Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No. 841 – Kiss on My List

Performer: Hall & Oates
Songwriters: Janna Allen, Daryl Hall
Original Release: Voices
Year: 1980
Definitive Version: None

I love the contrast of going from Led Zeppelin to Hall & Oates, and my friend Steve would love even more that I have a Hall & Oates song ahead of Led Zeppelin, because in high school, he hated Led Zeppelin as much as he loved Hall & Oates.

I knew Steve in junior high, but we became friends our junior year in high school. I’ve mentioned Steve’s musical tastes on this list before, but Hall & Oates was his favorite band back then—embarrassingly so. We made sure to mock that choice at every opportunity.

For example, Hall & Oates toured with a warmup band called Steelbreeze, which had a minor MTV hit that was actually pretty good before disappearing forever into the ephemera. The next day when he came to school, I immediately asked him how the Steelbreeze concert was. Then a funny thing happened, I realized later on that I liked this song. And he ended up not hating Led Zeppelin and its satanic music as much as he once did.

I can’t remember when we became friends, but there’s no question that our great bonding experience was video games. This was right in the Pac-Man/Centipede/Donkey Kong nexus, and Steve and I took whatever opportunity we had to go play somewhere. For example, there was a sub shop down by the Scioto River that had Centipede when it first came out, and we’d go down there for lunch, which was close enough to get to during lunch period, but just far enough away that by the time we got there and each played a game, we’d have barely enough time to get back before the next bell. We’d eat in the car.

Before long, Steve and I were checking out arcades around town, but our usual spot was Timeout. Timeout was a hole in the wall, just north of the Lane Avenue/High Street party vortex near Ohio State. It was next to a bar that’s still there called The Library, which is an inspired name for a college bar. “Where are you going tonight, son?” “I’m going to the Library.” “OK, study hard.”

Timeout had all the games. If Timeout didn’t have it, it didn’t exist. It was 30 tokens for $5, which meant after we really got good at a few games, Steve and I could play all night on a single fin: Warlords, Tempest, Asteroids, even the occasional Space Invaders for old time’s sake.

Steve wasn’t a drinker back then, nor was I. And neither of us had girlfriends of any consequence, so we played video games till all hours of the night. And while others in our high school were out partying, having exotic sex and accumulating life experiences never to be forgotten, Steve and I were battling Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde—and listening to Hall & Oates or whatever else was on the radio piped over Timeout's p.a. system.

Slow Times at Upper Arlington High.

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