Sunday, February 16, 2014

No. 109 – We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)

Performer: Peter Gabriel
Songwriter: Peter Gabriel
Original Release: So
Year: 1986
Definitive Version: The studio version.

I can’t write about this song and not at least mention my favorite episode of Miami Vice, in which this song is featured prominently. It’s the episode when Crockett’s nemesis returns.

The intro is a montage of the previous episode over the haunting melody of We Do What We’re Told, and as PG sings the final line, the screen goes dark and the title placard reads “two years later.” I remember watching that, thinking, oh, Hackman’s coming back?! Sweet! And mayhem gloriously ensues.

About the same time that episode aired in 1988, I decided to do something I wasn’t told to do but did anyway, and it paid off handsomely.

A week or so after Jin visited me in New Buffalo with her friend Melanie, Scott was scheduled to come up. The two of us were going to go see Steve and Garry in concert. This was to be their first show since the Horizonfest with Joe Walsh in 1987 (good ol’ No. 594). I’d gotten Scott on the S&G bandwagon, and he was geeked to see them.

Part of his plan was to drive up to Albion and spend Friday night with Jin. Then he would drive to New Buffalo the next day, and we’d head to the Rialto Theater in Joliet, where I got us good seats on the floor.

However, given recent events, I saw this part of Scott’s weekend as a golden opportunity. I decided to drive to Albion and surprise Jin and Scott … as well as Melanie. OK, let’s face it: I was going to see Melanie, using my family as an excuse.

I left early Friday afternoon, as soon as I finished whatever it was I was working on for Harbor Country News and arrived after classes but before dinner … and before Scott. Jin and Melanie roomed together the previous semester. Now, they were across the hall from each other. I knocked at Melanie’s door, clutching the flowers I’d purchased for the occasion, but no one answered. So I went across the hall and knocked on Jin’s door.

Jin was as shocked to see me as I’d ever seen her when she saw who was knocking. She asked what I was doing there, and I said, well, I didn’t have anything better to do; I knew Scott was coming; why not come and hang out?

Of course, she saw the flowers. OK, I confessed that, just maybe, they might be for Melanie. Jin knew that Melanie and I got together when they visited, and she took this opportunity to lay down the law. “You better not hurt her.” (Little did she know.) I promised that I had only the best of intentions. I wasn’t leading her on at all. If I had been, I wouldn’t be there right now.

Right at about that time, Melanie came home from wherever she had been. She saw Jin’s door was open and came over to say, hey. I’ll never forget what happened next.

Melanie was in mid-sentence, saying something about class, when she pushed opened the door and saw me, now holding out the flowers for her. She squealed in surprise and delight, and then did it again, this time hopping up and down for emphasis. Oh yeah! He shoots and scores!

Any admonishment Jin had for me went out the window, and if I hadn’t already thrown caution to the wind the previous weekend, caution long had been blown away now. After Melanie put the flowers in her room, the three of us had a great reunion in Jin’s room and were chatting away wildly when Scott showed up.

I hid behind the door, so when he came in, I reached around the door and grabbed him. That freaked him out until he saw who was applying the long arm of the law. He completed the troika of surprised folks.

I was in heaven that evening. I had Jin and Scott with me and my new … well, I guess I can call her my girlfriend at this point, right? We went out to dinner at Jin’s favorite place in town and had a great time. Of course, Scott took the couch in Jin’s room—he made a reservation, after all—so guess where I stayed? In paradise.

Melanie and I stayed up late in her bed—her roommate never came home—kissing and talking. I think that was when Melanie, eager to take the next step in our rapidly mushrooming relationship—as was I—told me about her health issue. We couldn’t do anything more even though we both wanted to until she had it taken care of when she went home for the summer, which was in a few weeks. I told her I definitely would be waiting … feverishly.

The concert the next day was fun, but I already enjoyed the highlight of my weekend. When it was over, and Scott was on his way the next day, it felt strange to be alone in my apartment. After the previous weekend and then being with Melanie again, I could feel her presence everywhere. What an unexpectedly delightful turn of events had taken place that April.

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