Turn Me Loose

1981 was a big year for me. That was the year I graduated from college, started my second career, and finally began settling into that “family guy” role I’d been dreaming of for nearly a decade. But this “transitional phase” was anything but a smooth one. The economy wasn’t the greatest that year, and just as many new grads are discovering in the economy of today, having a freshly printed degree in hand – even one for Electronics Engineering Technology – wasn’t exactly knocking down the doors of the burgeoning electronics industry for me as I’d hoped. All of which left me feeling just a tad stressed out and scrambling for ways to feel more in control of over where all this was headed.

So, since the whole reason I’d chosen electronics in the first place was because I wanted to work in the music industry, I took a really bad summer job as an “assistant to” (i.e., glorified “roadie” for) the sound engineer of a local but very popular “funk rock” band. The pay totally sucked and the work was decidedly more “labor” than it was “mental,” but it was still very exciting, and yet extremely stressful. And it taught me a couple of very important lessons. The first was that I wasn’t cut out for the chaos and confusion associated with the live performance side of the music industry. The second was that I had kind of a knack for problem solving – at least when it came to electronics – a talent that came in quite handy in the long term job I did eventually land later on in the year.

Anyway, I also did a lot of things to relieve the accumulating stress of that summer. I really did try to discover the joys and peace I thought spending lots of time with family and friends would bring, but that just seemed to add to, rather than reduce, the level of stress I felt. And although the things I did at home to relax, like reading, listening to music, and tinkering with various electronics projects, did help, “wasting time” on those things left me looking a bit like an inconsiderate jerk to my wife. So I did what any barely adult, inconsiderate male jerk that didn’t have a clue how to handle life would do: I started looking for “excuses” to “escape without looking like I wanted to escape!”

The first thing I did was to gleefully jump on any opportunity to just get in my car and drive somewhere, anywhere (to the grocery store, to “help” someone fix something), as long as it got me out of the house where I could at least listen to music as loudly as I wanted without having to feel guilty for doing so. Ironically, the band Loverboy was big that year, and their song with the equally ironic name of Working For The Weekend was on the radio a LOT. The damned thing was so catchy that I ended up using a trip to the record store to buy the Get Lucky album it was from as yet another excuse to get into my car and drive.

But I got tired of just driving around, and that eventually lead me to stop at the place where I ended up “wasting” the most time of all at that summer – a video arcade. And that is where, in yet another great twist of irony, I ultimately created one of the most enduring “mental associations” of my life, between, believe it or not, the arcade version of a game called Qix and the song “Turn Me Loose” from Loverboy’s self-titled 1980 debut album!

Let’s see if you can see the very subtle, almost subliminal, things that connect the two:

Yeah, that was me: “The craziest boy you’ve ever seen” – hell bent on escaping being “hemmed up” by the very life I’d been dreaming of having for so damned long!

BTW, it turns out that my favorite song from that “Get Lucky” album wasn’t “Working For The Weekend” after all, but rather When It’s Over instead – a song advising a woman to run for her life to escape her barely adult, totally self-absorbed, inconsiderate jerk of a boyfriend – how’s that for irony! 😳

I want ice water.

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7 thoughts on “Turn Me Loose

    • I played them all Loon, spending as much as $25 in quarters in a night. My favorite was Galaxian, but that sound the Qix game made (which is what the song reminded me of) has stuck with me to this day! 😀

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  1. Strange the associations we make. I had a job back in the 80’s that made me crazed. To relieve tension I would run across the street to a 7-11 to play a game, for the life of me I cannot remember the name anymore, but I would play it for my entire lunch break. Now and then I still see that game in arcades.

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    • As strong as that association is in my mind, I had to search around and watch more than a few videos to remind myself of that game’s name. And although I see arcade style games here and there, like at the bowling alley near where I live, I really didn’t know that full blown arcades even existed anymore until you said that Val. They were such big and obvious places for such a long time afterwards, but being “hidden away” inside a converted 2-story home near the OSU campus, it was hard to tell the one I spent all that time at in 1981 was even there!

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  2. Pingback: Oh No, Not The Lady Juice! | I Want Ice Water!

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