Because there’s just too much popular music to cover, I normally narrow it down, by focusing on music in 5-year increments. Thus, with this being 2018, I’ll cover any year ending in a 3 or an 8. But, one Inmate read my latest post about the Pranawire Nataraja, over on Cable Asylum. He noted that the musical reference was 1989’s «King For A Day,» by XTC. He emailed that he absolutely loves that song.
That Inmate also thought it was clever, how that song tied together life events. He suggested that, instead of honing in on music in 5-year intervals, could we change it up? Let’s pick a life topic we’ve been discussing, and pluck off the music from that.
Independently, he and two others were talking to me about things in college which are not taught, yet, we learn through experience. And one was the use of on-campus Student Health Centers. You see, I’m of the age where, being in college meant you were too old, to be covered by your parents’ health plans. Yet, we weren’t working, so we did not have an employer-sponsored health plan. Instead, we had spotty coverage, services, and treatment via the university.
When I was at UC Santa Cruz, ours was simply called Student Health Center. Current students tell me that they’ve now added «Cowell» in front, so it’s now the Cowell Student Health Center.
Anyway, one of the first things which hit us, while I entered college, was the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Combined with the drought and recession, it sent us into depression. So when former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm came out with the adult contemporary «Just Between You And Me,» hardly anybody here was in the mood for it, even though it was excellent.
I did, however, have a dorm neighbor, the raven-haired Emily, who claimed to be Eastern European. She was usually stern and brusque, especially to males. Okay, she was kind of terse with me, but at least she spoke to and with me. Trying to find something in common, of course we found music. She was on her bed, books and papers between her legs. Gramm’s «Just Between You And Me» was playing and Emily bounced along, snapping her fingers to the snare drum. She looked up, and, rare for her, cracked a smile. «I love this song,» she remarked.
One midday during the dry Winter 1990 quarter, Emily and I were eating lunch together in the dining hall. While spinning her fork in the medley of overcooked vegetables, she scratched her right breast (like everyone else, she did not use a bra), and told me that she felt «hot and dizzy, worse than usual.» She told me to take my time finishing lunch, and to walk her back to her room.
When we got to her room, she sat on her bed, removed her glasses, and rubbed her face. Then she reached behind her back, and snapped, «Something fricking bit me!»
She started scratching, and then removed her shirt. She had this ugly and bright red trail of rash, from her breast to her back. «Uh,» I mustered, «I don’t think it’s a bite. You’ve got all this rash.»
Since it was a weekday, the Student Helath Center was open. In those days, there were no cellphones, internet, or websites. You could call the SHC, or, as most kids did, just drop-in. I called the SHC, which instructed me to bring Emily in.
When we got to the SHC, we were taken pretty much right away. The welcoming nurse took us to a room, and asked just a few questions, including, «Have you had chicken pox before?»
To which Emily replied yes.
I was about to exit the room, but Emily had me stay. The nurse had Emily strip down to her panties, and put on the blue robe. A male doctor came in, and didn’t take long to announce, «Looks like you have shingles.»
Emily burst out, «Shingles?! Isn’t that for old people?»
I think the doctor mentioned a weakened or suppressed immune system. I think he asked if Emily was pregnant, taking drugs, exposed to radiation, or under stress. Emily gave a cranky «No!»
The doctor asked me if I had had chicken pox before [yes]. In a drone-like tone, the doctor rattled off some information and tips about shingles. Emily was more aggravated and annoyed. She just wanted to get out of there, and «get rid of these damn shingles.»
Just like Emily, I liked Gramm’s «Just Between You And Me.» I still play and enjoy it. Because of the snappy drums, it is an acid test for PRAT, at which the vast majority of high-end audio fails.
I had other stand-out trips to the Student Health Center, about which I’ll post later. They’re all intertwined with the music of that era. In some ways, we’re thankful we don’t have to rely on weekday trips to the SHCs. But the music remains.
-Lummy The Loch Monster