Performer: The Police
Original Release: Synchronicity
Definitive Version: The Police Live!, 1995
If there was one place that Beth and I went more than any other while out on a date, it has to be Friendly’s Ice Cream. We went for the first time on one of our early dates in 1982, and it led indirectly to a key moment both in our relationship as well as my life.
We stopped at the Friendly’s on Indianola Avenue for milkshakes on our way to the Park of Roses on High Street. At Beth’s urging, we drove down Walhalla Drive, which is a winding downhill drive. When we turned onto High Street, the Fart was filled with smoke.
I thought something was wrong with the engine, and when we pulled off at the park, smoke billowed out of the bottom. I reacted predictably: I took my shake and threw it against a trash can so hard it blew up and sprayed everywhere.
I don’t know if I noted this at some point, but I had a pretty fair temper as a kid, which came from my father. I could snap at a moment’s notice. But doing it in front of Beth—this girl I really liked and who I wanted to keep seeing—put the zap on me. (Keep in mind, this was back when I believed that Dad had beat Mom.)
Beth was scared, I could tell, and I apologized profusely … and then I confessed my temper. Yes, I was upset about my car, but that’s no excuse. I need to get this under control, and I promise I will work on this and I never will hurt you.
She wasn’t pleased by my tantrum but appreciated that we talked about it and forgave me on the spot. Best of all, as you might have guessed, it was just my brakes acting up. When we got back to the Fart, invariably to have it towed somewhere, it started up and the smoke was gone. But I lived up to my word. We fought over the years, but I never snapped—and I kept my temper under control.
Friendly’s also played a role in a funnier story that involved me, Beth and my car—this time the Magic Mazda. We went to the Friendly’s on Henderson Road, which was our home Friendly’s, and drove to Lane Road Park to enjoy our ice cream cones.
This happened, that happened and before long we were in the back seat, each with one eye looking over a shoulder. We were the only ones in the parking lot, and it was well after dark, but the last thing either of us needed was the cops catching us and—worse than arresting us—reporting us to Beth’s parents.
We just finished—I was dressed and disposing our trash; Beth was in the back seat getting dressed—when a car rolled toward us with the lights off. All of a sudden an unmistakable spotlight came on. It was a cop car.
The cop asked what we were doing, and I displayed the Friendly’s trash—Having some ice cream, officer, sir. Have you been drinking? No sir. Beth helpfully added that we were just looking at the stars. OK, he said, knowing full well what had been going on but having no interest in pressing the issue, we’ve had reports of kids over here drinking and littering. Not us, sir. Good night. Good night.
“We were just looking at the stars?” I asked incredulously as I looked up at the completely overcast sky and the still fogged up car windows. Beth, still in the back seat, convulsed in laughter. I imagined the cop laughing his head off, too. Kids …
The coolest thing about the Henderson Friendly’s was that for a long time—I think early on—one of the cool kids from Upper Arlington worked the carryout counter. I’d known Brian since the darkest days of junior high, and he never gave me any trouble. He recognized me, and he was always (ahem) friendly to us when we came to the window.
What made that supercool was I had Beth. It was very important for my immature ego that Brian saw me with her—repeatedly. Check out my hot girlfriend. See? I’m not just the complete loser I might have been back then. I’m cool now.
OK, I wasn’t, really, but, man, being able to do that still felt good.