Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Songs of Summertime

"The Warrior" - Scandal, faturing Patty Smyth

This song reminds me of summer because it relates to a funny story from the summer of 1985. I was 18, living at home with my parents in a large 2 bedroom apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. It was mid-August and I was home on a Friday night (I was home on ALL Friday nights but this one in particular relates to the story) and was watching TV in my bedroom. I heard music playing, but it wasn't my downstairs neighbors, it was coming from out back.

The apartments in my building were long. Bedroom 1 was up front and the second bedroom was half way down a long hallway. Further down was the dining room and then the kitchen. I went out to the kitchen to inspect the source of the music. It was one of those really warm nights after a stifling hot day. I could see light coming from the apartment next door, reflected on the shared back porch. I opened the door and could hear a party happening next door.

My next door neighbors were gay. They had lived in the building for a couple of months. In my mind, they were old, realistically they were probably 30-ish. They dressed "funny," wearing shredded cutoff jeans and vests and tank tops and work boots. they looked like gay people I had seen in shows about San Francisco or images from the Gay Pride parade on the news. When they moved in, I was intrigued by them. I would watch for them to leave their apartment or come home. I wanted to know what made them different. After weeks of studying them, I learned that NOTHING made them different, at least outside of their apartment. What happened inside of their four walls was unclear to me, but also none of my business.

So, back at the party, whose music had leaked out onto the back porch, I quietly opened my back door. "The Warrior" was playing. The porches were dimly lit, much of the light came from their kitchen window. I stood at my screen door and looked. One of my neighbors was on his porch enjoying the music. He was in short denim shorts and a white tank, and he was dancing, alone. As the words "Bang Bang, I am the Warrior" were sung, he held up his left and right hands, mimicking a gun, as if he were shooting in the air. He was in his own world and loving the moment. I laughed to myself but at the same time I was fascinated. I stood and listened for a couple minutes more before quietly closing the door. I didn't want to disturb his fun.

To this day, when I hear that song, I laugh a little because I picture that neighbor doing his dance on that warm August night.

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