March 9 was a Friday night back in 1979. I was a senior in college at that time, attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Friday nights and college students meant just one thing. House party.
I was late to the party at Pat’s house that night, too. I often worked at the newspaper until about 11 p.m., so everyone usually had a considerable head start on me. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. I worked hard, then played hard, not usually given to moderation.
At that particular house party, I met a girl I knew. We looked for a quiet place to talk. That place was near the top of the stairs, on the way to the bathroom, so we dodged a fair amount of traffic from time to time.
The party wound down, and I asked that girl whether she wanted a ride home. Turns out it was just a couple of blocks to her house. Even so, it was time enough for this mantra to keep running through my head — “Take it easy. Don’t push it. Be cool.” We sat in the car outside her house for a little while longer, and I worked up the nerve to ask whether she’d like to do something again, maybe dinner. She said yes.
That girl and I were in some journalism classes together. Our circles of friends overlapped. When word got around that we’d become a couple, this pretty much summed up the reaction from some of our friends.
Yes, she was. She still is. Janet and I have been together 30 years today.
That Joe Jackson album — a wonderfully intelligent though cynical mashup of pop, rock, ska, reggae and jazz — was one of our favorites then and remains so today.
When our record collections finally merged, we each had a copy of “Look Sharp!” Our copies are among the early pressings — a package that consisted of two 10-inch EPs with a small “Look Sharp!” pin. Mine still has the pin. Janet’s pin is gone, and the picture of Joe Jackson on the flip side of her album has light blue crop marks from where she once used it to illustrate a review of the album.
Both of them have these cuts, too.
“Fools In Love” — Are there any other kind of lovers, indeed.
“Sunday Papers” — We used to love going out and getting a stack of the big-city Sunday papers — New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities — and spending most of the day with them. How quaint that seems now.
Both by Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp!” 1979.