Happy Tuesday world.
At some point early along in my adolescent life, both my mother and father had to work during the summer. I think this was the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years of junior highschool. That would’ve made me about thirteen or so, and my brother around ten. 6th grade was my first year in Florida, so I hadn’t yet built up any real network of friends, and I entered that first summer after my first year at junior high without much prospects for socialized fun aside from interacting with my brother. And, since it’d been he and I up until that point anyway… I don’t think it bothered me too much. Anyway, being that our folks were working during the day, this meant that he and would be home alone during the day.
Well, it meant we would’ve been home during the day… had my parents not got us a babysitter.
That’s right; here I am with thirteen long years of life experience… and, in my mind, solidly qualified to care not only for myself, but also for my brother (should the need arise). My parents, however, saw it differently. I remember feeling insulted when my mom told us she’d hired a sitter to come over during the days. I can imagine my teenage brain reeling; what would my (non-existent) friends say? How would I explain this (to David the Gnome)? But, fight it as I might, they were going through with it. Looking back, thinking about things as a parent, I can see the desire to have some adult supervision for a thirteen year old punk and his ten year old brother. I mean, I wasn’t setting forest fires or stealing Now and Laters yet, but I did have that teenage raskishness about me. Anyway, in the end it turns out that our last summer of being babysat made for some good memories… so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.
The first babysitter I remember was a pixie-like college-age girl; short blond hair, very pale, and tiny like a compressed spring, a gymnast. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember (or rather, the thirteen year old in me remembers) that she wasn’t particularly attractive. However, since thirteen year old boys are notorious for having ridiculously high standards, I’m sure that unless she looked like Alyssa Milano from Who’s The Boss I’d think she was dogmeat.
Anyway, the one thing I remember about this babysitter was her taste in music. She was deep into what I know now as the “Madchester” scene, and I recall her listening to things like Candy Flip’s cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and some Happy Mondays stuff. I’ll never forget sitting in the passenger seat as she drove us to the mall one afternoon, watching her work her hand in rhythmic waves to the beat of that crazy Beatles cover… I thought that was so cool. As I got older, and began researching the musical trends of my youth (as all good music nerds at some point do), I realized that she was actually pretty cutting-edge at the time… Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets… pretty cool.
The next babysitter (not sure if we drove the first one away or she could only do part of the summer) was completely different. A big-haired party girl, she spent most of her time “watching” us lounging around the pool in the backyard in a skimpy bikini. Truth be told, I likely kept a much better eye on her that summer than she did on me; it had to be at least 2:1. Oh yeah man, she must have been about nineteen and, to me, she was masturbation incarnate. Again, I can’t seem to remember her name, but I remember her reeking of cheap teenage perfume and hairspray. What’s more, whereas our first sitter treated me appropriately, as a thirteen year old boy – this babysitter saw in me a burgeoning young adult, and interacted with me more like a peer. To me, this was amazing, and likely did wonders to boost my self confidence in the psychological long-run. In fact, I can remember most distinctly one afternoon when she called to talk to my mother.
After telling her I’d go get my mom, but before I actually could, her raspy voice came through the phone, “Hey, guess what I did last night?” Holy crap… this girl was talking to me… asking me a question like we were about to have an honest-to-God conversation or something. My heart raced, my brain ached for the appropriate response… “What,” I asked, trying to sound like I talked to incredibly hot nineteen year old girls on the phone all the time.
“I went to see 2 Live Crew down in Miami.”
My mind raced, I knew something about this… I’d followed the recent national drama around 2 Live Crew on the MTV news, I’d even listened to their debut offering on Luke Skyywalker records back before I left California (how cool was I!?). Bottom line: if I responded right, I stood a chance at being relevant here.
I asked her about the performance, did the cops show up?, how crazy was it?, did they do “Throw the Dick?” She proceeded to tell me how wild the show was, how there were girls taking their tops off and, yes, the cops did come (I’m not sure if this was the famous show where the band was arrested or not). And thereafter that minute and a half marked the most engaging conversation I’d had with a female in my post-pubescent life. Here I was, a barely-teenager talking about stuff I really didn’t have much clue about, and doing best to discover my own game before I knew what game even was. And I did it, too. We talked for a bit before I handed the phone over to my mom; I handled it with aplomb.
Ah… that blissfully empowering memory almost makes me forget the teenage shame of once rummaging through her duffel bag in search of her thong…
Funny, I guess both of those babysitter memories involve music. What do ya know. Anyway, I think we may even have had one more sitter over the course of those three months, but she must have been rather unremarkable in the end.
Dear Lord I wrote! Call the papers.
OK, before I go, I wanted to pass along this thread I saw on reddit the other day. Y’know, we all drew that thing in 6th grade too… it’s like some vast international mind-meld or something. Crazy.