Performer: Phil Collins
Songwriter: Phil Collins
Original Release: Hello, I Must Be Going!
Definitive Version: RKO Captured Live, 1983
When the RKO Captured Live concert was broadcast over Q-FM in summer 1985, Scott’s tape recorder was rolling. I got a copy, and I played that tape all the time.
I have a distinct memory of being out on the little side porch at Dad and Laura’s house during the radio broadcast, but that’s not what I’m going to write about. This song ostensibly is about sex and subterfuge, and in the summer of 1985, Beth and I pulled off a little scheme that involved both.
The full nature of our relationship at that point wasn’t made public as far as the parental types were concerned. I mean, my parents knew that Beth and I at least probably had consummated our romance by that time—it’d been three years after all—but Beth’s parents were kept in the dark.
Beth’s parents weren’t the most strict in the world, but we snuck around on them out of courtesy if nothing else. At the time, I assumed it had to do with Beth’s mom’s firm Catholicism, but the truth was that it probably had more to do with the fact that Beth hadn’t turned 18 until the previous December. Not only was I robbing the cradle, I technically was breaking the law. Regardless, it definitely was a situation of their ignorance was our bliss.
Having been together as long as we had been by that time, Beth and I wanted to do more than just dates around town or family vacations. Mike’s girlfriend was spending the summer working in Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie and had been talking about how great it was. Beth wanted to go there, just us, for a weekend, and, of course, wanting a chance to be with her by myself, I was all in favor of that.
The problem, of course, was we couldn’t just announce that we’re going to go to Put-in-Bay for a weekend. So we came up with an obvious solution: Dad and Laura were taking the family to Torch Lake for a week. Beth had been to Torch Lake twice already. We would just say we were going to Torch Lake for the weekend. (In case you were wondering, Beth, herself, wasn’t the world’s greatest Catholic. She might have done fear, but she didn’t do guilt.)
The scheme would work flawlessly, unless an emergency came up and Beth’s parents needed to call Torch Lake. So we needed a few trustworthy people on the inside who could help us in such an occasion, and Jin and Scott wouldn’t be sufficient.
I don’t know why it occurred to me that it would be OK to ask my father and stepmother to cover for me while I was sneaking off with my girlfriend. But Beth, who was very close to Laura, broached the subject first. To my delight, Laura said she thought it was a great idea for us to take a vacation together. It wasn’t likely that she would need to cover for us, but she said she would.
Now this is the part of the story where—if this were a TV show or a dopey rom com movie—you would fully expect that something would go awry, and Beth and I would end up getting our comeuppance while being taught a valuable life lesson about the meaning of trust. It didn’t happen. Dad and Laura never needed to lie for us, because Beth’s parents never called.
Beth and I had a great weekend. We drove to Port Clinton Friday and spent the night there—I couldn’t afford to stay on the island, and make no mistake: I was paying for everything. The next day we took the ferry to Put-in-Bay, rented a tandem bike and rode around South Bass Island. We went to the top of the Perry victory memorial, stopped off to see Mike’s girlfriend and did a little shopping.
The next day we decided to drive to Sea World for the Shamu show and looked at the other exhibits before heading home, arriving more or less on schedule.
Sure, there was plenty of sex. At least I’m pretty sure there was, but it’s funny: It wasn’t that memorable, at least compared with other times. It was like, now that we were alone, we didn’t have to sneak it in when we could. We could enjoy the day and maybe partake once, or a half-dozen times, before going to sleep—together—that night. In some ways, it was the first time we acted more like we were in a relationship than just merely dating. It felt more grown-up.
It turns out, long after Beth and I had parted ways, I finally realized that this song isn’t so much about sex and subterfuge as it is the pain of loneliness. I also found out that Beth’s parents might not have been as ignorant as we had led ourselves to believe. By then, it was all water around the island.