathon, specifically, the one where Haley goes off to college, and it hit me like the head of the Statue of Liberty’s head from “Cloverfield” that I’d never, ever had those years to enjoy. Not that I’d never mused much about it in the intervening eon, but I’d never quite thought of it in terms of what this particular song would have meant to me if I’d been spending that autumn of 1976 visiting colleges and anticipating all the cool stuff I would be experiencing, even though the real me in 1976 had absolutely no clue about college life, (plus, I’d been bullied so much by my father that I was afraid of my own shadow).
This song should have been a paean to my youth. In later years it should have evoked memories of being giggly with my roommate while we painted each other’s toenails and drank cheap wine, watching some popular coming-of-age movie (on a black-and-white TV with a wire-hanger antenna since there were no VCRs, and not a lot of cable coverage, back then). It should have reminded me of that time when my high-school crush showed up on campus and serenaded me, al la John Cusack. It should have reminded me of big hair and bright colored clothing and shoulder pads, and pushed–up sleeves, and …
Unfortunately, what it meant to me in my real life was this: Throughout the summer of 1976 my parents had been pushing me, yea kicking me yea, holding a virtual gun to my head yea, forcing me at scimitar point to walk the plank into marrying a man 7+ years my senior, whom I had not ever even thought about, let alone nurtured any warmer, hotter, sexier, saltier feeling about.
No. At that portentous time in a girl’s life, 17, when the ED/JFC hit was playing, I was wielding a putty knife, peeling wallpaper (and trying not to gouge the plaster) in an old house next to the kingdom hall building site, singing along to the radio, dimly not having a clue about the meaning of “We’ve both played that game before, say ‘I love you’ then say goodbye.” No. Instead, I was cluelessly puzzling in my brain about this virtual stranger I was engaged to and why he “loved” me so much. We’d hardly ever interacted. He’d been away at Bethel for several years, and… (brain exit stage left) well, no matter, Mom and Dad approve very strongly of this guy, so that’s [Watchtower] good enough for me.
I spent the next 4 years doing…well, it wasn’t fun, but it was an education.
So, good-bye college, I never knew ye.