There are a few moments in my life I can look back on and just smile at the luck, timing, and synchronicity of it all. Winning tickets from my favorite radio station to see Bryan Adams in 1987 is way at the top of the list.
I’ve referenced this story before but I knew I wrote a longer piece about this event so I had a look through all my old posts. I admit, I was going to phone in a re-run for today’s post. But I couldn’t find the story anywhere. Which was weird because I knew I wrote it. I spent lots of time searching tags but to no avail. Finally I thought, maybe it’s not on the blog but somewhere else? But where?
Have you ever had that happen? You know you wrote something but when you go looking for it the thing just doesn’t seem to exist anywhere other than your head? So I did a search through my files and turns out I wasn’t crazy. I had written about it before. In a paper for school. My upper level English class got to read about my fun win before you guys, sorry. So because I wrote an A+ version the first time I’m just going to run the story in its entirety here. Please note it’s kind of long (1500-ish words). Also please note I’m including a lot of school related stuff to the original post date.
Thinking About Our Younger Years
By Jennifer Shon
ENG: 325 Intermediate Composition
Week 2 final paper
August 29, 2011
“In 1987 I was fourteen years old and like many teenage girls I had a burning love affair with pop music. That year, just before I entered high school, my mom had managed to save enough to purchase her first home. My parents had gotten divorced seven years prior and my sister and I lived very frugally with our mom. Without much extra to go around, my sister and I turned to music as our most frequent source of entertainment. There were only a few popular radio stations in Boston at the time and one of them was the seemingly everlasting Kiss 108.
When I was a teenager Kiss would play all the top 40 hits and back then those hits were relatively light on hip-hop, heavy on pop and hair bands. Bryan Adams was a staple of the station; not an hour went by without hearing “Run to You” or “Summer of ‘69”. I wasn’t alive yet in the year 1969, I also didn’t have a clue what the six-string was that he sang about, but none of that mattered. He just rocked. His album Reckless topped the charts in the United States and I’d been a fan since his second album, Cuts like a Knife; in the back of my mind I was always humming “na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.” I heard that he was coming to play close to Boston, in Worcester, but there was no way I would be buying tickets without a job and my penny-pinching family certainly wouldn’t be taking my sister and I to the show. Feeling defeat, I would turn the crackling speakers of my stereo way up every time his songs played and visualized dancing in the front row as he belted out his gravelly vocals.
Most days after school I was either, doing sports, or trying to get out of going home to do homework by hanging out with my friends. As freshmen none of us were driving yet and, as geeks, none of us hung out with the cool upperclassmen that had wheels. Nearing the end of the school year, gymnastics was over, and I was feeling particularly lazy one spring afternoon so instead of walking to the center after classes I decided to just go home. My mom worked until five o’clock and my sister was still in afterschool care so I was bound to have the house all to myself. I was looking forward to turning up the radio, singing into my curling iron and writing in my journal.
Upon entering the front door I was greeted with the peeling wallpaper that came with the house. It was an unusually warm day and the house was quite musty. Humidity hung inside our little 800 square foot ranch house and forced dust to plume upward with each step across our pea soup colored carpet. Some of that dust had probably been trapped in that carpet since my parents bought it in the early 70’s when they got married. As I headed for my bedroom I wondered why they didn’t each get half of it in the divorce.
I tossed my school bag onto my bed and it immediately sank into the sea of laundry and blankets that my mom likely picked up off the floor that morning after I had left for school. I frowned because the pile was so high I could barely see the top of the posters of Sean Astin I had hanging on the wall. I shoved the blankets and questionably clean acid washed jeans down near the end of my bed and grabbed my dual-cassette boom box as I headed for the kitchen. The radio was always set to Kiss 108 so I didn’t have to turn the dial; I clicked it to “FM” on my way to the fridge.
I heard Wang Chung begging everyone to have fun and opened the door to the fridge not expecting to find much that wasn’t at least a week old and starting to get fuzzy. With a sigh I grabbed a box of crackers and started toward the sofa when the DJ’s voice came in at the end of the song “Caller ten wins a pair of tickets to see Bryan Adams at the Centrum.” The crackers landed on the kitchen table as, in one smooth motion, I flung myself at the phone. Faster than a tween can send a text message, I dialed the station. Busy. Hang up. Dial again. Busy. Hang up. Dial again. Ringing! I briefly considered that maybe they’d gotten their caller and killed the lines but my heart jumped into my throat when I heard “Kiss 108 who’s this?”
With that rapidly beating vital organ half blocking my windpipe, I stammered to utter my own name to the voice on the other end of the line. I knew that voice well. It was the voice of the afternoon DJ; the same voice I just heard asking for caller ten. In one more beat of my heart I realized that I was caller ten. I managed to swallow my heart back down into my chest as he confirmed my utter disbelief by saying “You’ve just won two tickets to see Bryan Adams!” My immediate reaction was to yell “
SHUT UP!” and the DJ just said “No.” I thought we both laughed but I’m pretty sure I managed to squeal instead. After five seconds of banter that felt like an hour to me, he asked “What station gives you the best tickets?” With an overly excited, resounding reply of “Kiss 108!!” I knew I would hear myself on the radio in mere moments. He asked me to hold to give my info and reality set in.
I couldn’t believe it. I won something. On the radio. I had never won anything in my entire life and I won tickets to see my favorite singer. Tickets I had been dying for. Tickets I knew we couldn’t afford to buy. I couldn’t wait for my sister to get home so I could tell her the news! As I gave my address to the woman who picked up the line my excitement to tell everyone I knew grew bigger than my bangs. But when I hung up the phone I suddenly panicked – how would I even get to Worcester? My sister was obviously going with me to the show but it wasn’t like an eleven year old had any better access to a car than I did.
By the time I got around to calling my dad I was running out of options but he said he’d be more than willing to take us. My fluorescent orange, size seven Keds left the floor at least five times while I jumped around for joy. When my sister arrived home the two of us sprang around the house like Tigger as we hugged and screamed in decibels too high for even a dog to hear. After living with two girls for so long I think it was safe to assume my mom had long before lost all her hearing. She congratulated me on the win and I could tell she was a little relieved when I told her how we were getting to and from the show.
It was excruciating to wait for the tickets to arrive in the mail and even more excruciating to have to wait almost a month for the show itself, but the day finally arrived and my dad wasn’t a second late picking us up. After selecting my nicest, oversized, cable knit sweater, ankle zip jeans with the little denim bow on the back, and ghetto-gold hoops I applied a half a can of AquaNet to my wall of hair and we hugged our smiling mom goodbye. The forty minute ride to Worcester was the only thing separating my sister and me from the stage. When we got there, my dad, worried we might get lost coming out, forced us to repeat the location of the parking spot at least five times. After hearing the first note come blasting out of Bryan Adams’ guitar the only thing either of us remembered was song lyrics.
My dad sat in that parking lot the entire three hours of the show waiting for my sister and me to emerge. I can only imagine how bored he must have been without so much as a book to keep himself entertained. But as my sister has reminded me, there were countless times our mom had to endure our hormone induced, megaphone like lungs so it was his turn. We spent the entire car ride back screaming at each other due to concert induced deafness and teenage excitement. He hardly seemed to notice and that was good because there was nothing quite as awesome to me at age fourteen than winning those tickets and going to the show. That night, truly was, Heaven.”
May’s Month of Music
I’ll Always be Right There – Bryan Adams (iTunes first track)