Photograph By Def Leppard

Moon roof open, and the sun rides on our shoulders, a presence as physical as a particularly wise parrot, whispering suggestions in our ear, recalling stories of the last bikini you saw, the last time you were completely submerged in water, the last time you felt the sun burn your skin to red.

And we race to the shore. By we, I mean all of us, the suburbs have emptied and everyone heads south for the shore. It’s like The Great Expansion…if the settlers had fast Japanese cars. We pass people on the highway and they pass us again. Its like go carts, except everyone also keeps their eyes on the medians, the crossover strips, eyeing state cops, as they settle in for their particular brand of holiday cheer.

And the music is loud, it pours out of the open car windows, flows from the moon roof. It’s Def Leppard playing (her choice)…and it’s perfect. It brings me back to when I first heard these songs (for completists and time chasers, its ‘Pyromania’), when I was 18, when I wouldn’t be seen on a beach without a black heavy metal t-shirt and ripped flannel. It was an open challenge to the season, and we always won. Because the summer didn’t know it was playing. .

But that was years ago. And the landscape has certainly changed for the boy. Now, as we fly to the shore, I cast my eye to the passenger seat, and there sits the perfect summer girl. Long dirty blonde hair, makeup that gives a glimmer (gold, of course) to the flash of her blue/green eyes, a two piece bikini (hushed silver metallic), her hand hangs lazily out the passenger window…I allow my eye to follow her gold ringed fingers up her tanned arm, I watch how the wind blows her lace cover all around, a flash of skin, with a maddening repetition; the bikini top revealed, in time with every 10th white line we pass. In time with the kick drum, too.

The music, the clearly 80’s vibe of excess and a certain misogyny, big beats, processed guitars, too many vocals on the choruses, which made every song sound like a keg party you’re bored of. All irrelevant, as the boys from Brighton knew what they were talking about when it came to girls; I watch her sing along to every word, completely unaware that that is something she should be embarrassed of. Except the utter pretentiousness of this thought embarrasses me.

She is singing along, and now I am too…because I know every word also. They are part of me, much better remembered than the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lords Prayer and my mom’s birthday combined. We head to the beach, me and my summer girl, and we smile at each other a lot and kiss at the stoplights.

The question: Do your fantasies at 18, going to the place you never imagined with the company you never expected to have access to, maintain into your fortieth year?

The answer: Damn Fucking Straight.

Def Leppard  1983  on set of the Video "Photograph"  © Adrian Boot / Retna Ltd.

1 Comment

  1. Sasco Beach on a late March night, 1990. Access denied but I don’t care. She’s in my Chevy Citation passenger seat. And 28 years later I’m riffing Photograph on a subway platform. Damn fucking straight indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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