Reclaiming ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ after 26 years

Late last week I tripped into a musical hole called 1986 (which actually included music from about 1984-1986, and would probably be more accurately called a Junior High Musical Hole) and I’ve had a really hard time getting out of it. And lest you think otherwise, I will tell you right now my version of 1986 didn’t include anything by The Smiths or R.E.M. or The Replacements. While I know, now, that they all existed in 1986 they didn’t matter a single fig to me. The only band that mattered, really, was Glass Tiger, and occasionally Mr. Mister.

Originally I was going to talk about how “How Will I Know?” is Whitney Houston’s best song and if you don’t agree you have the taste-level of a not very smart Smurf like Jokey or maybe Hefty, but then I found a better story about being able to reclaim “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.”

(what is up with that Choose Life shirt George is wearing in the video? It feels like anti-choice propaganda looking at it now in twenty-thirteen)

I hadn’t realized it last week when I was getting lost in all the jitterbugging and the putting of the ‘boom boom into my heart’ that I could finally listen to that song without suffering from any sort of sadness. In fact, I didn’t realize I had been listening to the song for the better part of three days without ever thinking of that asshole Mike LaRoche until I sat down to write about Whitney Houston and 1986.

Damn! It’s been like twenty-six years since the song was ruined. That’s a long damn time, and it shows how deep the scars of the bullied go.

I loved the song from the get-go (go) back in the early 80s. I loved it so much that I had a shirt that said GO GO on it kind of like they did in the video. Only mine was some sort of shitty Target (back in the mid-80s Target was shitty) or Kmart knockoff and, I believe, featured Snoopy lying on top of the words GO GO. Which seems a little antithetical, now that I think about it.

It doesn’t really matter, because I only got to wear the shirt a few times before I had to dismiss it from my meager wardrobe (in case you forgot: tall, fat, poor girl = very limited clothing options). I had to take the shirt out of rotation because every time I’d wear it Mike LaRoche, a rat bastard a year older than I was, would follow me down the halls of Roosevelt Junior High chanting “Go Go Gorilla.”

Obviously the shirt had to go. Back in my day teachers didn’t do anything about bullies. Not even in High School when Mike LaRoche upped his bullying ante by referring to me as ‘Harley Mama’ for reasons I never understood but had something to do with my butt, because whenever he called me Harley Mama, which happened every day he was in school after history class, he’d grab my ass.

In my memory I punched or elbowed that moutherfucker sometime sophomore or junior year. However, I’m not sure if that’s just wishful thinking or not. I was a pretty meek 6’3″ sixteen year old. When you’re the biggest kid in class you learn early on that any injury that might come from some sort of childhood violence will be blamed on you. Apparently, we big brutes can’t control or violent tempers? I don’t know. I blame it on fairytales poisoning the minds of people against giants for for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Speaking of giants and the dumping of the GO GO shirt, I had to stop wearing green in elementary school after those fuckers started calling me the Jolly Green Giant whenever I would wear it. I still don’t wear green very often.

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  1. FS 07.Jan.13 at 11:37 pm

    (what is up with that Choose Life shirt George is wearing in the video? It feels like anti-choice propaganda looking at it now in twenty-thirteen)

    Anti-teen suicide message. Part of a series of such shirts.

    1. Jodi 07.Jan.13 at 11:41 pm

      I am impressed with your ability to pull that bit of pop culture trivia out of the air.

  2. Angela S 08.Jan.13 at 12:02 am

    I remember being very relieved to learn that the “CHOOSE LIFE” on the shirts had to do with suicide and wasn’t a pro-life message.

    And god, didn’t junior high suck? Teachers did nothing about bullying. Except one time the vice principal had me sit in her office and talk to this girl who had been torturing the hell out of me. And the weird thing? She left me alone after that.

    However, I cannot listen to “Open Arms” without thinking of the two week dance lesson in gym class. They played that song when we got paired up with our dance partner for the day and I always felt like the guys were dreading getting me, I was so uncoordinated and hopeless. However, that song SUCKS and I have no desire to claim it.

    1. Jodi 08.Jan.13 at 12:08 am

      Am I the only one who didn’t know what CHOOSE LIFE meant? I feel so clueless.

      Junior High did suck and I think the thing that really helped me get over it is realizing it sucked for everyone. EVERYONE. And the people it didn’t suck for are not the kind of people in my life.

      Also, I loved the song Open Arms. I think I even had it on 45. We didn’t do dancing in junior high, we did it in elementary school when nobody wanted to dance with anybody. At all.

    1. Jodi 08.Jan.13 at 10:34 am

      I’m usually not an Amanda Palmer person (I just don’t get the whole thing or the music. Her schtick just isn’t for me. The same can be said for her husband — not my thing, which is the same thing saying it is bad), but that was pretty good.

      I thank my lucky stars all the damn time that the Internet wasn’t around when I was growing up (but more for the personal buffoonery I’d have perpetrated more than the bullying aspect).

      Really, when I think about it. I have been most lucky that my Internet experience even going way, way back has been generally positive and sans trolls/bullies. I do get sexually harassed quite a bit by men who dig tall women, but those are pretty easy to deflect.

      1. Matthew Baiocchi 08.Jan.13 at 11:00 am

        i think that is because, in no small part, you’ve helped make the internet experience such a positive thing for others!

        1. Jodi 08.Jan.13 at 11:06 am

          Thank you. I learned my lesson early. I trolled someone in the mid-90s on a message board and it was only one post. I could never sustain such meanness. I still want kick my ass for being such a bitch. Probably time to forgive myself for that one.

  3. Matthew Baiocchi 08.Jan.13 at 9:47 am

    and, on a separate note: DIE 80s DIE!!! (yes, it deserves a minimum of three exclamation points)

    1. Jodi 08.Jan.13 at 10:35 am

      I am much more of a 90s person myself. The dream of the 90s is still alive in Portland and in me.

  4. Doug 08.Jan.13 at 6:16 pm

    Not to ignore the poignancy of the bullying theme, but Mr. Mister played Grad Night when I graduated in ’86. I hung out merely quixotically trying to meet girls; they would not take my broken wings.

    On another note, I wouldn’t discover the ‘Mats until ’87, so it’s not like I was super cool (like I need to say that).

    P.S. Yes, “How Will I Know?” is Whitney’s best song, and I’m not merely trying to avoid being a lame Smurf.

    1. Jodi 08.Jan.13 at 6:24 pm

      So do you have an affinity to that awful Train (? or maybe it’s Maroon 5?) song about Mr. Mister on the radio? The stereo the something or other? Because I do, just because of eighth grade.

      I didn’t discover the ‘Mats until 95, which totally qualifies me to be Oblivious Smurf.

      1. Doug 16.Jan.13 at 12:43 am

        Somehow I have avoided that song altogether. And regardless of which of those bands it is, I will very much seek to continue that.

        Thanks for the warning.

        You have my sympathy, just in theory.


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