Back in those storied days of the late seventies, we had an ancient fire tower out in the county, which was the ultimate destination on all those nights of strip-cruising and bowling-alley-sitting. The fire tower really belonged to the county kids, though, and you can imagine their anger and disdain when the feather haired, smart ass suburbanites with their shiny smart ass Camaros and dolled-up smart ass girls (me) rolled up and took over the prime spot for the keg and bonfire. Many a fight resulted, and a lot of other nefarious (we thought) activities took place there too, causing some of the smart asses, both male and female (not me), to burst into tears of shame and remorse at the Smart Ass Youth Rallies sponsored by our Smart Ass Suburbanite Church, which we all attended. These outbursts naturally attracted the attention of the smug, smart ass suburbanite parents, who tried to get the fire tower torn down or locked up. Never happened, though, thank Eddie, cuz it was also the scene of some of the most memorable events and fun times of our smart assed, long lamented youth.
My fire tower career started in ninth grade. You may recall that as a ninth grade band nerd, I first served as a (inappropriate slang)-blocker for the majorette, riding silently in the back seat of the cool senior’s Camaro, upholding my sworn duty of preventing the dude from driving that long road through the piney woods. By January, I had gotten my braces off and was no longer a (inappropriate slang)-blocker, but had been promoted to shotgun. I required no blocker of any kind. I could take care of myself, thank you very much, and the fire tower, steeped as it was in mystery, drama, and excitement, called to me like a siren.
Only the most foolhardy and risk-seeking actually climbed the rickety tower once we got out there. Mainly, it was just the most testosterone-maddened boys, a couple of the um….best girl-softball-players, and me. The steps were rotting, and the bravest of the dudes went first, testing each step for the rest of us. Sometimes we would have to skip over a step, which being only 5’3″, was absolutely terrifying and stupid of me and I could have fallen to my death at any minute. I have wondered many times what caused me to do such a crazy, risky thing, and I can only come up with one answer – I wanted to impress the boys. That’s right – I risked my life for male attention. Let’s let that sink in for a minute.
And after I came to this conclusion, I realized something even worse – those boys didn’t give a damn if I could climb the tower or not. So the bottom line is that I risked my life for nothing. Nice.
Two things happened at the very same time that I started fire towering – in January, 1978, Journey’s Infinity came out, and in February….wait for it…..wait for it….you know it…..Van Halen, Van Halen dropped like an A-bomb on the suburbs. We had a lot of fantastic music then, as you know, and as I’ve talked about ad infinitum, but it’s these two albums that take me back to the tower, and that I imagine playing in the background as I make that dangerous climb over and over in my mind. We were ready to run with the devil, all of us fire towerers, and this song was our fuel.
And of course, this is what you listened to once you ditched your blocker…
Questions? Comments? Please Share!