Culling the Herd: ABC

ABC, “The Look Of Love” – 4 stars.  Dig it.

And we start off with a doozy.

I was the only member of my closest group of friends to decide to go to the University of Michigan.  I had decided to be an architect when I was 11, and Michigan was basically my only in-state choice.  I looked at some out-of-state options, but not very closely, and by the time application time rolled around U-M was my only college application…nowadays, that would be suicide, but I had pretty good grades, spectacular test scores, had played sports, had been in the school plays…in those less insane days I was about 100% sure that I’d be accepted (ah, the blindness and naivete of youth).  I had also gotten a nomination to the Naval Academy, but that wasn’t an application per se, but that’s another story for another day.

All of my friends had decided to go to Aquinas College (in Grand Rapids), Michigan State, or Muskegon Community College in advance of a transfer to MSU, so I was left with a blind roommate choice for my freshman year.  I was assigned to Alice Lloyd Hall, at the time home of the ‘Pilot Program,’ an experimental program where some classes were offered in the dorm itself.  It was similar to the Residential College at East Quad, although not as super-granola-ey.  It had some granola-ness, however; it was not party central.

I made some friends, generally as geeky and awkward as I was.  Good guys, all – Stu, and Jack, and Tom, and another Tom, but my roommate was…kinda weird.  Nice, but weird, and I was pretty convinced pretty early that I didn’t want to live with him again.  As it turned out, at one point late in my first semester, I happened to bump into John, a high school classmate and football teammate for 4 years.  We were not close.  He had gone to Sacred Heart and I to Muskegon Catholic Junior High, and those groups often stayed together even after we were combined into the High School.  He was very smart, very strong-willed, very strong–minded, very focused and intense, and while we always got along fine, we had always mostly stuck to our own groups.  So we ran into each other in Ann Arbor, and he told me his hall (in Couzens Hall, right next door to Alice Lloyd) was having a party that weekend.  I hadn’t really gone to any parties yet – we generally went to movies on campus and played backgammon on the weekends (woo!) – and I decided to go.  What an experience.  I walked into a hall where everyone – and I mean everyone – seemed to be best friends, an almost total 180 from my own hall in Alice Lloyd.  Before I knew it I was hanging out there most weekend nights, and going to happy hour on Fridays, and generally just being a part of the group.  The names and faces come flooding back every time I hear this song.  Matt, and Al, and Kristen, and John’s roommate Paul (also an MCC alum, a year older – again, I knew him but wasn’t close).  Eventually John told me that I needed to come and live with them the following year, and with that my social life for the next three years was set.

What I remember the most about those days with the group was the music.  Motown (the Big Chill soundtrack was out right around this time), the English Beat, the Tubes, David Bowie…some of it was new to me at first blush, some wasn’t.  But they’d play it, and some of the songs would immediately get the entire group out onto the dorm room dance floor.  Sometimes they had organized dance moves (“Talk 2 Ya Later” by the Tubes, or “Golden Years” by David Bowie).  I’d try to join in.  I’d fail.

The Look of Love was one song where I fit right in.  I picked up on it quickly - I heard it one night at Couzens, bought the album the next day, and immediately copied it to cassette.  Those were the days where your backpack had to carry books, plus your walkman player and half a dozen cassettes, just in case.  It became my go-to song when I was able to take over the record player for a few minutes.  I don’t remember the rest of the record being as good, although ‘Poison Arrow’ is a terrific song.

So my first, gut reaction memory when I hear this song is a basement somewhere, John wearing a top hat (he’d do that at parties), and the whole group dancing to this song.  Kristen loved this song, which is probably why I liked it so much and made a point of playing it.  We’d smile at each other, and dance, I’d bump into her, and for a little while I’d pretend we might go out sometime.  Once we almost did, or at the least I walked her home and kissed her goodnight.  She was a great gal, and I think of her every time i hear this song.

Yeah.  Wonder whatever happened to her.